Since Epcot opened in 1982 General Motors (GM) has been a sponsor in Future World. Originally this was with World of Motion, which was a ride that would take you through the history of transportation. In 1996, World of Motion closed to make way for Test Track which opened in 1999. There was some talk back when GM filed for bankruptcy back in 2009 that they may have to give up this sponsorship in order to be able to take a government bailout. However, after much negotiation on all sides the sponsorship remained.
While Test Track is one of my wife Cheryl’s favorite attractions in all of Walt Disney World, it is simply a ride. Each time I disembark from it, and walk through the GM showroom as I head to the building exit I find myself wondering, why can’t I test drive the real cars right now? They’re right there, wouldn’t it be cool if you could just hop in one and get some real incentive to actually purchase it on the spot. (Has anyone actually ever done this?)
It seems that GM realized this as well, and that’s why each year Epcot is a stop on their test drive tour known as Main Street In Motion. This year, the event was so large that it occupied Epcot’s Explore, Wonder, and Imagine parking lots. This event is free and opened to the public, but you must have a valid driver’s license in order to test drive vehicles. Children and minors are permitted when accompanied by and adult, and in most vehicles passengers are permitted to ride-along. You are also permitted to driver swap as needed on vehicles with longer driving experiences.
This past weekend, Cheryl and I attended Main Street In Motion with our friends Shalon, Christa, Chris, and Shane. We had a plan to meet around 12:30p and we registered online as they suggested to do. What we learned very quickly was that the registration was pretty much meaningless. Nobody at the event seemed to care that we had pre-registered, and when we checked in they certainly didn’t ask if we had. The check in itself was pretty painless – just present your driver’s license and get a wristband.
Since we arrived a little early, Cheryl and I roamed around a bit. In addition to discovering a complimentary snack booth that also provided an array of both hot and cold beverages. We were able to check out some of the service vehicles on display. These included a handicapped transport, a general transport, a Police SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle), and a Police cruiser. Getting to sit in “cop cars” is thankfully a rare treat.
The two GM brands at the event were Chevrolet and Buick, however the showcased vehicles for test drives were the Volt, Corvette, and Camaro. As a result, it seemed that the Chevy showroom got much more foot traffic and interest over Buick. The showroom was very well laid out, and each car had an iPad next to it running an app that allowed you to learn about the various aspects of each vehicle on the floor. It’s important to note that the event offers test drives in several competing brands so you can compare and contrast as needed.
Our group decided pretty quickly that being able to drive the three showcased vehicles was a key goal. There was a catch, you couldn’t just go drive any of the three. You first had to drive at least one other vehicle to earn a hand stamp that qualified you to so. We split up as we each gravitated to a “starter” vehicle that interested us. Some folks gravitated toward the Acura TL, but Cheryl and I jumped at the Chevy Cruze.
With Cheryl as my co-pilot, I was on my way down the test track. That’s right, this is a test drive experience, and Main Street In Motion delivers on this. Just like at a real test track, they had set up cones, starting and finishing lines, curves, blocks, and bumps. It’s a really cool experience, I was hooked and having fun, and we loved the Cruze. After, Shalon took us for a spin in a Suburban – the SUV track was shorter by comparison.
Once our hands were stamped, we headed over to the Camaros and the Corvettes. I personally chose to wait for a convertible Corvette – I hadn’t been in one in a very long time. The wait was about 30 minutes, and passengers were not allowed to ride along as it’s only a two-seater and an MSIM staffer rides with you. You drive up to the start line, and with a 3… 2… 1… you get to floor it – seriously they tell you to do this. Woah! What a fantastic experience.
When play time was over, we headed to our last test drive of the day in what is probably one of the most talked about cars in the US today – the Volt. It’s not got the best electric range, and is not necessarily something I’d consider buying now, but I definitely had to see what it was like. Shane, Cheryl and I went out together with an MSIM staffer. He spent time teaching us about the Volt and demonstrated both the electric and gas engines, automatic disengage parking break, and tons of dashboard features. This was the longest drive at the entire event lasting us close to 15 minutes.
If you like cars, or want an opportunity to get to test drive a lot of vehicles in a short amount of time then this event is for you. MSIM says the event will take about an hour, but it took us more than twice that – so plan accordingly. I think you’ll have a lot of fun, and you can catch Main Street In Motion all over the country, not just at Epcot.