When Epcot opened in 1982 the World of Motion Pavilion sat in the building now occupied by Test Track.
The World of Motion was sponsored by General Motors and took you on a Spaceship Earth-like journey through human history, but World of Motion focused on transportation instead of communication. In World of Motion you would board an omnimover and slowly move through scenes beginning with cavemen transporting themselves by foot, to the invention of the wheel, and in to the future of transportation, as well as everything in between.
When GM’s 10 year sponsorship ran out they were hurting and
could only afford to re-up one year at a time until finally they discussed with Disney that they would like a ride that focussed solely on their cars instead of the history of transportation. Disney knew that the one thing that their parks were lacking was thrill rides, so Imagineers came up with an idea to run a car through its testing phases and make the guests the test dummies. Both sides loved the idea and on January 2, 1996 World of Motion would be permanently closed.
Test Track was planned to open in May of 1997, but several issues arose during construction causing Test Track’s opening to be
delayed. Originally the rides “victory lap” was to go 95 MPH on a 70 degree banked turn, but if the ride broke down it was deemed too dangerous and uncomfortable especially for the parks’ disabled guests. The tires on the cars were also wearing down far to fast so Disney had to get special made tires from Goodyear. The biggest problem encountered was, in order for the ride to meet its hourly capacity twenty-nine cars would need to be running at all times. However, the computer system at the time could only handle six cars at a time. The computer programmers were able to get the capacity to twenty-nine, but they had to do so one by one and this problem alone delayed the opening of Test Track for over a year.
Test Track had a soft opening December 19, 1998 but was still prone to several breakdowns and didn’t officially open until March 17, 1999.
The original design of Test Track took guests through the physical tests a car must go through at GM. The series of tests it took you through were: Hill Climb, Brake Test, Heat Chamber, Cold Chamber, Corrosion Chamber, a series of sharp turns as you build up your speed where most memorably a Semi-Truck pulls in front of you, Barrier Test (aka the grand finale), and finally Thermal Imaging. The rides’ theme was to make you feel like a physical crash test dummy and go through the rigors of a test car. One of the most iconic parts of the ride were all of the smashed up cars before you get to the barrier test.
On April 10, 2012 the original Test Track went down for a refurbishment and re-imagining of the ride and on December 6, 2012 that new re-imagined ride was opened to guests.
The re-imagined version of Test Track is sponsored by Chevrolet instead of the entire GM company. In the queue you see futuristic cars, see a video of what people want from a car projected onto a “clay” model, and finally you get to design your own car. During design you can completely customize your ride but you focus on 4 things: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power that come in to play later on in the attraction.
The attraction still goes along the same exact track as the original Test Track but with a re-design, now instead of a physical test facility you are in a “Sim-Car” and go through a digital test lab.
In the post-show area you can see how your car stacked up against everyone else’s in all four categories. After seeing how well your car performed you can make a commercial featuring your car and email it out to friends! There are several games in the post-show that project your car onto a race track where you race other people and their cars. Towards the end of the post-show you can see several of Chevrolet’s newest model cars before entering the gift shop.
Test Track Fun Facts:
-Max speed is 65mph making it the fastest ride in Walt Disney World. It’s track is also the longest.
-Test Track is the only pavilion in Epcot to have the same sponsor since Epcot’s opening in 1982.
-GM offices and VIP suites are located on the 3rd floor of the ride building.
-The world of Motion logo can be found throughout the new re-imagined version of Test Track.
-Test Track is the most delayed attraction in Walt Disney World history at 3 years late.
Thank you for reading and please share your memories of World of Motion and the original Test Track as well as your thoughts on the newest version!
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