First looks at the new version of Epcot's Test Track
Written by Robert Niles
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):
What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
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