Tomorrowland Speedway: The World’s Worst Driving Experience?

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Walt Disney World. The Magic Kingdom in particular is probably my favourite theme park anywhere in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit quite a few over the years. But the Tomorrowland Speedway? Dear Lord, that thing is terrible!

Granted, this is a family attraction aimed at letting kids get behind the wheel and drive a car. The track is long (or feels that way due to the slow speed) and cars are prevented from leaving their lanes by a control rail. This allows the driver to steer the car through the turns in the road but the steering is so bad there’s almost no point because you can never tell where your wheels are pointed and you end up banging into the control rail constantly.

Kids probably don’t mind because they’re more interested in pressing the accelerator and “playing driver” rather than actually driving. For an adult car enthusiast the ride is a nightmare. The car is slow, irritatingly noisy like a lawnmower and is almost impossible to steer.

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POV of a night drive on the Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom. Video credit: Sharp Productions

Given its location in the future-themed Tomorrowland section of the park, it’s also very old-fashioned. The vehicle styling is straight out of the 1960’s and 70’s and the small, loud combustion engines are anything but futuristic.

Admittedly, since it’s an attraction that’s been around for a long time and is essentially a copy of the Autopia at Disneyland, the Speedway holds a nostalgic place in the hearts of many park goers. For some who have been visiting WDW since they were kids the Speedway was the first car the ever drove.

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Not as much fun as it looks. Photo credit: DisneyLists.com

I get the tradition and nostalgic appeal but for me that doesn’t excuse this being an awful ride. It is horribly overdue for an upgrade, which I would prefer to see rather than the Speedway being demolished and replaced with something entirely different.

Perhaps a re-theme to Cars or Sugar Rush from Wreck It Ralph would work as then we could all channel our inner Lightning McQueen’s and Vanellope von Schweetz’s on a newly themed course. Either option would allow a bright new overlay with additional features like tunnels.

Ideally, regardless of a re-theme, the cars need replacing. Faster, electric vehicles (with onboard audio to simulate revving engines if desired) would be more suitable for Tomorrowland. But most importantly the steering needs to be fixed. It offers no feel or feedback whatsoever. It’s so bad now the steering wheel might as well just be there for decoration, it’s that useless.

Tomorrowland Speedway by day. Video credit: Mouse Steps / JWL Media
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It’s not all bad news. Nearby at Epcot is the Test Track ride, which allows you to design and test your own vehicle. The initial sections of the ride concerning things like handling and brake tests are OK, but once the car heads outside for a lap of the speed loop the ride gets really exciting. While you’re a complete passenger on this ride and have no input into the speed or steering it is still the best car-based attraction at Disney by far.

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