Test Track and Morning Touring at Epcot

While watching the wait times at Animal Kingdom’s new(ish) Pandora attractions and Hollywood Studios’ new Toy Story Land attractions, we turn our attention to Epcot for an update on an ongoing analysis. The question is this:

Our family wants to see Soarin’, Test Track, and Frozen Ever After. If we arrive at park opening, what do we do first and which one should we FASTPASS?

If this sounds familiar it is because we covered this on “Which Ride to Ride First at Epcot” back in February. We had a whole team of touring planners arrive at park opening (some at the main entrance, others at the International Gateway) to try out all the different ways to tackle Epcot in the morning. Spoiler Alert: Test Track went down in the first hour.

We still learned a lot though, and it turns out that Test Track going down is a common enough occurrence that it affects the theoretical optimal plan for Epcot.

We know a lot about ride closures. We have 200,000 wait times in our database that reflect an attraction status other than “open”. We see how these unscheduled closures impact the wait times during other parts of the day. Our wait time models do a good job adjusting for these closures, but when it comes time to predicting a wait time in the future, we always assume that a ride will be open and stable. We do this knowing that sometimes the ride will not be open when you arrive, at which point we recommend to skip to the next step and come back later.

At Test Track this assumption is wrong 40% of the time. That is not a misprint. Our database shows that Test Track experiences at least one report of “offline” on 40% of days since 2011. That’s a lot! If you look at the last 12 months it is double that at 81%! Check out Steve’s report of attraction closures and what to do about them.

But, it gets worse. Test Track can operate at reduced capacity before, after, or instead of going offline. This is one key to the puzzle that we were missing. Sometimes our guests and our in-park researchers have reported actual wait times at Test Track much greater than expected in the first few hours after park opening. Our trusty Morgan waited 110 minutes when the posted time showed 40 minutes. God bless Morgan.

So, for the first time, we have created a model that assumes a ride will go offline at least once during the day. If you have seen wait time forecasts for Test Track go up recently, that’s why. We think this approach makes sense for Test Track. The 60% of days when it operates without going offline our wait time forecasts may be too high and your touring plan will gain some minutes to use later. But, for the 40% of days when it does go offline your touring plan will be better prepared.

Personally, I also think this research makes a strong case for selecting Test Track as your FASTPASS choice at Epcot. Test Track is a must-do attraction at Epcot and trying to fit it in as a standby attraction after a closure is a difficult feat. If you hold a FASTPASS for it and it goes down, at least you get a “magical” FASTPASS to use later (although it will not be accepted at Frozen Ever After).

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

14 thoughts on “Test Track and Morning Touring at Epcot

    • August 8, 2018 at 9:35 am
      Permalink

      Actually, this fast pass technique works pretty well with Dinosaur at AK too!

  • August 7, 2018 at 1:24 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for this timely post! I think your conclusions may apply for families and group travelers perfectly. However, as a solo traveler, I don’t think I’d waste a FP on TT with all the closures. With the single rider line, I’d take my chance there than waiting an hour+ for Soarin or FEA.

    About two weeks ago, I was talking to a fellow solo traveller in the single rider line of TT when it broke down first thing in the morning. Told her it’s a common occurrence. Is it due to weather, ride up keep, who knows? Reliability has certainly declined over the years.

    That being said, when I hopped over to EP from HS on a recent Thursday afternoon, I was able to wait only 15 min for Frozen Ever After, ride Soarin twice (once on standby–with a 25 min wait and once with a FP I scored mid day) and then rode TT on the single rider line. I don’t know if it was luck, timing or whatever, but I felt like I hit the attraction lottery LOL!

  • August 7, 2018 at 9:31 pm
    Permalink

    This is great advice and we started heeding it after the rope drop vid. TT is a must for my wife and before we started booking an early FP for it, we’d usually rely on a short single rider queue. Sometimes that was a success, sometimes it was a flop. Now we hold our breath waiting for TT to be down and reap the flexibility of the open FP to be used whenever we want and (almost) wherever we want.

  • August 8, 2018 at 7:20 am
    Permalink

    2016 was our last visit. Very tightly managed and touring plans all day – the only attraction we didn’t get to was Test Track. Heavy rains both of our days in EPCOT, and we never did recover. This information will be helpful on a return visit.

  • August 8, 2018 at 8:41 am
    Permalink

    Thanks! You know these are my favorite kind of articles!!!! 🙂

  • August 8, 2018 at 9:57 am
    Permalink

    On the message boards, the general consensus is to rope drop Soarin’, single rider Test Track, and fastpass Frozen. I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone as families with young kids won’t want to use single rider lines and you miss out on the customizing your car section, but it makes sense to do it this way if you want to make the most of your time.

    • August 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm
      Permalink

      Interesting. The last couple of times we’ve rope-dropped Frozen, fast-passed Soarin’, and (if I was going to do it, which I usually don’t), would single-rider Test Track. Frozen times were 15-30 minutes. Admittedly, we go during the few “slow” times remaining during the year.

      • August 9, 2018 at 1:43 pm
        Permalink

        Which are those? I never seem to be able to find them anymore 🙂

  • August 8, 2018 at 10:03 am
    Permalink

    Is it correct that if you use a FP for Test Track, you do not get to go to the design your car room?

    • August 8, 2018 at 10:51 am
      Permalink

      The FP queue merges with the standby queue just before the design room. The single rider line skips the design room. An option for single rider or groups that want multiple designs can use the design computers in the post-ride area. Just enter through the gift shop and design your cars before entering the queue.

      • August 9, 2018 at 4:34 pm
        Permalink

        Right – you can scan your magic band when you design a car in the post-ride area, and then scan your magic band again just before you board your car. Then the car you designed will be visible on the testing screens.

        This is good for anybody doing single rider, but especially 7-9yo kids, so they don’t feel like they’re missing anything with single rider. Also for two siblings riding with one parent – only one can design a car before the rider, but if the other kid has a design attached to the magic band, then both cars will show up on the testing screens during the ride.

  • August 8, 2018 at 10:52 am
    Permalink

    This is part of the reason why I only do single rider for Test Track now. In my experience, if there’s just 2 in your party, you’ll wind up in the same car half of the time anyway. Not being seated right next to my traveling partner is worth cutting more than half an hour of wait time IMO.

  • August 11, 2018 at 3:40 pm
    Permalink

    It TT goes down during the day a lot, wouldn’t it make more sense to go there for rope drop, and then either FP Soarin’ or Frozen? Especially if you only plan one day for EPCOT?

Comments are closed.