Posted on November 29, 2012
By Anonymous (It’s a Secret)
Wednesday night, I had the privilege of taking a sneak preview ride on the all new Test Track. What I saw can easily be described in one word: breathtaking. Before I go into further detail, I should warn you that this review will be very spoiler heavy, so if you want to be surprised, please read no more. There is no shame in wanting to experience the attraction with no knowledge of it – in fact, it’s my preferred way to do it. But if spoilers aren’t a concern to you, then welcome to the SimTrack!
The entrance plaza is sleek. Plenty of blues and silvers set the tone for your experience, and the whole thing is very futuristic. It’s amazing how much I thought I was back in the 80′s. The Fastpass machines were covered, so I can’t report on those, but they are in the same location as the old machines.
That’s about the only thing left over in the entrance plaza. Gone are the old warehouse doors at the entrance to the building, replaced by two large portals that extend from the building. The door on the right is for the standby queue, which is long enough to handle a – get ready – eight hour long queue. Overkill, perhaps…but it’s nice to know that they’re prepared. I didn’t actually go into the standby queue, as I was directed into the door on the left, which is for both single riders and guests with Fastpass. I should note at this point that Test Track is equipped with the hardware for Fastpass+. This in itself is unsurprising, but the posts at the entrance are a different shape than the ones we’ve seen at Magic Kingdom attractions. They’re a sleek, futuristic design – very much in line with everything else in this attraction.
The entrance plaza also contains our first Easter egg of sorts – Test Track has a specific trash can design. I know, I know, pretty minute detail…but it’s one worth pointing out, as it has the old World of Motion symbol prominently featured on it. Nods to former attractions are always nice, and resurrecting an old pavilion symbol is even better. Keep your eyes open – you’ll see a lot of Motion symbols in this building.
The queue is full of shiny silver tones, making it look like a futuristic showroom floor. There’s a Chevrolet concept vehicle on display, and from the looks of what I saw, there are plenty of exhibits and screens to occupy those waiting in the Standby queue. At the end of all three queues are the design stations.
The single rider and Fastpass design stations are in one room, separated by a railing. The much larger Standby room is on a slightly lower level, with the back wall made up of windows that look into the Fastpass/single rider queue. The design process wasn’t working at the time of my preview, so I can’t comment on how it is, but I do know how it works – you get an RFID card on a rubber band that will store your design. You’ll take this card with you along your journey, scanning it at different points along the way. It’s worth noting that the RFID scanning point has the new “TT” logo on it rather than the Mickey head we’ve been seeing on things like the Be Our Guest ordering kiosks.
A sign directing us to the SimTrack ushers in the first truly recognizable location from the old ride – the load station. It’s still four cars long, with rows 1-8. The difference is that just before each set of air gates are six RFID scanners – one for each rider in the car. You’ll scan your card before you ride, and see the results of your prototype vehicle as you experience the attraction.
The cars themselves are the same as before, it seems. They’re all blue, and look exactly like the three “Tron cars” we saw being tested on the old ride. The seat belts still have the traditional yellow strap, and once you’re all buckled up, the ride begins. A computerized voice greets you, informing that the seat belt check is around the corner. Once the check is complete, a different computerized voice – female this time – officially welcomes you to the SimTrack.
The old hill climb and rough road tests serve little purpose other than introducing you to the new track…and boy does it look spiffy. It’s like the inside of a computer…the only way I can describe it is that it’s as if you’re entering The Grid. The walls seem alive around you as you quickly ascend and descend the hill leading to the first test, Responsiveness.
The Responsiveness Test is designed to see how well your designs respond to inclement weather. The first leg is in the old “no ABS” test area, and tests your vehicle’s response to rain. A virtual rainstorm appears on your left as your car skids off the road in a very convincing effect. As you move into the old “ABS reactivated” test, your SimCar will face an avalanche and a lightning bolt. Rounding the corner, we come to the area where the old ABS replay screens were. There’s still a screen there, but this time it shows the Responsiveness Test results for each of the six vehicles designed by everyone in your SimCar. This is a neat feature, allowing you to keep track of your design throughout the show. Next to the scoreboard is something really cool – a small model of a futuristic city with projections on it depicting motion – a very cool tribute to the old CenterCore in World of Motion.
The old environmental chambers now play host to the Efficiency Test. I can’t go on too much about these, as it wasn’t working properly when I rode it. The windows from the old ride have been replaced by one way mirrors. I could see a giant screen behind the mirror, but it wasn’t working properly and all I saw was someone working on a Windows desktop. I imagine that this will be a Pepper’s Ghost-sequel effect, but I honestly don’t know. Another screen at the end of the old corrosive chamber shows your Efficiency scores as this test wraps up.
The former Track Course A is home to the Capability Test, which is probably the most breathtaking of the four tests. Blue lasers line the road and the landscape (laser trees!) as your car goes through some hairpin turns, down a dip, and into a tunnel, where you’re still almost hit by a semi (and yes, the semi is outlined in lasers too). The whole test is one of the most fun parts of the ride, and it’s neat how the near accident in the tunnel is written off as a “crash avoiding system test.” There’s a cool Easter egg in this test as well – a road sign directs you to three locations. You pass it very quickly, so the only location I saw was “General Motorway,” but I’m sure the other two are just as chuckle-worthy.
As your SimCar enters the old Barrier Test area, you see a recap of the three tests you just experienced, as well as the six scores for each concept vehicle. A computer voice tells you that only one test remains – the Power Test. Four lit neon purple arches lead to a solid wall with the “TT” logo, and as you speed towards this wall, it splits open leading you to the exterior track. This portion of the ride seems unchanged – you still go incredibly fast and it’s definitely the most thrilling part of the attraction. The brakes are still jolting, however, so if this part of the ride gave you trouble on the old version, don’t hope for anything different. The speedometer is still there and lit up, but it wasn’t showing speeds when I rode. I assume this will be operational soon. The reentry tunnel has another scoreboard in place of the old thermal imaging camera. As you come to the bottom of the hill, you’re back at the load station, and will exit the vehicle on your left.
You’ll go down the same hallway to the old photo view stations. Gone are the old self-scan Photopass stations, replaced by a counter at the end of the room where you can purchase the photo. You then exit into the postshow, of which I only saw one room. There’s a huge screen (and I do mean huge) on the wall behind a railing. The screen shows a map of the track layout, with dots representing SimCars currently on the ride. The railing in front has about a dozen RFID scanning points. If you scan your card at the railing, a popup window will show in front of you on the screen displaying your vehicle’s results on the SimTrack. I was also told that this screen will show the best scoring cars of the day, similar to the leader boards at Toy Story Midway Mania.
My review: This attraction is spectacular. It feels like it belongs in the EPCOT Center of old. It’s probably the best example of one continuous story that holds strong through preshow, ride, and postshow. The sleek color scheme throughout the building, the computerized graphics and narrations, the use of classic EPCOT elements like the Prototype font and the World of Motion symbol, and a really thrilling ride combine to make this a dang near perfect Future World pavilion. This ride is sure to be a hit when it opens in a week, so be ready to get your FastPasses or wait in a queue with a standby time to rival Soarin’. But I promise you’ll like it. Love it, even.
See you out there on the Test Track!