Test Trackers

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Disney's newest, greatest ride recently debuted, 19 months behind schedule but touted as the most technologically advanced ride since the space shuttle. General Motors Test Track at Epcot is now being previewed by visitors lucky enough to be around when it periodically opens.

"In the history of mankind, it has never taken a ride that long to be built," Tim O'Brien, Southeast editor of Amusement Business, told Orlando Business Journal. "I hope they tell the full story of what went wrong."

Disney is naturally as tight-lipped about the ride's troubles as it is about attendance figures, which the same magazine says were down about 10 percent across most of Disney World this year. Animal Kingdom, Disney's newest attraction, apparently siphoned most of its six million visitors from the ranks of people who would have seen other Disney attractions, rather than drawing new people or extending vacationers' stays.

Disney did get one early Christmas present from Congress, though: a 20-year extension on its copyrights that analysts estimate is worth billions. The Copyright Term Extension Act, signed by President Clinton in October, will keep Goofy, Mickey and Donald the sole property of Disney -- and out of the public domain -- for years.

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