I am excited to share my first post in a series I am doing in conjunction with Twice The Love, Half the Sleep:
Beyond Disney…on a dime!
Family fun in Central Florida that won’t break the bank!
The plan is to share our ideas for fun things to do here in Central Florida, that DO NOT cost you an arm and leg! We’ll maintain this as a resource for families that are local, as well as for those coming here for vacation. With all the $$ you’ll spend on going to Disney, staying in hotels, eating out, we think you’ll appreciate hearing about some things to do that won’t break the bank!
My boys are Cars fanatics, so when I saw a sign outside of the Richard Petty Driving Experience that said “Spectators Welcome”, I got fairly excited. I put it on file in my brain to check into when I had a moment. If you are not familiar, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is an attraction right on Disney property that allows individuals to have a real stock car driving experience, driving actual racecars on an actual track. Depending on what you want to pay, you can ride along with a driver, or actually be the driver yourself. This is something Todd was able to do a few years ago in Las Vegas, and he still raves about the experience on a regular basis. I have never been a racing fan myself, but there is just something exciting about being at a real track, hearing the motors revving, and seeing people walk around in those little jumpsuits:) I should reiterate, that the Richard Petty Driving Experience itself is not free, but it is free to go there and check out the action.
I called the 800 number to double check that they would allow anybody who wanted to come and watch to park and enter for free, and that was indeed the case. The associate on the phone informed me that the program ran from 9-1 and 2–4 every day, so I made sure to arrive before 1.
To get to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, you must go through the Main Gate of Disney, where you would park to go to the Magic Kingdom. When you get to the gates (where you would normally pay 14.00 to park your car for Magic Kingdom), you just let them know that you are going to the Richard Petty attraction, and they will let you in free.
When we got there, we were in for a treat as we got to go through this cool little tunnel to get to the infield. Remember, it’s the little things, people.
You park your car (again, free) right in the middle of the infield. (That’s a new racing term I just learned) Which means you are right in the middle of the track. Pretty neat.
You have to go inside the registration/gift shop building to get to the grandstand/viewing area, so, in I went. In there they have all kinds of souvenirs and car stuff, and a few snacks and drinks. I asked the one of the employees when there would be cars on the track, and she said in about a half hour, so I got the kids a snack and we went out to check out the parked cars.
It was pretty warm, so I went back inside after a few minutes and asked another employee what time the cars would be going- there were lots of people there in suits, looking like they were getting ready to go out. This time I was informed it would be another hour before things got going, as all the people still needed to complete their driving “class” first. I asked the attendant what are the best times to see the cars racing and she informed me that 9:30 am, 10:30 am and 1:30 pm are the best times. Slightly annoying, but I wasn’t going to be deterred- I didn’t come all this way to come and look at parked cars:) I did put the kids back in the car, and grabbed some sandwiches for lunch, then came back an hour later.
I could hear some announcing, and some firing up of engines as I was feverishly getting the wagon put back together, getting the kids out of their carseats and into the wagon. They sensed my excitement:)
Here’s a guy getting ready to jump in the window and take off!
This is the shaded grandstand where spectators can sit. With the choo-choo wagon, it was just easier to roll them around than to try to get in front with all the people walking back and forth. This definitely would have been more fun for them if they could have been walking and not strapped in to something.
Yes I realize that 2/3 of my kids are not looking. You win some, you lose some.
And even a little photo opp as well- if you are a really big racing fan, you may even want to buy an old tire for $5.oo. I think I’m gonna get a set of these for my minivan.
Now, the cool thing about The Richard Petty Driving Experience is that there are also locations all over the country! Click here to see if there is one near you!
Got more questions? Here’s the Richard Petty Driving Experience FAQ page.
So in Star Search fashion, I’m going to give this attraction a star rating, as far as excitement and convenience. On a scale of 1-5, this gets:
3 and a half stars! (I hear Ed McMahon in my head when I read that.)
Minus the 3 dollars I spent on 3 bags of animal crackers, I didn’t spend any money on our outing today, and the kids had a great time watching the racecars speed around the track. It was a quick, painless outing (even by myself) and I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is a racing fan, or has who has kids that like cars!
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