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Richard Petty Driving Experieince
The Richard Petty Driving Experience operates on the Walt Disney World Speedway, is a great experience for NASCAR fans. It puts you behind the wheel of a powerful race car or lets you ride along with a pro. You can also try out exotic cars in the Exotic Driving Experience.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience is an attraction at Walt Disney World. It puts participants behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car, which they get to drive around the oval track for up to 30 laps. The cars can reach speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. Prices vary, depending on whether you choose the eight, 18, or 30 lap package. You receive classroom instruction before driving, and you're provided with all the equipment you need, including a racing suit and helmet.
If you'd rather just go along for the ride and let a professional do the driving, ride-along experiences are also available. You ride shotgun on a three lap qualifying run if you choose this option.
The experience operates year 'round. It can be booking in advance by calling or reserving online, or you can check for same-day availability when you're in Orlando.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience opened at the Walt Disney World Speedway in 1997, originally sharing the track with professional races. The Walt Disney World Speedway was built in 1995, with a January, 1996 grand opening. Originally it was home to the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World and was meant to be used primarily for race competitions.
The speedway was plagued by parking problems, since it shared the parking lot at the Ticket and Transportation Center with Magic Kingdom theme park guests. Initially, Magic Kingdom visitors were sent to park at Epcot on race days, which forced them to use the monorail to get back to the park. By 1998, race guests were parked in a different lot and shuttled to the race track.
The speedway was also used for testing, which could be done year 'round because of the favorable Orlando climate and seasons. Unfortunately, there were three bad accidents on the track during these runs.
By 2001, the Walt Disney World speedway ceased the professional racing and testing. Now its main function is to serve as the home of the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
The success of this attrction led to the addition of a visitors' center and gift shop where guests can buy themed merchandise. There are also permanent garage facilities for storage and maintenance of the cars.
The Walt Disney World Speedway is near Disney's Polynesian Resort and adjacent to the Ticket and Transportation Center, a hub for Disney transportation. You can walk to the track from the Polynesian or access it via car by driving through the Magic Kingdom toll plaza and through the theme park parking lot. You access the track through a tunnel, and it has its own parking lot. You can also park at the Ticket and Transportation Center pet kennel, where a van shuttles guests to and from the racetrack. If you're staying at one of the Disney hotels, you can easily get to the pet kennel pickup point by going to the Magic Kingdom and taking the monorail or ferry boat across the lake or going to Epcot and taking the monorail to the center.
You don't have to pay for theme park admission to do the Richard Petty Driving Experience, since the Walt Disney World Speedway is located outside of the Disney parks.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience has a sister attraction, the Exotic Driving Experience, that opened in 2012. These two attractions share the same facilities, and part of the Exotic Driving Experience takes place on the speedway track. However, the exotic cars also have their own street course where drivers can test their handling ability.
Rather than using NASCAR vehicles, the Exotic Driving Experience lets driver choose from several different dream cars from brands like Porsche, Audio, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. Prices vary, depending on the car you choose to drive. If you don't want to get behind the wheel yourself, you can book a ride-along with a pro.
There is also an Indy Racing Experience that lets you drive or ride in cars that were previously used in Indianapolis 500 events.