Troubled car manufacturer General Motors may be set to end its sponsorship deal for the Test Track ride at Epcot.
GM and Disney are reportedly in talks over the future of the deal, with the original 10-year, $5 million-a-year agreement due to expire in 2009. The development would lead to Test Track requiring major refurbishments, since it heavily features GM branding. The ride queuing area is themed around GM test sites, while the exit features a GM showroom and a shop selling GM merchandise.
GM, which has received $13.4 billion in loans from US taxpayers, lost a staggering $31 billion last year. Auditors have raised doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern and the company says it needs a further $16.5 billion in loans to stay afloat.
Test Track is one of the most popular attractions at Epcot, with passengers riding in car-themed vehicles and taken through a series of thrilling "safety tests". Being forced to close it, albeit temporarily, would cause major issues for Disney - not least in managing additional crowds at other attractions.
Disney may face a difficult challenge in finding a replacement sponsor, with the worldwide automotive industry crippled by the economic downturn. However, it is not a new situation for the company, with Epcot having seen a series of high profile sponsors come and go since opening in 1982.
TPT will update readers on any possible closure of the ride for refurbishments in the site's "rehab watch" feature, which will launch soon. Visitors to Walt Disney World this summer have already been hit by the closure of Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom from April through November.