This rumor keeps getting batted and bandied around the net enough lately that it warrants a closer look. The jist of the rumor seems to be that Test Track at Epcot will close early in 2012 – likely January – and remain closed for a good portion of the year, probably at least until summer.
This closure and renovation is reportedly part of a deal with General Motors where they re-sign as the attraction’s sponsor for an extended period. Currently the sponsorship limps on in year-to-year contracts the same way the World of Motion did 1991-1996 before the final decision to build Test Track was made.
What exactly this closure/renovation/redo will entail runs the full gamut. Some suggest that the ride will get a more fleshed out thematic attempt and emphasis on future technology with much of the “test facility” storyline tossed to the wayside. Other say it simply time for track resurfacing and the vehicles are nearing the end of the their intended lifespan and need replacement. Further still, there is talk of integrating of NextGen technology and interactive queues.
All the rumors tend to agree that the ride system will remain in place, though the vehicles may be replaced or upgraded and the interior portions of the track layout may see minor changes.The reasoning offered as to “why Test Track?” instead of Imagination or Energy, or any of the other pavilions, is that General Motors is willing to pay for it as part of their sponsorship. This could be true – the sponsorship of the Epcot pavilion by General Motors is generally seen as very favorable and beneficial by the company. The ability of guests to explore GM vehicles in a no-sales-pressure showroom setting actually registered on buyer feedback surveys that the company conducted around the time of the initial World of Motion to Test Track conversion.
So while GM’s finances haven’t exactly been exemplary in recent years, they may be willing to hold on to and invest further in this sponsorship they view as beneficial for their general sales. Of course, if you want to read about the detailed history of GM’s relationship as sponsor of the pavilion you can always find it in the Epcot Explorer’s Encyclopedia.