Walt Disney World Speedway and Richard Petty Driving Experience Attraction Closing in June

The Walt Disney World Speedway is closing in June which means the end of the Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Exotic Driving Experience. The closure of the "Mickyard," as the Speedway was often referred to, means that nearly 70 people will be out of jobs.

WDW Speedway and Richard Petty Driving Experience closing June 28WDW Speedway and Richard Petty Driving Experience closing June 28

The Walt Disney World Speedway was built in 1995 as a Florida venue for the Indy Racing League. The hope was that the league would race during the winter and bring more guests to the Walt Disney World Resort. The last race at the track was in January 2000.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience opened in 1997 giving guests a chance to drive a NASCAR racing vehicle (or ride shotgun while an employee took the wheel) at speeds up to 165 mph. In 2011 the Exotic Driving Experience opened and guests had a chance to get behind the wheel of luxury cars, taking several laps around the track.

Some of the employees of the Richard Petty Driving Experience will reportedly be transferred to the Daytona International Speedway and Disney has said it will try to find jobs for some of the other employees.

Disney has only said that the Speedway is being closed so that the area can be used for transportation projects. The closing date is June 28.

Did you ever participate in the Richard Petty Driving Experience or Exotic Driving Experience? Let us know about it in the comments.

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Phil wrote on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 03:38:

Phil's picture

Did the Exotic Driving Experience a few years ago. Drove the Audi R8 V10... it was great fun. I couldn't wipe the stupid grin off my face for a couple days. Would have loved to have done it again, but never have- despite being at WDW many times since. Why not?

First, it's expensive. If you want to drive anything suitably exotic for a decent length of time, it's $500+. That's steep- it's a month's car payment for a pretty nice vehicle in its own right.

Second, it's time consuming. If you only have five or six days in your vacation it's hard to justify taking a half day for this. When I drove, I had to arrive at the track first thing in the morning and we weren't leaving there until 11am or so. Combined with the cost, that's a pretty significant investment for what ends up being maybe ten minutes behind the wheel.

Third, it's short. Even buying extra laps you're not really doing THAT much. On the speedway portion of the lap you aren't flat out the entire time- you have to hold your speed so as to not overstress the tires. Yes, you get to experience the handling, braking, and acceleration of these cars, but you aren't really exploring the speed. So for the expenditure of time and money you're not getting as much as you thought.

I loved it, I'd considered going back, but I just could never really decide I definitely wanted to. I don't know how busy this was (or wasn't), but I'm really presuming this is more about Disney wanting to repurpose the space currently taken up by the track. And as much as I hate to say it, I don't think I'll miss it. I will miss that it was available but I don't think I can say it's that big a deal. A possibility you aren't taking advantage of may as well not exist.

So fare thee well, Exotic Driving. It was fun, I really enjoyed it, but I'm not really that surprised it's going away.

Fred Capobianco wrote on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 21:54:

Fred Capobianco's picture

My experiences included both the NASCA and EXOTIC SPORTS cars. Both provided the opportunity to drive world class performances machines as well as test your skill level.

dzknee wrote on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 23:54:

dzknee's picture

I did the ride-along in 1999 and attended two Indy Racing League races also. I enjoyed racing so much, that I actually seeked out employment by the Richard Petty Driving Experience at my home track!

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