You really can do anything at Disney World, including drive a 600 hp engine at top speed! Whether you have the desire for a 50-lap experience, ride shotgun in a NASCAR race car, or have a picnic and watch the cars zoom past you, the Richard Petty Driving Experience has something for the whole family.
The granddaddy of all of the experiences at the speedway is the Racing Experience. It is a 50-lap experience with you in the driver's seat with your crew chief over the radio. It includes a 3-lap ride along, in car DVD video of the driving experience, photo plaque, and souvenirs to take home. It includes 5 sessions and is approximately 4 hours in length. The total cost is about $2500 but would be an incredible birthday present for someone who loves NASCAR.
Maybe you are not ready for the full Richard Petty Driving Experience and need something a little less intense. The Ride-Along package allows you to ride shotgun in a 2-seat NASCAR race car driven by a professional for a 3-lap Qualifying Run. You still have the experience of riding in a race car but not the worry of driving such a powerful vehicle. This experience is only around $100. Guests younger than 14 may do the Junior Ride-Along for about $60.
Looking for something a little more exotic? The Exotic Driving Experience allows drivers to test out the following cars: Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, Audi R8, Aston Martin Virage, and a Porsche 997 S. Exotic Driving Experiences start at $169 and like the other driving experiences, reservations are required. For reservations or more information, call 1.855.822.0149 or visit www.ExoticDriving.com.
There are some items to keep in mind if you are interested in the driving experience. Reservations are required for all driving experiences and Ride-Alongs are first come first serve. For those that don't drive a stick shift, the cars are now equipped with a push start system so anyone with a valid driver's license can have the experience at the Speedway. The race cars do not have doors, so drivers must climb through the 15″ by 30″ window. The driver's suits go up to 3X. No previous racing experience is required but some experiences have a prerequisite. There is a $75 cancelation fee for an experience that is still more than 30 days away. If the experience is cancelled within 30 days, you might lose all of your money.
For those that would rather watch from the sidelines or have a different experience at Disney World, being a spectator is actually an option. Guests can actually drive right into the speedway, park, and watch the cars race around the track. It is FREE to be a spectator and to bring your own lunch. Families on their “non-park” day can hop on over to the speedway and eat lunch while watching other guests and professionals race. The Speedway is open daily from 8 AM to 4 PM and guests are welcome anytime. Every now and then, there is a special event, and spectators are not allowed, but that is not often. I do recommend calling that morning and seeing what time is the best for stopping by if you wanted to see something in particular.
To get to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, head towards Magic Kingdom. The Speedway is on the left just past the Magic Kingdom parking lot toll plaza. Follow the signs around the Speedway. The entrance is on the opposite side, like you are leaving the Magic Kingdom parking lot. Enter the Speedway through the tunnel to the infield. Guests park inside and can watch the racing from Pit Road. Annual Pass Holders and Disney Vacation Club Members may receive a 20% discount. The discounts for merchandise for Premium Annual Pass Holders was reduced on January 1st, but the discount for the Richard Petty Driving Experience was verified on January 13th, so it should still be current. There are five different experiences at five different prices for driving or riding at the Speedway. Check www.drivepetty.com or call 1.800.237.3889 for more information. See you at the races!