“The glories of America's past. The promise of what could have been our grandeur.”
Our family are members of Philadelphia's Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences which automatically makes us members of The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC). As such we get free admission to VASC. My daughter and I took in the museum on a very rainy day (8/25/12) during our vacation to Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and Water Country USA.
We had been here once before in September 2008 and liked the place. It's a huge museum filled with all sorts of historical aircraft and spacecraft including the Apollo 12 command module and a life-sized replica of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). On display are a piece of the Moon rocks brought back by the Apollo 17 astronauts and a piece of the Mars rock recovered in Nigeria in 1962.
They have a nice interactive exhibit of the Mars rover in addition to life-sized models of the Mars landers and rovers. There are numerous scale models of aircraft from the Wright Bros. to the present and America's space rockets from the 1950's through the shuttle era. Also on display are scale models of US naval vessels from Old Ironsides to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. They have two different flight simulators (at extra cost) one of which will spin you upside-down and all around on a fantasy rollercoaster ride. There are a number of hands-on and interactive exhibits.
They have a small cafeteria for those who want to grab a bite to eat and a nice gift shop with the typical overpriced souvenirs, t-shirts and trinkets.
At first my impression of our return to VASC was pretty good, but after considering what some other reviewers had written I was reminded of its warts. The day we were there the rain was coming down very hard - inside of the museum! They had buckets and trash cans all over the place trying to contain water that was literally pouring through the roof and windows. My daughter actually opened up her umbrella not to get wet. Many of the exhibits were not working. Most exhibits haven't changed or been updated in the past four years with the exception that they now have a replica of the Orion space capsule which would've been part of NASA's Constellation program until its cancellation by the Obama Administration (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/orion/index.html)
I couldn't help but be reminded of Shelley's poem of pathos, Ozymandias: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone..." The museum's highlight attractions, Apollo 12 and the Moon rocks, are now over 40 years old.
But still, for those who have never been to VASC don't let these observations discourage you from coming. The museum is interesting, particularly for families with elementary school aged kids. There are lots of things to do and see for first-timers, and you could easily spend a whole day here to see everything. Over all, it is worth a visit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.