Tomorrowland Speedway and Starbucks are ALWAYS a winning combination when you’re in the Magic Kingdom. Of course you can’t enjoy your Starbucks while racing around the speedway, but nothing makes me feel more nostalgic than watching my son zoom around the race track with an adult beverage (not the alcoholic variety) in my hand.
You see, I grew up coming to Walt Disney World and I credit the Tomorrowland Speedway for helping me learn to drive. Its course taught me how to hug the tight bends of an S-curve. How to put the pedal to the metal as I climbed the hills. How to ease forward and not bump the car in front of me. And how slamming on the breaks really can give you a slight whiplash.
Okay, maybe that is a bit of a stretch…maybe I didn’t learn how to drive on the Tomorrowland Speedway. I do, however, have fond memories as a kid racing around the track with my dad and mom. As I grew tall enough to ride, I remember the joy of being able to control the steering wheel and (eventually) reach the gas pedal at the same time. I thought it was SO cool to be able to drive my parents around for a change. Looking back though, I wonder if they had slim hopes for me eventually getting my driver’s license if they were basing it on how well I drove around the speedway.
Fast forward 25+ years and my son at four-years-old is also finally tall enough to drive a car around the Tomorrowland Speedway. The moment takes me right back to my childhood and I feel like I am passing a sacred Disney torch to my child. The Tomorrowland Speedway is a timeless classic, and despite the fact that they are still burning fossil fuels to power those lil’ engines, it will always play a key role in the Tomorrowland of yesterday and today for these reasons:
1. It Makes You Sit Back
You’re in line to board the Tomorrowland Speedway. Your kiddo is with you, standing ahead of you in line and watching the cars zoom around the track. Finally, it is your turn. You load up your kiddo into the car (you got the blue one, by the way, yay!!) and your ‘baby’ puts his or her hands around the steering wheel.
That’s when it hits you.
Time is going by so fast. You swear it was only a few days ago that your baby was learning how to walk. Now, as his tiny hands grip the steering wheel, you realize that in a little over a decade, your baby is going to be driving a car for real. It’s as though the Tomorrowland Speedway is giving you a glimpse into your future. It’s coming fast…
2. It’s Timeless
As I mentioned before, I remember driving along the Tomorrowland Speedway with my parents. I remember the shrieks they let out as I turned a corner too fast or the wheels bumped (hard) into the center track. Now as a parents I am able to experience the same ‘right of passage’ they experienced with me. It’s as though time has stood still around the Tomorrowland Speedway. One day I hope my children are able to experience the same. (Hopefully with electric-powered cars. I mean this is Tomorrowland after all.)
3. Perfect Ride for Everyone
Splash Mountain has a big drop. The Mad Tea Party makes people want to toss their Mickey Bars. Space Mountain can bring on claustrophobia before you even blast off into ‘space’. The Tomorrowland Speedway, on the other hand, doesn’t have any tricks or gimmicks. What you see is what you get. It is a simple ride that doesn’t make most people sick (unless you have a super crazy driver, then all bets are off) and can be enjoyed from the young to the old.
4. It Makes You Work as a Team
When you are first tall enough to ride the Tomorrowland Speedway, you might be faced with a possible predicament. You might be able to reach the steering wheel, but when you go down to reach the pedals, you realize you can no longer see out the front window. Bring in the reinforcements. Riding with an adult or someone taller than you allows them to control the gas pedal while you control the steering wheel. Team work at it’s finest!
Be sure to communicate with your co-pilot while driving. While my son controlled the steering wheel, I was in charge of the gas pedal. It turns out, I might have a slight lead foot. The speed at which we were driving caused my son to let go of the steering wheel mid-ride and he tried to seek shelter from the speed. Apparently, that made sense in his mind and h had a slight freak out! We consequentially bumped back and forth along the middle track. Thank goodness we couldn’t drive over the track!
5. Go as Fast or as Slow as You Want
Speaking of not driving like a maniac: you are able to control the speed at which you zoom along the track. If you would prefer a leisurely drive, you can do so. If you’d prefer to put the pedal to the floor and win the ‘race’, you can go for it! Just know that if you plan on going slow you might be holding up us speedsters. Don’t worry, we won’t bump you. Or at least we will try not to.
The face and shape of the Magic Kingdom is constantly changing. Change is good as it brings new attractions and new experiences to explore. We learn to adapt as old rides are removed or new rides are added. If the Tomorrowland Speedway eventually is put to pasture, we will treasure the sweet memories it has provided for us.
Yet, for now, the Tomorrowland Speedway is here to stay! Therefore, if you want to ride, be sure to get a Fastpass+. The Stand-by cue is painfully boring as a kid (I guess not all Tomorrowland Speedway memories are pleasant!) and for an adult who has to listen to a whiny kid.
Also, if you’re traveling with a group, be sure to have someone snap your picture as you’re driving along. It will be fun to look back at the images as you and your kiddos grow. The top of the pedestrian bridge over top of the speedway is a great vantage point for your paparazzi crew. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel as you are photographed…