Test Track

One of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World is about to undergo a major facelift... But what exactly it'll look like on the other side is anyone's guess. Given what we know, what are you hoping for from "Test Track 3.0"? 

Long before Test Track – back when EPCOT was a park filled with lengthy, educational dark rides through areas of science and industry – the metallic, circular pavilion in Future World's southeast corner was home to the Lost Legend: World of Motion. An epic Omnimover-style attraction, World of Motion mixed history with comedy, whisking guests through the story of how humans get around.

From cavemen fanning their feet to the discovery of the wheel; magic carpets to sailing ships; automobiles to airplanes to high speed trains, World of Motion was a whirlwind of iconic scenes, including the "world's first traffic jam." But as we know, time wasn't kind to EPCOT, and the '90s were spent with Disney try desperately to make the once-educational, overtly-'80s park feel exciting – even thrilling.

Image: Mike Sperduto, Flickr (All rights reserved)

That brings us to the original Lost Legend: TEST TRACK. Opened in 1998 (nearly two years after it had initially been planned to debut), TEST TRACK was a pivotal ride in transforming EPCOT into Disney World's "Discovery Park" of semi-scientific thrill rides. The attraction – sponsored by General Motors – turned guests into "crash test dummies," setting them down in a prototype GM car set to be put through its paces.

Inside the hollowed-out pavilion, cars rumbled through road blocks, accelerated and swerved to test anti-lock brakes, endured extreme heat and cold, and basically buzzed around in a giant warehouse of orange traffic cones, street signs, test dummies, and more. Of course, the whole experience ended with guests lining up for the "Barrier Test" (often seen on commercials, when cars slam headlong into a concrete wall to test their airbag systems), only to have the wall part at the last second, leading to a high-speed, 65 mile per hour road test.

Test Track was a fan favorite... but even so, it evolved...

New Tracks

Image: Disney

In April 2012, Test Track was shuttered. No doubt thanks to General Motors' sponsorship requirements, the ride was refreshed and reimagined into an entirely new form. When it re-opened in December 2012, the "crash test dummy" conceit was long gone. So was the industrial warehouse of traffic cones and warning stripes. "Test Track 2.0" (officially sponsored by GM's Chevrolet brand) wasn't about car safety; it was about something much, much bigger: the engineering design process.

Now, guests in the queue used digital touchscreens to design their own custom cars, balancing four important ideas: Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness, and Power. With a tap of a MagicBand, guests' custom car followed them onto the "SimTrack," recasting the same ride layout as a descent into a digital landscape where each riders' vehicle was tested in four distinct, color-coded sections. Resembling a glowing world you might expect from TRON, Test Track 2.0 was divisive. Some fans appreciate the more timeless, "brainy," big picture, EPCOT-y engineering focus of the second version... but many still remain loyal to the original ride.

In September 2023 at the semi-annual Destination D23 fan event, Disney announced that Test Track would undergo another full facelift. No doubt thanks to the sponsorship of GM, Test Track will go under the knife again to emerge as what fans call "Test Track 3.0." What will it entail?

Image: Disney

Right now... we don't know. All we have to go on is the image above and the single paragraph description: "Imagineers along with teams from Chevrolet are reaching back into history for inspiration – from the original World of Motion – and bringing that spirit of optimism to the next iteration of the Test Track attraction!"

The concept art certainly suggests that the ride's third version will have neither the industrial warehouse vibe nor the digital TRON vibe... The scene it seems to depict (the "switchbacks" or the Responsiveness test, depending on your preferred version of the ride) have been upgraded from plywood trees (in TT 1.0) to laser trees (in TT 2.0) and now to real trees, suggesting we should expect dimensional dark ride scenes.

Image: Disney

And callbacks to World of Motion bring about more questions that answers. Will the new version of Test Track tell the story of human transportation as we accelerate, climb, dip, and brake through the ride? Will it include animatronics? The return of World of Motion's musical anthem, "It's Fun to be Free"? 

Right now, Disney hasn't given any answers... and to be fair, it could very well be that – like the announced reimagining of Spaceship Earth, the not-quite-official Zootopia land, or the heavily-rumored redesigns of the Mexico pavilion and Journey into Imagination – it could fall off of Disney's plans altogether. Right now, we can only imagine. So what do you want from "Test Track 3.0"? Let us know in the comments below!


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