5 Fun Facts about Test Track You Might Not Know
As for Mission: SPACE, sure, you’ll feel the tension of gravity, but the entire trip takes place on a monitor.
When you want to experience the best thrill ride at EPCOT, you must take the wheel and pretend like you’re a crash test dummy.
Here are a few fun facts about Test Track, EPCOT’s most exciting attraction.
GM Has Always Sponsored Test Track
When Walt Disney World opened in 1982, World of Motion garnered much of the attention. It was an infotainment attraction about the history of transportation.
Like many EPCOT attractions over the years, World of Motion featured a sponsor, General Motors. Walt Disney and his successors prefer this strategy. When an attraction has a sponsor, Disney mitigates the cost of constructing and operating it.
Of course, sponsors expect their voices to carry a lot of weight on the rides they sponsor.Over the years, World of Motion became outdated. It was part of an overall struggle with Future World.
Imagineers wanted to show loyalty to the past, which caused them to lose sight of the importance of accurately representing the future.
GM officials felt frustrated by this generic tale of transportation. They believed that the ride should highlight high-quality GM vehicles.
So, Disney ran World of Motion through the 1995 holiday season. On January 2, 1995, the attraction closed for good.
In its place, Imagineers constructed Test Track, a futuristic testing facility inspired by a very real GM facility, Milford Proving Ground.
Test Track Is the Fastest, Longest Ride at Walt Disney World
The Test Track build didn’t go smoothly. At all. Park officials faced numerous delays and a series of mishaps along the way.
When Imagineers performed blue sky development, they plotted an unprecedented Disney ride capable of top speeds of 95 miles per hour.
Test Track would have claimed the title of the fastest ride in the world if Disney had gone through with the specs. Alas, Florida’s governmental officials worried over the idea of children trying to talk their way onto a 95 MPH speed demon ride.
Disney designers dialed back the speed to a very specific level. Test Track tops out at 64.9 miles per hour, just under the 65 MPH speed limit in Florida.
Due to the horsepower of each slot car, it goes from zero to 64.9 MPH in 8.8 seconds, which makes the outdoor portion exhilarating.
Of course, the attraction features much more than just explosive velocity, though.
The ride’s theming plays out across a dark ride staging area, which makes it quite lengthy.
In fact, at 5,246 feet, it’s the longest ride at Walt Disney World, too!
Of course, I think Disney should have taken it out another 34 feet so that it’d be a mile long.
Due to its speed, GM couldn’t very well connect it to the global brand.
Instead, Chevrolet became the main sponsor, as its line of vehicles fit better with the premise and style of Test Track. In fact, when you exit the attraction, you’ll enter a showroom that displays many Chevrolet vehicles. You can even take your picture with them!
Test Track Can Simultaneously Operate 29 Cars
Throughput marked one of the main challenges during the construction of Test Track.
Park managers needed Test Track to service a high volume of guests per hour and operating day.
However, early test results proved problematic. No matter what Imagineers tried, the computer software glitched after six vehicles.
When seven or more Test Track slot cars were on the track, the ride wouldn’t work correctly, causing automated shutdowns and safety hazards.
These technical issues delayed the opening of Test Track by more than a year.
During this downtime, Imagineers reworked both the software and the tracks to improve communications.
Eventually, Disney perfected Test Track’s hardware/software communications enough that 29 vehicles could operate simultaneously.
That may strike you as a crazy number of slot cars on the tracks. Please remember that it’s the longest attraction, though.
Original Test Track queue, Epcot Center, Walt Disney World Resort pic.twitter.com/eZaRmexanb
— History@Disney (@HistoryAtDisney) January 11, 2020
Disney can safely host cars that are more than 180 feet apart. As a precautionary measure, Test Track usually maxes out at 25 cars, though.
At this rate, the ride cars average about 210 feet of distance from one another. So, everybody’s safe, but ride throughput remains solid.
Estimates suggest that Test Track services 1,200 guests per hour. For a thrill ride, that’s quite good.
— Undercover Tourist (@ThemeParkFrog) March 7, 2016
Test Track Isn’t Perfect
How many times have you walked up to Test Track, only to realize that it’s not open? I think this happens to me at least twice per Disney vacation, but I know the reasons why.
First, Test Track features an outdoor roller coaster section. This part has proven susceptible to the elements.
The slot cars don’t like the rainy weather, and they tear down frequently when wet.
For safety reasons, Disney has integrated an automatic system shutdown anytime lightning strikes within five miles of the attraction.
Interestingly, that’s only the secondary problem. The main issue stems from maintenance.
I do like to stand out on the Test Track.
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— Tony Johnson (@EpicDisneyFun) May 16, 2019
Disney officials estimated back in 1998 that the ride carts would last for 20 years. Well, the ride turned 20 years old in 2018. So, you can do the math.
Specifically, each slot car lasts about one million miles. Estimates suggest that Test Track cars pile up roughly 50,000 miles each year.
Yes, those calculations add up to a 20-year lifespan. Obviously, some of the older vehicles require significant upkeep.
Also, the tires in the slot tracks gradually tear up over time, just like on regular cars.
Even the ride sensors are notoriously touchy. When they’re down, Test Track can’t run at all.
So, several different issues can cause the ride to close for a while.
Some estimates indicate that Test Track experiences shutdowns on 40 percent of all park days. It’s a question of when, not if, this ride tears up.
You don’t have to major in computer science to appreciate the technical specs of Test Track.
Each slot car runs on a trio of superpowered onboard computers. Their combined processing power could fly a space shuttle.
So, maybe we should all feel a bit guilty using this much computer energy just to ride in a fast car? Nah!
Due to the chaotic nature of Florida weather, Imagineers designed Test Track to weather a hurricane.
Allegedly, everything could survive gale-force winds of 200 miles per hour. Hopefully, we never find out for sure, though.
Finally, here are a couple of facts that will blow your mind. Test Track vehicles operate with six different braking systems in place.
Imagineers built the system this way to provide the maximum level of excitement and safety for guests.
As a byproduct of this decision, the vehicles include more wheels than you know are there.
Obviously, you’ll see four wheels as you approach the ride. You won’t notice the other 18 hidden underneath, though.
Yes, Test Track slot cars have 22 wheels each! Isn’t that crazy?!