Is the Orlando Exotic Driving Experience Worth the Money?

Many people on this planet are cursed with a disease commonly called "Morning Person." I am fortunately not afflicted with this disease, so it takes a great deal to convince me to get up early.

Before heading out to the Orlando Exotic Driving Experience on this morning, I pondered the same question many people are going to face: Is it worth it?

This Thing is Expensive

The owners were kind enough to give me the opportunity to participate on the house. For most of us the question is not going to revolve around whether or not it's worth waking up early, but rather the money.

While there are various ways to make it less expensive, you're going to spend several hundred dollars for the experience; so whether it's worth the money is going to depend on several things:

Are You a Gear Head?

Training Room: "Please Don't Wreck Our Cars"Training Room: "Please Don't Wreck Our Cars"

I like to watch Top Gear, but I'm not a "car person." The idea of driving a Ferrari was pretty appealing, but it was nothing I'd ever sought out.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of motor oil running in my veins put me in the distinct minority in this crowd. The instructor could tell this as well, as he spent quite a bit of time making sure no one was going to get out of control.

While I was terrified of breaking the expensive vehicles, most people wanted to come as close as possible to the edge.

The Experience

I'll start off by making something clear:

Driving this car was a BLAST

My Chariot Awaits: My Chariot AwaitsA Ferrari 458 Italia: My Chariot Awaits

After a short wait, I strapped on my helmet and got in my Ferrari. I was nervous, but the in-car instructor was really good about wanting to make sure I had a good time.

Left to my own devices I would have probably tooled around the course at 55 MPH, but he encouraged me to put my foot down and get the adrenaline flowing. And boy did it ever flow...

As you might expect, I've never had that much horsepower at my command and I didn't really know what to do with it. Still just the act of flooring the car was more exciting than any ride at the parks.

There's no question the experience was amazing; the only question is whether it was worth it.

Once in a Lifetime

One thing to consider about getting to drive one of these beasts is that you generally don't even get to sit in one, much less push it to break-neck speeds and then take a series of tight corners.

I personally don't have any friends who own any 6-figure cars, but even if you do, it's not likely that they will let you take it out and get it up to 150 MPH or see how quickly it can corner. So while the price is high, it's also not something you're likely to find anywhere else.

Check out your other options beside "my" Ferrari:

Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Audi R8Audi R8

Porsche 997SPorsche 997S

Male (or Female) Bonding

It just so happened that while I was there, there was a group of guys who were all there together. It dawned on me that this is a great activity for a bachelor party, or guys weekend.

You get to make fun of each others' times, compete and generally hang out and have a great time. Of course if you have a group of gals who like to drive, this applies to them as well.

It's a Short Ride

One thing that really stands out about an expensive experience like this is how little time you actually spend in the car.

You get to do a set number of laps, and that's going to be over in probably less than fifteen minutes (even if you drive like your taking your driving test like I did.) That makes it seem like a bad deal, but there are a couple of things to consider here:

First of all, I couldn't have taken much more excitement. Each of my laps got faster until the last one where I declined because I was positively exhausted from all the adrenaline.

Secondly, much like a roller-coaster, the build-up is part of the fun. Waiting for your turn is like going up that first hill on the coaster, with the anticipation building. I would have really enjoyed getting to take a "second turn" later in the day, but honestly I was good with the amount of time I got to spend in the car.

Let's Pretend This Was Me Flying Around The TrackLet's Pretend This Was Me Flying Around The Track

Overall

In the end the main advice I can give you about the experience is that if you're thinking it might be worth the price to you, then it probably will be.

If you don't feel a strong craving, then it's probably not for you. I wouldn't suggest it to someone who thinks it might be okay; but if you've been dying to put a super-car through its paces, you probably won't get a better chance. It was tremendous fun for me, and I'm not even a car person.

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to the Exotic Driving Experience for allowing me to participate for free. I was not obligated to write this post and received no financial compensation for it.

Regina wrote on Mon, 06/25/2012 - 23:21:

Anonymous's picture

I am not a car aficionado, but my husband is. I keep going back and forth whether I should gift him with this. I think it can't possibly be worth the money, but every review I have seen says it is. However, every one was from somebody who didn't pay for it! So my dilemma remains. I need to figure out how to get him a free ride and we will both be happy, lol.

Phil wrote on Tue, 06/26/2012 - 01:39:

Anonymous's picture

I've done it.

As a gearhead, it really was worth it. A few things to keep in mind:

1) If you aren't sure, then don't buy the expensive car. Go cheaper and you get more laps. For example, the Audi R8 is the same underlying platform and the same engine (slightly detuned) as the Lamborghini Gallardo, but much less expensive. For the same price as the Lambo you're talking extra laps in the Audi.

2) Similar programs are every bit as expensive, if not more so. There's more than one exotic car driving program out there, and the prices are higher than the one at WDW Speedway. You may even wish to compare the price of the Richard Petty Experience... it makes even the pasta rockets look cheap.

3) If you're into cars, this is one of the very few times you'll be able to not only get behind the wheel of a machine of this caliber, but also get a chance to wring it out. No, you don't get to plumb the depths of the top speed capabilities, but you will get to experience the handling, acceleration, and braking capabilities. There's just nothing like having your right foot all the way to the floor with over 500 horsepower exploding right behind you. Even if you can afford to purchase one of these cars, you're just not able to drive like this safely and legally on the street. This is a safe and controlled environment, even relatively experienced drivers can enjoy it.

4) The thrill will be remembered long after you're done. It took all day for the adrenalin rush to wear off. The stupid grin didn't leave my face until the day after. I still find myself wishing I could get one of these machines in my own garage. I did purchase the photos as a reminder of the fun, but I still love to think about how much fun it was.

So was it worth it? Sure, for a given definition of "worth it." If $300-400 is a massive expense for your family, it may not be worth it. That can add up to a full day or two of Disney for a family of 4. It can be more than one month's car payment. It can be nearly a month's worth of rent (depending on where you live). If that cost is equivalent to a week's worth of work, then no, it may not be worth it for you. If you've never poured over a car magazine imagining what it might be like to own or even just drive a supercar, then no, it probably isn't your thing. But if you have the disposable income and the interest, then YES, it IS worth it.

I have no regrets that I did it. I wouldn't do it EVERY trip (yes, it isn't cheap), but I may well do it again in the future.

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MarkGaddis wrote on Tue, 05/21/2013 - 00:44:

Anonymous's picture

I just went this last weekend to the Orlando driving experience and what a experience it was. I have wanted to drive a Ferrari for a long time and this was the result of a birthday present. The waiver form you have to sign is a bit daunting with talk of death but once past that its time for fun.
I never miss the Celebration car show every April with Ferrari's lined up and down the street so with the opportunity to not only sit in one but to also hit the gas, the anticipation was mounting as the days approached. My wife had selected the F430 red in color on their website as the car I would drive. When I got there it was a yellow F430 Scuderia. Not particularly excited about the color but I was excited knowing that it had almost another 100hp, so that disappointment quickly faded. I am no stranger to cars with lots of horsepower but have never stepped foot in one of these superbly built Ferrari's before. If anyone reading this is familiar with Corvettes it was a much lighter feel than the carbon fiber Z06 upon taking off but not as solid feeling around curves. Certainly the roar of the engine on the F430 Scuderia and finely tuned exhaust behind you will get a gear heads blood boiling in no time flat. Just pulling out on the track where you come to a temporary stop before being cleared to hit it was fun for me , but once I got cleared to take off it was all bets off. Actually I drove it quite gently compared to others on the track that I noticed taking more risks. The trainer in the car was urging me to go faster around the curves but I guess I was too nervous about the back end of the car coming around on me and spinning out. I felt the only way the experience could have been more enjoyable was to allow the whole track to be explored. The infield allows you to learn how to upshift and downshift with paddles but for me the enjoyment was access to the straight track. Overall this was a very positive experience for me and if given another opportunity I will probably pick the red 458 Italia to drive. Thank you to the trainers/coaches for a fun experience.

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 05/21/2013 - 17:21:

Kristen K.'s picture

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us Mark!

MichaelB wrote on Wed, 05/22/2013 - 20:12:

Anonymous's picture

My wife just reserved the Ferrari F430 for Father's Day! I'm a gear-head and I'm really excited! Thank you for the great review.

Kristen K. wrote on Thu, 05/23/2013 - 15:55:

Kristen K.'s picture

Thank you for commenting Michael! I hope you have a fantastic experience. Be sure to come back and tell us about it!

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