Updated:CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
The new entrance at Kennedy Space Center's visitor complex is now open.
The entrance is the first completed element of a 10-year master plan for the complex.
Complex operators said the new entrance will bridge the gap between the old and new NASA.
“We definitely went through a transition, but I think the transition is done with and we’re back in full swing and people are excited about the future of space,” said Visitor’s Complex CEO Bill Moore.
Thousands of guests passed through the new gates on Thursday. The entryway opens up into the rocket garden.
Previously, guests entered in the middle of the complex in a nondescript area.
The new entryway cost $16 million to build and includes a new gift shop and a new café.
It's part of the improvements that will culminate in the summer, with the grand opening of a new $100 million space shuttle Atlantis exhibit.
"It's just the interest in aeronautics and space and all the things that encompass going into space. It's a great human achievement," said tourist Dennis Sentamu.
Visitor complex managers said this is the busiest time of the year for them. In fact, this is the first year they were actually open on Christmas, and they said it was a huge success.