/ Monday, January 9th, 2012

Plus…Reminder about Dumbo & Big Thunder Mountain, Follow-up on forthcoming VISION House in Innoventions, and more!!

by Don Myers

There’s some BIG news out of EPCOT, so let’s dive right into another edition of the WDW Radio Newswire….

Epcot Center is abuzz with news that Test Track will be closing down in April for a substantial refurbishment…. Actually, transformation might be a better word. A lone ride vehicle with an all-new color scheme has been running at the pavilion since late August, leading many to believe that some sort of refurb was in the works. But on Friday January 6th, Disney made it official, announcing that the attraction will be “re-imagined,” with all-new interactive elements to be a main feature. When the attraction makes its re-emergence in the fall of 2012, you will be able to enter the “Chevrolet Design Center at EPCOT,” where you’ll be able to design your very own automobiles. And from there, you’ll be heading straight from the design lab to the road course. That’s right, at Test Track 2.0, you’ll be designing and then testing out your very own creations! And then afterwords, there will be a post-show area chalked full of the latest offerings from Chevrolet. And speaking of Chevy, another notable change will be in the pavilion’s sponsorship. General Motors is still going to be the sponsor, as they just inked a brand-new deal with Disney to stay at the pavilion. But now, the focus will be strictly on the Chevrolet brand, as opposed to the entire GM fleet as in year’s past. And another change will be in the name of the ride vehicles, which will now be known as “SimCars.” The SimCars will still seat six Guests, and their design will most likely resemble that of that lone aforementioned ride vehicle that has been in play since late-summer. As I stated earlier, the newly designed Test Track (or Test Track 2.0 as I have dubbed it) is slated to close sometime in April and re-open in the fall of 2012, so we should be looking at about a 5-7 month closure. Here’s a look at the full press release:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 6, 2012 – Disney and General Motors have renewed their long-term business relationship with a new multi-year corporate alliance.

As part of the new alliance, GM will be actively involved with Walt Disney Imagineering in the development of a re-imagined, design-centric Test Track experience. The refurbished Test Track will be presented by one of GM’s most famous brands, Chevrolet. As Chevrolet marks its 100th anniversary, the new alliance agreement enables General Motors to tell its story in new and exciting ways to millions of Guests from around the world and continue as the official vehicle sponsor of Walt Disney World Resort.

“We are excited to renew our long-term alliance with General Motors,” said George Aguel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances for the Walt Disney Company. “This unique agreement extends collaboration between two of the most recognized brands in the world, a relationship that spans over 30 years. The re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet will continue our shared goal of providing unique and innovative experiences that engage Disney guests in exciting and interactive ways.”

“As a global brand, Chevrolet is looking forward to welcoming Guests from around the world to the re-imagined Test Track,” said Joel Ewanick, Global Chief Marketing Officer for General Motors. “The best of Disney and the best of Chevrolet will come together to bring Guests an immersive experience in the design process of the vehicles they see on the road today and will see in the future.”

Plans call for closing the current GM Test Track in April 2012, with an anticipated opening of Test Track Presented by Chevrolet scheduled for fall 2012.

As part of the re-imagining, the Future World attraction will feature a sleek new “Chevrolet Design Center at Epcot” immersing Guests in the fascinating world of automotive design. Amid upbeat music, engaging media, dramatic lighting and a collection of Chevrolet concept cars and model vehicles, guests themselves will become automotive designers – and peer into the future of personal transportation in the process.

At interactive design and styling workstations, Guests will be able to create their own custom concept vehicles. The adventure will then shift into high gear as Guests buckle into their 6-person “SimCar” ride vehicle and put their design through its paces on the exhilarating hills, switchbacks and straight-aways of the Test Track circuit.

Their performance testing complete, Guests will move into a post-show area filled with special effects and be scored on how well their custom concept vehicle did. And of course, Guests will be able see the very latest Chevrolet vehicles in an all-new state-of-the-art showroom.

And now for more news out of EPCOT, we stay in Future World and head from Test Track over to Innoventions. Back in my December 10th blog, I talked about the new VISION House coming to the former sight of the House of Innoventions. At the time, no specific date, or even a timetable, was given for the VISION House’s debut. Well, it appears as if we are now looking at a summertime opening for the new exhibit, most likely in the month of June.

Now let’s head over to the Magic Kingdom, where the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor shut down for refurbishment on Wednesday January 4th. The Parlor will remain closed until Tuesday March 27th, so this is going to be almost a three month refurbishment when all is said and done. And a few doors down over at the Main Street Bakery, the building has been covered with tarps for an exterior refurb. However unlike the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (which is undergoing construction on the inside and out), the Main Street Bakery will be remaining open for business throughout the duration of the work.

Continuing in the Magic Kingdom, it’s now time to take a quick look at a couple major attraction closures that will be taking place this week. On Monday January 9th, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will  both be shutting down for substantial work. Big Thunder will be dark for nearly five months, with a re-opening date scheduled for Sunday May 27th. And as you most likely know, the current Dumbo spinner will be uprooted and moved over to the new Storybook Circus land where it will be taking up flight next to the newly built (and already installed) second Dumbo spinner. The “dueling Dumbos” are slated to make their debut along with the Great Goofini and the Fantasyland Train Station on Friday February 17th. According to the White Rabbit’s watch, that’s less than SIX weeks away!

Well that’s gonna do it for today’s update, but I’ll be back again soon with another edition of the WDW Radio Newswire………

Don Myers covers news and recent events in Walt Disney World.  He has been enamored with the World of Disney since his first trip to WDW in 1986. As they say, the rest is history!  Don also has been a contributing writer for Celebrations magazine since 2009.



5 thoughts on “WDW Radio Newswire: Test Track closing in April for major transformation”

  1. xQIXx says:

    Why would they close Test Track in April when the weather is warm? Seems like this would have been better in fall and open in spring. The month and a half overlap with BTM being closed seeks odd as well. Too many E tickets at once (IMHO of course). I am there April 13-21 so I hope it is after that!

  2. Kyle says:

    A little disappointed that Test Track is changing so much. I’ll be going to the World in early May for the first time in nearly 16 years so I never got to experience this ride and I was so excited about it.

  3. Michelle says:

    Im keeping all crossed for a big opening of TT on 1st Sept ! Thats my last day 🙁

  4. Jamie says:

    We got rained out of Test Track last August, now it’s going to be down when I am there in May….guess I gotta wait til Nov to see it after the cruise!!

  5. Joey says:

    I’m very excited about the Test Track refurb. Hopefully we hear about more exciting things going on with Future World. The return of Horizons perhaps?

    I am disappointed about the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor being closed during my early March trip. Oh well, I cannot wait to see it when it is done!