Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Busy Season and Down Rides- Test Track and Epcot

Test Track at Epcot Center

 Okay, I understand fully that these things need to happen to every theme park. However I can't agree with Disney Worlds ideas of a 'good timeline' in which to do them.

Traditionally, right now is the slow season for Central Florida and it's Theme Parks. This is when your crowds are the lightest and you don't need all of your rides going at full capacity to keep lines moving. So now should be the time you start giving your rides downtime for repairs, replacements and overhauls. However sometimes it seems Disney forgets these things, you don't want to take down a large RPH (riders per hour) ride in the middle of summer if you can help it. Yet that seems like that's exactly what's happening lately.

Test Track at Epcot is currently going down for a complete re-theme brought on by GM's contract renewal with the ride. It was all part of the deal which would keep GM a sponsor of the Test Track attraction, however it's going to require a good bit of work in order to meet the new standards GM is demanding for their money.  Rumors have been flying left and right, the most concise I've head it that GM is going with a more futurist theme as well as interactive. Some rumors have been making comparisons to 'Tron' as well as large interactive areas guest would control threw-out the attraction, not just within the queue line.

However, the timeline for this massive re-vamp is, as I said, at the worst possible time. The downtime will begin in either April or May while staying closed completely threw the busiest time of year (May-August) and re-open sometime in October. Test Track is one of the current keystones of Future World at Epcot, second only to Mission: Space is it's power to draw in people. Epcot Center is already suffering the lowest attendance of all the Disney World theme parks, closing down a key attraction during the peak of tourist season is frankly, STUPID.  While I understand GM and Disney trying to keep the partnership and attraction current it would be far smarter for the downtime to begin AFTER peak and re-open for the Holiday season. Which would give Epcot Center a much better attendance and ability to be in the black.

Perhaps I'm not seeing the bigger picture but information is rather vauge to begin with other then the basic info on Test Tracks re-theming and the months which the ride will be down. 

A good example of how a downtime should work is how Disney is handling Big Thunder Mountains track replacement.  The ride when down in early January for a work on the coaster track, rumor says it's a full replacement of all track but this can't and hasn't been confirmed yet. However, Thunder Mountain will only be down until the end of May. Which still gives Magic Kingdom use of a large RPH attraction during peak season.

Do you see where I'm going with this yet?

We all know Magic Kingdom is the big attraction to Disney World however, Epcot Center needs it's love also. It's nearly shameful how it's fallen to the wayside, even Disney should know you have to spend money to make money. Fixing up one or two attractions every few years isn't going to help in a declining economy. To get people in the gate they need to step up the work and attractions of Epcot if they ever fully expect the park to reach potential again. Loosing sponsorship is no excuse but it's their favorite one to use.

So by the information we can access, it's pretty obvious Epcot, either by forgetful or purposeful neglect is once again going to suffer. This time it's an ill-timed re-theming of Test Track, who knows what will happen in the next round? I certainly don't. However, I would suggest you take heart (I am trying to myself). Rumors are abound from various inside sources from multiple places that Epcot may soon get the love it so rightfully deserves and desperately needs.