Ka-Chow! Richard Petty Ride-Along Now Features CARS Cars

Tomorrow Disney Pixar Piston Cup Cars will be unveiled at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Petty Holdings, LLC, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney World have brought to “life” two characters from the Academy Award-nominated 2006 animated feature film “Cars” — Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin — and we’re SO excited to meet them!

Number 28 car

Aiken Axler, Car 28, likes exercising and Tai Rod meditation when he’s not racing.

Starting Saturday, June 14, Kids ages 6 to 13 (and at least 48 inches tall) will be able to ride in the front passenger seat of a 600HP race car, driven by a racing pro at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Piston Cup Cars Jr. Ride-Alongs will be first-come, first-serve basis. Guests simply show up to the track to queue and then wait their turn to take a spin in what will seem like the “real” Piston Cup! The cost is $59 + tax.


Sage VanDerSpin, Car #80, is the youngest winner of the Junior Piston Cup Pro Series and has mad dodgeball skills when he’s off the track.

Now, you need to know my son has not seen a lot of movies. (He’s more into cooking shows, DIY, and programs that highlight engineering marvels, LOL.) He does, though, LOVE “Cars” and all the personalities (and “Planes,” for the record!). His favorites are Mater, Mr. The King (voiced by Richard Petty, you’ll recall), Lizzie, and the Sheriff. (My favorite is Sally Carrera because I think Bonnie Hunt is just awesome, if you were wondering.)

Getting to touch a movie hero in life will, no doubt, be one of those childhood memories my son will re-live over and over, kind of like the lap after lap action in his (and his dad’s favorite) NASCAR action. I, for one, am excited to see the ear-to-ear grin on his face as that little gentleman “starts [his] engine!”

Titanic… The Experience, Orlando

Titanic... The Exhibition International Drive

Image courtesy Titanic… The Exhibition

As a lover of all things Titanic, I enjoyed my recent visit to Titanic… The Experience in Orlando on International Drive. It was especially moving with this year being the 100th anniversary of her sinking. (Read the review I wrote for Central Florida Top 5 and see the video I created .)

Would you care             for some tea? ask the First Class Maid

Our family has marked the occasion with countless studies, book readings, and a “History Day” on the actual 100th anniversary date (where, yes, I dressed as a first class maid as seen at left, ha ha). We tied it in to our “big blue ocean” world point of view by discussing the geography of the sinking, weather patterns that influenced both the iceberg strike, and the inability of some ships nearby seeing the distressed vessel, and the science of water/ice flow. It’s also been a springboard to discuss animals who live in arctic environments. (I’ll take any road I can to get kids interested in learning!)

On our History Day, we had “hands-on” activities like shoveling “coal” into “boilers” (homemade ones with battery-operated candles flickering inside), a formal tea complete with fine china and cucumber sandwiches, crafts like making a White Star Line flag and a beaded necklace with the word “Titanic” in Morse Code. Guests felt a “glimpse” of the icy ocean by putting their arms in elbow-deep salt-water chilled to near freezing. At the end, each child had a scrapbook to take home with all the worksheets and crafts they’d completed.

Everyone dressed for the occasion, including parents (we had one father in his tux, one in a stunning tiara, as well as another first class maid!). My husband played the part of Harold McBride, the Marconi operator, while our son was none other than Captain Edward Smith. Alas the cotton balls we glued to his face for a beard got pulled off before one good shot could be taken, but it was a memorable day for our band of eager learners. Some, including the grownups, learned for the first time about the 4th funnel being included “just for visual balance.” They also did “Titanic math” where they had to figure out the sobering fact that the number of seats IN the lifeboats was significantly less than the ship’s capacity.

I’m looking forward to taking my 5-year-old to Titanic… The Exhibition, although I don’t know many at that age who would be as interested.

His obsession began at age 3 1/2 while taking a bath. “Mom, has a ship ever done this? (*Raises the bow high in the air and sinks it down.)” I explained that I knew of one very famous ship did…. He asked me to read a book on it that very night, and the night after, and the night after….

As a general rule, I would recommend this exhibit for children 8 and up (with the occasional uber-geek like mine being the exception). Adults will enjoy the many artifacts and room recreations, and especially the talented guides who bring history to life.

Titanic… The Exhibition is one of many exhibitions owned by Premier Exhibitions. Visit their webpage for information on Titanic museums around the country.