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Presidents & Anti-Lock Brakes


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?

The Hall Of PresidentsTaft is trimmed down and ready to shine!

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…

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4 comments to Presidents & Anti-Lock Brakes

  • Douglass Abramson

    Morse played Washington in last year’s John Adams miniseries. While not the first name that pops into your head, he should be a good choice for the show.

  • Oh, I have no doubt he’ll be great – I just found it surprising. It seems unusual for them to get a “name” actor to act in a role as an animatronic – I’m not phrasing that well, but it’s just an interesting concept to me. As opposed to a celebrity voiceover gimmick, like Robin Williams/Timekeeper.

  • I agree with you 100% on Test Track – we all know how current cars work, and most of us know the testing involved. This is no longer a novel concept, and the ride (from seeing the building to exiting) is painful. What would be slightly more novel, and palatable, is getting a “new” car company in there – or maybe getting several upstarts to host the pavilion together – showcasing alternative energy sources. Ex: Tesla Motor Co. just received nearly a half-billion dollar loan to get their electric vehicles to the masses. Why doesn’t Disney just lower the yearly dues – even a little – to get some sponsors in there that actually support the concepts that EPCOT was based upon (new technology, environmentalism, efficiency, futurism, and the betterment of society)?

    IMO, a US co should be in there – Ford or Tesla, or a group of startups – to showcase these technologies with a new ride/building/showroom. It just makes too much sense.

  • philphoggs

    You said it Matt ( on test track) … we can’t argue the thrill ride aspects, I suppose, but everything else reeks of moldy cheese.
    I probally just sparked up some more people who think these are anti Disney rants, but thats not it at all. Instead right from your post “get some sponsors in there that actually support the concepts that EPCOT was based upon (new technology, environmentalism, efficiency, futurism, and the betterment of society)”

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