There hasn’t been a lot of real news around here lately, as the parks continue to go without announcement of any new attractions. There have been a couple of interesting stories, though, in the Orlando Sentinel that I thought I’d post in the off chance that anyone had missed them.
Many of us have wondered over the last few months what the General Motors bankruptcy and government bailout would mean for their sponsorship of EPCOT’s Test Track. GM’s ten-year, $100 million contract expired at the end of March, and while Disney had previously admitted that negotiations were taking place, they’ve since clammed up entirely. The Sentinel’s Jason Garcia has been following the story, and wrote an excellent summary yesterday. Garcia reports rumors that GM has been receiving month-to-month extensions since March, and was about to sign a six-month contract before they were forced to declare bankruptcy this month.
Neither party will comment; Toyota and Honda, both previously rumored as possible replacements, deny any interest in the sponsorship. Disney charges mightily for these sponsorships, and such an outlay would be difficult to justify for any car company these days. Add to that the fact that a new sponsor would probably want more than a simple signage change, and one gets the idea that Disney and GM would just like to maintain the status quo.
I’m no fan of Test Track. I enjoy the outside loop, of course, but think that the entire attraction is a magnificent cop-out. It’s true that untold millions went into developing the ride system, but that left nothing to fund an actual show experience. I don’t want to ride through potholes in my regular car, so why would I want to in a fake car in an undecorated warehouse?
In happier news, Sentinel blogger Dewayne Bevil has had a sneak preview of the revamped Hall of Presidents and offers several notes from a discussion with Eric Jacobson, senior vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering. The new show, as previously rumored, no longer tries to tell the generalized historical story of America, but instead focuses on the history of the presidency and the presidents themselves. Wisely, I think, it has also tightened the running time of the film segment in favor of expanding the animatronic scene.
The article also mentions the advanced new animatronic of President Obama, which will stand next to Lincoln. President Washington, who will speak for the first time, will surprisingly be voiced by actor David Morse. All the presidents have been reprogrammed, and some have been moved; this is a fantastic idea, and is intended to fix something that’s always bugged me – the “ping pong” effect that occurs at times during the roll call of presidents. Bevil says that the roll call itself will be at a more “leisurely” pace, which floors me. Since when has something at a Disney park been changed to be more “leisurely”? That’s like finding out they’ve closed a gift shop.
One odd thing – the article says that the attraction film “still” will end with a Space Shuttle taking off; this is peculiar as the show has always actually ended with an Saturn V rocket taking off…