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Test Track is one of EPCOT's few thrill ride. It opened in March 1999. This pavilion is sponsored by General Motors--and has been since it opened along with EPCOT Center in October 1982. Guests ride in futuristic "test vehicles" in a GM "testing facility" and are taken through a series of assessments to illustrate how automobile prototype evaluations are conducted. The highlight of the attraction is a speed trial on a track around the exterior of the Test Track building at a top speed of 65 miles per hour on a 50-degree banked curve, making it the fastest Disney theme park attraction ever built, next to California Screamin' and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. An interesting fact: Test Track was the ride where guests could load their on-ride photos to their photopass card. Currently Test Track is under renovation and is set to re-open in Fall 2012. The renovation will include a sponsor change from GM to Chevy--just a little more specific. The ride will have a new interactive pre-show where guests will 'create' a test car by choosing different specs for their car; then the ride itself will be a test drive of the guests new 'vehicle'. The 4 main tests will be: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. This new version of Test Track will still use the same ride vehicles from its previous version but the cars will have new 'skins'.
However, Test Track is not the original ride for this GM sponsored pavilion. The original 1982 attraction--that was housed in the same building Test Track now uses--was titled World of Motion. (If look closely and the Test Track building you can see where the World of Motion 'open air' entrance has been glassed in.) This attraction was a road trip through the evolution of transportation--somewhat similar to Spaceship Earth but dealing with transportation instead of communication. It opened in October 1982 with the rest of EPCOT Center and closed in January 1996 to make way for Test Track.
The ride contained the greatest number of Audio-Animatronics in Future World. Thirty scenes spanned the different ages of transportation from the use of feet to the first traffic jam. Throughout the ride, different versions of the pavilion's theme song "It's Fun to be Free" were heard. The lyrics went "It's fun to be free, to be on the move, to go anywhere with never a care, to do all there is to be done. It's fun...to be free."
Guests began by boarding chaircars--black, two-benched omnimover vehicles that could hold around four to six passengers. The vehicles would go outside in the open entrance-way of the pavilion and spiral up a ramp around a silver column. And then re-enter the pavilion building on the upper level.
The ride's scencse fit into a few categories:
* Ancient Times: The first scene guests witnessed was a group of cave people blowing on their feet to cool them off, after they had used them as a means of transportation. The next scene, we see "our first safe highway - water," as our narrator tells us. An Egyptian boy is seen on a reed raft. Our narrator then tells us "on land, our animal friends give us new freedom, and we test-drive new models." A zebra, an ostrich, an ox, an elephant, and a camel are seen trying to be rode by people. The wheel is invented. We see an ancient court where the round wheel is selected, while the square, pentagon, and triangle-shaped wheels are rejected.
* Discovery & Renaissance: Our narrator then tells us, "With proud new ships, we sailed forth in search of new worlds, undaunted by age old myths and silly superstitions." We see a large projected map with sailing ships being blown by winds across the Atlantic. The ships blow clear off the edge of the world. We then see a sailor aboard a ship looking through his telescope. On the other end of the telescope a sea serpent is staring back at him. We then enter the age of the Renaissance. "Great minds are turning from works of art to flights of fancy," our narrator tells us. We see the model for the Mona Lisa waiting impatiently, while Leonardo da Vinci works on one of his flying machines.
* Steam Power: We see a steam-powered stagecoach being blocked on a bridge by a bull. Other steam-powered vehicles are seen projected in the background. "From hot air to the power of steam. Now nothing stands in the way of progress on the open road," comments our narrator. "Great boilers of steam change our sails to paddle wheels." A boy playing the banjo and a boy fishing are seen. We see a steamboat and a man trying desperately to get his donkey aboard. We then head west of the Mississippi where we see settlers with wagons. Still in the west, we see that "another kind of horse arrives - a steam-powered iron horse, bringing fast, dependable, safe travel to the new frontier." We see the iron horse, a train, being held up by a gang of outlaws.
* Bicycles & Automobiles: We then travel to "the peaceful countryside." Our narrator comments, "What more romantic way to enjoy it than with that infallible combination of man and machine - the bicycle!" Then we see this horseless carriage - the automobile. A mechanic is seen cranking the engine of an auto in a garage. We then witness the world's first traffic jam around the year 1910. A horse-drawn cart carrying chickens and produce has crashed and jammed up with an ice truck, a double-decker bus, and a red automobile.
* Sunday Drives & Airplanes: Our narrator comments, "Now the sky's the limit!" As progress moves on, projected footage of more planes are seen, along with freeways, racecars, surfboards, and the Goofy short "Freeway Fobia." People in cars from the 1930s to 1960s are seen along with the projections. One item of note: The flying aces scene had a family sitting in their car watching the air show; this vintage automobile now sits in the Test Track queue as part of an illustration of what types of tests early cars were put through. (See pics below.)
* Finale: We then enter the speed-tunnel. A full wrap-around projection surrounds our vehicles. Scenery flies by making it seem as if we are in zooming down a country road, speeding through a swamp in an airboat, in a bobsled, on a surfboard, and in other vehicles. Projections of grids are seen as we enter CenterCore, the 60 foot high core of the pavilion (the entire pavilion is 65 feet high). In the vast black room of CenterCore, lighted roads and highways of the future are seen curving around extremely tall skyscrapers. We see futuristic vehicles moving along. As we descend down back to the lower level of the pavilion, we go into a mirrored tunnel. Against the mirrors, we see ourselves in futuristic bubble cars.
When guests were done riding World of Motion there was a post-show floor where GM showcased possible cars of the future, current cars, and short comedy show featuring an Audio-Animatronic bird and a factory robot arm that explained how the robots were used to make cars.
Just one more tidbit: A 2nd Generation of Test Track ride technology opened in California Adventure Summer 2012 in the Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Carsland; each ride is different from the next and at the end of the attraction two ride vehicles actually race side-by-side.
Pics: Left--(upper) Vintage auto in World of Motion Flying aces scene and then (lower) in Test Track queue. Right--(upper) Test Track ride vehicles; (lower) Crash test props in ride queue.