Fans of Test Track who have been anxiously awaiting the grand reopening of the ride will get to experience the re-imagined ride presented by Chevrolet at Disney’s Epcot Center beginning this Thursday, December 6. Chevrolet Design and Walt Disney Imagineering incorporated new technology to make the experience all about the visitor. While the high speed thrill of riding around the track remains the same, guests will have the opportunity to design their own and put it through the test to simulate the car design process that Chevrolet’s designers go through.
To create this multi-sensory virtual experience, Chevrolet and Disney tapped into their pool of design talent with expertise ranging from industrial and automotive design to architecture and animation. GM Design Manager, Jeff Mylenek, began the design collaboration 18 months ago with guiding principles and goals that included creating an experience that is personal, future-focused, and optimistic. The re-imagined Test Track transforms the guest experience from being passive to participatory and immersive.
During a recent phone interview with Mylenek, I received an overview of the new ride. Guests who remember walking through the waiting area in anticipation of riding the ride are no longer observers. According to Mylenek, the new pre-show experience allows park guests to understand what a professional designer does through the interactive experience.
“You see some amazing work, futuristic concepts then walk in a design studio you get to design a car, truck, microvehicle.” Myleknek explains. “You get to spend a lot of time designing- morphing it from sleek to funky, bring colors to life, adding unique accessories to custom design it.”
Part of the design process includes not only choosing your vehicle but also assigning design attributes such as capability, fuel efficiency, responsiveness, and power. With so many different variables to select when designing the vehicle, everyone’s experience will be different.
Guests receive a RFID (radio frequency ID) card to save their vehicle design specifications during the pre-show experience. Upon boarding the ride, guests tap their RFID card on the dash and the design data is applied to your vehicle. The ride experience incorporates the elements that have been selected for a truly personal ride experience.
After experiencing the visceral thrill of going around the track, guests tap their RFID card to see their score. The score is compared to those of family members and other park guests who have just finished the ride.
Just as the pre-show was interactive, the post-show incorporates new technology to further engage guests. Guests can create a commercial of their vehicle and take a full size photo of it in the post-show area that can be shared via social networks and email.
As a fan of the previous Test Track, I’m looking forward to attend the grand of the re-imagined Test Track as a guest of Chevrolet this Thursday and can’t wait to share my first hand account with you!
And if you’ve ever thought that designing rides at a place like Disney would be the coolest job ever, more about my interview with Jeff Mylenek can be found on my Tech Savvy Parents column on Parents.com.
No compensation was received for this post although I am a guest of Chevrolet and Disney to attend the New FantasyLand Media Preview that includes the Test Track re-opening. Images courtesy of General Motors.