When I told coworkers that I was going to Disney World to cover an event, I was greeted with ‘yeah rights’ left and right. This was understandable because what in the world does Disney have to do with the automotive industry? Well, they really don’t have a lot to do with cars, but their latest attraction is based around cars and the process behind designing a brand new model.
The original Test Track was opened in 1999 and was presented by General Motors as a whole. That ride put you in the shoes of a crash test dummy. You walked through the various mechanisms that automakers use to test their cars. After a long queue, you were positioned in front of a screen where you were told you were going to partake in the testing of a new GM car. Having gone on the previous Test Track earlier this year when I visited EPCOT, I remember the video looking old and outdated. Everything about the ride was a bit outdated even though it was still a blast. It needed something. It needed a refresh. And that is exactly what Disney and Chevrolet teamed up together to do: to make Test Track one of the most advanced and interactive attractions ever.
When I first found out about this refresh of the ride, I was excited. I have always been a huge fan of the Test Track ride, and was excited to see what direction they were going to take the ride. I wanted to get to the attraction as soon as it opened, so I got on the phone and after talking to a couple of delightful Disney reps, I was set to visit Disney on the grand reopening of Test Track.
On the day of the grand opening, I drove from my home in St. Petersburg, Florida up to Orlando for the event. Unfortunately, I am not a morning person and check-in was at 8:30, but I was willing to suck it up considering I was going to Disney World. After checking in, I was directed towards the Magic Kingdom. What was this for? Oh, New Fantasyland was opening up. While I was more pumped about Test Track, my girlfriend couldn’t have been more excited to be up-front and center for the ribbon cutting of New Fantasyland.
After some of the characters did some choreographed dancing, out came Ginnifer Goodwin, star of the show “Once Upon a Time”. After her followed Jordin Sparks, who belted out some memorable Disney tunes. After some words from both, a ribbon was brought out for Sparks and Goodwin to cut with a comically large set of scissors. Once cut, fireworks exploded and confetti filled the air. It was a magical sight to see and gave me hope that the Test Track event would be just as special.
As the day went by, I wandered around Magic Kingdom and EPCOT just waiting for my chance to take a high speed run on Test Track. When 6:30 PM came around, I had enough and decided to wait outside the Test Track area until it opened up. After diligently waiting with others members of the media, the human blockade let us through towards the event.
I was greeted with bright neon lights, and brand new Chevrolet vehicles. The first car that caught my eye was the brand new Camaro ZL1, a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 beast. Behind the cars were tables and bars lit up with bright colorful lights, covered with martini glasses that had neon LED lights in them. But alas, I was working and had to opt for a soda. When it came to the free food however, there was no stopping me. I was told to wait around for the official announcement of the ride, as it was not open just yet. Representatives from both Chevrolet and Disney came onto stage after a short wait, and officially “opened” the ride with Chevrolet’s new MyLink app. Off to the ride I went.
The queue for the ride was filled with concept cars and futuristically designed vehicles. The old interior of the ride was completely done away with and was replaced with more modern, yet futuristic decorations.
Hanging from the roof was a disassembled Chevrolet EN-V, an experimental electric vehicle that was created with help from Segway Inc..
Once I was through the line, I was asked how many people were going to design cars. We had 6 people in our group and we decided to split in half and design two cars. Two girls and I were given the job of creating a car that would be graded during and after the ride on four areas: power, responsiveness, efficiency, and capability. I decided I would give the designing job to the ladies and sit back and watch. I ended up with a sparkly car that, thanks to my additions, had an enormous amount of power.
After designing to cars, we were ready to ride Test Track. We swiped our card that had our brand new vehicle loaded on it across a glowing device, and our car was uploaded to our vehicle. We were then placed in a car and buckled up. Here we go!
The first thing I noticed was the colors of the ride. It was much more colorful than before and made me feel like I was venturing through the movie ‘Tron’. Throughout the ride we were shown screens that showed how our car fared against other cars. Needless to say, ours sucked. That didn’t hinder my spirits, because I was flying through bright neon lights, being shown what it takes to design and test a new car. Of course, designing and testing a new vehicle is less glamorous, but you get the idea from this ride.
After some stopping and cornering test, we were off to the high-speed loop where we were shot out and sped up to 65 mph. The lateral-g’s of the ride almost made me pass out, but boy was I enjoying every second of it. You may think that 65 mph isn’t a fast speed, but just imagine being in a car that is going 65 mph with no top and at an almost 90 degree bank. Whoa.
Once the ride stopped, everyone in my car clapped in appreciation for the ride. It was a blast, but it wasn’t over just yet.
We were sent onwards with our cards that were previously loaded with our personally designed cars. Different stations were set up that allowed you to test your car and a large screen showed how your car fared against others. Once again, our car did not fare well.
After the various activities, I was greeted with a showroom full of brand new Chevrolet models, making it obvious that Chevrolet had a big hand in this ride. While I had seen most of the cars, my girlfriend had not. She was especially interested in the Chevrolet Cruze, a compact car that offers some impressive fuel economy at a relatively low price.
Having pulled her away from her dream car, we stepped outside only to hear the band OneRepublic playing on stage. Now, before the event started, I was told “One——” was playing and the first group I thought of was OneDirection. For those of you who are not familiar with OneDirection, just imagine 5 prepubescent British kids singing. Yeah, not my cup of tea. Luckily, it was not them and it was instead OneRepublic. After listening for a few songs, I decided to call it quits. I had a long day, and my legs were about to give out, but who can complain about a long day at Disney?
Overall, I was very impressed with the new Test Track ride. Its purpose was to put guests into the shoes of the designers, allowing them to design the car of their dream and it did just that. While the track of the ride did not seem altered, the aesthetic upgrades were amazing, leaving me in awe. If anyone is planning on taking a vacation out to Disney World in Orlando, Florida in the near future, be sure to give Test Track a shot and send me your creation!
I would like to take this time to thank all of those at Disney who made this event possible. It was a dream come true!