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End may be near for GM’s sponsorship at EPCOT


General Motors is in the red and leaking money faster than a fleet of speeding Corvettes burn through gas. Last week the papers even ran a story saying that financial auditors may be forced to declare the company ‘not a going concern’. Needless to say, this has Disney (and their fans) a bit worried about their chances of getting GM to renew their sponsorship of the popular Test Track attraction at EPCOT Center (yeah, I’m old school).

Disney and GM have been in negotiation to renew their 10 year partnership for a couple of years, but their coming down to a deadline sometime this spring. The question is how appropriate would it be for GM to spend money on this attraction when it’s asking the Federal Government (aka taxpayers like you and me) to help bail it out. Test Track is a great promotional vehicle for GM, but will it help sell cars in this new economy?

If GM and Disney can’t come to an agreement, there has been some talk of Toyota stepping in to sponsor a rebranded attraction. If it’s not going to be an auto manufacturer, perhaps it could be a partnership of auto-safety companies (sort of like an auto racing team has multiple sponsors). Disney will certainly want to keep Test Track open for the busy months as it is a huge people eater, but it’s an expensive attraction to operate requiring many cast members, high energy bills, and using lots of tires.

Personally, I’d really like to see them work in more environmentally friendly message even if they keep GM. Do you have any suggestions for the Mouse House?

(via Orlando Sentinel)

10 thoughts on “End may be near for GM’s sponsorship at EPCOT”

  1. Wow. It never dawned on me how the eco downturn could affect *attractions* at Disney. But partnering attractions with brands has been going on at WDW since ‘If You Had Wings’ and Eastern. I think brand sponsorship shifted once (Delta?) but it eventually went away altogether. But whereas they can change IYHW into Buzz Lightyear, what could you possibly do to Test Track? It’s so ‘stand-alone.’ Great post. Go Toyota.

  2. Good bye GM, hello Lightning McQueen. The whole inside gets redone as the cow tipping scene, with a big race at the end to get away from Frank.


  3. Hey John,

    Very interesting to see how this plays out. I can see it being used like their private jets before the congressional hearings (You sponsor WHAT at Disney World??!), or like how Bobby Jindal looked down on the Maglev train from DL to Vegas.

    What I bet Disney is really afraid of is a domino effect across future world.

  4. “But partnering attractions with brands has been going on at WDW since ‘If You Had Wings’ and Eastern.”

    No, attractions have been branded long before WDW… i think almost all of the opening day Tomorrowland offerings at Disneyland were brand-endorsed, but the earliest I can think of is Monsanto’s House of the Future in 1957.

    Here’s hoping they’ll make something more in the spirit of World of Motion and Future World.

  5. It’s a tough call. GM is cutting US$800million in advertising; is cutting the $5m it costs to sponsor/brand the Test Track attraction to put the GM name in front of a car-oriented captive audience a worthwhile item to remove? Test Track is extremely popular with guests of all ages/background, and GM gets some goodwill from that. I don’t think rebranding the entire attraction around CARS is the best choice, especially considering how out-of-place that would be in the Future World environment. Of course, we have seen what can happen to a pavilion when a sponsor drops completely (*cough* Wonders of Life).

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