Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The Future of Test Track
The recent drop in GM's fortunes has caused many folks to speculate about the future of the EPCOT pavilion that it's sponsored since opening day in 1982. One thing's for certain, GM's sponsorship will almost certainly end soon. What effect will that have on the World of Motion pavilion? In the short term, probably none. Test Track is a popular ride. I imagine Disney will have to pull the GM-specific stuff out of the building, with the worst-case scenario seeing a complete emptying of the post-show area, like Spaceship Earth during its sponsor-less period.
Eventually, though, guests will tire of Test Track just as they tired of World of Motion, and Disney will need to rehab the pavilion again. What might this pavilion's next incarnation look like? I'm not a Disney insider, so if the Imagineers have any ideas about this I certainly wouldn't know. Personally, though, I'd like to see the pavilion's next attraction focus on the future of transportation. What about an attraction that allows guests to experience some futuristic transportation concepts like a pod-car system in an urban environment, a mag-lev bullet train, and a space elevator? Several types of simulators would need to be utilized to realistically simulate these different transportation experiences, of course. Maybe the whole thing could be connected by a ride system that moves guests between different simulators, so they wouldn't have to actually get up and walk several times during the same "ride"? I'm just throwing out ideas here, I'm really don't know how feasable they'd be from an engineering standpoint. Disney Imagineers, however, have a history of accomplishing the improbable.
I can think of several benefits of a pavilion featuring the whole range of future transportation. For one thing, no one will be able to accuse it of being a "one trick pony". The variety of experiences offered will encourage many repeat visits. It could also educate guests about transportation alternatives that are greener and more sustainable than what we have now, and thus create consumer demand for them. And there's no danger of such an attraction becoming dated too quickly, if it's done right. After all, the technology to build a space elevator doesn't even exist yet. Even when it does, space elevators won't exactly be a ubiquitous as cars or airliners; they'll seem "futuristic" for many years to come. And it'll be a long time, if ever, before a mag-lev train system exists on a large scale in the United States, to say nothing of pod-car networks in the big cities.
Of course, I'm not in the theme park business. I'm just a guy with an opinion. I'd love to hear yours.