While the old ride wound through a mockup of a GM test facility, where it was tested for attributes including suspension, braking and handling, the new one runs through the inside of a computer so riders have the sense that everything is virtual. Some riders compared it to a scene from the movie Tron.
As the ride vehicle is “tested” for capability, responsiveness, efficiency and power, so are the riders’ concept cars, with results displayed during the ride. (This function didn’t work for my design; it wasn’t clear whether there was a glitch or whether it was because I had started my design later than others in the same session.) Then the ride vehicle crashes through to the outside and runs at high speed on the track circling the building, just as it did before the redesign.
“We’ve kept that thrill but also added a design element and a personalization element so you’re a part of it,” said Melissa Jeselnick, Imagineer and assistant project manager.
Afterward, guests can swipe their design card at a virtual slot-car course and see their virtual car compete against other riders’ designs. They can make a commercial for their concept car and email it to friends, take their photo with their concept car – or with other Chevrolet models — and email it, too.
Over at Downtown Disney, in what used to be the Virgin Megastore at Pleasure Island, Splitsville Luxury Lanes was scheduled to open a two-level, 30-lane bowling alley last week. Splitsville is an untraditional bowling alley, especially at Disney World, where it will cater mostly to out-of-towners and have no league play.
Food and beverage service will account for about 70 percent of the operation, said Jessica Anderson, a sales and event manager. There will be seating for about 500 (some of it outdoors), two sushi bars, menu items including sandwiches and pizza, and live music. “The bowling is more just for the fun of it,” she said.
The lower level will be family-oriented at all hours, she said (the alley is open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.), but upstairs will be 21-and-over-only late nights on weekends.
Splitsville has smaller operations in four other cities, including one at South Miami’s Shops at Sunset Place.
At the Grand Floridian, a revamped spa, previously run by an outside vendor but taken over by Disney, was set to open last week with 15 treatment rooms. The other spa on Disney property, at Saratoga Springs, is scheduled to close in January for a makeover and will also be operated by Disney when it reopens.
And for the hard-core Disney fans: Yes, Senses Spa does have hidden Mickeys.