Despite what professional marketers tell you, there are some experiences no amount of Mountain Dew can prepare you for. Flying around the track in a NASCAR race car at speeds up to 120 miles per hour is probably one of them. And that’s just what they’re selling at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Grab some early eats at the nearby Kona Cafe, which made the 10Best Breakfast list for Orlando! Disney’s Polynesian Resort is steps from the Walt Disney World Speedway, where you’ll be spending the bulk of your morning.
NASCAR fans can get into high groove at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. — Photo courtesy of Disney
The Richard Petty Ride-Along program ($59 for junior riders; $99 for adults) will have you sitting shotgun for a three-lap qualifying run as a professional instructor tears into the turns, unleashing the full fury of the Gs as your brain lets loose its adrenaline stores. Have previous head rushes set your bar high? Opt for a more in-depth pedal-to-metal thrill ride. Enter the Rookie Experience ($449), which allows you to take the wheel for eight laps. The King’s Experience ($849) ups the ante further with 18 laps, the final 10 allowing your newfound confidence to ratchet your speed up a few notches. Drivers receive one-on-one feedback from the Pit Road professional and additional input from on-track instructors.
Had it with the “baby” steps? Try the Speedway Challenge ($2,099). As with the other packages, you’ll begin with an orientation and video, followed by a little instruction and some input on mechanics and safety. Get your photo taken and then it’s “Drivers, start your engines…!” Participants will drive 50 laps over five sessions – moving ever-closer toward top speeds with each. The entire Challenge takes about four hours.
High speed meets sleek design on the Exotics Course. — Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane/Disney
For auto fetishists whose tastes run more refined, the Speedway also offers driving experiences on its exotics course. Choose from a stable of sleek show cars: Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, and Ferrari.
Depending on your morning’s exploits, grab lunch or dinner with equal speed and refinement at Sushiology on I-Drive, a “fast-food” option that’s popular with locals (and often busy). Then head out for your evening date with adrenaline.
Auto racing notwithstanding, the thrills of the midway – particularly on elevated tracks where hordes of sugared-up 12-year-olds test their go-kart mettle – are many, as well.
Magical Midway's Starflyer: "Swings on steroids." — Photo courtesy of inazakira
Orlando’s Magical Midway Thrill Park offers up what the name promises, not only in the form of go-karts but also myriad thrill rides. These include the Starflyer, a carnival experience that takes you up some 230 feet at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. In fact, they call it, “swings on steroids.” The jewel in Magical Midway’s adrenaline-infused crown is the Sling Shot, an undeniable white-knuckle explosion of a ride that hurls brave thrill-seekers roughly 400 feet straight up at three-to-five Gs. Riders experience total weightlessness along the way. A breathtaking downtown view awaits at its apex.
“Doing the Dew” won’t help you with this one. You’d best head straight to the pharmacist.