Walt Disney World has shared new details about the virtual queues for both TRON Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. This post covers specifics, plus what you need to know if you want to attempt to score BOTH boarding groups in a single day.
Disney previously announced that TRON Lightcycle Run will use a virtual queue when it opens in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom on April 4, 2023. Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the virtual queue for this attraction, as a standby line will NOT be available.
If you’ve visited Walt Disney World in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with how this all works. Virtual queues are really nothing new at this point, with TRON Lightcycle Run being the fourth new attraction at Walt Disney World to use one. Prior to this, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance used one from December 2019 until September 2021. After that, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure used one from its opening until early last year. A few months later, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind debuted with its own virtual queue.
To that last point, Walt Disney World has confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue will continue to be used even once TRON Lightcycle Run opens. This comes as an absolute shock to us, marking the first time that Walt Disney World has simultaneously used virtual queues for two different attractions. As you can see from the timeline above, prior virtual queues were retired shortly before the opening of the next new rides.
Honestly, we’ve been expecting the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue to be retired for a while. We first wrote about the declining demand for it last July, and predicted it would be retired by the start of the August off-season. When that ended up being wrong, we moved that prediction to mid-January…then shortly before TRON Lightcycle Run’s opening.
The reasons for these virtual queues have varied, and implementation has not been across the board for all new things at Walt Disney World. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, for example, did not use one upon opening. This was despite hitting triple digit wait times with regularity after it debuted (although that was cut short with the closure of the parks only a couple weeks later).
In a nutshell, there have been two reasons why new attractions use virtual queues at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland: reliability and space. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was (and still is, albeit to far lesser degree) unreliability and plagued with daily downtime. It regularly closed for over an hour at a time, and the virtual queue meant ‘pulsing’ demand and less queue-clearing.
Reliability has also been an issue with other new rides, but nothing really outside the norm. Rather, the reason every other attraction since has used the virtual queue is due to a lack of space. Either in accessing the attraction (the Rat Ride and TRON were both shoehorned into spaces and have tight access corridors) or insufficient indoor standby queue length (Cosmic Rewind). In the case of Cosmic Rewind, there actually is plenty of space along the side of the building for an overflow queue.
As noted above, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the only attraction using a virtual queue at Walt Disney World, and it’s also the most recent addition. Our recently-updated How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT explains how to join that, demand and typical availability, speed strategy, and more.
With that in mind, for newcomers to the virtual queue ‘scene,’ here are the newly-released details from Walt Disney World about the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run…
Guests must have valid admission and a theme park reservation to join the virtual queue. There will be 2 daily opportunities to request to join the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run:
7:00 AM (Guests do not need to be in the park when they join, but must have a theme park reservation for Magic Kingdom)
1:00 PM (Guests must be in Magic Kingdom park to join the virtual queue)
Now let’s turn to the official specifics from Walt Disney World to ‘prepare’ for the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue…
Before Your Visit – Make sure you have the My Disney Experience app, with notifications enabled so you receive important updates about the virtual queue—including callback details and daily distribution times.
Get Ready to Join the Virtual Queue! – On the day of your visit, you may have the opportunity to join the virtual queue at daily distribution times, which are subject to change or cancellation as availability allows. Distribution schedules will be available in the My Disney Experience app. Follow these steps to join the virtual queue:
Step 1 – Check Availability: Log in to the My Disney Experience app at one of the distribution times. Select “Virtual Queues” on the home screen to view the current status and next steps for joining a virtual queue. The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time, or if a backup group is available.
Step 2 – Enroll Your Group: As long as your Disney account is linked to your group’s park tickets, and everyone has valid admission and park reservations for the park you will visit, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time (subject to availability).
Step 3 – Enjoy the Experience: If your boarding group is called to return, you’ll receive a notification via the My Disney Experience app. Then, head over to the entrance of the experience within your designated return window.
If you’ve ever used the virtual queue for the trio of Walt Disney World headliners that previously or currently use the system, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this process–and to a greater degree than what Disney describes.
And in fact, Walt Disney World’s official policies almost certainly are not 100% correct. Although not yet confirmed for TRON Lightcycle Run, it has never been the actual policy that you need to be in the park for the 1 pm entry time. Everyone in your party does need to tap into Magic Kingdom at some point before 1 pm in order to “unlock” access to the virtual queue at 1 pm. Meaning you could arrive for park opening, walk over to Steakhouse 71 at the Contemporary for lunch, and try at 1 pm from your table.
In the past, none of the virtual queues have been geofenced or based upon proximity—this functionality has unlocked in the My Disney Experience app for each guest after they have physically tapped into the park’s tap/turnstiles. You can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever–you could literally be inside Magic Kingdom or Manitoba, it wouldn’t matter.
The virtual queue system only validates whether you’ve tapped into Magic Kingdom, not your current location. It can actually be advantageous to leave Magic Kingdom midday, as that’s when crowds and wait times are worst. If you’re like us, you also may prefer to do lunch at a Magic Kingdom area resort rather at Walt Disney World’s worst food park.
Again, none of this has been confirmed yet for TRON Lightcycle Run–but Walt Disney World has used this same (inaccurate) verbiage for all past virtual queues. There’s absolutely no reason to believe it will change, but we will confirm one way or the other in April. (Our guess is that Disney doesn’t make this distinction because virtual queues are already confusing; most park guests probably won’t grasp the nuance, and instead will just be confused. But it’s good info for power users or fans of midday breaks!)
The final official policy is that each guest can request to enter the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue no more than once per day during regular park hours. This last rule is technically correct, but strikes us as purposefully vague in light of two additional quirks…
To that last point, an additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run will be available at 6:00 pm on select dates during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a benefit for registered guests staying at a Deluxe Resort, Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select hotels. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in Magic Kingdom to request to join at that time.
These Guests will need valid admission and a theme park reservation for the same park on the same day to experience Extended Evening Hours—or they may experience Extended Evening Hours if they have a ticket or Annual Pass with the Park Hopper option and first enter the park for which they made their reservation.
Also to that last point, it should be (theoretically) possible to join both the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue in the same day. Taken a step further, you could do them both during normal operating hours, plus a third time during Extended Evening Hours at EPCOT or Magic Kingdom.
This has not been confirmed by Walt Disney World, and there’s no past precedent for this in Florida as this is the first time multiple virtual queues have been in use at the same time. However, it was possible with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland and WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure at Disney California Adventure when both of those used virtual queues. The two coasts use identical infrastructure for virtual queues, so it’s pretty safe to say the same will be possible with TRON Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
While we haven’t yet done this at Walt Disney World, we’re pretty confident it’ll work there, too. There are a few keys to success. The first is starting at Magic Kingdom. TRON Lightcycle Run is the newer of the two attractions, and will undoubtedly have higher demand upon opening. As such, you almost certainly will need to do it first.
Not only will you need to do the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue, but you’ll need to do it fast. You’ll need to score a low boarding group and have a return time in the the first half of the day.
From there, you’ll probably need to arrive at EPCOT as close to 2 pm as possible. The second virtual queue starts at 1 pm, meaning that there’s a full hour during which it can fill up before Park Hopping starts. And it often does. (This is precisely why we recommend starting at Magic Kingdom. For at least the first month that TRON Lightcycle Run is open, it’s almost certainly going to fill up right at 1 pm, leaving nothing for the Park Hopping posse.)
However, the 1 pm virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind often does not fill up right at 1 pm, or even before 2 pm. Going back to last July–a little after a month after Cosmic Rewind debuted–it has had availability after 2 pm about half the time. In fact, we’ve been able to score boarding groups as late as 6 pm.
This is dictated entirely by demand. In other words, the higher the crowd level, the faster the 1 pm virtual queue for Cosmic Rewind fills up. The lower the crowd level, the longer it lasts. If you’ve read our Spring Break 2023 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World, you know that crowds are going to be varying degrees of bad until April 17, 2023. So don’t expect any of this to work until after that date.
Ultimately, we expect success at virtual queue double-dipping to be attainable at Walt Disney World most days from late April through early June 2023. Before that, it’ll be theoretically possible, but probably not actually achievable due to spring break crowd levels. After that, summer tourist season may once again prevent it from happening. (Then again, maybe not…it would’ve been possible last July!)
Of course, this assumes that Walt Disney World stands firm in its decision to keep the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind after the peak of spring break season is in the rearview mirror. While we’ve been predicting the end of that virtual queue for a long time now–and been wrong repeatedly–it’s difficult to understand Disney’s thinking on this one. The virtual queue contributes to congestion, decreases the likelihood of Lightning Lane sales, and adds to guest stress. Its continued use is at odds with the Iger regime’s stated priorities. (Not only that, but there’s sufficient space for standby!) Regardless, we’ll keep you posted on what happens, so stay tuned.
Thoughts on both TRON Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind using virtual queues simultaneously? Happy or disappointed about this? Any predictions of your own as to the first day it’s actually achievable to score boarding groups for both rides in the same regular operating day? Think Cosmic Rewind will drop the VQ after spring break? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!