|Test Track sponsored by Chevrolet now features futuristic aesthetics|
|Soft opening date||December 19, 1998|
|Opening date||March 17, 1999|
|Ride duration||5:34 minutes|
|Height requirements||40" (102 cm)|
|Replaced||World of Motion|
|FastPass +||Yes (Group A)|
|Sponsored by|| General Motors (1999-2012) |
The development of Test Track began in 1992, as a replacement for the World of Motion. General Motors had sponsored the World of Motion pavilion (which focused on the history of transportation) since 1982; however the pavilion's popularity had been waning. When GM’s sponsorship ran up in 1992 the company was unsure whether or not to renew . In order to have more time to make their decision, GM decided to continue its sponsorship for another 12 months . At the end of this period, General Motors chose to renew their sponsorship, but with the understanding that a new attraction would need to be constructed .
When developing a new attraction for the pavilion, General Motors gave Disney Imagineers instructions to narrow the focus of the pavilion to the automobile (as opposed to all of transportation) . With this in mind, Disney Imagineers went back to an old idea. During the initial development of the World of Motion, in 1976, WED Engineers had gone to a GM testing ground in Milford, Michigan. While on a tour of the grounds, they got to see how prototype cars were tested. Taking their inspiration from this trip, Imagineering had originally planned on having a secondary attraction in the World of Motion pavilion that would have allowed guests to "test" futuristic automobiles. Although this idea was eventually dropped by 1979, 25 years later, Disney resurrected the concept . To this end, Imagineering pitched the idea of Test Track- an “E-ticket” attraction that would allow guests to experience the rigorous training that vehicles went through before they were brought to the public. Initially, the ride vehicles that guests rode on Test Track were to be "sled-like" . As development continued however, Disney decided that guests should ride in cars instead. By doing this, the experience would be as similar to the General Motors testing process as possible .
Although development on Test Track began in 1992, the World of Motion did not close until January 2, 1996. Following the closure, almost the entire pavilion was gutted and a new track was built. Unlike the World of Motion, which took place completely inside of the pavilion, Test Track featured an indoor and outdoor track, with the “speed lap” portion of Test Track bringing guests outside. The idea of an exterior track was originally planned for the Transportation pavilion as far back as 1978; however it never came to fruition. Finally, in order to facilitate Test Track, a third story was added to the pavilion .
On February 13, 1996 the "GM Test Track Preview Center" opened outside of the shuttered World of Motion pavilion . Here, guests could see concept art and models of the Test Track. At this time, a large mural painted by French artist Catherine Feff was also installed . Along with the 30 ft. tall 100 ft. wide mural, The GM Preview Center promised an opening day of May 1997 for Test Track .
Construction on Test Track’s interior track began on March 4, 1996 , with the exterior finished 25 days later . Although construction was continuing on schedule, problems with the attraction’s tires (which could not withstand the rigor of the ride) and the computer system, led to major setbacks . Despite this, on October 28, 1996, a single-car test run was held . On February 14, 1997 the show instillation was complete; however when May rolled around Test Track was still not open . In fact the only change that guests could see at the time, was that the "Opening in May 1997" sign was changed to "Opening Soon" .
By 1998 Test Track was still not open, but the concept art and videos shown in the Test Track Preview Center were updated . Guests also began to see Test Track merchandise available both at a cart outside of the pavilion, as well as throughout the rest of Epcot. Finally, in December of 1998 the ride was complete. At this time, the large mural on the outside of the building was removed, and soft openings for guests and cast members began . Although complete, Test Track broke down frequently and took a long time to restart. This pushed back the opening of the attraction once again, this time to March of 1999 .
After three years of construction, Test Track was officially dedicated on March 17, 1999 . On hand for the event were NASCAR driver Richard Petty and supermodels Christine Brinkley, Angie Everhart, Carol Alt, and Frederique. Also at the dedication, musical bands Earth, Wind and Fire and The Spinners played as fireworks flew over Epcot.
Following its opening, Test Track experienced a few minor changes. These changes included:
- In 1999 and 2001 the preshow was altered to include FASTPass and then Single Rider lines.
- The pyro effects in the Road Handling Test were disabled.
- The narration that talked about the robots in the Environmental Chamber Test was shortened.
- The narration was removed from the Road Handling Test.
- The first Barrier Test had its crashing car removed.
Although Test Track remained essentially the same (apart from the minor changes listed above), things began to change when GM's sponsorship of the pavilion ended in 2009 . Initially, GM agreed to continue sponsoring the pavilion on a yearly basis . In January of 2012 however, Disney and GM agreed to a new sponsorship agreement that included a makeover of Test Track . Subsequently, on January 6, 2012 Disney announced that Test Track would be closing for a lengthy refurbishment on April 15th of that year . During the renovation, the premise of the attraction was changed, so that guests now designed their own Chevrolet car in the queue, and then tested their car on the attraction. Although the refurbishment was significant, the ride track and vehicles remained essentially the same. When discussing the changes, Imagineer Melissa Jeselnick noted:
I think the new attraction and the artwork represent the digital age, and when people think about what the inside of a computer looks like, that's what you think of.... The whole automotive design process has evolved since Test Track opened and things have moved into the digital realm, and the same has been true for WDI's design process. It updates the automotive story to reflect what is happening today .
Test Track reopened on December 6, 2012 with its updated attraction and postshow . On hand for Accelebration (as Test Track 2.0's Grand Opening was called) was Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, United States and France, and Alan Batey, CMO of General Motors. The band One Republic also played at the event . Following the reopening, Test Track was officially sponsored by Chevrolet (a subsidiary of General Motors) .
Original Test Tack (1999-2012)
Queue and Preshow
The story that the original Test Track told began when guests entered the queue. Once in line, they entered an area that was themed to look like an industrial testing laboratory. In the laboratory, there were two different kinds of tests. First, in the Quality Zone, guests could see how General Motors used various technologies in their vehicles and how these components were tested. The second part of the queue consisted of the Quality Zone, where guests could see how brakes, wheels, airbags, suspensions, seat belts and the windshield were all tested. As guests moved further into the queue they could see various "Snap-On" tools and GM's test machine, while television sets showed other tests being performed.
After passing through the turnstiles, guests reached the preshow room. Here, they would watch a video hosted by Bill McKim. Bill told a technician that he wanted to set up certain tests, as guests watched a short clip showing what each test would entail. Before guests boarded their cars, Bill told the technician that he wanted a "surprise test", which was accompanied by a clip of a car crashing into a barrier. After watching the video, guests proceed to the loading area, where they boarded their cars.
On the original Test Track, guests went through various simulations that General Motors vehicles go through before being sold to the public. These included:
Hill Climb Test- After guests entered their cars, the vehicles began to go up a three story ascension. As they rode up the incline their engine roared and tires squealed.
Suspension Test- After reaching the top of the ascension, the cars descended down one floor over various surfaces including bricks and cobblestone.
Brake Test- The next test that guests went through was the brake test. First, the car's anti-lock braking system was turned off, as the car tried to navigate through a cone course. With the system off, the car knocked over many cones. Next, the anti-lock braking was turned back on and the car was easily able to navigate the course. After completing the second course, guests watched an instant replay of the tests to reinforce how important the anti-lock breaking system is.
Environmental Chambers- After going through the brake test, the cars entered the Environmental Chambers. Here, guests were exposed to extreme heat (110°F) and extreme cold (10°F), before they were sprayed with a corrosion mist by robots.
Ride Handling Test- The next test that the guests endured tested the car's handling. In the handling tests, the car climbed up a series of hills, while increasing its speed and making blind turns. At the top of the hill the car almost drove directly into an oncoming semi-truck, before dodging it at the last second.
Barrier Test- After completing the handling test, guests experienced the test shown in the preshow film- the barrier test. At this time, the car lined up with a barrier and began to accelerate towards it. Just before hitting the barrier however, a series of flashes occurred and the barrier flew out of the way. At this point guest's picture were taken, which could later be purchased in the pavilion’s shop.
High Speed Lap- After the barrier moved away, guests found themselves outside and moving at a much faster rate. As the car took a lap along the banked roadway, guests could reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. After the lap had ended, a thermal scan was taken of guests before they unloaded into the gift shop.
Test Track’s original postshow featured a showroom which held past, present, and future GM cars. A gift shop was also located here, where guests could buy their on-ride photo, as well as Test Track and Epcot merchandise.
Current Version (2012-Present)
Queue and Main Ride
The new version of Test Track begins with guests entering the Chevrolet Design Studio. After passing by two prototype cars, guests see a model car being worked on while a Chevrolet employee explains how cars are designed. Moving past the model car, guests split into two lines where they wait, before entering into a design studio. Within the studio, guests have a period of time (which varies depending on the attraction's wait time) to design their own SimCar, which they will then test on the "SimTrack". After designing their vehicle, guests enter a second queue where they wait to board the attraction. Before getting into the ride vehicles, guests scan their RFID chip in order to upload their car into the ride.
NOTE: As opposed to designing their own car within the design studio, FastPass + and Single Riders are given 30 seconds to choose a predesigned car.
After boarding their SimCars, guests first perform the capability test. Here, the car connects to OnStar before accelerating past rain and snow, and skidding out of control. The car's path then disappears and the SimCar speeds up again, before taking a sharp left as lightning strikes nearby. The SimCar then passes a futuristic city, completing the capability test. After the test, guests can see which car scored the highest, before they move on.
Following the capability test, guests go through the efficiency test. In the first part of the test, the cars are scanned for "optimum eco-efficiency". Following the scan, the cars go through an aerodynamic test and a "hyper-spectrum imaging" takes place. Following the efficiency test, guests once again see their car's score.
The third test that guests go through on Test Track is the responsiveness test. Here, the SimCar accelerates and takes sharp turns around laser trees, before entering a tunnel and narrowly missing crashing into a semi. After seeing their responsiveness scores, guests go through the power test. After momentarily stopping, the SimCar accelerates through a series of flashing purple arches and into a wall (which has the Test Track logo on it), that flies open. After passing through the wall, guests find themselves on the exterior track where the car continues to accelerate, taking a right turn, a wide left turn, and then finally one more long left turn. Following the power test guests arrive back at the loading area.
The new Test Track postshow features several new interactive exhibits. One exhibit allows guests to drive a miniature version of the car that they created, around a digital track. Another exhibit allows guests to create a Chevy commercial featuring their car. In the postshow guests can also see how their car’s scores stacks up against other guests, as well as take photos with some of Chevy's prototype cars. Finally, the postshow area also allows features a Chevrolet Showroom and a gift shop.
Fun Facts and Trivia
- Test Track holds the distinction of being the fastest attraction (reaching speeds up to 65 mph) in all of Walt Disney World .
- Test Track also features 5,246 foot track, the longest in Disney World .
- On average each of Test Track’s ride vehicles travel 50,000 miles per year .
- The attractions host Bill McKim is played by actor John Michael Higgins .
- The score for the original Test Track is titled Test Track Medley and was composed by George Wilkins .
- Albert Yu designed the original Test Track ride vehicles .
- Pedersen, R.A. The EPCOT Explorer's Encyclopedia:. United States: Epcyclopedia, 2011. Print.