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First looks at the new version of Epcot's Test Track

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Published: December 1, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Walt Disney World's new version of Test Track has soft-opened to family and friends of cast members, and might be soft-opening to the public as early as tomorrow (Dec. 2). A Theme Park Insider reader who recently rode the new Test Track has sent us a review (with spoilers - if you care to avoid details, bail on this post now:

I never really liked the original Test Track to begin with. It just doesn't reach that level of awesomeness that Impressions de France or Tower of Terror reaches. To me, it was a very meh ride, in which I wouldn't wait more than 20 minutes for. Granted, I am a CM so I am pretty spoiled when it comes to wait times... With that said, I do believe Test Track 2.0 is a big improvement from the original. I rode this 5 times (3 day, 2 night rides) during the Cast-Only Previews on November 24th so not all the elements were working. But I was very impressed from what was working!

First thing's first, it is very Tron-like. And I liked that. Queue: The queue has been totally redone and doesn't even resemble the old queue. And it smelled like a new car. There were people working on some monitors so not everything was working. Design: There are 2 Stand-By design rooms and we were given a white card with a blue rubber band on it. Which you have to hang on to throughout your ride and post-show experience. They are similar to the the Photo-Pass cards given out in the Disney Water Parks, but the size of the regular card. Our card was just white but I'm sure it'll have a design once it opens. You go into these design rooms, tap your card to a symbol on the right, and you have about 2-3 minutes to design your car. You tap your card first, and you better design fast because there are a lot of options for your car like wheels(*Don't forget the Back Wheels!!!*), length, outline, color, accessories, etc. A lot of people didn't finish once time ran out. The design process is a lot like the Sum of All Thrills' design process but with a lot more options. As you make changes to your design, you can see what it does to your car. For example adding something can give you +5 environmental but -5 power.

Once the design is done, you walk up a ramp to merge and then to load. Load: Once your by the air gates, you tap your design card to the same symbol as the design lab's symbol and your design should pop up (This didn't always work when I rode.) Ride: After each test, your design is ranked with each person's design in your car. (This wasn't working when I rode) And you can see the rankings on the screens where they used to talk to you in Test Track 1.0. When heading to the seat-belt check, you hear the same "Hello! The seat-belt check is just around the corner.." announcement from your car but in a male's voice instead of a female's.

Hill Climb: This is the first time you see any Tron-like scenery and I was quite impressed by it. It's like sensory overload. The top of the hill climb is very Space Mountain-like with the stars. Suspension Test: There is none. Your car doesn't shake anymore. I think this is supposedly where your design is uploaded. 1st Brake Test: At the end of this test, it looks like you're heading into a valley but when you swerve out of control, the valley starts flooding with the water like cube things heading towards you. When the water thing hits you, the screen where you see the valley explodes, and the water like cube things are projected in the cars. 2nd Brake Test: Similar to the first but instead of a valley, a lightning strike hitting a (city as I recall). And on your left, you see a cool looking red city. Environmental Tests: The first test is like a laser projected from the ceiling and onto your car. (like Dinosaur, if it's working, right before you see the control room before you time travel) The second test looks like a stream-line test where you see yourself in your car and you can see the stream-lines going around your car. But this wasn't working when I rode. The third test, you see some Tron-like designs on the walls and as you passed by, they change colors. It was a pretty cool effect.

Track Course A: Pretty much the same as Test Track 1.0 but with more futuristic road signs and the trees are outlined to look Tron-like. Truck: The Truck is still there but, like the trees, is outlined to look Tron-like. And the truck driver with the lei is gone. Barrier/Power Test: When you make that right turn before you start the test, you can see all the test symbols "charging up?" I guess that's the best way to explain it. The crash wall is still there but, as you guessed, Tron-like. (This is the last Tron-like thing you see.) And the outside portion is the same as Test Track 1.0, but the lights under the track are blue instead of a yellowish-orange. The breaks still stink like 1.0's, where they are constantly pumping their brakes. Thermal Imaging: This is where you see your design rank overall with the other riders in the car. Post-Show: You can see a lot of places to tap your card and when you do, your design pops up and is given a score. Which is compared against everyone else who rode that day. Maybe year/month? My score was in the low 200's (I have no idea what that score means but I'm sure as I ride more, I'll understand it). There looks like there are more post show things to do but it was roped off to us and we had to put our cards into a black basket before exiting through a Cast hallway that leads backstage.

If you're looking for video, here's a side-by-side comparison with the original version of Test Track, where you can see the differences between the new version's computer graphics and the old version's physical props (credit to Matt Roseboom's crew for this mash-up):

Anyone planning to ride the new Test Track soon?

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on December 2, 2012 at 7:16 AM
I'm planning to ride this sometime in January. It looks amazing!
From Mark Fairleigh on December 2, 2012 at 8:10 AM
TT 2.0 DOES look amazing! Though it's a little bittersweet since I loved the 1.0 version so much. Still, looking forward to it extremely. Especially the competitive aspect of designing and grading your own design vs. your fellow passengers!
From James Trexen on December 2, 2012 at 9:24 AM
Looks neat, but it looks like night time is the only good time to ride since the outdoor portion now looks strikingly dull compared to the rest of the ride.
From 173.227.104.102 on December 2, 2012 at 10:05 AM
I had the opportunity to ride it last night. While much improved, the preshow technology did not work properly for both times i rode. The design touchscreen didn't work and in fact, the car that was uploaded on the card wasn't even the car we designed. The second time, we got booted out of the design screen before our timer expired and more guests started piling in even though we had no instructions to leave the preshow room. My advice...pay attention to the video monitors to understand what you need to do as the cast members just handed out cards and directed us into the room with no further instructions. I hope they address these potential trouble-spots before they open to the public.

That said, there is much detail in the new ride experience and it's much smoother too! If working properly, this is a wonderful upgrade to what was already an awesome attraction!

From Daniel Etcheberry on December 2, 2012 at 11:31 AM
It looks nice, but as someone already mentioned, the outside portion looks dull compared to the indoor section. They should have enclosed the outdoor portion creating a tron-like tunnel.
From Bryce McGibeny on December 2, 2012 at 1:55 PM
^ Then your ear-drums would explode.
From 99.127.132.124 on December 2, 2012 at 3:52 PM
From what I can tell, the inside ride portion, the preshow, and postshow are phenomenal! The outdoor section, however, won't compare to the rest of the ride except at night. I will be able to better judge it in January when I ride.
From 96.38.106.22 on December 2, 2012 at 5:31 PM
Not awesome at all. The black lights and neon colors are ridiculous. You can't see what is going on half the time. Fail.
From Zena Sharpe on December 3, 2012 at 3:19 AM
Mmmm, not sure - there are some elements to the original version that I will really miss but I do like the idea of seeing how your car would have coped with the tests. I agree about the outdoor bit - apart from the signs coming down and the paint turning Pink - nothing very exciting.
Still can't wait to ride as this has always been a fave for me!
From 92.237.20.57 on December 3, 2012 at 4:56 AM
Really not sure what i think about it based on the comparison video, whilst not a massive fan of the original ride it was always one i rode regardless of queue time or whatever else was planned during a visit to epcot. The new ride bar the truck element looks far too clever for its own good and part of the charm of the original test track was the fact it was realistic to what a normal car can do, this just looks too futuristic and far too space age. Reserve judgement till i get to ride it next yr, hopefully its a ride you need to experience rather than watch as not all rides look good with onboard videos
From 71.226.19.76 on December 3, 2012 at 7:29 AM
The review you posted is a little off.

So I've been on it 5 times now. Only once did the car not load. The Touch screens work properly, just not always the users. The ride's white cards are part of the next gen system, using the same orbs and RFID chips.

The design phase is nothing like designing Sum of All Thrills or Cyber Space Mountain. You pretty much build the car ground up and make the look just as about personable as one could imagine, unlike picking preselected choices at other design attractions.

As for the ride itself, it feels much smoother and more refined than the old one. The stops are smooth, the turns are flawless and as a whole a lot less jerky.

The outside part isn't dull. And really, the practicality of enclosing it just doesn't make sense.

From 71.226.19.76 on December 3, 2012 at 7:31 AM
It's actually not TRON like. As a fan of both TRON and Test Track, I'd like to point out that just because something glows and has neon like elements doesn't make it TRON like. The designers did a great job at creating a distinct visual style from TRON.
From Tony Duda on December 3, 2012 at 1:16 PM
That side-by-side video was great, nice job Matt and team.

I rode it Saturday Dec. 1 as a 3rd rider, the other 2 in my seat row did all the design input as I watched. As said above, the touch screens were glitchy and the cast members didn't seem to know where to put people or how to explain the design procedures. Three people sit in each car row but 2 people were assigned each design screen. We couldn't tell if each person designs, or 2 people or 3 people design together. The design step has a lot going on and it will take several rides to learn the procedures. They had a time limit countdown for various aspects of car design which seemed to put pressure on the "designers" and numerous mistakes were made. To me, it seemed like a lot of busy work to distract you from realizing how long you are waiting to ride. I heard a rumor that there will be a single rider line that will by-pass all the design pre-show just for people who want to ride. Now, the new queue and post-ride rooms were very nice. Many new cars to look over. I didn't spend much time in there but easily would have enjoyed a slow trip through. The ride decor is futuristic and fun. All the old factory decor is gone. Basically, I'm not the target audience for the interactivity, I want a great ride and that part is the same as before but with new decor (see video).

From Rob Pastor on December 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM
Test Track 2.0 looks like it will be a big improvement on TT 1.0. I really didn't care much for TT 1.0. 1.0 had the ambiance of a car repair shop, which brings back a lot of bad bored memories. The futuristic look of the new attraction is something that looks interesting for many enjoyable re rides, if the lines aren't too long. Good job Disney & GM.
From Skipper Adam on December 3, 2012 at 7:46 PM
I've been on this 14 times now. It blows my mind. I new they were changing the look and feel, but I didn't realize how much they could do that without changing the track.

Everything seemed to work for me. You design the car in groups of three or less. There's actually more time to design that most people need and it's fun to try and optimize the car to get the most points.

What's really awesome is how the car design is used after the ride too for a handful of other activities and fun and FREE photos emailed to you.

From 12.69.234.201 on December 3, 2012 at 8:25 PM
Why not just leave TT alone and put the actual Tron e ticket in Epcot that's going in Shanghai? It could be attached to a pavillion about computer science/future tech to fit in with the world expo theme. Oh ya cause that would cost money, and Chevy is footing the bill for this Makeover. This is WDW cheaping out once again imo.
From 70.193.199.4 on December 3, 2012 at 10:18 PM
I would Test Track three times today (Monday 12/3/12). It is Tron-like in appearance. However, I thought it was lame compared to the previous version, although I was not sure if all the new features were working.

One of the post ride features was a video slot car figure eight race track where you can race your designed car against other riders. This was fun. The controls were very sensitive to rider inputs and took a while to figure out. This being the case most of the riders/drivers/players spent their time crashing into the walls, each other and getting stuck in the video "mud pit" rather than racing. Also, part of the problem was that the computer would freeze then unfreeze and instantaneously advance your car go several seconds ahead, causing you to wreck.

Important Note: If your use the Fast-Pass or the single rider line, you will not be able to fully design your car as you would in the Stand-by line. In the Fast Pass and single rider line you are given a choice of several one size fits all models to choose from. None of them perform that well in the rankings at the end of the ride.

I asked a CM about this--to make sure I was not just messing up. He stated that Fast Pass and single rider line are promising the rider a shorter wait time. This being the case, these riders will not have and additional 9 minutes to spend designing their car.

Have fun.

From Skipper Adam on December 4, 2012 at 9:26 AM
Okay, lets not keep on making the mistake that this is anything like a Tron ride. In person, it's very easy to distinguish this from Tron. The currant internal rumor is that Speedway is going and a copy of the Tron ride will go there.
From David Ackerman on December 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM
I wanted to wait to actually ride Test Track 2.0 before commenting. Did so, today. For those who hate long comments, summary. Meh. TT 1.0 was better.

Same ride vehicle, new paint. Queue is "NextGen", which means lots of distractions to keep guests amused, but no real improvement. Yeah, you get to look at new things. I actually liked the old version with the "test lab" decor.

The actual ride actually has much less to see. You go fast. You stop. You go fast. You swerve. No explanation of why. (yes, I miss the hot/cold/corrosion piece. More to see.) Removing the blocks was probably a good idea - no more teeth chatter.

You zig-zag up the hill with neon pine trees instead of flat plywood ones. Why is the truck hiding at the top of the hill? We'll never know.

The "design a car" piece is another "NextGen" time-waster. I can't say it did much to excite me.

For what they spend on TT 2.0, they could have added another ride to EPCOT.

Not much imagination in Imagineering these days.

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