Andrea Farmer
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
DNC Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc.
Phone: 321-449-4318
Kerry Hassen
Senior Manager Corporate Communications
Delaware North
Phone: 716-858-5016

Shuttle launch simulation attraction honored for outstanding achievement

BUFFALO, N.Y. (March 9, 2008) –  Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, operated on behalf of NASA by global hospitality provider Delaware North Companies, was honored Saturday with a prestigious Thea Award for its new Shuttle Launch Experience.

Shuttle Launch Experience garnered the Thea award from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) for outstanding achievement in the attraction category.

TEA lauded Shuttle Launch Experience for “maximizing the power of suggestion, sensory effects, and great storytelling to deliver the heart pounding impression of the journey into space that is experienced by the astronauts.” The attraction upholds Kennedy Space Center’s tradition of scholarship “through visual communication excellence,” TEA said.

Designed over a three-year period with insights from former NASA and veteran space shuttle astronauts, the attraction enables guests to undergo a simulated shuttle launch, including an encompassing orbital view of Earth at the conclusion. Since opening in May 2007, the attraction has been a popular addition to the Visitor Complex, wowing guests while garnering praise for its overall accuracy and storytelling power.

Shuttle Launch Experience was developed through a $60 million investment. Since Delaware North assumed operations of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in 1995, more than $200 million has been invested in enhancements and new attractions at the complex, including the $37 million Apollo/Saturn V Center, IMAX® 3-D film theaters, and restaurants and retail outlets.

“Delaware North is very proud of operating at the home of our country’s space program and developing the truly unique and award-winning Shuttle Launch Experience,” said Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, the subsidiary that operates the Visitor Complex.

“We also operate at such important places as Yosemite National Park, its historic Ahwahnee hotel, and The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in New Hampshire, so we take great pride in being outstanding stewards for our clients and in properly telling the stories of these compelling destinations to visitors,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Daniel LeBlanc, chief operating office and regional vice president for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Kennedy Space Center, accepted the honor on behalf of Delaware North at TEA’s 14th annual Thea Awards Gala held Saturday evening at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, Calif.

TEA is an international, non-profit organization representing 6,500 theme park industry creative specialists working in nearly 500 firms in 39 countries. The Thea awards were created in 1994 to recognize achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry.

“On behalf of NASA and Delaware North, we are very proud Shuttle Launch Experience is being recognized internationally as a top attraction,” LeBlanc said. “TEA shares our passion for engaging guests through compelling experiences at incredible destinations such as Kennedy Space Center.”

Delaware North’s operation and continuous reinvention of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for more than a decade was also recently recognized by the Space Foundation, an international non-profit organization advancing space-related endeavors.

The Space Foundation selected Delaware North to receive the 2008 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award, named for one of the original Space Foundation board members, given to the organization or individual that most significantly contributes to public awareness and/or support for space programs. The award will be presented on April 7 in Colorado Springs during the opening ceremony of the 24th National Space Symposium.

About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Strap in for a day of space exploration at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the gateway to a working space center and one of Florida’s most popular destinations with more than 1.5 million visitors annually.  Be prepared for an inspiring experience with tours venturing deep into NASA’s spaceport facilities, daily Astronaut Encounters, towering rockets and IMAX space films. Go vertical at the new Shuttle Launch Experience, the most authentic simulation of a launch ever created, opening May 2007.  Admission includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame featuring the world’s largest collection of astronaut memorabilia, plus interactive simulators, displays, and tributes to the heroes of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.  Located just 45 minutes east of Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9:00 a.m. Admission includes World Space Expo and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is $38 plus tax for adults and $28 plus tax for children 3-11. For more information, call 321-449-4444 or visit

About Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts is a subsidiary of Delaware North Companies, a leading hospitality provider with significant experience in hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations. The company’s portfolio includes historic properties in North America, such as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks; Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds; Tenaya Lodge; Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa; Niagara Falls State Park; Jones Beach; Plaza del Pasado in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park; The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake; The Balsams Grand Resort; and The Gideon Putnam Resort.  To learn more about Delaware North Companies’ expertise in the hospitality industry, visit

About Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies is one of the world’s leading hospitality and food service providers. Its family of companies includes Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Delaware North Companies International and Delaware North Companies Boston, owner of TD Banknorth Garden, Delaware North Companies is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States with revenues exceeding $2 billion annually and 40,000 associates serving half a billion customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.  For more information, visit

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