For my son's 14th birthday, I took him to Walt Disney World for the Exotic Driving Experience Thrill Ride. The cost for the thrill ride was $89; for this fee my son was driving around the track three times by a professional driver.
We drove about 10 hours to make this whirlwind Disney weekend trip, so when we arrived at about 10:30am on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 and were told by a cast member "Um...let me see if they're doing the exotic car experience today." I was a bit apprehensive. I had planned this event for several months and had actually been in contact with a manager at the driving facility. However, there are no reservations taken for the thrill ride so all I could do was provide the manager with the date and an approximate time that my family would arrive. I was told that would be fine and to "come on down". Adding to the tension, that manager was not there when we arrived and so for a period of about fifteen minutes, we stood around not knowing what was going to happen. This lack of organization with regards to the thrill rides is the probably the only reason I gave this experience a rating of "very good" as opposed to "excellent". In the end, another cast member approached us and explained that they had put some sort of repair coating on the track and it needed just a few minutes longer to fully adhere to the track, however, he assured us that my son would get to do the thrill ride in the Lamborghini.
Once my son got out to the track, he was fitted with a helmet (not a racing jumpsuit, though) and introduced to the car and the driver. He got in the car, was buckled in and away they went. At that point, my wife and I got our camera out to film him as he rocketed past us on the track. However, the exotics don't use the part of the track where they load. The exotic cars load and unload at a part of the track where the Richard Petty Driving Experience operates. From that location, they drive around a track located at the front of the building. Thankfully, a cast member realized we thought we were optimally located to film the experience and told us we needed to go out to the viewing area in the front of the building to see our son. We had to race through the building and out to an observation deck at the front of the building to see him flying by. By the time we got there, he'd already completed one lap. So again, here's another spot where Disney needs to tighten things up with regards to organization. A simple reservation system and a brief two minute explanation of the track and course and best viewing location would've made this a five star experience instead of four.
My son's final two laps were soon over and the car returned to the loading/unloading area at the back of the building. At this point, a cast member took a thumb drive that my son had been given prior to getting in the Lamborghini and loaded it on a computer. From there we got to view the video of this experience that had been captured from a camera within the car. The thumb drive was available for purchase for, I believe, $85 as well as a picture taken of my son standing in front of the car. We purchased both. If this is a special occasion, I would recommend getting both. The video, to us, is priceless because the moment the driver floored that car and began hurtling down the track, an ear to ear smile emerged on my son's face and it never left for the duration of that ride! It was priceless! The movie on the thumb drive also includes audio as well and, it was about 3:35 minutes in length (which is also how quickly that car can go around the track three times!).
The driving experience was well worth the money we spent and the people were all very friendly. The building has drinks and several snacks for sale, as well as other racing/NASCAR merchandise. The are several seats, bathrooms, and for those visiting in summer - air conditioning - available to make for a comfortable waiting area. Also, the exotic driving experience is very easy to find. When you approach the main entrance for Magic Kingdom parking, you will want to use the leftmost lane available. Once you pass through the toll booths, you will need to take the left lane and the race course will be on your left. Basically, this race track is located just outside of the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom.
I can't speak about the experience wherein guest are able to drive these super cars, but I can say that this was well worth the money to basically make a birthday my son will never forget. All in total I believe we spent around $225.00 including the merchandise we added (photo and thumb drive video). This isn't something I'd take my son to do every time we visit Disney World, but I'd have no qualms with him doing it again. One other thing I forgot to mention, and it's kind of a drawback for the Thrill Ride, is that guests don't get to choose which car they ride in. From my understanding, it's based on what exotics might already have been used earlier that day. It seems there are three cars that could potentially be used: the Lamborghini, the Porsche, or the Audi R8. The Ferrari isn't used for the thrill ride. So, if you have a child that's wanting to do this experience, you will need to temper their expectations because, until you arrive at the location, you will not know which car they will get to ride in. However, all of the cars they have are incredible, so when they get to 117mph, I'm not sure that's really going to matter!
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