Heading to Disney World this summer? We've got good news and bad news.
First, the bad news: Disney is shutting down the 13-year-old GM Test Track thrill ride at Epcot Center.
Now, the good news: the ride will reopen later this year (probably fall/winter) as the Chevrolet Design Center.
Okay, at first glance, that "good news" doesn't sound so good, but hear us out.
If you've ever been to Epcot, you know that it's a little different from the other Disney parks. The cutesy characters so common in other areas of the 47-square-mile industrial-entertainment complex are nowhere to be found, and in their place are educational and informational exhibits. It's kind of like a year-round world's fair, meant to appeal to folks with a fondness for science and cultural expos.
According to Disney, the Chevrolet Design Center will allow visitors to design their own vehicles. Then, they'll be able to take five of their closest friends on a test drive in their new "SimCars". Sweet.
GM has long been a sponsor of Disney World, and the current Test Track ride -- which basically gives visitors an overview of the production process, then turns them into crash test dummies -- has been a popular attraction for over a decade. GM says it's not wavering in its sponsorship of the resort; the revamped ride is simply a part of GM's initiative to refocus the world's attention away from parent company General Motors and onto its four individual brands -- in this case, Chevy.
This could be a lot of fun for families in the future. Disney is great at building full, immersive experiences for visitors (as anyone who's ever visited the Haunted Mansion as a kid can attest). Though the company has released few specifics about the new offering, the Chevrolet Design Center could and should give the public a much better idea of what goes into the design and manufacture of a new car. Who knows? It might even inspire a few younger visitors to become industrial designers themselves.
On the downside, there won't be a Test Track available this summer. We suppose Space Mountain will have to do in the meantime.