Test Track is a high speed giant slot car attraction at Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. The ride is a simulated excursion through the rigorous testing procedures that General Motors uses to evaluate its concept cars, culminating in a high-speed drive around the exterior of the attraction. It closed for refurbishment on April 5, 2012 and re-opened on December 6, 2012. It is now sponsored by the Chevrolet brand rather than General Motors as a whole, who sponsored the attraction from 1999 until the refurbishment.
Test Track soft-opened to the public December 19, 1998 after a long delay due to problems revealed during testing and changes to the ride design which prevented the ride from opening on its original date, May 1997. Instead, the attraction officially opened on March 17, 1999. Test Track replaced World of Motion, though it uses the same ride building.
Before the 2012 refurbishment, guests rode in "test vehicles" in a GM "testing facility" and were taken through a series of assessments to illustrate how automobile prototype evaluations are conducted. The highlight of the attraction was (and still is) a speed trial on a track around the exterior of the Test Track building at a top speed of 64.9 miles per hour (104.6 km/h) making it one of the fastest Disney theme park attractions ever built. After the 2012 refurbishment, guests design their own car in the Chevrolet Design Studio. Then they board a "Sim-Car" and are taken through the "digital" testing ground of the "SimTrack". Throughout the ride, guests see how their designs performed in each individual test. After the ride, guests can see how their car did overall, film a commercial, and race their designs.
Test Track (March 1999 – April 2012)
World of Motion was an attraction that was located in the current building of Test Track and was sponsored by General Motors. When the sponsorship expired, GM was in the process of conducting lay-offs and cutbacks forcing the company to question whether or not to sign another sponsorship agreement. Upon deciding to sign another agreement, GM wanted Disney to construct a new ride (in the location of World of Motion) that focused specifically around their automobiles, rather than the fanciful history of transportation from the pre-historic (animal transportation) to modern age (automobiles, planes, etc.) previously housed in the space. In 1976, Disney Imagineers had visited the Milford Proving Ground (owned by General Motors) and later made a second trip to the facility and worked with GM to create Test Track. After numerous problems encountered during the construction of the ride, Test Track soft-opened on December 19, 1998 but didn't officially open until March 17, 1999, nearly 2 years after the original scheduled opening date.
After World of Motion had closed on January 2, 1996, everything inside the ride building was removed. After, new track was constructed outside of the building which is used as the high-speed test for Test Track. Work inside the building also continued at the same time. It was scheduled to open 19 months after World of Motion's closing, in May 1997, but after numerous problems rose, the ride opening was delayed by nearly 2 years. Also, the cars used on the ride were designed to resemble the look of a test car that is used to go through multiple safety tests.
Over the course of the construction of Test Track, numerous problems occurred causing delays in the ride opening. One problem that Imagineers had to overcome was that the wheels used on the ride vehicles could not stand up to the demand of the ride course and speed. This problem was resolved but a second, more severe problem caused the ride to be delayed by over a year. In order for Test Track to run with the highest hourly capacity possible, twenty-nine ride vehicles would be needed. The ride programming system could only handle operating a maximum of six cars over the layout of the ride. One by one, programmers were able to get the computer system able to run twenty-nine ride vehicles all at once. After these problems were resolved, Test Track soft-opened to the public on December 19, 1998. The ride was still prone to breakdowns and didn't officially open until March 17, 1999.
Test Track Presented by Chevrolet (December 2012 – present)
On January 6, 2012, Disney Parks announced plans to renovate Test Track during the second and third quarters of the year and re-open the ride by fall 2012. As part of the update, Test Track's sponsor became General Motors' Chevrolet marque instead of GM as a whole. The new additions include a pre-show area where guests "design" a new car for testing in the Chevrolet Design Center, then they will board Test Track's existing six-passenger ride vehicles, to be known as "SimCars", to see how their design fares on the Center's driving course. The experience concludes in a renovated showroom featuring current and future Chevrolet products. Also, the ride vehicles used on the original Test Track, will remain the same but receive new "skin". On April 27, 2012, Walt Disney's social media manager Jennifer Fickley-Baker released a set of concept design photos. Within the photos, it was confirmed that the ride will have 4 main tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. The ride closed on April 15, 2012 and soon later, barriers were placed along all walk-ways leading to either the entrance or exit of the ride. Also, a musical show called "Test Track All Stars" has been added in front of the former main entrance to Test Track, which closed on December 4, 2012. The refurbished attraction first opened to guests during a soft opening on December 3, 2012. The grand re-opening took place on December 6, 2012.
During the first part of the queue, guests viewed a sample repair and test shop. As guests entered the queue in the welcome center they were shown tests performed on cars and parts before being released. The queue wound by different tests for tires and car doors, an anechoic chamber for radio receivers, and an area for crash test dummies to be tested. At the end of the queue a group of guests would be brought into a briefing room where they were shown automobile testing facilities and examples of tests being performed. The host, Bill McKim (John Michael Higgins) told the guests that they would take part in some of these tests and also told the technician Sherrie what tests to set up. Small videos of each test were shown as he spoke. He finally told her to choose one final "surprise test," and a video of a car crashing into a barrier was shown as a door opened for guests to enter the interior queue.
Upon reaching the end of the second queue, guests were loaded into test cars. Upon dispatching from the loading dock, the car was brought through an accelerated hill climb. Next, the car's suspension was tested over different types of road surfaces, including German and Belgian blocks & cobblestones. Next, the car's anti-lock braking system was turned off and the car tried to navigate a course of cones, knocking many over in the process. The anti-lock brakes were then turned back on and a similar cone course was navigated easily. Guests were shown a video overlay of the difference. Then, the cars were brought through 3 environmental chambers: a heat chamber, a cold chamber, and a corrosion chamber.
The handling of the car was then tested. It climbed a set of hills with blind turns while increasing its speed by 10% each time. At the top, the car almost crashes into an oncoming semi-truck before swerving out of the way. The car was now brought to the final test shown in the briefing room: the barrier test. The car lined up across from a barrier and began to accelerate towards it. Just before hitting the barrier a series of flashes occurred, where a picture of the guests was taken, and the barrier opened to a track outside. The car took a lap around the building with banked turns and a max speed of 64.9 mph (104.6 km/h). As the car returned to the loading dock, a thermal scan was taken of the guests and shown on a large screen.
Like many Disney attractions, Test Track exited into a themed gift shop featuring merchandise associated with the attraction. Guests could also view and purchase photos taken of their vehicle on the ride or scan their Photopass to view or purchase the photos later. There was also an area where there was a showroom of all new, prototype, or legendary GM vehicles.
Post Show: The Assembly Experience
Experience designer Bob Rogers and the design team BRC Imagination Arts, were commissioned to create the new post show experience entitled: "The Assembly Experience." The Assembly Experience is a walk-through environment, giving guest the illusion that they are on the floor of a vast automotive assembly plant. Automotive doors, seats, and engines glide overhead on assembly line chainveyors, while simulated automotive die-press caused the floor to "rumble" as each automotive part was pressed. Video monitors provided real GM workers a chance to tell EPCOT visitors how they felt about their products and their work.
The first queue uses the same area as the old but is themed to Chevrolet's Design Studio. Riders pass by two concept cars, the Chevrolet Tru and the Chevrolet EN-V. After, the standby queue leads to a section where a small model car is drawn on through projections while one of Chevrolet's employees discusses the design process for cars. Then the standby queue goes by large touchscreens where riders can take tutorials on how to design a car. Once at the front of the queue, riders use their MagicBand, park ticket, or receive a white RFID card called a "design key" and wait for a set of doors to open leading into one of the two design studios. Once in the studio, riders have a set amount of time (that depends on how busy the attraction is) to design their own "Chevrolet Custom Concept Vehicle" that will be tested on the sim-track. Once the time expires, riders move to the second queue which leads to the boarding area. For Fastpass+ riders, the queue goes directly to the main design studios. For single riders, guests use their MagicBand, ticket, or a design key to select a pre-designed vehicle from one of the four performance attributes: Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness or Power. Once guests select their vehicle, they move to the same second queue. While waiting to board the sim-cars, all guests must scan their MagicBand, ticket, or design key again at the gate to upload their Chevrolet Custom Concept Vehicle to the sim-car.
After riders board the sim-cars and the seat belts are fastened, the car that they designed will undergo four different tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. In the capability test the car first connects to OnStar, then accelerates past a rain/snow projection and skids out of control. Next, the continuing path disappears and the sim-car turns around to speed up again. A short time later, the sim-car makes a sharp left turn as a lighting bolt strikes. The car then passes by a futuristic city. Following the capability test, the results of which car designs scored the best in the test are displayed. The sim-car then begins the efficiency test. In the first part, the sim-cars are scanned for "optimum eco-efficiency". The second test performs an aero-dynamic test on the vehicle. Finally, a "hyper-spectrum imaging" takes place. Again, after the test is complete, the best scores are displayed. The third test, responsiveness, is next. The sim-car accelerates around hairpin turns with laser-projected trees. It then enters a tunnel to encounter the 18-wheeler from the original version though it is now shown with lasers. When the vehicle exits the tunnel, the results for the responsiveness test are displayed and all of the test icons are displayed. The final test is power where the sim-car stops for a moment then accelerates through flashing purple arches to a wall with the ride's logo on it leading to the outside portion of the ride. As the sim-car's speed is increased, it makes a right turn, followed by a wide left, a straight section, and one final long left turn. When the test is complete, the vehicle returns to the loading station where the next riders board. Then, guests use their MagicBand, ticket, or design key that has their Chevrolet Custom Concept Vehicle that they made in the Design Studio to play games and make a ad in the "Chevrolet Showroom." There is also a shop located at the exit like the original version of the ride.
Many World of Motion logos can be found throughout the attraction. These logos are references to the old attraction, and can be found on trash bins, murals, and the attraction's main sign.
- Opening three years later than scheduled, Test Track claims the record for the most delayed attraction in Disney parks history.
- Test Track holds the title for the fastest Disney attraction (registering at a top speed of 65mph) and the longest ride track length.
- At an estimated cost of $300 million, Test Track is the most expensive theme park attraction in the world.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Epcot: Test Track back on Dec. 6". Orlando Sentinel (October 9, 2012) Retrieved on October 9, 2012.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Worlds of Motion / Test Track". Epcot Discovery Center Retrieved on July 2, 2012.
- ↑ Timeline – "General Motors and the Walt Disney Company sign a new contract that ensures GM's presence at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida until the 21st century. The contract extends the partnership at Epcot until 2007 and provides for a complete redesign of the existing GM World of Motion pavilion." General Motors. Archived September 8, 2014. Original webpage here.
- ↑ "World of Motion and Test Track Concept & Construction Pictures". Epcot Discovery Center Retrieved on July 2, 2012.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Jennifer Fickley-Baker (January 6, 2012). "Re-Imagined Test Track Will Put Guests in the Designer’s Seat This Fall at Epcot". The Walt Disney Company Retrieved on January 8, 2012.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Epcot's Test Track to put it in park on April 15". Orlando Sentinel (April 10, 2012) Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
- ↑ "Test Track's Refurbished Vehicles – PHOTOS". The Disney Corner (September 6, 2011) Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
- ↑ Jennifer Fickley-Baker (April 27, 2012). "New Renderings Depict a Re-imagined Test Track at Epcot". The Walt Disney Company Retrieved on May 3, 2012.
- ↑ "Test Track All Stars | Epcot". touringplans.com.
- ↑ "Test Track Refurbishment With Chevrolet Re-branding Begins, Test Track All-Stars Make Their Debut". Da Mouse (April 19, 2012) Retrieved on July 5, 2012.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Test Track Tribute – Full ride, queue, pre-show, and post-show at Epcot". InsideTheMagic (YouTube) (April 16, 2012) Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
- ↑ "Bob Rogers: Theme Park Storytelling". mouseplanet.com (January 12, 2011)
- ↑ "GM Test Track: Them Assembly Experience". BRC Imagination Arts
- ↑ "BRC - Creators of World Class Attractions". brcweb.com
- ↑ "Full Test Track 2.0 queue, ride, and post-show at Epcot, Walt Disney World". InsideTheMagic (YouTube) (December 1, 2012) Retrieved on January 18, 2013.