Disney for BIG boys (and girls)

Surfing and Speedway

ORLANDO—Palm trees sway, sand and water sparkle in the early morning light. All is calm while tall, tan Phillipe Neri zips up his wetsuit and jumps in the water. A big kaboom announces the first wave. Neri hops up on his surfboard, switching feet back and forth, hot-dogging the break. A class of six students watches enviously as he slides to the end of the wave. Then they turn their attention to Jennifer Rowlette, the poolside surf instructor who’s going to coach them through their first surf lesson in Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon—in Orlando.

Wake up and grab a board, dude. Surf’s up in this landlocked city some 30 miles from the ocean.

The crowd that’s too old for the Magic Kingdom, yet too young for having their own tykes still finds plenty of thrills in the Disney-dominated vacation playground.

Orlando’s not just for families, says Gary Sain, president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He quotes bureau research that suggests 31 percent of visitors are couples, with outdoor adventure options running the gamut from golf and airboat tours to sky diving, hang gliding, water-skiiing and canoeing.

Back at the pool, students have gone through an on-the-sand demonstration of how to get on the board and get positioned, as well as being schooled in the mechanics of the wave machine.

“It’s like a big toilet, only a lot cleaner,” says Rowlette, explaining how the three-million-gallon pool features 12 chambers that fill with water, then are flushed out, resulting in a 5-foot wave. The kaboom announces its impending arrival.

A smaller swell follows the first. Most beginners will attempt to catch that second wave.

Today’s class includes Moises Peraza of Orlando. He’s originally from Mexico City and has tried surfing before in Acapulco and Cancun. On the first curl he is up and riding the wave. He graduates to the big waves immediately. Most of the students manage to make it to a vertical position at least once in the $125, three-hour class, and all receive a “surftificate” of achievement at the end of the session. Awesome.

Not far away, at Walt Disney World Speedway, a class of mostly guys is getting ready to take the wheel of a race car. Not go-karts. Real cars. And they’re getting coached by real race car driver-instructors, including Gary Terry.

Yes, he has two first names just like Ricky Bobby in the NASCAR spoof movie “Talledega Nights.” But that’s where the similarity ends. He’s head driving instructor for Walt Disney World Speedway (and Daytona International Speedway) in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, so it’s best to forget about that movie and start respecting him now.

In the three-hour Rookie Experience ($399), would-be racers learn safety rules and driving tips before stepping into a NASCAR-style stock car. Bruno Giraldo, 28, from Tampa gets his fireproof suit snugged up by his wife, Marie Claire, 24. “He loves Formula One and he loves fast cars. I’m always trying to slow him down,” she says, smiling. She bought the driving package as a present for Giraldo’s birthday.

“The big-time race fans—this is the closest they’ll get to a race car,” says Terry. “People just love the experience.”

Giraldo gets fitted for a helmet and climbs into the car through the driver’s side window, one leg at a time, since the doors are permanently bolted shut. He’s buckled into a five-point harness, and the track crew flips the ignition, roaring the engine to life. Terry pulls out, Giraldo is right behind, taking three turns around the track at speeds above 100. In a few minutes, it’s all over.

“It was awesome, fast, very cool,” says Giraldo as he removes his helmet. After all the students have taken turns around the track, certificates get handed out, and he and Marie Claire head out for dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, their favorite Orlando restaurant.

Best budget tip: Step into high style in Winter Park, a tony suburb of Orlando, for sophisticated nightlife. At The Wine Room (270 S. Park Ave.; www.thewineroomon line.com; 407-696-9463), you can load up a debit-style “enomatic” card and insert into the Enomatic machine to sample more than 150 wines in 1-, 21/2- and 5-ounce portions, some for less than $2 a sample. Cheers!

Big splurge: If the Richard Petty Rookie Experience at $399 isn’t enough to bust your wallet, add on a “ride-along” experience for $99, taking three turns around the track at 140 m.p.h. in the passenger seat with a race car driver at the wheel.

More, more, more: For everything Orlando: orlandoinfo .com. Richard Petty Driving Experience: www.1800bepet ty.com; 800-237-3889. Learn to Surf: www.ronjonsurfschool .com; 321-868-1980.

vodafone tl yükleme kontör yükleme hamile giyim turkcell fatura alanya escort işbankası kredi kartı borç sorgulama elektrik faturası ödeme turkcell tl yükleme tl yükleme hgs yükleme pvp serverler site ekle r57 shell indir antalya escort yapı kredi borç sorgulama finansbank borç sorgulama akbank borç sorgulama ogs yükleme enerjisa fatura ödeme clk akdeniz fatura ödeme