(image Disney Parks)
Test Track opened in 1999 in Epcot’s Future World and is sponsored by the General Motors Company.
- At approximately 65mph, Test Track is the fastest ride at Walt Disney World.
- Originally, the ride was supposed to reach speeds of 95mph, but Florida’s speed limit laws prohibited it.
- Each ride vehicle is created to last for a million miles.
- Each vehicle has six breaking systems rather than the two on standard cars.
- Because parts of Test Track are outdoors, the ride will close if lightning is detected within a 5 mile radius.
- The attraction is built to withstand winds of up to 200mph in case of inclement weather.
When General Motors (GM) was approached to sponsor the ride, they were experiencing financial setbacks and company layoffs. GM decided to partner with Disney, but initially only signed a one year contract. In order to make space for and finance the attraction, Disney closed the World of Motion ride and used the same building to house the new attraction.
(image Disney Parks)
While brainstorming ideas for the ride, GM expressed that they did not want a ride that focused on the history of automobiles, but rather an attraction focusing on the General Motors company and products. They decided to create a ride that simulated the thorough testing procedures GM uses to ensure the safety of their automobiles.
Test Track soft-opened to the public on December 19, 1998, but officially opened on March 17, 1999. It had been slated to open in May of 1997, but was delayed due to technical issues. The ride has a total of 31 cars that can each seat 6 passengers.
Guests entered the attraction and joined a waiting queue that featured a test and repair shop. Visitors watched various tests performed on tires, car doors, and even crash test dummies. The host, Bill McKim (portrayed by John Michael Higgins) informed riders that they would be participating in some of the testing being done at the facility. He told his assistant to set up the test sequence and, as she entered information into the computer, we saw pictures of tire, temperature, and brake tests showed on a screen. He then told her to choose a final “surprise test” and visitors saw a video of a car crashing on the screen before the doors to the main part of the ride opened.
After the ride doors opened, guests were loaded into vehicles designed to look like test cars. The ride began with an initial acceleration test up a hill, followed by a terrain test over various types of road surfaces. The host then announced that he would be testing your cars anti-lock braking system by first driving a cone course with them deactivated and then repeating the process with them activated. Once the anti-lock brake system was turned off, the car careened through the cones, knocking most of them over.
The ride continued into a temperature test area where guests were exposed to heat, cold and corrosive scenarios. In the original ride, temperature would actually fluctuate by 100 degrees to simulate the change in climate/weather and make the environments more realistic. Next, the vehicle entered the handling test area where it climbed winding hills as the speed increased by increments of 10%. At the top of the hill, it looked like your vehicle would crash into a semi-truck before swerving to miss it.
The final “surprise test” selected at the beginning was a barrier test where the car accelerated toward a barrier. Right before hitting it, a picture was taken of the guests and lights flashed before the barrier opened to expose outdoor tracks. The car accelerated to almost 65mph as it lapped the track and banked curves. As guests exited the ride, they entered a gift shop featuring GM and Test Track merchandise. Visitors could purchase their pictures taken on the ride and view a showroom that featured GM’s latest vehicle models and prototypes.
The Assembly Experience:
Guests were also welcomed to view “The Assembly Experience,” a walk-through replica of an automotive assembly factory. The environment featured assembly lines and conveyor belts to make the experience as authentic as possible. Videos featured actual GM workers who would talk to guests about their experience with the product and company.
(Photo Disney Parks)
On April 15, 2012, Disney closed Test Track for renovations and reopened in December of the same year. General Motors transferred sponsorship to their Chevrolet division rather than the GM company as a whole. The ride structure remains the same, but the queue and ride concept were changed to reflect a more futuristic/innovation driven experience. Instead of simulating a GM testing facility, guests now create their own cars in the Chevrolet Design Studio and test their “SimCar” to see how their creation would fair in capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power tests.
(Photo Disney Parks)
Did You Know?
- The new ride is inspired heavily by the movie Tron.
- Holographic images are now used to reflect temperature/weather/climate change on the ride.
- Guests can view how their car performed, film a commercial, and have a picture taken with their Chevrolet Design Studio creation after the ride.
- OnStar is featured in the capability testing portion of the ride.
- The vehicle showroom now features vehicles and products from the Chevrolet line.
- There are different sets for guests to take photos in the vehicle showroom.
- It only takes 8.8 seconds to go from 0-65mph on the ride
- There are World of Motion “easter eggs” on trash cans, murals and signs throughout the ride in homage to the original ride.
What do you think of Test Track? Do you prefer the original or the new version? Comment and let us know!
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