There are two things that you won’t experience at the new Andretti Indoor Karting & Games facility on Universal Boulevard near the Orange CountyConvention Center – gasoline fumes and the put-put-sputtering roar of go-kart engines.
These karts are electric-powered via solar panels up on Andretti’s roof, and the hum from its 3 courses resembles the approach of high-pitched, whirling “Star Wars” drones, not a band of clattering smoking lawn mowers.
The vehicles can cleverly be slowed by remote control, and sensors along the track’s side will monitor speed, force of impact and frequency.
“Each one of those bumper systems in the car and in the track can give us information of what areas in the track need to be addressed to make the experience safer, to make the experience more fun for the customers,” said Eddie Hamann, one of the owners of the attraction.
The courses can be adjusted over time, and they can be reconfigured into one “super track.”
Other partners include members of the famed Andretti racing family, whose images are prominent in the 150,000-square-foot building, which represents a $32 million investment by the company.
“All the Andrettis are very much involved in what we do,” said Samantha LaMagna, senior marketing manager. One of Michael Andretti’s race cars has been wheeled into the lobby.
Karting participants are given helmets and safety instructions before getting behind the wheel. One track is for junior drivers. A second features 15 turns and multiple elevation changes, plus an upper-level view of the convention center. The third regular track has banked turns and longer straightaways.
The karts max out at about 35 mph. Driving sessions last seven or eight minutes, LaMagna said.
By design, the tracks are not the sole draw. The building houses virtual-reality racing simulators, a 12-lane bowling alley, a ropes course, an arcade with more than 100 games (including the “world’s largest Pac-Man screen”), a 12-seat Dark Ride motion theater and a two-level laser-tag arena themed to an Indy-car engine.
Along with 10,000 square feet of meeting space, there are two bar areas and a full-service restaurant.
Employees serving alcohol recommend that customers race before drinking, “or they may not be allowed onto the track,” Hamann said. Track staff can also remove people from the waiting line for karts or recognize an impaired driver “and stop the race to remove the unsafe guest with as little disruption as possible,” he said.
Hamann said he expects the range of activities and Florida’s heat and rain to help make Andretti a popular option with indoors-seeking tourists and Central Floridians. There is no fee for admission or parking. Visitors pay for what they participate in, and most of the activities cost between $10 and $25 apiece. An Andretti membership includes discounts on attractions and meals.