Former Imagineers Allude to Infamous Incident Where a Test Track Car Flew Off The Tracks

Shannen Ace

Test Track vehicles

Former Imagineers Allude to Infamous Incident Where a Test Track Car Flew Off The Tracks

Former Imagineers Frank Mezzatesta and Jim Shull both posted on X (Twitter) this week alluding to Test Track cars flying off track during the ride’s initial testing back in 1997.

Test Track Incident

Mezzatesta shared a photo of a die-cast Test Track vehicle, writing, “From 1997 GM Test Track car. This project gave me PTSD so I bought this and then just put it away. It’s the story that can not be told and few Imagineers are left that know what happened that year.”

Shull re-shared the post, stating, “Add my list to the list of people who know. There are photos taken by guests documenting the result of the event.”

Test Track replaced World of Motion at EPCOT. The original ride closed in January 1996 and the new ride was supposed to open the Spring of 1997. But the creation of Test Track was plagued with issues, causing it to be delayed until it finally soft-opened in December 1998 and officially opened in March 1999.

Test Track vehicles

Though Mezzatesta and Shull didn’t state outright what happened with the ride, they are likely referring to an incident in which a Test Track vehicle flew off the track. The vehicle was carrying sandbags, not people. When it was supposed to slow down and make a turn, the car instead left the track and hit a wall at about 20 mph, according to a 1997 Orlando Sentinel article.

Disney officials, including then EPCOT VP George Kalogridis (now president of Disney Segment Development and Enrichment), refused to confirm the crash.

“We are in a test phase, and we are intentionally pushing the limits,” Kalogridis told Orlando Sentinel at the time. “There are lots of activities that take place when you push any technology to the limits. There are lots of things you cause to have happen. We want to make sure it’s safe.”

GM Test Track was a first of its kind attraction that had never been attempted before, so ti is understandable that it faced a number of problems. Eventually, the ride system was implemented for the ill-fated Rocket Rods at Disneyland, as well as the highly successful Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure and Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea. The two latter attractions are considered perhaps the very best the company has ever produced by most fans.

Last year, Disney announced a Test Track reimagining inspired by World of Motion.

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