UPDATE: The Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway closed permanently on August 9, 2015. However, there are more than twenty locations across the country still in operation.
I had planned to use my last vacation day of the year to attend a Central Florida Social Media Influencers Event at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Orlando on Friday, December 5. While I was at work on Thursday I heard on the news that the Orion rocket launch had been delayed until Friday morning. I knew that was my sign to get up at 3:00 AM and get on the road to Titusville to watch my very first launch from Cape Canaveral.
It was raining when I arrived at the beach just before sunrise. Then the rain stopped. All the gathered spectators got out of their cars, and soon after we saw the fireball of the blast-off. As the rocket gained altitude, going in and out of the clouds, the rumble of the launch began to reach us across the water. The rumble grew until it became loud as thunder. That was my favorite part.
The launch was a great start to my day off, but I had to get on the road to Orlando for another loud and rowdy experience. The social media event was catered by 4 Rivers Smokehouse, and their BBQ pulled pork did not disappoint.
Soon it was time for our orientation for the ride-along at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Before we could suit up for the ride we had to wait for the track to dry due to the rainy weather. Because we had some extra time, they took us on a tour of the garage that is typically not included with the adult ride-along experience.
No question where the speedway is located.
Technicians keep the cars in top shape.
Finally it was time to suit up for the ride-along. They directed us to choose a jumpsuit one size larger than our normal size. I grabbed one without checking the label, and well, let’s just say I required assistance getting out of a tight situation. Finally, I found a suit to fit, and we headed out to the track.
Before being fitted for a helmet I had to pull on a snug head cover.
The only way to enter a race car for the ride-along is to climb through the passenger window. After I was seated, they snapped my helmet to the passenger headrest to limit head movement and secured me in place with multiple seatbelts.
Then the driver put the pedal to the medal and we were off for three laps around the track at speeds up to 120-miles per hour. For the second time that day, the roar of the engine was my favorite part.
And then it was over and time to crawl back out the window.
Each event participant was given a video of our ride-along stored on a thumb drive and a picture plaque as souvenirs. These items are available to visitors for an additional charge.
So, how much will it cost you to do the Richard Petty Driving Experience? Well, that all depends upon your wallet and level of interest. Riding and driving experiences range from $59 for a 3-lap reserved junior ride-along to $2599 for a 50-lap racing experience. Although dropping a Franklin for three laps around a track seems a bit pricey to me, TripAdvisor users give the attraction 4 out of 5 stars and rank it #15 out of 85 Orlando-area attractions. So, I will let you do the math! There is no question that the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway is perfect for NASCAR enthusiasts and thrill-seekers of all ages.
Note: There is also an additional Driver Release Fee of $39 for the driving experiences. See the FAQs for more information.
High-performance karting is available for group functions.