Parent Alert: If a Ph.D. astronaut like Pettit endorses Angry Birds Space, it must be worthwhile.
Toss in space shuttle Atlantis, making its museum debut in another few months, and the educational value goes sky-high.
The $100 million Atlantis display, just a few minutes' stroll from Angry Birds Space Encounter, opens June 29.
Angry Birds is "a nice prelude to Atlantis and it will be a nice complement as well," especially for children, said John Stine, Delaware North Co.'s director of sales and events at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
"They're going to learn something about Angry Birds and they're going to really be inspired when they go to Atlantis."
The Finnish-based Rovio Entertainment has another Angry Birds Space exhibit up its sleeve at another locale in the near future, said Dan Mitchell, the company's director of location-based entertainment.
"But you can't get a much more true-to-life space theme than being here at Kennedy Space Center," Mitchell said as his 6-year-old daughter waited none too patiently at the exhibit entrance.
The 4,485-square-foot (417-square-meter) exhibit features six interactive stations, including 4-foot-high (1.2-meter-high) Eggsteroids Slingshots that children can use to launch mini Angry Birds at enemy pigs, and a laser-beam obstacle course set on the Red Planet.
This reporter's son had to be dragged away after more than an hour inside the noisy, darkened chamber â¿¿ noisy and dark for grown-ups, that is. The Florida sunlight beckoned, with the outdoor play area, rocket garden and shuttle launch-simulator ride.
"Want to go back to the Angry Birds?" he pleaded a few days later. "Pleeeease."
If You Go...
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VISITOR COMPLEX: Located about an hour's drive east of Orlando, Fla.; http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/ . Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults, $50; children 3-11, $40 (plus tax). Angry Birds Space Encounter is included with regular admission. Unmanned rockets still soar from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, so check to see if a launch is coming up for double the fun.
NASA YOUTUBE ANGRY BIRDS ANNOUNCEMENT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxI1L1RiSJQ