When I visited Walt Disney World as a kid I rode the monorail and stared wistfully at the little boats running around on the lakes below. Now that I'm adult and taking my own kids to Disney, I have the chance to do something about it. Disney offers rentals by the half-hour of Whaler Montauks, Sun Tracker pontoons and even a 52-foot Sea Ray Sedan (that one requires a captain). But the kid in me wanted to do one thing: Zip around in one of those tiny runabouts.
Of course, being a boat tester, I couldn't just get in and go. I had to bring along a GPS.
Those little outboard boats are actually miniature Sea Rays, officially named Sea Raycers. They're two-seaters with a black gel-coat finish and a white deckliner with a light blue arch that's aesthetically pleasing but ostensibly to separate the driver and passenger from the outboard, in this case a 9.9 hp Mercury. Passengers are further protected by a metal bracket around the back of the cowling. Life jackets are non-negotiable.
Powering up, the little Sea Raycer felt nimble and it carved tight turns when I swung the wheel lock to lock. Unfortunately, the Raycer moniker raises expectations of speed but this is Disney--even Space Mountain caps out at 27 mph. Having no tachometer, I couldn't test the boat through its RPM band but I did record a top speed of 16 mph. Not fast enough to tow a wakeboarder. (Coincidentally, you can wakeboard and tube at Disney, with professional drivers. Go here to check it out. You can fish too.) Either way, I'll be renting one the next time we take the kids. When they're old enough, they can too.
NOTE: Esteemed contributor Charles Plueddeman once did a more comprehensive study of the Disney boats for the magazine. Unfortunately, it appeared in print when AOL still ruled the interwebs so it's not online, otherwise I'd link to it.
Check out this video of the Sea Raycer in action: