Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feasible EPCOT Improvements- #6

Do Something to Make Test Track Relevant

Last I heard, Test Track was still a fairly popular ride. I don't have any data to back this up, but judging by the wait times when I was in EPCOT last, I'll bet it's the second most popular attraction in Future World behind Soarin'. This is unfortunate, because Disney will usually rehab an EPCOT pavilion only after several years of sustained unpopularity, and sometimes not even then. And boy, does Test Track need a rehab. Truth be told, the Transportation pavilion has needed a rethink since the day it opened, we just needed a couple decades to figure it out.

I've written before about why it was a bad idea for EPCOT's transportation pavilion to be sponsored by an automobile company, especially one as clueless and out-of-it as GM. And I've speculated on what the future might hold for the pavilion once Test Track lapses into unpopularity (or Disney decides that it costs too much to maintain). For now, however, Test Track is a popular ride that's not going anywhere. If GM ends their almost thirty-year sponsorship of the pavilion, though, it'll need a new post-show. And that would be an excellent place to plug the future of transportation beyond automobiles. What about a row of simple simulators that allow visitors to experience future modes of transportation: take a ride on a pod car network in a big city, a mag-lev bullet train across the countryside, maybe even a space elevator? A future where everyone drives automobiles to get everywhere is neither practical nor desirable, and this would be a good way to educate people on some of the alternatives.

Of course, Test Track isn't the only attraction in Future World that's missing its chance at relevance. Next I'll talk a little about one of EPCOT's more recent additions.


  1. In your opinion, was World of Motion relevant just because of the post show? I never saw it (first went to Epcot in 98), so I'm just curious

  2. World of Motion was, basically, an ode to cars. They were presented as the pinnacle of transportation technology. Sure, other forms of sea, air, and space transport were mentioned, but the automobile was the most focused-on.

    The post-show was entirely about cars. The Bird and Robot show was a commercial for GM's manufacturing technology, and the rest of the area was devoted to concept cars, most of which never saw production (anyone remember the Lean Machine? It got over 100 mpg, yet the project was killed, proof that the company that gave us the Pontiac Aztek wouldn't know a good idea if it walked up kicked them in the shins)

    In my opinion, World of Motion was no more relevant than Test Track, maybe even less so. At least Test Track doesn't imply that a futuristic utopia is one in which all of Earth's billions of inhabitants drive their own automobiles.

  3. My experience on Test Track was kind of bizarre. My dad didn't want to go on it so I took the single rider's line. A sweaty guy hopped up on adrenaline and who knows what else was there saying he had been on it all day. Test Track was "awesome". This definitely was not the experience I would think Walt Disney was envisioning for his parks.

    Pre show was booring. The ride didn't make much sense. Kind of cool to see almost the entire top floor at once and imagine how World of Motion fit in there. Yes WOM was an ode to the automobile in the end but it had a hundred times more imagination than Test Track.

  4. I agree. For all it's flaws, WOM did have more imagination than Test Track.

  5. "What about a row of simple simulators that allow visitors to experience future modes of transportation..."

    This is a great idea, and something very similar was part of the original plan for the post-show area for Horizons.

    Great idea thirty years ago, great idea still.

  6. The problem with trying to predict or "simulate" how automobiles/vehicles will be in the future is always a big gamble.
    I can't really see how everyday vehicles will drastically change much, other than what types of fuel will be available in the next 10-20 years. We already had monorails and hovercrafts demonstrated at WDW. Neither are particular feasible on a large scale for use in normal cities or over long distances.

    A flying car does exist. However, its unlikely to become available to the public anytime soon due to human nature and the FAA.

    Personally, I think that Test Track is pretty much okay the way it is. Aside from some of non-functioning effects. As far as improving the ride, I'd like to see a humorous/yet educational pre-show on the evolution of modern transportation and highway safety. Goofy would make a great host for that kind of thing!


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