Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World! This was a big news week with the grand opening of New Fantasyland and the reopening and complete re-imagining of Test Track over at Epcot!

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!


As you can see, the tree is now up in the Magic Kingdom after the Christmas Parade taping concluded.


Details of the tree.


[center][size=5][b]Grand Reveal[/b][/size]

Disney had it’s Grand Reveal of New Fantasyland yesterday. I was in the park the day before and saw some of the preparation for the event.


The stage was set right behind Partners, which made the statue unavailable to photographs that day.



Special banners up in front of Cinderella Castle for the event.


Camera crews were set up everywhere.


As were these guys for the media preview that happened Wednesday night.

[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]

As I reported last week (without photos), the Tangled tower is now up in the back of Fantasyland near Liberty Square.




It’s really quite beautiful, and to be completely honest, it wasn’t as big of a deal as people were making it out to be in terms of its proximity to the Haunted Mansion. Yes, you can see it from Frontierland and Liberty Square, but you can also see the Contemporary Hotel from those locations, and it has been like that for years.


Rock work continues.


Steady progress on the new restrooms.



Over at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there are some cool new billboards attached to the construction walls.






They’re fun, and if you look closely at one of them, you can see concept art that basically confirms Snow White being part of the ride, even though it is themed to the Seven Dwarfs.


You can also look through some of them, as they have plexiglass built in, and Dopey is holding a sign saying “Take a Peek”. Here are those views.





I like that Disney is doing that and allowing folks to get an idea for what is happening. It helps build hype and excitement for the project.

Here are some other views from around the Mine Train.




The cottages are really coming along quickly.


I noticed these signs in Storybook Circus that I never noticed before this week. Anyone know if they are new, or am I just crazy?


Welcome to Epcot!!


[center][size=5][b]Back on Track[/b][/size]

Test Track reopened at Epcot this week, and we have tons of photos to share with you. I’ll save my thoughts on the attraction for the end. We’ll start with the outside and the queue.




New Fastpass machine design.



The queue is completely different than it was before, now resembling a showcase of future automotive technology, and there is no more clinky clanky music!







As you can see, this is no longer a proving ground, but a new Chevrolet Design Center takes its.




The above touch screens are there to give the kids a head start before they head into the design studios.



Once you get inside the Studio, you are given an RFID card, and get a touch screen where you are able to design your own car.









This process takes about 5-6 minutes, and note that if you use Fastpass, you will not be able to design your own car. Instead, you will have to pick from a group of pre-designed ones.

From there, you get back into a queue and head toward the ride portion, which they are now calling the Sim Track.




The load/unload area looks similar, yet different all at once. It is much more organized than it used to be.




You scan your RFID card before you board to link your design to your ride, which does pretty much nothing until the end when it tells you how the car did on the Sim Track.

Now, time for some on-ride photos! If you don’t want to be spoiled, I would scroll way down at this point.
















Once the ride is over, you go to the post show area, where you can make a Chevy commercial for your car using the RFID, take photos with it, and also play some more games and see the latest Chevy vehicles.








Then, once you drop off your RFID cards, you go into the same gift shop as the old Test Track, where there is a lot of Chevy and Cars merchandise, and two or three things for the new Test Track that you just experienced.



Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with the new Test Track. I was not a huge fan of the original version, and this is definitely an improvement. It has a much more of a classic “EPCOT Center” feel than that the original Test Track. There is some learning, interactivity, and creativity involved where you design your own vehicle and then find out how what you did made the car more or less powerful or eco friendly. The visuals on the on-ride portion are really wild and lots of fun to look at, which is welcome given how old and tired the original Test Track looked. At its core though, the ride is exactly the same layout, and is no more or less thrilling than the original, it is just in a MUCH prettier package. One has to wonder though what this attraction will feel like in 4 or 5 years. Will this “futuristic” look still feel the same way? Or will it go the way of its predecessor and have fans chanting for it to change? We will see. But what I really want to know is what YOU think of the redesigned Test Track.

That’s going to wrap things up for this week’s Dateline. Did you enjoy getting a peek into the Seven Dwarfs construction zone? Do you feel like the new Test Track is a step in the right direction for Epcot? Let us know in the comments!!

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  • Fantastic update! Looks to me like Test Track outshines the New Fantasyland.

    • mratigan

      I agree, seems like there is more to do in Test Track(make your own car, the sim track,and the postshow) than in New Fantasyland(enchanted tales,little mermaid)

  • Eric Davis

    great photos!

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Cory

    I have to agree with the comments above that Test Track is better than New Fantasyland. I have to say Cory, your opinion of that Test Track 2.0 is more in keeping of EPCOT center has made me see the new update in a new light (which is positive). Overall, I have to say that it is more futuristic and inkeeping with Future Eorld and Walt Disney’s visions of the future, with technology changing. Maybe that is how we will test cars in the future.

    The Tangled tower looksgood, and I agree, the Contempary Resort has been seen from Disneyland since it was built, so I don’t see the problem (maybe people are not used to it).

    Thanks Again Cory. it is really good to have a weekly column of all the things happening at WDW.


  • Terrytiger

    I love the redesigned Test Track. Finally, something futuristic and forward-thinking in FutureWorld which it hasn’t had in years. Even the last redo of Spaceship Earth didn’t do much to really give that attraction a contemporary feel. Now let’s do something about Universe of Energy!

  • Malin

    What ever you want to say about WDW. It has in 2012 given us New Fantasyland, an updated Test Track and the Jack Sparrow Experience.

    The new Test Track looks amazing but at the same time I’m thinking some WDW Fan Boys are geeking out too much over it. Although it offers an alternative to all the Fantasyland stuff. So Disney World has addressed the balance.

    The New Fantasyland might not be for everyone but I can certainly find a few of the offerings worth my time. Including that stunning Beauty and the Beast Restaurant. So I feel like the DCA that WDW is offering something for everyone this year.

  • Timekeeper

    Test Track looks fun, but some of the non-Disney fans out there in the interwebs miss the old version (but then again, most of these fans were probably born around 1990 or later, and never did experience Epcot when it was called Epcot Center.) I think this new version is much better, I wish it didn’t have a similar color scheme to Spaceship Earth and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, but that’s minor in comparison to the whole experience of what Test Track is, it being you now testing out your own ride designs and how well it runs. (I have only seen the ride video and I have yet been on the new attraction, myself being from Southern California.)


    • Omnispace

      I thought the same thing about the color scheme. Since glowing blue lights have been incorporated into almost every product and design scheme for the past decade it almost seems like a cliche nowadays. In this case I’m pretty sure that they selected the blue to represent GM and Chevrolet. Regardless, it looks good — and futuristic!

  • Omnispace

    It’s refreshing to see Test Track redesigned to embrace the future. This emphasis is what has been missing from Epcot for years now. It’s unfortunate that it takes companies like Siemens and GM to push the original vision of Epcot while management seems to have abandoned it. While it would have been fun to have the guests’ car designs affect the ride more, a bit more like Indiana Jones operates with it’s variations in programming, I can understand how difficult it would be to do that. Perhaps it’s something they can figure out how to incorporate more in the future. Otherwise I give a big thumb’s up to the production of the ride. It’s really come a long way in just a short rehab!

  • BrizMarc

    Test Track looks amazing. I really cant wait to ride the new version. Disney have really one upped them self.

  • fnord

    I love that you can catch a train at the Main St. Station and disembark at the circus. Walt wanted a circus at Disneyland, but abandoned the concept. This expands Main St. as well as Fantasyland! Meanwhile Disneyland is castrating the Main St. experience by selling out the hub. This corrupts the original theme that was crucial to Disneyland’s incredible success!

  • DisneyDylan

    Both visiting, and working at the Disneyland Resort, I feel like Florida is still missing that story factor that I so treasure. I wish Test Track went with a definite story to propel the ride instead of it becoming a Chevy commercial. ( I know, I know, in a perfect world right?). However, the visuals on this ride look stunning and I agree it was a much needed facelift to this attraction, something EPCOT as a park needs. (Don’t even get me started on Tomorrowland at DLR, I could go on for hours). Anyway, thanks for the update and the great photos as always!


  • darkamor

    I wouldn’t mind having an Attraction on par with this latest version to TEST TRACK @ Epcot over @ Tomorrowland (Disneyland), because that place needs some “ooomph” added to it …

    C J