Like many of the Magic Kingdom‘s original rides, the Tomorrowland Speedway was also based on an existing ride located in the prototype Disney park, Disneyland. In this case, the Speedway was modeled after Autopia.
Autopia was designed with the cars and travel of the future in mind. It utilized multi-lane roadways, a concept which had yet to be firmly experienced by many in the world (the American interstate roadway system had yet to be built). However, when the Disney World version premiered on opening day of the park in 1971 it was designed with an international road-race in mind instead of a futuristic highway.
When it opened, it was called the Grand Prix Raceway with a sponsorship by Goodyear (who of course provided all of the tires for the vehicles). It has remained relatively unchanged through the years with some small expansions and shortenings of the track occurring at different intervals of its life.
One of the largest changes came in 1999 when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway partnered with Disney to give the attraction a new look. Adding several elements reminiscent of the famous race-track added some excitement to the fuel-guzzling ride.
Today, the ride goes by the name of Tomorrowland Speedway and is still a favorite of many kids as well as a few adults. The youngsters seem to get a thrill out of being able to “drive” a car. Those under 54 inches must ride with an adult.
Getting in behind the wheel does create some anticipation, but do not worry! There is only one pedal to control, if you push down it, the vehicle accelerates. If you let up, the brakes engage and you come to a stop! Steering is controlled by, you guessed it, a steering wheel – well, at least partially controlled. To prevent super reckless driving, a guide rail is embedded into the track and your vehicle must follow the rail within a foot or so each way.
Did you like this video and article? Then take a few minutes to see more Disney video tours!
Thanks to aerohead4 who provided the video shown above.