As much as we try to ignore the current going-ons at the Walt Disney World Resort lately (Captain Jack’s interactive game in Adventureland, Captain Jack’s pretend-to-be-a-pirate thing at Hollywood Studios, Captain Jack’s new segment in the new castle projection show, other bloggers stumbling drunkenly out of Be Our Guest like Captain Jack Sparrow) it’s time to revitalize an old Epcot tradition: Track Talk.
Track Talk was a bulletin, for lack of a better term, posted daily/weekly for Cast Members at the Test Track attraction with relevant news and information to the operation of Test Track. While our version here wont be filled with notes that GM will be washing cars out back so everyone try not to slip on the sudsy bubbles and claim temporary disability pay again this year… it will have a few notes on scheduling.
Did we ever mention that because of how stressful it was working at Test Track prior to the opening of Soarin (angry guest.. very very angry guests if it broke down – “It’s the only ride in the park!!”) the CM’s would sometimes subject themselves to “minor” injuries while working to get placed on “light duty” status away from the attraction? Not unlike a certain footman on Downton Abbey trying to get away from the war?
But, yes, schedules: Starting November 17th the cast members trained on Test Track will resume 6:30am starting shifts. That start time is essentially in preparing the attraction for a 9am daily opening. We’re not saying that they’ll open the ride that day (plus Disney prefers Sundays for these sorts of things) but that the CM’s will be back in place to do so.
On a related note, the handover from Imagineering to Operations is supposed to occur on November 21st. In theory the ride should be functional and cleared to allow guest access at that point. How much will actually be finished? I dunno. It’s not unheard of for Imagineering to continue to work on an attraction despite it being handed off for daily operation. There have been rumors that the post-show area in particular wouldn’t be done on time but more recently it hasn’t been mentioned so the area may have caught up.
We have been hearing that the ride is running as reliably as it ever did, so guests will likely not face massive downtimes once it reopens. Upgrades and changes made to the attraction during previous refurbishment helped the reliability significantly from the early-days nightmare scenarios where it was closed for 3/4 of the operational day.
The one area CM’s haven’t been trained on yet is apparently the preshow and guest car design portion. What’s that all about? The Disney Parks Blog explained yesterday…
Upon entering the attraction, you’ll be invited into the Chevrolet Design Center where you can design your own virtual custom concept vehicle at design kiosks. Here, you’ll be asked to make a few selections that really allow you to create a unique vehicle design that’s personalized to your taste.
First, you’re asked to draw an outline of your vehicle. If you don’t have the steadiest hand, don’t worry because you’ll have a chance to smooth out the shape before moving on. Next, you’ll be asked to make some choices that adjust the shape, length and width of your vehicle.
Then you’ll select your type of engine, choosing among several fun choices, including Solar Drive, EV Hybrid, and Plasma Burner, among others.
Next up, you’ll make choices on your design’s aesthetics. Here you choose the face of your car, the paint color and graphics, and even choose the wheel size and style.
And you’re design is complete and ready to be put to the test. From here, you’ll board a SimCar to see how your design compares, as they’re put to the test in the categories of Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Power at different points along the attraction’s track.
Of note, that last graphic shows the interior layout of the ride track – unchanged from the previous version if you still had any lingering doubts. It also appears to be denoting either locations of ride vehicles or checkpoints for ride vehicles. Here’s a slightly better look at it:
Notice how it has little groups of six vehicles at the various points on the track. We’ll guess that’s actually representing the riders in the vehicles and their designed vehicles that are filling up each physical ride car. How that plays into the final ride is unknown, but it seems the attraction is willing to have six entirely different simulated designs packed into each physical vehicle. Maybe it’s meant to imply that the vehicles are tested in groups..? Maybe it’s denoting that groups traveling together and different cars will be called out and showcase at each checkpoint? It has been long assumed the “magic mirror” effect from DCA’s Radiator Springs Racers would be employed in the new Test Track – show an overlay of a guest vehicle design on top of the reflecting of the passenger vehicle. Perhaps each checkpoint will feature a different rider’s car?
Which does beg the question of the first two points on the up and down ramp.. what scenes will those be? The defined show scenes we know of, starting with Capability, doesn’t begin officially until the bottom of the ramp. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. Thankfully from the early concept art we know it wont just be a black void as the up-ramp was depicted as having a high-tech look.
But back to guest vehicle design, it appears the Preshow rooms form Test Track 1.0 are staying, if not heavily modified.Per the concept art update from last week:
These rooms look to hold about 30 guests each and as seen in the screen-grabs up above the guests will have around 8 minutes to design their vehicle. If you are wondering how these chambers appear to have no windows or doors from which to exit the area the Chevy icon at the rear is the key. The walls of the drawing are flared out in a typical rendering trick to show the details on them (in real life it’d be almost impossible to see both parallel walls in one shot) and it obscures the fact that the small wall with the Chevy icon is actually a baffle in front of another wall that continues the room and had the exit door. The yellow-orange glow coming from behind it is where guests would exit the area on either side and then join the final queue to load the ride vehicles.
All this said, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the attraction. The general configuration of the queue is still in question though the rendering suggest it’ll have more interior space for switchbacks than before with far fewer large open display areas. One area we can make out from the rendering released last week is the spot just under the windows at the front of the building. Notice the windows on the upper left of the rendering:
And those of us who spent a few too many hours staring at this artwork also finally realized that the photo below is another angle of the same area:
And that seems to be as much as we have managed to gleam about the project from the artwork recently. All the remaining question marks should be cleared up when the attraction opens and photos begin flooding the internet in the next few weeks. Until then, we’ll post any information we come across about soft openings and previews and if you want to amuse yourself by reading the history of the original Test Track or its precursor the World of Motion feel free to check out our book The Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.