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Junior Ride-Alongs Archives

June 14, 2014

Richard Petty Driving Experience introduces new Cars-themed junior ride-alongs at Walt Disney World

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UPDATE: Congrats to Christina Santiago who won the cool Poster! Email on its way.

Finally, guests at Walt Disney World can find out what it feels like to be part of the world of Disney-Pixar's "Cars." Although we haven't gotten our own Cars Land on the East Coast yet, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is putting youngsters inside cars designed to look like racers from the Piston Cup in Pixar's "Cars," and they can feel the exhilarating speed portrayed in the movie.

Beginning today at the Walt Disney World Speedway, kids ages 6 to 13 can choose the new Junior Ride-Along experience, which allows them to ride with a professional driver for three laps on a 1-mile course in cars that bring characters Sage VanDerSpin and Aiken Axler to life.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along

In the movie, No. 80 VanDerSpin races for Team “Gask-its” and is the youngest winner of the Junior Piston Cup Pro Series. Axler is the No. 28 Nitroade racer who captured the Vitoline Rookie of the Year honors in his first full season of Cup competition. The two full-size custom character cars were created by “Cars” creative director Jay Ward, who was at the Orlando track on Friday to introduce them to media.

Petty Holdings initially began its relationship with Pixar when Richard Petty became the voice of “The King” in the original “Cars” movie.

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Long before the kids get in the real-life cars, though, they go through a multi-step process of safety instruction that is reassuring to both the young riders and their parents. First, kids must be at least 48 inches tall -- there is a fun mural for families to make sure their youngsters measure up -- and meet the age requirements.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along


Richard Petty Junior Ride Along


Richard Petty Junior Ride Along

Then, each child suits up in a coverall to protect him or her from any parts of the car that may have heated up in the Florida sun. A soft, knitted cap goes under the snug-fitting helmet, and a HANS (Head and Neck Support) device is fitted around the neck and attached to the helmet. Inside the car, each person wears a five-point harness, which can be seen in the video below. In addition, the seats for this children's program were custom-built by The Joie of Seating, which makes racing seats for professional drivers.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along


Watching your child get into a car that will travel at about 100 miles an hour is not something most parents take lightly. However, the emphasis on safety at the Richard Petty Driving Experience and the experienced professional drivers make this a very controlled racing event, which set my mind at ease.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along


Richard Petty Junior Ride Along


Richard Petty Junior Ride Along

My nine-year-old daughter, who has never met a roller coaster she didn't like, was excited about the new themed Junior Ride-Alongs. She said she really enjoyed traveling in the blue VanDerSpin -- the faster, the better. The best part was crossing the checkered finish line, which made her feel like she was in the "Cars" movie.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along

Fans who want to take home a souvenir of their once-in-a-lifetime experience can purchase a video like the one below for $49.

The new Piston Cup Cars Junior Ride-Along costs $59 plus tax. Parents must be present with their children and sign a waiver for them to participate. The Walt Disney World Speedway also offers ride-alongs for those 14 and older in other stock cars for $79 plus tax.

Reservations are not necessary for ride-alongs, which are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For additional questions, visit DrivePetty.com or call 1-800-237-3889.

If you have visited the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World or have questions about the junior ride experience, tell/ask us about it in the comments for a chance to win the poster pictured below. A winner will be chosen at random and notified by June 20, 2014.

Richard Petty Junior Ride Along

RELATED LINK:
Automotive Designer Chip Foose talks about working with Pixar and Disney on the Cars franchise. Foose designed Ramone in the first Cars Movie.

DISCLAIMER: My daughter and I were guests of the Richard Petty Driving Experience. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.



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September 29, 2012

Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World offers great NASCAR fun for kids

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A new experience at Walt Disney World puts children in the front seat of a real NASCAR vehicle with a professional driver and allows them to feel the thrill of racing. Recently, my 8-year-old daughter was quick to volunteer to try it, so she could discover the excitement for herself.

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Junior Ride-Alongs debuted June 17 at the Richard Petty Driving Experience location at Walt Disney World Speedway. The experience is open to children ages 6 to 13 years who are at least 48 inches tall. It costs $59 plus tax for the three laps.

My daughter, who loves to ride Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster and usually is game for just about anything, was a little nervous when we arrived at the track for her Junior Ride-Along. I think that had to do more with not knowing what to expect than with any anxiety about the speed of the car. You'll see how uncharacteristically serious she is at the start of the video below.

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The check-in for all Richard Petty Driving Experiences is located at the infield, so guests drive under the track before parking in the center of the action. Once inside the building, parents will need to sign waivers for their participating children.

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Then, it's time to suit up. My daughter was helped into a one-piece, long coverall to protect her from any parts of the car that may have heated up in the Florida sun. Next, we headed outside to pick up her other safety equipment. She was given a soft, knitted cap to go under the snug-fitting helmet, and a HANS (Head and Neck Support device) was fitted around her neck and attached to her helmet.

She looked like a professional before she ever got in the car!

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With a little assistance, she slid into the car seat through the window. Watching her, I had flashbacks to "The Dukes of Hazard." Then she was buckled into a special five-point harness. Her seat was custom-built for this children's program by The Joie of Seating, which makes racing seats for professional drivers. Two of the 20 or so race cars at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the WDW Speedway are outfitted for children.

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My daughter's friendly driver, Justin Simpson, was quick to explain that she could tell him each lap how she was feeling by giving him a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down," and he would adjust his speed accordingly. Professional drivers typically go about 100 miles per hour for the Junior Ride-Alongs and up to 160 miles per hour for the adult ride-alongs.

Although she was apprehensive in the beginning, she soon was giving him multiple thumbs-ups as the car sped around the track. By the end of the ride, my daughter was grinning from ear to ear and asking to go again. The whole experience was complete in 20 minutes.

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"[The Junior Ride-Alongs] are a great way for us to increase the Disney atmosphere and family experience at the track, and that's what we're all about," said Simpson, who also is the operations manager at Orlando's Richard Petty Driving Experience.

He explained that adding this experience for kids allows the whole family to participate in a sport they may follow together at home.

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Fans who want to take home a souvenir of their once-in-a-lifetime experience can purchase a video like the one below for $49; photo plaques for $39 and $69; or a 5 x 7 photo in a themed folder for $17.50. Adult ride-alongs cost $99.

Reservations are not necessary for ride-alongs, which are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Although the Walt Disney World Speedway is the only location to offer the Junior Ride-Alongs so far, the Daytona International Speedway is expected to start the program by early 2013.

For additional questions, visit DrivePetty.com or call 1-800-237-3889.

DISCLAIMER: My daughter was a guest of the Richard Petty Driving Experience. This did not influence my review, and my opinions are my own.

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About Junior Ride-Alongs

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Junior Ride-Alongs category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.