Theme Park Engineering: Disney’s Test Track

This ride simulates GM’s process of testing cars for capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power.

Rob Spiegel

July 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Disney Test Track

This is the first in a Design News series that looks at the engineering that goes into creating theme park rides. Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview a theme park ride engineer. He specialized in roller coaster design. I asked him how he ended up designing roller coasters. He replied, “It’s all I ever wanted to do. So, I went to school to learn the profession and I got a job.”

As part of this series, we’ll look at engineering schools that specialize in theme park engineering.

Let’s take a look at Disney’s Test Track at Epcot.

Test Track is a high-speed slot car ride manufactured by Dynamic Attractions located in World Discovery at Epcot in Florida. The ride is a simulated excursion through the rigorous testing procedures that General Motors uses to evaluate its concept cars. The ride culminates in a high-speed drive around the exterior of the attraction.


The attraction soft-opened to the public in December 1998, after a long delay due to problems revealed during testing. As a result, the attraction officially opened in March 1999. Test Track replaced the World of Motion ride, which closed three years earlier in 1996.

Originally, guests rode in test vehicles in a pseudo-GM testing facility through a series of assessments to illustrate how automobile prototype evaluations were conducted. The highlight of the attraction is a speed trial on a track around the exterior of the building at a top speed of 64.9 miles per hour making it the fastest Disney theme park ride.

Ride Details

After riders board the sim-cars and the seat belts are fastened, the car they designed will undergo four tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power.

Capability: The car connects to OnStar, then accelerates past a rain projection and skids out of control. Next, the continuing path disappears and the sim-car turns around to speed up again. A short time later, the sim-car makes a sharp left turn as a lightning bolt strikes. Following the capability test, the results of which car designs scored the best in the test are displayed.

Efficiency: The sim cars are scanned for optimum eco-efficiency in the first part. The second test performs an aero-dynamic test on the vehicle. Finally, the car is put through hyper-spectrum imaging. On the screen, guests can spot a performance text inscribed on one of the tires. After the test is complete, the best scores are displayed.

Responsiveness: The sim car accelerates around hairpin turns with laser-projected trees. Along the way, a sign can be seen with the "turn right to go left" quote from the 2006 Disney Pixar film Cars. The sim-car then enters a tunnel to encounter the 18-wheeler from the original version, which is now shown with lasers. When the vehicle exits the tunnel, the results of the responsiveness test are displayed.

Power: The sim car accelerates through flashing purple arches toward a wall with the ride's logo on it. The doors split open, and the car exits the building. The sim car accelerates along a straightaway until it crosses over Avenue of the Stars. Then the sim car makes a 90-degree right turn, then a 270-degree left turn circling over an employee parking lot. Exiting the turn, the sim car then travels back down another straightaway before making a complete counterclockwise circle around the ride building.

About the Author(s)

Rob Spiegel

Rob Spiegel serves as a senior editor for Design News. He started with Design News in 2002 as a freelancer and hired on full-time in 2011. He covers automation, manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, AI, and more.

Prior to Design News, he worked as a senior editor for Electronic News and Ecommerce Business. He has contributed to a wide range of industrial technology publications, including Automation World, Supply Chain Management Review, and Logistics Management. He is the author of six books.

Before covering technology, Rob spent 10 years as publisher and owner of Chile Pepper Magazine, a national consumer food publication.

As well as writing for Design News, Rob also participates in IME shows, webinars, and ebooks.

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