One of Disney World’s Most Popular Rides Inspired This Real Life Car
If you’ve been driving a Chevy Traverse and enjoying all the futuristic-seeming bells and whistles, don’t think that’s without good reason. The popular family car that seats up to eight people actually had the same design team as one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World Resort’s Epcot Theme Park: Test Track. The theme park ride, which is also the fastest ride at Disney, reaches speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. For such a speed-themed attraction that is open to even young children, safety-enhancing features are some of the most important design elements. (If you’ve been living a Mickey-obsessed life, this is probably almost as good as the time you found out about the princess-themed wedding dress collectionthat featured Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.)
Test Track’s popularity has remained a steady pull for theme park guests over the years, and when the attraction underwent a major renovation in 2012, the design teams at Disney and Chevrolet actually got together to swap ideas. The similarities between Test Track cars and the modern day Traverse don’t seem to stop at seat belts and safety features, though.
The ride, which is an open-air race car simulation experience, allows riders of most ages to actually customize their driving experience before heading onto the track, much like the dealership experience. Instead of standing idly by waiting in notorious park lines, guests are encouraged to pick their car’s engine style and even design elements like color, shape, and more scientific details like the degree of aerodynamic success their car will achieve. Fans have quickly grown obsessed with some of the features the Disney cars have already considered standard for years like a feature Chevy pioneered called Teen Driver Technology.
“The GM Test Track ride has all these controls and features to make sure you’re safe while you’re riding,” explains Sue Wright, product marketing manager for Chevy Traverse. “We saw that parents loved one of the ride’s safety features, that the ride just doesn’t move till everyone is buckled up, and we translated that and a lot of other feature elements to the Traverse knowing that it would be a family vehicle teenagers would get to drive from time to time. Our Teen Driver feature comes standard, and if it’s enabled, the teen in the driver’s seat can’t even turn the music on before their seat is buckled, similar to features in the Test Track ride.”
While it’s not just seat belts that determine a teenager’s overall safety when driving, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes.” They’ll probably still follow friends on the road or waste money by driving too fast, but at least parents will have peace of mind knowing they’re wearing seat belts, while even the youngest children will get a kick out of imagining their parents could be driving the same Disney cars Minnie is seen around the park in.