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Test Track - Epcot

I can't discuss Test Track without first talking about the early years of Epcot.

When the park opened on October 1, 1982, it was to be an “adult” park " a place where guests could learn about the challenges facing the world and how the companies involved with Epcot were trying to solve them. And while educating us, Disney would make this dry subject matter palatable and entertaining.

For those of you who visited Epcot soon after it opened, you might remember that Mickey, Donald, and none of their pals wandered the park. Disney felt that if guests wanted to experience the characters, they could go to the Magic Kingdom. However, parents with children felt differently and were vocal that their offspring were bored. Teenagers too, felt that Epcot offered them little to enjoy. Disney soon realized that they needed to make a few changes in order to appeal to a broader audience.

World of Motion, sponsored by General Motors, was one of the opening day attractions at Epcot. In many ways, this ride was similar in concept to Spaceship Earth. Both took guests back in time so they could witness a topic's transformation through the years. Spaceship Earth discussed communications in a serious manner, whereas World of Motion presented the story of transportation humorously.


World of Motion

World of Motion


The first thrill ride (if you can call it that) to come to Epcot was Maelstrom in July 1988. Located in the Norway Pavilion, this boat ride takes guests past a Viking encampment, through the land of trolls, and eventually into the present. Along the way, your craft reverses direction several times and then sails down a small waterfall. In reality, the sights on this voyage aren't any more engaging than those seen on the El Rio del Tiempo/Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico Pavilion, but the simple “thrills” of Maelstrom gives this ride a continuous line whereas the Gran Fiesta Tour is usually a “walk-on” attraction.


Maelstrom

El Rio del Tiempo


The next thrill ride to come to Epcot was Body Wars, opening in October 1989. Located in the Wonders of Life Pavilion, this attraction used the same motion simulators as the ever popular Star Tours, only this time, your craft was shrunk to the size of a blood cell so you could carry out a medical procedure inside the human body.


Body Wars


This attraction never achieved the success Disney had hoped for. Many guests who loved Star Tours, found themselves nauseated after Body War's five minute ride. Whether it was the icky subject matter or the fluid motion of the vehicle, who knows, but people got sick on this attraction. Long lines only occurred during the busiest times of the year. Disney still needed a “wow” factor in Epcot " something that would appeal to the thrill seekers and a younger more adventurous generation.

By the mid-nineties, World of Motion had lost much of its appeal. General Motors, the attraction's sponsor, had started signing one-year contracts (instead of five or ten) until something could be done to shake things up and invigorate the experience. However, it was important that any new attraction would still educate guests and tell a story. Being Epcot, a “serious” park, Disney wanted justification for any “thrill” they designed. With that in mind, the idea of demonstrating to the public all that went into testing an automobile was born. Soon after “Test Track” went from concept to green light. However, things did not sail smoothly from the drawing board to reality.

World of Motion closed its doors on January 2, 1996. It was estimated to take approximately 19 months to gut the WOM building and build Test Track. The first announced opening date for Test Track was to be in mid 1997. But constant changes to the initial designs added huge amounts of time to the testing process. Couple this with extreme tire and axel problems, complicated guest evacuation procedures, computer problems, and overly sensitive safety sensors, the opening was delayed time and time again. It took almost two years to resolve all of the problems. Test Track finally opened on March 17, 1999. However, breakdowns were still commonplace in the beginning and it could take up to an hour to reset everything and restart the ride when it broke down. Today, gremlins visit Test Track far less often and the reset process has been reduced significantly.


Test Track Entrance


Once Test Track opened, it set some records. The track is 5,246 feet long (2,600 feet being outside the building), making it Disney's longest attraction when it opened. California Screamin' at 6,000 feet beat Test Track when it opened in 2001. The People Mover/Rocket Rods at Disneyland has a longer track, but since these attractions are no longer operating, it takes them out of the mix. Also, at just shy of 65 miles per hour, Test Track is the fastest Disney attraction ever built. Expedition: Everest and Rock ‘n' Roller Coaster both only reach a top speed of around 60 miles per hour.

In the design phase of Test Track, Imagineers spent many hours at real testing facilities and proving grounds, learning what an automobile goes through to become roadworthy. Much of what they learned is exhibited in the queue. Here, numerous bays display the various components of testing. One of the first exhibits presents a vintage automobile. The sign overhead describes the simple tests that these early cars were put through " nothing compared to the hundreds of grueling examinations a vehicle experiences today.


Old Time Testing


Engine, emission, and corrosion tests are just a few of the topics described along the queue. It is worth your while to read a couple of the signs as you inch your way along in line.


Engine Testing

Emission Testing

Corrosion Testing


Before boarding your test vehicle, you enter a briefing room. Here, you watch a short video describing the tests you and your car will be put through. The director of operations in this video (Bill McKim) is played by actor John Michael Higgins, best known for his roles in “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” Note, when Epcot first opens each morning, the Briefing Room section of the attraction is bypassed to help alleviate the onslaught of people arriving at Test Track.


Test Track Briefing Room


On the back wall of the Briefing Room are a number of aerial photographs of “test tracks” around the world. There is even a picture of Epcot's proving grounds.


Testing Facility

Aerial View of Test Track


The ride puts your vehicle through a number of examinations. First, the Hill Climb Test is completed, followed by the Suspension Test that takes you over very bumpy surfaces. Next, demonstrations of how the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) functions and helps a vehicle come to a smooth stop. After that, your car is subjected to extreme cold, heat, and corrosive sprays in the Environmental Chamber. For the Road Handling Test, the car climbs a hill, making numerous switchback turns and narrowly avoiding a head-on collision. The Barrier Test is next followed by the High Speed Test, taking your car outside for a race with the wind.

Be sure to look for the test dummy wearing a Goofy hat.

I have created a short video of the experience.



Here are some interesting facts about Test Track.

* It takes 8.8 seconds to accelerate from 0-65 for the High Speed Test.
* Each vehicle was designed to last for approximately one million miles and travels about 50,000 miles in any given year.
* Each car has three on-board computers and several times the processing power of the Space Shuttle.
* There are 32 vehicles in total, but only 25-26 are on the track at any one time.
* Each car as a total of 22 wheels, although only four are seen by the guests.
* There are six braking systems on each car.
* Each vehicle completes 34 turns during the ride.
* The roadway that runs alongside of the building is banked at 50 degrees.
* There are 85 road signs along the route.
* A 100-degree shift in temperature occurs as your vehicle drives through extreme desert heat and then piercing arctic cold in the Environmental Chamber.
* The ride lasts approximately five and a half minutes.

After the ride, guests walk through a small mockup of an automotive assembly plant. It's here that you can make arrangements to purchase your onboard photo.


Photo Ordering Station


From the assembly plant, you enter the showroom. A number of GM cars are on display and you can browse to your heart's content without an annoying salesman bothering you. And if you do have questions, General Motors employees are on hand to answer any inquiries at the Information Center.


GM Showroom

GM Information Center


It's always fun to drool over the concept cars on exhibit.


Concept Car - Volt

Concept Car


Currently, there is a display that explains what a hybrid car is and how, by combining the best of electric motors and internal combustion engines, outstanding mileage can be achieved.


Hybrid Display


Of course, no attraction would be complete without a stroll through a gift shop. Here you'll find both Disney and GM branded merchandise with an automotive theme. This is also the spot where you can purchase your on-board photo.


Test Track Shop


Like all Disney thrill rides, there are some requirements that must be met before boarding. Children must be at least 40 inches tall to ride and expectant mothers should avoid this attraction. All others must be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure.


WARNING Sign


Test Track does offer FastPass. I would suggest picking up these puppies in the early morning. You don't want to have a return time in the late afternoon when you're all the way across the park in the France Pavilion.


FastPass Distribution


There have been rumors that GM will not sponsor the attraction in the future due to its financial problems and government loans. But nothing official has been announced at this time. But you can be sure that Disney will keep this perennial favorite running no matter what happens. Test Track is to Epcot what Space Mountain is to the Magic Kingdom. People want to experience and enjoy this exciting ride for many years to come.

The previous post in this blog was Magic Kingdom Skyway.

The next post in this blog is Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Press Preview.

Comments (34)

Ileana:

Hello again from Buenos Aires Jack! Glad to know you enjoyed Florida st when you came, there is a lot to enjoy here in our city. Coming back to Epcot, you´re absolutely right, I get sick in body wars, and Epcot bored me the first time I went. I came back in 2008, (My husband loves Epcot) and loved it too. I must to say Test track is in my top five orlando attractions (I love some Universal rides too)
Thank you again for your awesome comments, never get tired of your blog and I enter every day in allears looking for something new from you (when there is not I read something from the archives)
see you soon!!

Sadie:

Jack,

Thank you for such a wonderful blog. I really appreciate all of the work you put into this and I love the historical background you give, so we can appreciate these rides and put them in the context of the entire park! Thanks again.

Chi Tran:

Hi Jack,

This is a great attraction. We were able to get on this ride on our last trip in late August because our son finally reaches the height requirement. It is priceless to see his excitement after the cast member measured his height and then gave an ok. Great work! Please keep them coming.

Chi

crystal:

Great blog. Thanks for the info. My family loves this ride. I got to take my 5 year old niece on it in 2007 and she loved every moment. We are heading back in February 2010, can't wait:)

Eric Bouchet:

Hello Jack,

Thanks again for another awesome blog. My wife and I love this attraction. Thanks for all the pictures and especially the video. We are hoping that my 4 year old daughter will be tall enough in January during Marathon Weekend so she can finally experience the "Race Cars" as she calls them.

Kelly:

Hi Jack -

Our family loves Test Track! It's been almost 2 years since we've been there, so thanks for taking me back today.

I was wondering something... You mentioned that with GM's current position, there have been rumors about them not continuing to sponsor it. Have you heard anything about the VIP lounge being affected (if the sponsorship ends)? Our family was lucky enough to enjoy the lounge on our last visit, and we thought it was a fun (and quiet!) little perk. Just curious...

Thanks, and have a great day!
Kelly

Jack's Answer:

I have not heard anything about the lounge in the Test Track building. Since I have no idea how you were entitled to use the lounge, I can't say how you would be affected should GM leave.

In other cases, like the Living Seas, when they lost their sponsor, the lounge was closed and only used for special functions.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Meg:

Thanks Jack! I have been complaining that Spaceship Earth was "all wrong" after one of the Jeremy Irons refurbs and before Judi Dench. Although the SE content HAS changed up a bit over the years, my real problem was confusing parts of the ride with World of Motion. Silly me - it all makes sense now - thanks for the memory jog!

Body Wars is the only ride that has ever made me sick, by the way.

Robin Stanley:

Hi Jack,
You did a great job on the Test Track video. Thanks for your hard work!

Mike Venere:

Great job again!!!! You are right by reading some of the signs that are in the queue. So often thanks to fast pass or the single rider line people bypass most of this and miss out on some interesting facts and information!
Thanks again!

Michelle Schaefer:

Good morning Jack!
Thank you so much for the awesome blog (as they all are!!) I was especially interested in the extra facts about Test Track and also that it was faster than Expedition Everest and Rock n Roll Roller Coaster...never would have believed that...wow!!!
Thanks for keeping the Disney freak in me so well informed...have not been since Dec/2007 and we are in huge withdrawal...these weekly newsletters keep it under control!

Cheers!
Michelle Schaefer

Meagan:

aww, i miss the World of Motion...and Horizons :( *sniffle*

The living seas ride shut down after they lost their sponsorship :-/ Hopefully GM will be able to pull themselves out of their financial struggles.

Jenny Sperandeo:

Hi Jack! Thank you for the awesome Test Track blog! This is one of my families favorite rides in all of Disney. We always use the opportunity at the photo point to make funny faces and look silly. The pictures we have taken over the years are priceless.

Richard Mercer:

Jack, Another great article! I especially appreciate the early history of World of Moton and other Epcot thrill rides.

I'm sure I won't be the first to tell you that Test Track is not Disney's longest ride. According to Wikipedia, "California Screamin' is the 6th longest roller coaster in the world (2nd longest steel coaster in the United States), at 6,072 feet (1,850 m) long. "

Jack's Response:

I just hate it when I'm wrong. And you were the first to point out my mistake.

I have corrected my blog. Thank you very much.

Dave Smith's "Disney A to Z" book says that California Screamin' is 6,000 feet long. Who ya gunna believe, Dave or Wikipedia?

Thanks again for keeping me honest.

sue and jerry ziolkowski:

Hi Jack,

Test track has really perked up the park in Epcot. Like everything, rides come and go, they don't always appeal to folks as many thought they would. Its nice to journey back and see what was and what is new and thrilling. Test track sure meets all those qualities. That is a favorite of ours and we truly enjoy each trip we make to the mouse house and the many times we ride test track before we must leave. We were in Disney this past August and we had who we will refer to as Mr. Trivia as our bus driver. He had asked us all what was the fasted ride in Disney World? Most of us replied Test track and Rock and Roll Roller Coaster, he told us that Tower of Terror was the fastest ride there plummeting their victems at over 90mph? I was surprised, I really thought Test Track was the contender. Can you help solve our mystery for us. We are really curious about this??????????? Thanks again for the great info on All Disney.

The Ziolkowski family

Jack's Answer:

I checked several sources and I can't find anything that tells me the speed of Tower of Terror, so all I can offer is my opinion.

In my blog, I stated that it takes 8.8 seconds for a Test Track vehicle to accelerate from 0-65 -- and this is over a long stretch of roadway. I realize that on Tower of Terror, the wench is actually pulling you down faster than gravity would pull you. However, I do not believe there is enough distance from the top of the elevator shaft to the bottom of the shaft to accelerate anywhere near 90 miles an hour.

Bottom line, I think the bus driver is mistaken.

Monica:

This is my favorite attraction at EPCOT and is a must for me several times a trip. When I go solo, it is nothing for me to ride this 3 times in a row!!!

Brittany:

Hi Jack!

Having worked at Test Track, I can tell you that the lounge there is sponsored by GM as well, for GM employees. So, if a GM employee were to show up and show their I.D. (between 9-5 only)to a Test Track cast member and the lounge is free, then one of the cast members will come and take them and their family up there. From the lounge they can see some of the ABS scence, some of the road handling scence, and some backstage tracks, etc... Not many people know about this, and I don't know if they still allow this.

Excellent aritcle!

Brittany

Heath Covey:

Jack,
LOVE the blog and that is one terrific video. Super camera work on what has always been (for me) a very hard ride to shoot. What sort of gear are you using to shoot this and did you have any special "tips" to counter the bumps and the speed/force on the camera? Thanks!!

Michael Dillon:

Thanks for the great article. One of the things that I noticed on our recent trip was that you can scan your PhotoPass under the screen that shows your onboard photo. We did this on two different rides on TT and it worked great! The onboard photo showed up with the rest of our photopass photos and we were able to zoom in and even add a Test Track border to the photo once we got home and visited the web site. The modified photo was included on the CD of all PhotoPass photos that we ordered.

Tina Stamp:

to use the GM lounge you have to be employed by GM or retired from there

Iris:

Very interesting article. Thank you. The one and only time I thought I should ride test track was this past January. We stood in line for 25 minutes and then the ride broke down.
I think I am not meant to ride that ride, lol.

Suzan LeBlanc:

I really enjoyed your article. I am a "wimp" when it comes to rides and my son is not a fan of roller coasters, but friends and family convinced us that we must go on Test Track. We were so glad we did - it was our favorite ride during our last trip to DisneyWorld. We rode it 4 times in one morning! We cannot wait to go on it again. This is one of the best rides ever and I would encourage "wimps" like me to give it a try. You won't be sorry.

JoeB:

Excellent blog, Jack - it was almost like being there - thanks!!

Bob Eldridge:

Jack! You did it again! Nothing but "net"!

Nice job with Test Track! Is Horizon next?

Take care!
Bob

Tiff:

thanks 4 the fun ride thru. luv test track. come back & ride again.

Adam August:

Great video -- and I'd forgotten how annoying the sound track is!

The Disney Dad:

Actually, you don't have to be a current or retired GM employee to enjoy the lounge. The GM representatives in the post-show area have a limited number of passes they can give to park guests at their discretion. We were fortunate enough to receive a pass during our last visit. The "secret entrance" to the lounge is to the right of the main entrance. You walk down a corridor to an elevator. You must press an intercom button to be admitted to the lounge elevator. Once in the lounge, you can enjoy free soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc. There are also nice bathrooms, some Gm displays and comfortable seats for relaxing. There is also a window where you can observe the inside of the Test Track attraction (look for it next time you're on the ride) and a huge wall of windows which offers the best panoramic view of Futue World. Best of all, you can stay as long as you like and when you leave, you are given a front of the line pass for Test Track. You exit the attraction via a "secret door" which you can see on the loading platform. So, be extra nice to a GM employee next time you visit Test Track and you might score a visit to the lounge!

Michelle:

Great article! Especially the history. We were in Epcot a few times during 1998 and 1999 and kept seeing the signs for when Test Track would open and the dates getting pushed back. One visit, they were attempting to do preview modes. So we waited in line on the off chance they would actually get the thing running. Since the line was outside, about once every 10 minutes we'd see an empty car zoom by on the outside track. After about 40 minutes or so, we saw a car zoom by, and then a minute later a SECOND car zoomed by. Everyone in line got interested since that was the 1st time we'd seen 2 cars in a row! Then a minute later a THIRD car zoomed by! You could feel the excitement! Then a minute later a FOURTH car... was being pushed by a cast member.

Excitement disappeared and we all left the line knowing there was obviously still much work to be done.

Shannon:

Jack,

Great job!!! We have all enjoyed this article and video so much.

Because we are ONLY 64 days away from returning to Disney, can you help us? Do you have similar videos/articles for Everest or Mission Space: Orange?? Our nine-year-old wants to tackle Everest this time and I want to "feel" how claustrophobic MS: Orange might be before I step inside...

Please help our family, Jack!!!

Many blessings,
Shannon

Jack's Answer:

I have bad news and good news. First the bad. I currently do not have a blog in progress or planned for Expedition: Everest. Sorry. I will eventually, but I can't begin to promise it within the next 64 days.

Now for the good news. I have already written, photographed, and filmed Mission: Space. It should be posted sometime in the next two weeks.

A. D. Johnson:

Jack,

Your videos are just amazing. And this one will be especially helpful - my GF, who is going with me to WDW in December, has post-traumatic stress disorder from a severe accident a few years ago. I wasn't sure if she'd be able to ride Test Track or not (even though she has a fascination with cars) because of the "near collision" part. I'm going to have her watch this video and decide from there.

A.D. Johnson
Littleton, CO

Christen Hawkins:

Jack,
I was wondering if you know the names of the Test Track dummies? When I was younger there were two people dressed as test track dummies that used to stand outside of Test Track in Epcot. I don't know if they ae still there or if they don't exist anymore but I cant remember their names...HELP!

Jack's Answer:

As you mentioned, during the first few years of operation, "live" test dummies made appearances outside the attraction. However, I haven't seen them in years.

In my research I found that there are two dummies seen in the "Corrosion" scene of the attraction. These dummies named are Rusty and Crusty. But that's all I could find out. I have no idea if the same names applied to the "live" dummies that once appeared outside of Test Track.

A number of years ago, there was a television commercial about car safety that featured two talking dummies. Is it possible you're confusing this commercial with Disney? Just a thought.

Gina:

Hi Jack --

We were just at the World last week. My Dad is a GM retiree. We we informed that the VIP Lounge is closed and was closed when GM declared bankruptcy. The front of the line access is still available for GM employees and retirees.

G

George smith:

What is the model of the old car in the beginning of the line?

Jack's Answer:

Without standing in line to find out, I really don't know. Sorry.

Kevin Estery - Canada:

We have visited Epcot every winter for the last four years and love Test Track. I have always found riding on the left side of the vehicle - the drivers side is easier on the neck and back. You feel more g,s on an outward angle if you rude on the right side - passenger side as the car whips around those outside corners and banks around the building. Because the angle is almost 50 degrees, larger adults will be better on the left or, if you aren't careful you will slide to your left and squish the other two passengers.

We rode one evening and experienced a breakdown suddenly as we banked the first left turning corner. Our car came to a sudden but very evenly braked stop. We were about 20 minutes stuck trying not slide to the left squishing our son.... there was no changing seats. When they un jammed the system, they told us to hang on, and it was good we did, cause we accelerated very quickly and got our thrill as we looped the building.

Although the park was closed at this point, the cast were very good and took us on another full run through the program, and we left very happy.

I can't wait to try the newly imagineered version!

AVON KEARSEY:

Hi Jack!
Thanks for this- As I'm sure you are aware, Test Track has recently CLOSED at Epcot to make way for the NEW 'Test Track Presented By Chevrolet' which promises to be amazing! Will miss the old one though :(

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 22, 2009 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Magic Kingdom Skyway.

The next post in this blog is Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Press Preview.

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