New details, concept art, and the official name for Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster coming in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World have been released. In this post, we’ll share all of that, plus an update on construction progress and some speculation about the new ride’s opening date.
The new info we’re sharing here actually came at the 2019 D23 Expo, so we’re a bit late to the punch on this one. With so much else to cover, there were some things we glossed over. However, between the recent strides in construction progress (including a second crane joining the fun) and the display in the Walt Disney Imagineering pavilion on the Expo show floor, we figured this was worth a quick post of its own…
Let’s start with the new concept art, as that’s probably the most interesting thing to come out of the D23 Expo related to this attraction…
There are a few things that jump out from this new art in terms of changes from its predecessor.
First, the marquee is now a planter out front of the attraction, rather than hanging from the top of the canopy. Next, the entrance is now a winding and accessible walkway, rather than stairs. Finally, there’s what appears to be a (very small) tunnel for the train.
Above is the concept art from two years ago, which also shows how TRON Lightcycle Run fits with Space Mountain, the Tomorrowland Speedway, and Walt Disney World Railroad around it.
In that, you can see the stairs, path back to Storybook Circus, and original marquee. You can’t really see where the train would go, and it appears the entrance/exit from the show building all follow one path down the stairs.
Above is how all of this looks at Shanghai Disneyland.
The biggest difference there is that it’s the focal point of Tomorrowland, with the entire land pretty much built around the ride. There are multiple approaches and viewing areas for the roller coaster, which I think is savvy.
By contrast, Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle Run is nestled behind Space Mountain, will have a cramped approach between that ride’s exit and the Tomorrowland Speedway, and the only viewing area for the roller coaster under the canopy appears to be along the winding entrance and exit paths. (There are a few recipes for congestion here.)
Now, let’s take a look at some new-ish construction photos:
As you can see from the construction images above (shot from the Barnstormer queue and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover) a second crane is being installed, the exterior show building is being built around the coaster, and foundations are being installed for the exterior loop and the canopy that’ll go above it.
Progress on this attraction has moved fast. Here’s what the construction site looked like approximately 11 months ago:
Officially, Disney has repeated the line that TRON Lightcycle Run “is set to open at Magic Kingdom Park in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.” This has been the party line for numerous attractions, including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure until the more specific time of Summer 2020 was set for that attraction.
It’s too early to speculate on a precise opening timeframe, as a lot could still change (including the pace of construction if resources are allocated elsewhere), but if you forced me to choose May 31, 2021 or October 1, 2021 as the opening date right now, I’d absolutely pick May 31, 2021.
To be crystal clear, that is not my predicted opening date for TRON Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom, but I think it’s far more likely to by open by Summer 2021 than it is to slip into Fall 2021, or debut on the actual date of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. For all I know, construction on TRON Lightcycle Run could continue at a breakneck speed and be done by Christmas 2020! It’s still rampant speculation at this point.
Previously, I’ve expressed a few concerns about TRON Lightcycle Run (nevertheless, I gave it a 9/10 in our Shanghai Disneyland Ride Reviews). The first is duration.
The coaster itself, from launch to return, lasts almost 60 seconds exactly. (Other internet resources suggest it’s 2 minutes long–that’s only accurate from load to unload, but a full minute of that isn’t part of the ride experience at all.)
The other big thing is the seating, which I’ve previously said (wrongly, I guess) would be what precluded this roller coaster from ever being cloned at Walt Disney World. TRON Lightcycle Run has bike seating, with guests straddling the lightcycle, leaning forward and placing their chest and stomach flush with the front pad while handlebars come forward and a back restraint lowers.
It’s a snug fit, like a tighter and more secure version of Flight of Passage in Pandora – World of Avatar. Shanghai Disneyland’s version has accessible cars at the back of the trains. More accessible seating will be necessary in the Magic Kingdom version, as the normal bike seats aren’t going to work for a lot of Walt Disney World guests.
Ultimately, TRON Lightcycle Run is a lot like Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster. Both are fast launch roller coasters that largely take place in dark show buildings with a scattering of props and lean heavily on thrills. TRON Lightcycle Run will be about 20 seconds shorter, but it’ll have an outdoor section, and superior visuals inside.
With all of that said, what cannot be overstated about TRON Lightcycle Run is the coolness factor thanks to the unique seating, flashy visuals, and that outdoor loop. This is a definite advantage it has over other roller coasters at Walt Disney World. While I wish it were about another 20-30 seconds longer, I think most fans will end up loving TRON Lightcycle Run.
What do you think of TRON Lightcycle Run? Are you excited for this new Magic Kingdom roller coaster, or does it not interest you? Thoughts on how the aesthetic will fit into Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!