Walt Disney World Resort guests will experience the thrill of designing their very own virtual vehicle – then putting their design through its paces – when the re-imagined, multi-sensory Test Track Presented by Chevrolet grand re-opens Dec. 6, 2012.
The iconic Epcot attraction, a new collaboration between Chevrolet Design and the creative team of Walt Disney Imagineering, celebrates how meticulous design not only shapes the look of Chevrolet cars and trucks, but drives their performance on the open road.
For inspiration for the project, Walt Disney Imagineers made numerous visits to Detroit, collaborating with Chevrolet designers and touring the inner sanctums of Chevrolet’s design studios.
“As storytellers, to be able tell Chevrolet’s design story was fun for our Imagineers,” said Eric Jacobson, senior vice president of WDI. “Chevrolet designers come from the same creative roots as Imagineers. Test Track Presented by Chevrolet will become, for Epcot guests, an exciting part of their visit to Walt Disney World Resort.”
Amid upbeat music, eye-popping lighting effects and a collection of Chevrolet concept cars and model vehicles, guests themselves will become automotive designers – and peer into the future of personal transportation in the process.
“Through an enduring partnership, Chevrolet and Disney continue to inspire generations to imagine the impossible and innovate,” said Chris Perry, vice president, U.S. Marketing, General Motors. “The re-imagined Test Track reflects the personality and values of Chevrolet design and offers guests a behind-the-scenes look at a discipline that drives our business. This first-of-its-kind automotive design attraction represents the best of Chevrolet design and Disney innovation.”
Test Track guests enter an all-new, interactive pre-show area – completely retooled and re-imagined from the garage-like testing area of the former GM Test Track. The sleek new “Chevrolet Design Center” invites guests to create their own virtual custom-concept vehicle. Car design wannabes will get to shape their own virtual car, truck or crossover vehicle and learn how their design choices perform against four important attributes:
At design kiosks, rows of touch screens become canvasses for guests to try their hand at design magic. Here, they can virtual-draw – maneuver their vehicle design by shape, length, width and engine size. Once they create the design of their dreams, guests complete their creation with even more choices. They can make a design statement with an expressive front grill, order up wheels by size and style, add paint and other graphics and trick out their vehicle – top to sides, front to back – with the latest accessories. Then comes the crowning touch of their design – adding Chevrolet’s world-famous bowtie logo.
Their virtual Chevrolet vehicle complete, the adventure then shifts into high gear as guests – armed with a card encoded with their personal design that travels with them – board their 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle. Ahead: a thrilling journey into a dazzling multi-sensory digital experience as guests put their personal design through a series of performance tests – the exhilarating heart of Test Track Presented by Chevrolet.
Along their route, riders experience changing terrain and extreme conditions as their designs are scored for Capability, Efficiency, Responsiveness and Power. How does their design stand up on the challenging hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit? How well does it navigate through bumpy roads, icy conditions, turn-on-a-dime curves and other surprises? Their design skills are put to the test – at speeds of up to 65 mph.
The fun and excitement continues in the post-show area.
Scoring their design. Guests get to compare their car’s results to that of a baseline SimCar – and also see how they performed against their fellow “designers.”
At a digital driving table laying out a road course, guests can race their virtual custom-concept vehicles against other guests’ designs, over changing terrain and encountering extreme conditions.
Brand-new car designers can create their own commercial – starring their virtual car.
In another experience, guests get to pose with actual Chevrolet vehicles. Through green screen technology — with a few taps on their touch screen – guests can suddenly find themselves posing with their Chevrolet on the lunar surface, arcing across the galaxies, navigating the bright-white of a polar landscape or other thrilling scenes. The images become easily sharable on social media, sending virtual postcard greetings to family, friends or co-workers back home.
New and concept Chevrolet vehicles are laid out showroom-style. Guests can get behind the wheel of Chevrolet’s latest models. Chevrolet product specialists are on hand to answer any questions.
‘May the 7th be with you,’ is probably something you won’t be hearing a lot of next year, but just a few days after The Walt Disney Company announced its intentions to acquire Lucasfilm to produce new Star Wars films, the Tokyo Disney Resort has announced it will hold its grand opening for ‘Star Tours: The Adventures Continue’ on May 7, 2013 — just a few days after ‘Star Wars Day’ on May the 4th.
At a price tag just north of US $87 million, the updated attraction brings the same 3D randomized experience to Tokyo Disneyland as it has already done for both Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
‘Star Tours: The Adventures Continue’ is just one more reason the Tokyo Disney Resort will just get happier as it begins celebrating ‘The Happiness Year’ in April 2013, commemorating its 30th anniversary. The attraction will offer FASTPASS and will have a height restriction of 41″ (105 cm) and an age minimum of 3.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: When is a character not a character? When they’re an ‘experience delivery system.’ Get it? Okay, maybe it’s not that funny, or clever, but according to a patent application for a system known as ‘Managing Experience State to Personalize Destination Visits,’ it’s the future truth — and it’s a key element to the MyMagic+/My Disney Experience coming to the Walt Disney World Resort as part of its NextGen experience.
Though it lacks any shocking revelations, the patent application answers one of the most forefront questions since information began pouring in since we began sharing information about the project. Completely apart from FASTPASS+ which is available to families just as the regular FASTPASS system is, this is more in line with the “it’s a small world” real-world avatar; the question being if there are multiple people entitled to a customization, how does Disney decide who gets it?
And so then you have this: the Experience State Management System. And it goes a little something like this.
First, the familiar. Guests will have the reusable and personalized (for an upcharge) MagicBand which uses RFID technology and serves as the key to virtually everything from unlocking hotel room doors (for which Disney is aggressively updating all the locks systematically as you read this) to holding park admission media (though both of these are optional depending on the circumstances) to holding access to FASTPASS+ enabled attractions. Readers, however, will be installed virtually everywhere and it is no gross understatement to suggest that the system is capable of identifying guests virtually anywhere in the parks. We also know that with the readers being able to identify guests as they enter attractions, it also potentially provides supplementary information to a cast member who can now greet a guest by name and/or wish them a happy birthday even if there’s no button, congratulate them on their graduation, or any other possible celebration imaginable, so long as it’s noted in their CRS database.
That’s where the ESMS really comes in because it too will have access to all of this information and not only will it be able to see what entitlements a guest is set to receive, it will obviously be able to record and reference entitlements already distributed. Therefore it can use its guest history to decide who amongst a group of guests will receive the special attention at any single experience, be it within the same family or amongst different groups as well. For example, an attraction could be configured to wish someone a happy birthday when it detects them in a group. But what if there’s two guests celebrating a birthday that day? Maybe one of them was already recognized for it earlier in the day, so the system will decide to honor the other guest. There are several other factors it can consider, or if it determines there is a statistical tie, it can make a random decision to skew the numbers going forward. The system will also use biological information such as age and gender to determine which experiences will be available for a particular guest.
Aside from a talking character (note we do not say face character) being able to greet guests by name upon entering a room, several other potential uses are suggested by the patent application. Special upcharge experiences include birthday acknowledgements, or a pirate experience in which the guest will be acknowledged automatically throughout the parks as being a pirate in any number of ways including visually morphing the guest into looking like a pirate, being dressed like a pirate, etc. The same technique could be applied to make the guest appear to be most anything such as a movie star or athlete.
Although the patent application doesn’t explicitly mention it, the ESMS is also likely to play a role in Achievements, which we also previously spoke about to some extent.
For further reading, you can view the patent application in its entirety here.
This summer, the eagerly anticipated additions of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land opened to excited Guests as part of a major expansion at Disney California Adventure Park. Now, those popular areas will undergo a spectacular holiday makeover, meaning that The Happiest Place on Earth Just Got Merrier.
Bustling and busy Buena Vista Street, which now welcomes you when you enter Disney California Adventure Park, is themed to a Los Angeles business main street from the 1930s. It re-creates the era when Walt Disney was establishing his world-famous animation studio.
A community Christmas
“For this first holiday celebration, we imagined that all the businesses on Buena Vista Street got together like a chamber of commerce to bring the community together,” explained David Caranci, Manager of Resort Enhancement. “It becomes a matter of civic pride to decorate the street and stores and to erect a huge, 50-foot-tall Christmas tree in the heart of the city as a spot for everyone to join in singing carols.
“Even Mickey and his friends will sport a retro look — how they appeared in the 1930s — to match the rest of the theming on Buena Vista Street. We’ll also have wonderful vintage toys for display under the huge Christmas tree. From a tin robot to a blimp — all sorts of hidden surprises from that time period.”
The bell motif on the garlands and street decorations is continued on the oversize ornaments on the massive Yuletide tree as well. The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers will perform as they wander up and down the street and participate in the evening tree lighting.
Re-creating magical holiday moments
“On the episode entitled ‘Holiday Time at Disneyland’ on ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color’ TV series in 1962, Walt was seen in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle ringing bells and standing beside a group of carolers,” said Carla Carlile, Show Director, Walt Disney Entertainment. “We are very excited to re-create that concept with our own bell ringers in a ring-along, sing-along encouraging our Guests to join in by singing familiar carols and ringing in the season.”
“One of the things that I love about the creative people at The Walt Disney Company is their attention to detail,” said Alan Bruun, Creative Director, Walt Disney Entertainment.
“The amazing people in Resort Enhancement studied what type of trees might have been used during that time period in Los Angeles. The Buena Vista Street tree is completely different from any others in Disney Parks. All the decorations are large-scale replicas of actual decorations that would’ve been on a Los Angeles Christmas tree in the 1930s.”
Underneath the airy tree will be a custom-made 1/16th-size train chugging along with sound and lights through the specially designed gifts, evoking Walt Disney’s love of model trains.
The Citizens of Buena Vista Street, the improvisational performers at the Park, will share in the holiday cheer with Disney California Adventure Park Guests, treating them as if they were residents of the town. Molly the Messenger will have forms for children to fill out to send their letter to Santa.
Speaking of the jolly old elf himself, Mr. Claus will be found in the lavish Elias & Co., a sprawling shop that evokes the grandeur of classic department stores. Just like those fondly remembered stores of yore, Santa will be at his special seat surrounded by his many helpers so that children can share their secret wishes with him.
Getting all revved up for the holidays
Cars Land is celebrating its first Christmas season as well, in an enchanted creative partnership between Resort Enhancement, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. “We all came up with some very imaginative answers to the question, ‘How would cars celebrate the holiday season?’” said David.
Look for Snowy the Snow Car, a brand-new automotive holiday friend. He’s the Cars Land version of a snowman. “We have all fallen in love with him already because he is just so endearing,” said David. A nice photo next to this whimsical, seven-foot fellow might be just the thing to include with your holiday cards this year!
Every resident of Cars Land has incorporated their own personality into their holiday decorations. Mater has a nine-foot-tall tree with an arching sparkplug on top as the star. Luigi and Guido added holiday flair to the red, white and green color scheme of their shop—the colors of the Italian flag. Sarge sports a six-foot-tall, red, white and blue tree with a military star on top. And Flo’s nine-foot-tall tree is made out of oil cans!
Around almost every corner of Cars Land, you’ll discover new imaginative decorations and surprises — even the 20-foot-tall tree at the courthouse has a hubcap for every ornament. The courthouse statue of Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs, is adorned with a Santa hat and a big bag of rims, wheels, accessories and other goodies for all the good residents of Cars Land.
“We’ve never done a land like this before,” David added. “Our Guests won’t see these types of unique decorations anywhere else in any of the Disney Parks.”
Beyond Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, the spirit of the season will also glow throughout Disney California Adventure Park. The lights on Mickey’s Fun Wheel on Paradise Pier will be specially programmed for the holidays. Not far away, good pals Flik, Princess Atta and Princess Dot have decorated “a bug’s land” so it’s crawling with goodwill to men, women — and cute bugs!
The rocking Mad T Party will offer its own holiday spin on its special entertainment repertoire — including a live band and dancers with an icy, cool look for this party in the streets. Don’t be surprised if, just as things start to really heat up, a surprise snowfall doesn’t cool things off for a bit before the fun begins again!
Of course, one of the most acclaimed wonders to appear in recent years is World of Color, the nighttime water spectacular. It’s the festive finale to any day — or several days — of Disney California Adventure fun, but during the holiday season, look for special surprises added especially for this delightful time of year.
“One of the most exciting things for all of us is creating new holiday traditions,” said Alan, echoing the enthusiasm of his fellow Cast Members on the makeover team. “Now there are holiday things to enjoy on our ‘two main streets’ to add to the existing memories traditions at Disneyland Resort.”
We received a new update from Walt Disney World regarding upcoming refurbishments and have new additions as well as several date revisions. While we recommend verifying all of the changes by visiting our ReSearch page, here are some of the highlights:
- Mad Tea Party at Magic Kingdom is scheduled to close on January 7, 2013 and re-open on February 19.
- Splash Mountain dates revised to close on January 2 and re-open on March 20, 2013.
- The Boneyard at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have another 2-day closure, closing October 24, 2012 and re-opening on October 26.
- Blizzard Beach refurbishment has been extended until May 17, 2013. It will also start on January 6, 2013, meaning Typhoon Lagoon will now re-open that same day, which is a little earlier than originally slated.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Be the first to know when changes that potentially affect your trip occur by signing up with ReSearch! The only Disney Parks refurbishment schedule that covers attractions, dining and resorts, lets you drill down to your own specific dates and even emails you when your dates are affected — and it’s completely free!
Walt Disney World has just released this image of the Rose Gallery located inside the ‘Be Our Guest’ restaurant located in the Enchanted Forest section of the New Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom.
Featuring a large music box centerpiece nearly 7 feet tall with Belle and the Beast slowly twirling atop, the Rose Gallery is one of three dining rooms at Be Our Guest Restaurant. Adorned with rose accents, paintings and tapestries, the Rose Gallery features French-inspired cuisine for quick-service lunch. Part of New Fantasyland, Be Our Guest Restaurant will grand open December 6, 2012.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy Walt Disney World
Along with previewing his newest art and exclusive limited edition Vinylmation figures for the Disney Cruise Line cruise departing this weekend, Disney artist Noah has previewed art created for Epcot’s 30th anniversary which takes place October 1, 2012. Titled ‘The 21st Century Begins,’ the artwork will be available in multiple formats as well as a limited edition Vinylmation (10 each of 9″ and 3″ figures) which will be revealed later this week.
Noah’s art will be available at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at the Festival Center (the former Wonders of Life Pavilion) in Future World. Noah also serves as this year’s festival artist and posters and other materials featuring the artwork he created for the festival will also be available.
Noah will be on both the Disney Cruise sailing for the release as well as at Walt Disney World during Epcot’s 30th Anniversary and the Food & Wine Festival Inaugural weekend. Visit the release info page to see his full appearance schedule.
In celebration of Disney’s new stop-motion animated movie Frankenweenie, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton and opening October 5 in 3D, Walt Disney World Resort is hosting a variety of engaging experiences inspired by the new movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland. The fun takes place at Downtown Disney West Side Sept. 28 – 30, 2012.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for guests:
Special 3D screenings of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland, featuring a 3D extended preview of Frankenweenie, which debuts Oct. 5. Tickets may be purchased for $6. The fun takes place at AMC Downtown Disney 24. Show times:
- The Nightmare Before Christmas — 4:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Alice in Wonderland — 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
New Holland Pet Cemetery picture spot presented by HGTV will place guests in one of the key locations of Frankenweenie among tombstones of beloved turtles, rabbits, cats and of course, dogs. Located between AMC Downtown Disney 24 and Something Silver boutique, available 6-11 p.m.
The first-ever meet and greet with Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas at Walt Disney World Resort. Located between AMC Downtown Disney 24 and Harley Davidson, available 6-11 p.m.
Special merchandise inspired by Frankenweenie and The Nightmare Before Christmas will be available for purchase at D-Street boutique and mobile carts throughout Downtown Disney West Side. Special treats, such as Franken Fusion Lemonade and Frankenweenie hotdogs will be available near the New Holland Pet Cemetery picture spot.
In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the official Disney Parks blog has announced that Walt Disney Imagineering will soon be taking a cue from the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, On Stranger Tides, and adding a new feature to the attraction.
Speculation and rumors have run rampant for months that mermaids were intended to be added to the attraction at the Magic Kingdom and the announcement has now re-fueled it along with an off-again/on-again full day closure for the attraction scheduled for October 9.
The attraction has already shared an incestuous love affair with its namesake film, beginning with the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa and inclusion of Davy Jones and Blackbeard from the later films.
Of course it could also end up simply being the Black Pearl in a ship bottle, but the news has certainly sparked the interest of theme park fans. One thing is for certain: if mermaids there be, they probably won’t be of the same sort that once haunted the waters of the lagoon at Disneyland.
Although it had previously been shared with media at a prior event, Walt Disney World has just officially released this concept art of the interior of the Princess Fairytale Hall which will be in the space once consumed by Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
The new home for visiting royalty in the Magic Kingdom, Princess Fairytale Hall will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows, a spacious gallery adorned with portraits of Disney princesses and elegantly finished rooms where guests can meet Aurora, Cinderella and other princesses. Set to open in 2013, as part of the next phase of the New Fantasyland expansion after the opening on December 6, 2012, Princess Fairytale Hall will be located in the Castle Courtyard in the center of Fantasyland.
Image courtesy Walt Disney Parks and Resorts