Richard Petty Driving Experience to Close at Walt Disney World

Share This!
On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett
On the race track at the Richard Petty Driving Experience ©Rikki Niblett

If you want to have the opportunity to see and feel what NASCAR drivers experience or drive an exotic car, time is running out! News broke today that the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway will be closing sometime in June. The race track, which can be found in the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot, allows guests to participate in both ride-alongs, as well as get behind the wheel themselves. The speedway is being closed to make way for transportation improvements, however, there is no word on exactly what improvements will be occurring.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience has been a unique activity for many to participate in. For those who are huge NASCAR fanatics, this was a great way to get a feel of being out on the course. Just a few years back, in addition to allowing guests behind the wheels of race cars, they could also choose to participate in the Exotic Car Experience, letting guests drive fast cars like Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and more. Also, just this past year, another new option was added for those with kids who wanted to feel the need for speed. They could participate in the Piston Cup Junior Ride Along program, riding in cars that were reminiscent of those that could be seen the movie Cars.

It looks like Petty Holdings wants to remain in the Orlando area, at least in some form, with a possible relocation to a road course that will allow the exotic driving experience to continue. Those guests who already have a reservation after the Speedway closes will be able to move their drive to another Richard Petty course.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience opened in Walt Disney World in 1997, but the speedway was built in 1995 to be used for the Izod Indy Car Series.

UPDATE: On February 12, 2015, Lauren Swoboda of Hayworth Public Relations provided us with the following statement on behalf of Petty Holdings:

Petty Holdings, operator of Richard Petty Driving Experience and Exotic Driving Experience, confirmed that starting July 1, they will no longer operate their experiences out of the Walt Disney World Speedway. Walt Disney World has plans to use the land to make transportation improvements.

“Our main focus at this moment is taking care of our staff and preparing them for the upcoming transition,” said Petty Holdings Vice President Bill Scott. “Any reserved guests prior to July 1 will have the same fantastic experience that we have delivered since 1997 at Walt Disney World Speedway.”

Anyone booked after June 30 for Richard Petty Driving Experience or Exotic Driving Experience can call 1.800.237.3889 to reschedule their experience at any of their 14 locations nationwide – including the location at Daytona International Speedway. Petty Holdings currently has plans in process for exotics and stock car programs in Orlando.

Rikki Niblett

I am a co-host of the Be Our Guest Podcast and do lots of other fun Disney stuff all around the interwebs! You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @RikkiNibs or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rikkinibs

10 thoughts on “Richard Petty Driving Experience to Close at Walt Disney World

  • February 11, 2015 at 6:17 pm
    Permalink

    YAY! Hopefully they turn that extremely valuable space into something more fitting of that spot. It has always seemed so out of place, being right there at the Magic Kingdom’s front door.

    • February 11, 2015 at 6:23 pm
      Permalink

      I would highly suspect that the area will actually just be leveled and turned into more parking for the Magic Kingdom/TTC. Just a hunch though…not official. Not sure if that’s fitting for the space, but it’s what I expect will happen.

      • February 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm
        Permalink

        Eh…yeah I suppose that is likely. That’s not as exciting as another monorail resort or something. Ah well, guess we’ll see.

  • February 11, 2015 at 7:33 pm
    Permalink

    Is NEVER fun for all the families that will be out of jobs,my heart and prayers for all the wonderfull people at the track,because there not disney employess,we know all the instructors and always make us feel like part of the family and make our visit to Orlando so much nether.THANK YOU PETTY FAMILY FOR ALL THE JOY YOU BRING ME N MY FAMILY.GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS..

    • February 11, 2015 at 9:16 pm
      Permalink

      Yeah I certainly didn’t mean to be callous–thought of it like closing a ride I didn’t like, which doesn’t cost anyone their job. Hopefully they can open somewhere else.

      • February 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm
        Permalink

        Sooo, to you, Disney should be all about what *you* like with no regard for what others might like. That’s pretty self-centered and narcissistic. There are many things *I* don’t like at WDW (It’s a Small World to name just one), but I realize that there are many, many others that love those things I hate. I don’t wish they would go away (well, ok, I do wish Captain EO would go away!). I just ignore them.

        • February 12, 2015 at 6:33 am
          Permalink

          Maybe you should take a breath. It’s a blog post. They tend to be filled with personal opinions.

  • February 12, 2015 at 7:58 am
    Permalink

    Sad to see these guys closing up shop. I had the opportunity to enjoy a really fun afternoon there. Hard to find an experience like that anywhere else. Hopefully they can relocate somewhere else and set up shop again!

  • February 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm
    Permalink

    While I like the idea of expanding the Transportation and Ticket Center, and have long believed that it would only happen if they “moved” the MK parking lot south when/if they closed the Speedway … I won’t be surprised when the opportunity is wasted.

  • February 15, 2015 at 6:50 pm
    Permalink

    Pure speculation on my part: I always wondered when the hammer would fall, simply because it has the unfortunate distinction of being smack dab in the middle of prime parking real estate. I would have enjoyed trying it, but for the cost. I did read the company has other options and is transitioning employment opportunities for those involved. Best wishes to them.

Comments are closed.