Following the redesign of a few vehicles on the popular Test Track ride at Epcot, Walt Disney World has announced and confirmed long-standing rumors that the attraction will be getting an overhaul this year.
Test Track will receive a new theme called Chevrolet Design Center at Epcot, a version of the ride that will replace the existing vehicle testing theme with the concept of designing new cars. The current Test Track is scheduled to close in April 2012 to make way for the new experience, which will give theme park guests the active role of “becoming” automotive designers when it reopens some time in Fall 2012. No specific month or date has been officially announced yet, but Epcot Cast Members have been given approximate dates for the downtime of closing on or around April 15 and reopening on or around Sept. 21, subject to change.
UPDATE (4/2/12): Disney has confirmed Test Track will close April 16 for its makeover.
While the name “Test Track” is likely to stick around, the idea of testing cars is shifting from testing safety to taking newly-designed cars out for a test spin. (Technically, the current ride is called “GM Test Track” and the new ride should be called “Test Track Presented by Chevrolet” – or just “Test Track” for short.)
Name aside, the new version of the attraction will feature “upbeat music, engaging media, dramatic lighting and a collection of Chevrolet concept cars and model vehicles.” Guests will use interactive design and styling workstations to create custom concept vehicles, after which they will hop aboard a 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle and test out the design through the twists, turns, and bumps of the Test Track course. The design area can be likened to interactive queue elements that Walt Disney World has been adding to other attractions in recent months and will precede the ride itself, which should include many (if not all) updated show scenes.
Disney recently (and briefly) tested RFID technology on Test Track by handing select guests cards to hold throughout the ride. It’s possible this technology will be incorporated into the new design stations, allowing guests to bring their concept car data onto the rides for “testing” along the way. The ride itself may or may not change based on guests’ designs, considering up to 6 passengers will each have their own designs when entering the vehicles.
After the ride, a new post-show area will feature special effects and scores on how well their custom concepts did. Chevrolet vehicles will also be on display in a new state-of-the-art showroom.
To make the update happen, Disney and General Motors have renewed their long-term business relationship with a new multi-year corporate alliance. GM will be actively involved with Walt Disney Imagineering in the development of a re-imagined, design-centric Test Track experience.
“We are excited to renew our long-term alliance with General Motors,” said George Aguel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances for the Walt Disney Company. “This unique agreement extends collaboration between two of the most recognized brands in the world, a relationship that spans over 30 years. The re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet will continue our shared goal of providing unique and innovative experiences that engage Disney guests in exciting and interactive ways.”
“As a global brand, Chevrolet is looking forward to welcoming Guests from around the world to the re-imagined Test Track,” said Joel Ewanick, Global Chief Marketing Officer for General Motors. “The best of Disney and the best of Chevrolet will come together to bring Guests an immersive experience in the design process of the vehicles they see on the road today and will see in the future.”
Fans of the current Test Track still have a few months to get their “rough road tests” in before it closes to be re-imagined into the new experience.