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New Disney Ride: Speculating About Test Track 3

My opinions on Epcot’s Test Track don’t really seem to mirror the popularity of this ride. Many people would consider this to be an e-ticket attraction, but I’m not sure I really agree. It might be one of the more exciting attractions in Epcot, but that’s not a really a fair comparison. Mission Space is more intense, but that’s almost to the point of being impossible for many people to ride (including myself). Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind is a true e-ticket attraction, but it feels a little shoehorned into the theme of the Epcot. Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is a sure-fire e-ticket. Other than that, Epcot is a pretty gentle park. Don’t get me wrong, I love Epcot, but I would say that the biggest attraction in this park is the park itself.

In my opinion, Test Track is a basic ride with a minute of great thrills. While I enjoy riding it, I rarely ride it more than once when I’m visiting Epcot and I feel like I’d rather be walking through World Showcase over waiting in line to ride a car. The addition of the design your own car feature when it upgraded in 2012 was a great addition, but I’m not sure it really made it a super star ride either. I also felt that the last upgrade made it into a Tron themed version of the old ride with the retro-modern lighting. As I said though, people love this ride, and even though it breaks down all the time, people will line up to give it a spin.

It seems like the folks at Disney Imagineering might feel a little similar to myself about this ride as they’ve recently announced that it once again will be getting a full upgrade to the 3rd version of this popular ride. While the shutdown is imminent, there’s very little word about what this new version is going to give riders. Disney has released two drawings, and mentioned that they’re going to take inspiration from the original attraction that stood in that spot, World of Motion.

With this little information, here’s what I think might be going on. One of the problems with Disney rides that are supposed to show off modern advancements in technology is that the advancement featured on many attractions becomes out of date within a year of the attraction being opened. It’s the biggest problem with all of the Tomorrow Land (like) areas around the castle parks too. Walt Disney built these areas to show off the technology of tomorrow, but unfortunately, they’re all out of date. Half of Epcot was also designed to do similar things, educate and demonstrate the technology and innovations of tomorrow. Unfortunately, it’s been unsustainable and much of these areas have either languished or been turned into something more entertaining and less educational.

This vital mantra of Walt Disney has been a problem for all of the Disney parks to keep up with. The Imagineers have had to work hard at finding ways to upgrade these “futuristic” attractions by either finding quick fixes, or what I suspect is going to happen to Test Track, go retro. One of the best ways to make a future world become timeless is the make it retro-futuristic. This is the act of looking back at what the world thought the future would be like and building an attraction that looks futuristic, but from the angle of a person living in the 50s or 60s.

When Disney uses words like “taking inspiration” from old attractions, my immediate thought is that they’re going to take a ride and add a bunch of nostalgic style to it. This is what I figure they’re going to do to Test Track. Rather than try and update it to modern times, they’re going to make it look like an attraction that’s been frozen in time. This makes a lot of sense considering many of the modern features of Test Track are becoming normal for many of us driving cars today. Self-driving, higher speeds, electric vehicles are becoming the norm in automobiles today, so many of the mind-blowing features of the future from Test Track are really commonplace today.

This is not without precedent, as I feel like it’s something Disney is doing to all of Epcot. The Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind deals a lot with nostalgia from Epcot days gone by. So it makes total sense that Test Track may join this overarching concept. The thing that makes this easy is that they already have a blueprint to make this happen, World of Motion. There was already an attraction in the same spot that if it could have been frozen in time would be a retro cool ride today. All they have to do is look back at this past attraction, pull out the essence, and lay it on top of this attraction.

While I feel like this has been happening a little bit here and there at Epcot as of late, this transformation of Test Track might be the switch that flips to turn a large portion of Epcot into a retro future wonderland. I think it’s a matter of time until World Discovery (the portion of the old future world on the left side when you enter into Epcot) will turn into a retro-futuristic look at the optimism of those who looked to the future in the past. It was a big part of Walt’s own story, and so it fits very well into the Epcot theme.

I’m not sure Epcot needs something retro, as it was built to be a park demonstrating innovation, but I also understand the limitation of keeping up with modern innovations and the expense it takes to do this at a theme park. By upgrading Test Track like this, and eventually all of World Discovery, Disney will be able to slow down on upgrades and massive overhauls. By setting these futuristic rides back in time they actually make them timeless. You could argue that the original intent of Epcot is being further lost, but you could also argue that it’s going to make for a better theme park. This is all speculation on my part, and I’m of two minds in hoping that I’m wrong. I love a good theme park, and I enjoy retro-future as a theme, but I also have fond memories of seeing new technology at Epcot that felt futuristic by current day standards. While the overall theme of Epcot was/is edutainment, it’s still a theme park. This change might make it a little harder for some parents to pull their kids out of school to travel to Walt Disney World as an educational vacation, but it will allow Disney to focus on new projects and less time/money on attempting to update attractions that are attempting to constantly be state of the art.

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