What in the world are the amphicars at Disney Springs? If you’ve visited Disney Springs recently and been to the Boat House, you’ve likely seen the amphicars – the cars driving on the lake. Yes, automobiles that operate on water. Or a car that becomes a boat once on the water. Often referred to as “cars that swim.” If you haven’t seen or heard of the amphicars, here is everything you need to know and why you should ride in one.
These cars are the only land and water car in the world. Officially known as amphicars, you can ride them at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida. Once upon a time, Disney Springs was the only place in America where you could ride with a captain. You can also ride these iconic cars at Branson Landing, Missouri.
The idea of an amphibious car was the brainchild of Hans Trippel, a German designer. The Amphicar Model 770 debuted in 1961. Quandt Group produced The vehicles in Germany and were available to buy from 1961 to 1968. Production stopped in 1965, with 3,878 produced, of which 3,046 were imported into the U.S.
By all accounts, amphicars offered subpar performance both on land and water. The cars are plagued with poor design and are prone to leaks. Most importantly, they were overpriced for their time. Our driver, Joshua explained that at the time, they were priced in the same range as a 1961 Jaguar E-Type, and during a very unusual novelty, they could not compete with the luxury cars at the time.
Mike Lewis, an owner said “It’s not a good car and it’s not a good boat, but it does just fine” largely because of modest performance in and out of water. Another added, “We like to think of it as the fastest car on the water and fastest boat on the road.”
Despite this, the amphicar is still the most successfully produced civilian amphibious car. And they enjoy a devoted group of followers that appreciate them for what they are.
How Does The Amphicar Work?
Oddly, it never occurred to me to even think about this until we were on the lake. Boats don’t have breaks, and this is a car, so my first thought, once we started floating, is, how is this possible?
The Amphicar’s engine is mounted at the back, making the wheels run through a 4-speed manual transmission. This engine controls a pair of reversible propellers at the back when in water. While driving on the water, the Amphicar is in neutral, and the front wheels govern steering. Who knew?
I know this will sound wild, given that we took a ride in the Amphicar. But, when the car splashes into the water, you take a deep breath. It was scary at first. Now, you start to think about how this is possible; it is safe, does the car leak, I will drown, and so on. Ironically, none of this was a concern pre-launch.
Once you get over the initial shock, you sit back and enjoy the marvel. It does not feel anything like a boat. It feels like a car that is floating. They move pretty slowly, and your body is submerged yet dry as you ride. We were lucky; we had Joshua as our guide, a native Floridian who knew about the Amphicars, Florida, and boating in general. He explained the mechanics of the vehicle, the maintenance routine, and lots of information about Amphicar owners.
Weather permitting, you can make a reservation from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Each Amphicar can accommodate up to three guests (classified as three adults, two adults, and two small children). The cost as of July 2019 is $125 per car. If you book two vehicles, you will get a $25 discount. Likewise, if you eat at the Boathouse, you will get a $25 discount when you show your receipt.
The ride is twenty minutes, plenty of time to enjoy the experience.
Video Of The Amphicar Disney Springs in Action!
Who Owns The Amphicars at Disney Springs?
Contrary to many other articles, Disney’s cars are not owned, nor was this attraction a Disney idea. The car collection belongs to the Gibson Restaurant Group. The Boathouse is one of the groups’ restaurants, and they lease the location from Disney. Steven Schussler is the creative genius behind the idea. Schussler has owned several Amphicars and decided that making amphicar rides available would be a distinguishing way to highlight the Boathouse. He was right!
The Boathouse is the only place the public can ride in an amphicar. The best bit is that you don’t need a parking ticket to participate at Disney Springs.
Random Amphicar Facts
- President Johnson owned an amphicar, and he said he would prank guests who did not know the car was aquatic and run people onto his lake.
- Amphicar owners often get together for “swim-ins.” Guess what? We have one in Florida at Mount Dora every year from March 14th to 17th.
- Four hundred known amphicars exist today; of the 400, approximately 80 reside in Europe.
- Twelve of the 400 remaining amphicars are at the Boathouse.
- Two amphibious vehicles crossed the English Channel.
The Dubai Jetcar
Leave it to Dubai to invent an amphibious vehicle – a racecar version nonetheless! While this new trend in Dubai allows you to drive what looks like a sports car on the water, these are not amphibious cars. Meaning they are boats designed to look like cars and do not drive on land.
Frequently Asked Questions About Amphicars
What happened to the Amphicar?
In 1965, production of the amphibious car officially ceased, but Amphicars made from the remaining parts continued to be sold. The newly formed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set vehicle emissions and safety standards in 1968 when the last Amphicar was sold.
What is an Amphicar?
Only one civilian amphibious passenger automobile has been mass-produced: the Amphicar. The United States imported 3,046 Amphicars between 1961 and 1967. The Amphicar has a 4-cylinder Triumph Herald engine with 43 horsepower, and the engine is at the rear.
How do you spell Amphicar?
Amphicar is spelled Amphicar, and it’s pronounced: “Amphi-car.”
The Amphicar Model 770 is an amphibious automobile launched at the 1961 New York Auto Show, manufactured in West Germany, and marketed from 1961 to 1968.
Is there a car that can drive on water?
Prodrive Watercars are available in addition to Amphicars. This American-made vehicle is the fastest amphibious vehicle in the world. A 3.7-liter V6 engine makes it capable of 43mph out at sea, and if you have a pair of water skis handy, you can also tow someone along.
Most people have never heard of the amphicar, much less ridden in one. And, unless you know someone who owns one, your only chance to ride is at the Boathouse. As you ride, people will watch in awe; everyone takes photos and waves at you. This is an enthralling experience that is worth spending money on. Lastly, eat at the Boathouse. They have a fantastic collection of Oysters from all over Northern America.
Are you looking for more posts on Disney? Start here:
- 50% Off Disney Resorts – Here Is How!
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach: Make A Splash On Your Next Holiday
- Disney Rides for Toddlers at Disney World
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: Why Should You Visit?
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