Autism at Walt Disney World
(Currently Closed for Refurbishment)
Who doesn’t remember “driving your first car” when you were little? Maybe it was at Walt Disney World or another theme park. Unfortunately, I can’t say that my first experience was a Disney one. It was at a local amusement park. I got to drive antique vehicles, and it was thrilling because it seemed so grown up, and I was driving my dad. While it wasn’t a magical experience, Magic Kingdom has a ride that is sure to please. The Tomorrowland Speedway has been enchanting small riders since opening day, October 1, 1971.
These “speedway” vehicles have real working gas pedals and a steering wheel, however, you are safe from the hazards of the road because of a metal track that keeps the cars from veering out of control.
Before you go on this ride, I am going to make sure you understand any potential problems that your child may have with this ride. But first a little bit about the ride and the history of it. Then we will delve into sensory issues and tips for riding.
FASTPASS: Available for this ride, however, do not waste a FastPass. If this ride has higher wait times, wait until another time, as wait times fluctuate throughout the day. The wait is outside without protection from the sun.
HISTORY OF TOMORROWLAND SPEEDWAY
Location: Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. Entrance is located across from Cosmic Rays Quick Serve Restaurant.
Opening Date: October 1, 1971. Originally named Grand Prix Raceway and sponsored by Goodyear until 1999. Goodyear supplied all the tires for the vehicles.
TYPE OF RIDE: Motorized Cars on a racetrack
In 1994, Disney changed the name to Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, the track and cars were unchanged.
In 1999, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway partnered with Disney to change the attraction. The loading area was changed to look like an Indy race and elements were added throughout the ride to look like famous speedways.
In 2008 the name was again changed. The partnership with International Motor Speedway ended, and the new name, Tomorrowland Speedway was adopted.
Throughout the history of the ride, changes were made to the track. Originally over 3000 feet in length, it was shortened for the construction of Space Mountain in 1974. It was again to make room for Mickey’s Toontown fair in 1988. In 2012, it was again changed for the construction of Dumbo the Flying Elephant. It is now estimated to be approximately 2100 feet.
The ride temporarily closed on January 2, 2019, to make adjustments for the upcoming Tron Ride. It is scheduled to reopen mid-May 2019.
POTENTIAL SENSORY PROCESSING ISSUES INVOLVING TOMORROWLAND SPEEDWAY
When entering the queue, you have to pass through a metal turnstile. The speedway has sights, sounds, and smells associated with cars including the smell of exhaust which I personally like, but may cause problems for some people.
The vehicles are loud. When entering the boarding area, you are instructed to stand next to a number. As you wait for your vehicle to pull up, be sure to stay behind the yellow line.
When the vehicles pull up and stop the previous rider needs to depart from the vehicle. As you enter, you will be stepping into the car and sitting. The cars sit low to the ground. There is a lap belt that must be used. If your child is the one driving, they need to be able to reach the pedal so there is a height requirement.
The vehicles drive on a track. As a person steers the car, if they bump into the metal guide, the ride can be jerky. Bumping may occur from behind, and you may accidentally bump the car in front of you. While Disney Cast Members work hard to ensure enough room between vehicles, some vehicles are faster than others.
The ride lasts approximately 5 minutes.
HEIGHT REQUIREMENT 32″. If your child is under 32″ they may not ride. However, to drive the vehicle, you must be at least 54″ tall. Cars accommodate 2 riders.
Children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE – Must transfer from wheelchair/ECV
Video of Tomorrowland Speedway
TIPS FOR RIDING
Avoid riding during the hottest parts of the day as there is only minimal shade for the majority of the queue.
Non-riders may want to watch from the “spectator viewing area.”
The vehicles have a top speed of 7.5 mph.
The ride has different names throughout the Disney Parks:
Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland: Autotopia
Tokyo Disneyland: Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
OTHER TOMORROWLAND RIDES AND ATTRACTIONS
Stitch’s Great Escape