If you've been to Walt Disney World in the last decade, chances are you've seen or perhaps even experienced GM's Test Track at Epcot – the giant complex's fastest ride, reaching speeds of more than 100 km/h.
That attraction closed in April of this year, but it is scheduled to reopen on December 6 in a completely revised – or, as GM and Disney prefer to put it, "reimagined" – form.
Disney's "Imagineers" and Chevrolet designers have been jointly working on the project for the past 18 months. Their stated goal was to create an experience that is personal, future-focused and optimistic.
While the original Test Track attempted to demonstrate the extremes of testing that vehicles go through before reaching production, in this iteration it simulates the design studio and process, creating what the companies call "a first-of-its-kind multi-sensory virtual experience in automotive design."
The collaboration not only fostered innovation, it allowed both teams to learn from each other’s expertise, they agreed. "We don’t typically design through the eyes of a 12-year-old," said Jeff Mylenek, a GM design manager. "We were inspired to see our brand story from a more youthful perspective and really opened the parameters on how to approach this design challenge."
The result is a unique experience that is said to give an authentic, inside-the-studio look at the actual automotive design process by letting guests design their own vehicles, within established parameters, inspired by the presence of actual concept cars such as the Chevrolet EN-V and Miray.
To do so, guests get to use advanced computer technology similar to that employed by Chevrolet's actual designers.
Then radio frequency technology lets them take their unique design with them on a thrill-ride where each design is evaluated on track surfaces that simulate the actual vehicle validation process that engineers use to ensure their designs perform as intended.
"Designing a successful vehicle requires some careful thought about how to balance capability, efficiency, responsiveness and power – some of the key elements that Chevrolet designers must consider with every new vehicle they imagine," said Mylenek.
Each guest’s vehicle design is evaluated and scored based on how well their design balanced the core attributes.
Finally, guests have the opportunity to race their vehicle over changing terrain and extreme conditions on a digital driving table, as well as to produce and share a TV commercial starring their custom vehicle and pose for action shots in front of their design.
As if you needed another reason to visit Disney World.