Are you excited to ride Disney's new version of Test Track?

August 27, 2012, 9:30 PM · I tried. I really did. But I just can't get excited about Disney's Test Track.

Test Track
The new marquee for Epcot's updated Test Track, to debut in "late fall" of this year.

Disney today hosted an online chat with Imagineer Melissa Jeselnick about the new Test Track. Even though Disney screened the questions, it seemed to me that participants were having trouble understanding just would be different about this version of Epcot's ride through the process of designing a car.

Ultimately, from my reading of Jeselnick's responses, I think the answer is "nothing" - in terms of the ride itself. It'll be the same ride track, with the same ride vehicles as before. What will change is the show experience, and especially the pre-show experience, which Disney will infuse with a competitive video-game-like element.

In the queue, you'll use kiosks to design a digital version of a Chevrolet vehicle. Then, on the ride, your digital design will be tested and scored in four stations - for Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness, and Power. The highlight of the ride will continue to be the 65 mph "speed test" around the outside of the Test Track building. And in the post-show, you'll get to see how your specific design fared.

Be warned, though. Although the ride will continue to have FastPass and single rider bypass lines, people using those lines will not get to customize their own vehicle design, according to today's chat. Instead, they'll simply get to choose from one of a number of pre-designed options to "test" during the ride.

It sounds as though much of the show within the ride will now be screen-based, mostly to reflect the increasingly digital nature of vehicle design. (Heck, attraction design's the same way.) But that will give Disney's Imagineers the opportunity to do some cool Tron-type visuals within the ride.

You can't truly judge a ride during the concept, design, or even the construction phase. Only when you ride will you know how well the attraction works, or doesn't. But nothing I've heard about Test Track excites me. Watching people test a digital prototype of a mass production car fojhe2djn1wejdedjn…

Sorry, I fell asleep just typing that.

People spend big bucks to go on vacation to escape their desk jobs - not to watch people do pretty much the same thing. What Disney's describing here sounds like a great attraction for a GM factory exhibition in Michigan. But Disney World ought to offer us something more exciting than that. If it must devote an attraction to car design, let it be for high-end, super-performance vehicles, such as IndyCars or Ferraris. Or if it wants to plug Chevrolet, let us ride a prototype Chevy (that changes every year) through a dream "roadtrip" across America of our choosing. (Like the "choose your adventure" option on the old Horizons, times 10!)

Test Track illustrates what frustrates me about Epcot. Instead of bringing us into epic tales of human discovery, with heroes and villains battling over human advancement, we get stuff like people designing mass-production cars, trying not to barf on a spaceflight simulator, and watching sitcom stars yuck their way through a trip back to the time of dinosaurs.

Okay, that's fun, but it's not epic. It's not the heart-tugging, lump in my throat, my heart's racing excitement that Disney can deliver. That's the stuff I can't wait to ride.

I hope Test Track turns out well, and that Disney surprises me with its execution of this concept. But I gotta admit, this isn't high on my list of attractions I'm eagerly awaiting. How about you?

Replies (25)

August 27, 2012 at 11:40 PM · Has anyone figured out what the blue glob is supposed to be yet?
August 28, 2012 at 12:07 AM · I like Test Track, so I guess having it running again in some form is better than not at all.
August 28, 2012 at 1:21 AM · I have to admit Test Track completely underwhelmed me the first time I rode it - too much stop/start, no coherent narrative and the final 'thrill' just about as exciting as driving down the freeway for a very short period of time - ie. not very exciting at all... The re-imagined version seems to be exactly the same ride but with a different overlay and like you Robert it really doesn't tick any boxes for me. It will be closed when I'm there in November and to be honest I'm not that disappointed...
Now had they done some sort of Radiator Springs overlay to it......
August 28, 2012 at 3:18 AM · Did you see how big the Chevrolet logo is? It's almost as big as the word Test Track!
In the original concept that word was in a kind of woesh under the Test Track word but that wasn't enough in your face I guess.
What I see in the concept art are cutouts with neon or fiber optics on them, laser effects and projection and black light effects. There will be (as there where) screens and the exactly same sh!t you go through as the old ride (the so called stages). Of course the whole "you are in a computer" bs will be broken when you exit the building and you go into the real world.
The music will be future like just like the Star Trek like tunnel you go through in the laser light scene (before there where robot arms there but this is cheaper (oh no more digital..)). we all know how old the Disney future will feel in 3 years time.
I don't care for the design stuff. As you said I don't want to work on my vacation so I'm not going to use it and I don't want to see the word "Chevrolet" more than necessary.
It looks like Disco Yeti has got his discotheque home in Epcot. It's a thrill ride with pretty lights and a commercial story and I don't care about it. Disney Imagineering is underused and bitchslapped by GM. It's sad to see what Disney is doing to get more money from GM to their signature ride. This is a business card for GM not a Disney attraction.
August 28, 2012 at 4:12 AM · I hope there is a little more to this than what you reported, but alas, you are probably spot on. Disney needs to inject some serious E Ticket technology into Epcot before they have to play (any further) a BIG game of catch up! Epcot needs a shot in the arm and a "meh" upgrade to Test Track is probably worse than nothing at all in my book.

I think Disney Imagineers are missing opportunities both with this "automotive" attraction just as they are with the Tomorrowland Speedway.

The Tomorrowland Speedway should be targeted for a makeover to a Cars Land type attraction that could really add to the Fantasyland expansion without really taking much from Tomorrowland. Let's face it...The Speedway really isn't looking into the future anymore, is it? Besides getting a much needed re-theme, Disney could get rid of of the exhaust producing gas powered machines and green the place up with newer technology.

Sorry I kind of went all over the place with this comment. Good article Robert!

August 28, 2012 at 6:35 AM · As others have said, Test Track did nothing for me and the new version doesn't sound very interesting. I guess Test Track could be great for a teenager that doesn't drive yet. But I could never understand the allure of a test drive that felt the same as a short sprint on the freeway. Hopefully, the changes make it more entertaining, but I have serious doubts.
August 28, 2012 at 6:54 AM · The ride will be mostly physical props, you misunderstood it. I interested to see what happens with this, even if it sounds confusing now.
August 28, 2012 at 7:37 AM · This chat was worthless. The imagineer didn't answer questions with any detail or depth. After reading the transcript, I know no more than I did beforehand. I'm glad Disney has competitors in Orlando. They're doing a far better job in introducing technically superior attractions that are FUN. Thanks Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. You can have my dollars; Disney needs to go back to the drawing board.


August 28, 2012 at 7:58 AM · I can see that Test Track is about work, but isn't that the problem with EPCOT in general and other theme parks too like Hollywood Studios.

The worlds fair approach to EPCOT is like work, but I did enjoy it to a certain extent. I worked in manufacturing and I worked in the Space program. Test Track and Space did have some appeal to me. There are the communications ride, the agriculture ride, and the energy ride. They are all about work AND conservation. There are Innoventions exhibits sponsored by various captains of industry. Very boring since it is all about marketing.

Hollywood Studios has tons of animation exhibits. Is it interesting? Sort of, but it is less interesting these days since animated movies are about digital animation rather than the mechanical cells. I don't enjoy the Movie ride. Movie sound stages are boring. The false facades are for photography and not interesting if they are not filming.

Test Track needed to be updated to have real interaction with the guest, but it appears to be half-hearted. They didn't go far enough. Perhaps one day they will dump GM and its sponsorship. Go with a total makeover into Carsland. While the focus on work may be boring, usually the payoff is with the final product. It should be the most interesting part of the effort, which is to see the car performing as expected.

August 28, 2012 at 7:59 AM · Epcot is Epcot. Personally I liked the exhibit, whatever it was, before Test Track. No ride in Epcot is very exciting, (except Soarin), but all are interesting. That is Epcot. But with their festivals, world class dining (if you can get in)and the beauty of the park, it is still one of my favorites. If you want thrill rides, go to Universal, Seaworld or Hollywood Studios.
August 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM · test track is a great ride, i dont think anyone is doing 65 mph on a highly banked turn on any freeway. the only place you get that g force feeling is on a banked oval track. i beleive tha update is mainly for the queue area. being a gm.technician i could see all the tools and car parts being used were from the late 80's early 90's, and drasticly needed updating to keep up with the modern car suv world. chris
August 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM · I'm not really excited about this attraction. However, I'm a bit interested to see what they do with it
August 28, 2012 at 11:11 AM · I'm not really excited about this attraction. However, I'm More of a bit interested to see what they do with it
August 28, 2012 at 11:17 AM · I never went on the old version of the ride, but I've never viewed Test Track as a must ride. To me, it has always looked like the type of attraction that's fun, but probably disappointing after a 90+ minute wait. Additionally, now that I've got Radiator Springs Racers about a half hour away (haven't ridden yet but I'm going next week), my interest in Test Track overall is pretty much nothing. It may have a faster finale, but other than that it doesn't seem too exciting and if the new version will indeed be mostly screens I probably will ride once and not bother with it again (I don't like screen-focused rides except for simulators and shooters). Of course, I have no idea when I'll get to Florida (I definitely won't be going until Fantasyland is done), so my opinion could change before's just not likely to.
August 28, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Is there any chance that the track will be enclosed? Add tight spaces and moving screens above and around the track to enhance the sensation of speed similar to what Transformers, Spider-Man, and any of the motion based simulators. Give us the feeling that we're driving through the computer world at the equivalent of 200+ mph or something! Most of us will never ride in a Veyron, Lambo, or whatever other super car, so why not give us that? I hope it's not just a giant commercial like it was before. Heck, I even feel like Transformers the movie was a giant commercial for GMC and Chevy as the original cartoon was for the toys. But I feel like Disney can do better than that!
August 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM · Now that I had the opportunity to ride Radiator Springs Racers, I understand the full potential that this kind of ride has. Test Track falls short, even with the updates. More interactive doesn't translate into more magic. With the RSR experience, I feel that Disney World deserves more.
August 28, 2012 at 5:17 PM · I think Epcot is supposed to represent a world expo / fair of sorts. I don't mind the tie in with Chevrolet or displaying the logo prominently as it suits the parks overall theme.

(I can't believe I am defending a revamp that the Disney die-hards are not happy about)

It could be worse.... there could be a huge Doritos logo on it or something....

August 28, 2012 at 6:20 PM · NB: If they extended the track to the Mexican Pavilion, the Dorito's logo could possibly work.
August 28, 2012 at 6:34 PM · It sucks that John Michael Higgins will probably be replaced as the ride host by some British actress doing a Siri impression.
August 28, 2012 at 8:56 PM · The "updated" attraction will have to do quite a bit to top my last experience on Test Track back in 2008. My niece, nephew and I were some of the first people on the ride the morning that Tropical Storm Faye began to hit the Orlando area. Zooming around that outside portion with the rain lashing all around us was exciting, slightly painful and invigorating all at the same time. Too bad they can't duplicate that on a regular basis. :-)
August 28, 2012 at 9:23 PM · N B has a good point. Epcot isn't about saving the day, it's more like a World's Expo.
August 28, 2012 at 11:47 PM · I pretty much liked Test Track a LOT as it was.... one of my favorite rides in all of WDW..... it's family friendly with just enough of a thrill to make it fun and exciting.

I'm somewhat intrigued about the new version, but with concern because I am afraid they may actually make the ride less fun than it already is. I'd hate to ride the new version and immediately think..... wow, I miss the old version.

If they want to upgrade something that seriously needs it in Epcot though...... they could clean or replace the screens in Soarin. Last time I rode it I found the dirty or stained sections on the screens such a distraction.

August 29, 2012 at 8:07 AM · So, Disney spent all this money & did't improve the ride itself - sounds like a waste to me. I like the ride, but I would have liked if they actully spent some of that money to add something new/different to the ride itself, or at least made it so you could "test ride" the car you built on the track.
August 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Test Track is a hugely popular attraction, which means Disney is caught between a rock (wanting to do something new) and a hard place (wanting to keep the fans of the attraction happy). What you then get is what Disney has said you would get from the beginning: an updated theme on the same ride. Folks shouldn't be disappointed when Disney is doing exactly what they said they would.

Most of us agree that Epcot needs fixing, but Test Track really isn't the problem. Sure, at some point in the lifecycle of every attraction there needs to be downtime for fixes and upgrades, but I'll be happy when this project is complete and Disney moves on to bigger, better, and newer things.

August 29, 2012 at 4:26 PM · I think it will be fine!

The positive (or negative) is nothing at EPCOT is really there for only entertainment sake. Each attraction teaches you a subject. The only one I can't think teaches you anything is Captain Eo.

I like Test Track for that reason. Its a thrill ride that teaches you something.

As a point of reference, how is the Cars ride superior? To me they look nearly identical

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