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?
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:
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.
I'll start off by making something clear:
Driving this car was a BLAST
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.