I'll Make A Gearhead Out Of You: 10 Car-Related Things To See in Disney World
"You must be swift as a four-speed shifter, with best in class front and rear legroom, with a V8 that breathes pure fire, mysterious as the GMC Typhoon!"
Sorry...I had to.
It's easy to get lost in the magic of Walt Disney World, but there are plenty of automotive wonders that exist, and ideas that are developed and implemented with a little help from Disney Board Member and CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, who joined the company in 2017. There are plenty of car-related attractions to explore, so let's jump in.
1. Disney's Minnie Vans
First off, anyone who's holding onto the idea that your three-row crossover isn't a minivan, HA! Ahem, sorry about that. The Minnie Van is a Chevrolet Traverse that has been modified with a red and white color scheme, and a black bowtie badge. The idea is that it supposed to look like Minnie Mouse, though I would've opted for yellow-painted wheels, like Minnie's heels. Minnie Vans can be summoned using Lyft instead of using Disney's shuttle service. Disney cast members show up to your location. Some Minnie Vans come equipped with child seats, though they need to be specified before you summon one. With enough planning, Minnie Vans can even be scheduled to pick your group up from the airport. I think this is not only a great showing of Disney's attention to detail, but removing the rental car from the vacation equation is simply eliminating one more thing that gets in between you and the magic.
2. Tomorrowland Speedway - Magic Kingdom
Our next stop on this list is Magic Kingdom, duh. Inside this spectacular park you can find the Tomorrowland Speedway, easily my favorite ride in Disney World, because I actually get to drive something. That "something" is a C3 Corvette-styled, two-passenger kart that is powered by a gas engine. Top speed of these karts is 7.5 miles per hour, which definitely feels fast while you pilot your cart along the circuit. Adjustments are currently in the works to replace the gas engines with an EV drivetrain. Anyone who is looking to get their Corvette fix while they're in Disney World, should definitely take one of these cars for a spin.
3. Dinosaur - Animal Kingdom
If your Disney World trip didn't have enough off-roading fun in it, then Dinosaur will gladly take you back to a time where there weren't any roads at all. A world without asphalt, how quaint. While the Time Rover definitely isn't the main attraction, the idea of a time machine with the off-road prowess of an F-150 Raptor is definitely exciting. The ride is definitely worth it if you enjoy mudding and rescuing animals. Just don't let that Carnotaurus get too close to you.
4. Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom
The Kilimanjaro Safari is the Jungle Cruise on steroids. This living safari is filled with some of the coolest animals on the planet, and you get to tour the area in "Simba-1", a GMC Topkick. With water features, rickety bridges, and impressive wildlife, there is nothing missing from the incredible experience that the Kilimanjaro Safari provides. One thing to note is that since these animals are living creatures, they can actually block the path that the trucks take, and can cause delays, so if you're on a school trip that is leaving the park in an hour, and you think you can squeeze this in before you leave, take my advice, you can't.
5. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater - Hollywood Studios
What's better than dinner and a show, right? The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater serves you American classics inside of American classic cars, while showing classic movies on a projector, just like a drive-in movie theater. I remember eating here as a kid, and it was easily one of the coolest things in the world. I also remember having a frisbee from the Sci-Fi Dine-In, they served something on it, and it was a souvenir, granted this was a long time ago, and after a lot Disney Forum searching, it doesn't seem like they give out Frisbees. Still, the food is amazing, and the cars are even cooler. One little interesting feature is on the hood, inside of the typical GM V-shaped emblem is the word Disney. A thoughtful touch.
6. Main Street Vehicles - Magic Kingdom
While there are plenty of people that would rather walk up Main Street USA to see Cinderella's Castle, there are those like us, whose veins are filled with motor oil, who would totally rather take a cruise up the main drag in a beautifully restored workhorse like these. Main Street Vehicles include an omnibus, jitney and the fire engine pictured above. There are also a host of different turn-of-the-century vehicles that the Magic Kingdom uses in their parades.
7. Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy - Hollywood Studios
This is the obligatory "Cars" entry on the list. That being said, it's a cool attraction for any fans of the "Cars" franchise that haven't been to Disney's California Adventure to see Cars Land. This attraction features an incredibly realistic Lightning McQueen as he recruits members to his racing academy. He and Cruz Ramirez show off the latest Dinoco Racing Simulator and all is well until Chick Hicks hacks into the system and challenges Lightning to a race. With the help of his friends, Lightning is able to win the race and makes you an honorary member of his racing team. This is perfect for the little gearheads in your family for sure.
8. Amphicar Tours - Disney Springs
If you decide to spend half a day outside of the parks, there are plenty of attractions in Disney Springs that may catch your attention, and The Boathouse's Amphicar tours are definitely one of those things. The Amphicar Model 770 uses a 38 horsepower, 1147cc Triumph four-cylinder engine, and has the ability to be driven into the water and operate as a boat. While $125 for a 25-minute cruise sounds a little ridiculous, and a little steep, when would you have the opportunity to be in an Amphicar again?
9. Test Track - EPCOT
Time to get some real speed in this list, and where better to get speed than Test Track. Originally sponsored by General Motors, Chevrolet took over Test Track in 2012 after a significant TRON-inspired overhaul. The vehicle now wears the Chevrolet bowtie proudly on the hood. The queue even features concept cars and GM engines such as the latest 3.6-liter V6 which can be found in nearly every GM product besides its trucks. Before boarding the test vehicle, riders are encouraged to design their own concepts, and then during the ride, screens will display how your car is performing against other people's designs. After accident avoidance and fuel economy, as well as a brief cruise up a winding road. The test vehicle prepares for its high speed run, which takes the vehicle outside of the facility where it achieves a top speed of 64.9 miles per hour. After the ride is over, riders can check out the latest lineup of Chevrolet vehicles and get pictures with them.
10. Rock 'N' Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith - Hollywood Studios
If you thought I was closing out this list with anything other than Rock 'N' Rollercoaster, you're crazy. How could I not talk about this super-stretch 1960 Cadillac Limousine that can do zero to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds? These baby blue Caddies are designed to get you and your group to Aerosmith's concert by any means necessary, "any means" meaning several loops and corkscrews, all while riding in the most American limousine in the world. The "Buh-Bye" license plate is a nice touch too.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Disney World that don't have to do with Mickey and the gang. There are also plenty of classics hiding throughout the property as well. Herbie the Love Bug can be found at the All-Star Movies resort, a 1941 Cadillac can be found in Hollywood Studios and a host of others as well. Rare encounters like the Amphicar are just the tip of the automotive iceberg, and with Disney's dedication to authenticity, only time will tell what other automotive wonders they will come across.
Did I miss your favorite car-related thing in Disney World? Comment Below!