TRON Lightcycle Run at Disney World: Opening, Construction Photos & Info

TRON Lightcycle Run is a new roller coaster under construction by Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World. This covers everything you need to know: likely opening date, progress photos, video of ride vehicle testing, concept art, and answers to common questions. (Updated August 29, 2022.)

To bring you up to speed, this roller coaster was announced 5 years ago, is a clone of Shanghai Disneyland’s TRON Lightcycle Power Run, and will be located between Tomorrowland Speedway and Storybook Circus in Fantasyland. Like Space Mountain, it’ll be beyond the railway tracks that circle Magic Kingdom and, consequently, Walt Disney World Railroad is closed due to the roller coaster construction (and likely, operational cost-savings).

If you’re wondering when TRON Lightcycle Run will open…well, we might soon have an answer! After years and years of waiting, it’s highly likely that Disney will announce the opening date or timeframe in September 2022. If you want to be notified when that’s revealed (or any other Walt Disney World news, discount releases, etc.), sign up here for our FREE Disney newsletter here.

In terms of basic background, the attraction is officially known as TRON Lightcycle / Run (or Tron Lightcycle Power Run) and is a semi-enclosed launched steel motorbike roller coaster attraction. The seats are similar to those on Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom; riders sit on individual lightcycles, lean forward, grip a set of handlebars, and a pad behind the seat comes down and snuggly secures the rider in place.

As the name suggests, the roller coaster is based on the Tron films. It starts with guests entering a huge gravity/show building where they step onto the Grid and board their own motorbike or lightcycle. Like Space Mountain or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, much of the ride is in a darkened show building, but unlike those, the climax of the attraction is a loop underneath a large color-changing canopy, which is also the iconic feature of the attraction’s facade.

Above is my photo of how all of this looks at Shanghai Disneyland. We’ve done Shanghai Disneyland’s version of the ride several times, so a lot of the info that follows is also based on our firsthand experiences riding TRON Lightcycle Run. The biggest difference is that it’s the focal point of Tomorrowland in China, with the entire land built around TRON Lightcycle Power Run. 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 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 concept art for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom to see how its aesthetics will differ from the Shanghai Disneyland incarnation of the attraction…

Above is the newest concept art for TRON Lightcycle Run, which has been tweaked from the original plans. 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.

For those wanting an idea of how TRON Lightcycle Run will fit into the Magic Kingdom “skyline,” above is an aerial view from last summer before the canopy cushions were installed. Here you can also see just how deep the gravity building is, extending all the way back to World Dr. on the far side of Magic Kingdom.

While the gravity building is prominent in these photos, it should be noted that this is an extreme angle. From within Tomorrowland and when approaching TRON Lightcycle Run, guests likely won’t be able to see the ‘big box.’ It’s not visible from most of Magic Kingdom; just as is the case at Shanghai Disneyland.

When the canopy is finished, it’ll look beautiful and be what draws the eye of most guests.

August 30, 2022 TRON Lightcycle Run Update

Today’s big update is not regarding construction, but testing. Last night, Imagineers were testing the full canopy lighting package on TRON Lightcycle Run. This is a first, as it occurred with ride vehicle tests and shows the roller coaster trains and light effects working in tandem as the lightcycles glide under the canopy.

Earlier in the day, Walt Disney World was dispatching trains at or near peak efficiency, with under 30 seconds between them (albeit empty–although human riders were spotted on the coaster over the weekend). It’s unclear as to whether this was an Imagineering test, or if operations training has begun.

In addition to all of this, Walt Disney World just updated its refurbishment calendar to add a reopening date for the previously-indefinite closure of Tomorrowland Light & Power Co–November 6, 2022. Essentially, that now becomes the earliest theoretically possible opening date for TRON Lightcycle Run. (Not necessarily when it will debut–but the soonest that it conceivably could.)

This is very intriguing, and bodes well for our predicted TRON Lightcycle Run opening date discussed below. The biggest impediments to that at this point are an official announcement and hiring/training of Cast Members. Both of those steps require a considerable amount of lead-time, so if we don’t get an announcement by mid-September 2022, it’s unlikely TRON Lightcycle Run will open this year.

Now, let’s take a look at the latest construction progress…

There’s been a lot of progress on TRON Lightcycle Run’s construction in the last several months. Like other projects that kicked into high gear with the start of the new fiscal year, work on TRON Lightcycle Run has accelerated since around the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

Let’s start by approaching from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover with a fresh look at the construction site.

These new photos were all taken during a busy morning at the Magic Kingdom construction site. You can literally see significant progress occur while visiting Magic Kingdom.

In fact, we took a few spins on the TTA PeopleMover this morning after wrapping up Halloween updates, enjoying the new narration and watching construction workers continue to make progress.

Here’s a look at the far side of the site, adjacent to the Tomorrowland Speedway.

Over here, there are foundations for what we assume will be planters. Futuristic planters. You can also see the end of the walkway to Storybook Circus.

Continuing towards the site, here’s a wider view of the main elevated walkway and first section of the swooping canopy. You can also catch a glimpse of the Storybook Circus path underneath the flyover ramp that leads up to the attraction entrance.

The main work we observed was on the lead-up to the flyover walkway. There are a series of curved, concrete foundations being built. One of these is definitely for the attraction signage, per the concept art. The others aren’t even pictured in the art–one looks like it could be a fountain, but given Disney’s aversion to water features, that seems unlikely. Probably more planters.

Speaking of the attraction entrance, you can see the series of arches–and series of scissor lifts–in front of the guest entrance for TRON Lightcycle Run. There are multiple doors here, and clearly two separate sides–one for standby/virtual queue and another for the Lightning Lane.

You can also see a few sections of wall paneling that need to be finished. All relatively minor work in the grand scheme of things.

We haven’t noticed as much happening with the flyover ramp itself in the last couple months. Off in the distance, there are a handful of construction workers. This needs its permanent guardrail installed, but other than that, this walkway is largely in finished form. Once cleaned up, it’ll (obviously) look a lot nicer.

Ground-level paths have been the focus more recently. We’re seeing the approach from Tomorrowland take shape, as well as the walkway that’ll curve under the flyover and lead back into Storybook Circus. There’s also another path with an unknown destination–presumably leading backstage.

It’s somewhat difficult to ascertain what’s happening here–this is almost directly below the PeopleMover–but it appears to be framing for more swooping concrete walls.

TRON Lightcycle Run is technically beyond the berm in Magic Kingdom, shoehorned into a tight plot of land between the boundaries of Tomorrowland, Storybook Circus, and World Drive. Consequently, the area around the attraction will have a lot of strategically-located walls and walkways to direct traffic and conceal views into backstage and locations outside the park.

Here’s a wider view that shows pretty much the entire TRON Lightcycle Run worksite that’s visible from the TTA PeopleMover. Now that the ETFE cushion canopy is complete, crews have been working on the ground and elevated pathway and progress is moving briskly on these. There’s a lot going on in the photo above and below, so let’s break it down.

The flyover walkway (far left) will weave guests underneath the canopy, over the Walt Disney World Railroad tunnel (middle-left), and into the guest entrance (far right and below) of the show building. You can actually see a similar path in our photos of Shanghai Disneyland’s version of the roller coaster throughout this post (minus the train stuff).

Speaking of the train tunnel, we’ve seen a lot of work on this recently. This is now fully enclosed, mirroring the concept art–a necessity so the train doesn’t discolor the crisp canopy of TRON Lightcycle Run.

Construction workers have been hard at work adding a ventilation system, lighting, and even starting to set track for the train. There are also windows cut into the tunnel that’ll offer a view from the train of TRON Lightcycle Run.

Work now primarily is on the ground, focusing on the flyover and approach walkways. Installation of the ETFE cushion canopy has been finished for a few months. As you can see from the Imagineering images below, the biomimicry-inspired roof membrane looks awesome when illuminated with show lighting at night.

What’s pictured above is not that–there are work lights on in this image, which explains the uneven lighting. This canopy also serves a practical purpose: covering guests as they approach and enter the attraction, and allowing the ride to run in the rain. Thankfully, Walt Disney World has learned its lesson on weather-related downtime for indoor/outdoor rides from Test Track.

Last month, Walt Disney Imagineering released new publicity images showing that TRON Lightcycle Run has reached another project milestone at Magic Kingdom, with the start of show lighting testing at the attraction canopy.

This curved-wave structure serves as the Upload Conduit to the Grid, where guests (or “Users” in TRON parlance) will race beneath on Lightcycles as they begin their competition.

In preparation for the race, the Walt Disney Imagineering Show Lighting team is hard at work testing the system and programming more than 1,200 fixtures across the surface.

The canopy and exterior plaza will be brought to life in the coming months as the project team continues uploading and integrating additional show elements.

In other words, pretty much everything is done at this point aside from the flyover ramps, ground-level walkways, various planters, and a bit of clean-up and landscaping work. While it still very much looks like an active construction site, a lot of that can be finished quite quickly.

Obviously, it’s still an active construction site with a lot of work occurring, but the ride is now in the home stretch. Seriously. After 4+ years, the roller coaster is nearly ready. In fact, TRON Lightcycle Run could open in 2022. The question is…will it?

Possibly. The roller coaster itself is ready to roll–quite literally. Below the ETFE cushion roofing, you can commonly see roller coaster trains launching. We’ve seen these for a few months now, and they are now moving at full-speed and at regular intervals.

The other question is whether Walt Disney World even wants to open TRON Lightcycle Run in 2022. We’ll address that next…

TRON Lightcycle Run Opening Date

Now let’s turn to the opening date of Magic Kingdom’s upcoming thrill ride. Walt Disney World has dropped the line that TRON Lightcycle Run “is set to open at Magic Kingdom Park in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.”

This is not surprising, as that was the plan prior to the multi-month closure of Walt Disney World, during which all construction stopped. Even after the parks reopened, work was slow to resume inside Magic Kingdom on TRON Lightcycle Run.

We’ve speculated repeatedly that Walt Disney World would deliberately stagger its new attraction debuts over the course of 2022 and 2023 as a way to incentivize new and repeat trips. Our thinking was that the debuts of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot and TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom would should be sufficiently spaced to give new bookings two shots in the arm.

Walt Disney World has already made its big addition for Summer 2022: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, which is now open. We’ve experienced that new Epcot E-Ticket many times, and share thoughts in our Spoiler-Free Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride Review. Personally, I think it’s much better than TRON Lightcycle Run.

The question is when will TRON Lightcycle Run open?

One possibility is that it’ll be next year–that TRON Lightcycle Run will debut in Spring 2023. That’s possible and is the safe prediction. This spacing after Cosmic Rewind would be strategic since the attraction could be entirely finished well before then. (Memorial Day 2023 is the absolute latest it’ll open–we don’t view that as likely at this point.)

The delay would be more about when it’s most financially advantageous to open another headliner ride after Cosmic Rewind. Spacing them out in different calendar years would prompt some fans to take two trips instead of one, allowing Walt Disney World to benefit from two distinct marketing pushes.

However, that alone doesn’t preclude a Christmas 2022 debut of TRON Lightcycle Run.

It’s possible that Walt Disney World will wait until vacation bookings are strong on the basis of Cosmic Rewind, and then announce a late 2022 opening date for TRON Lightcycle Run. There’s a pretty good chance that announcement will occur during the D23 Expo in September 2022, if TRON Lightcycle Run is going to open in late 2022.

This isn’t far fetched or unprecedented. To the contrary, it’s a common practice by Disney Vacation Club to deny the existence of new properties even after they’re an open secret due to permits and their construction is vertical. This is done to prevent softening sales on existing properties, as DVC fears that prospective buyers will be more inclined to wait for the shiny new resort instead.

Same idea here. Waiting to announce a date until September 2022 would minimize the number of guests who postpone planned trips until both new rides are open before booking trips. Disney not wanting to cannibalize the marketing impact of each would also explain why the company isn’t saying much about TRON Lightcycle Run right now, despite a lot of activity on the construction site.

While it’s entirely possible that TRON Lightcycle Run won’t open until 2023, it’s personally hard for me to reconcile the current pace of construction, number of workers on site, and train testing with a more prolonged timeline.

It’s true that Walt Disney World has sat on totally finished projects post-closure, waiting to debut them when most financially advantageous–but that has been with things that were substantially finished pre-closure. With TRON Lightcycle Run, the company slowed work…then resumed and accelerated it. Watching what has been happening in the last few months, it really doesn’t appear that Disney is deliberately delaying TRON at this point.

With all of that said, if forced to choose possible opening dates for TRON Lightcycle Run, I’d go with November 6, 2022 at the earliest. That’s still over a full year after it was supposed to debut. (October 1, 2022 is out the window at this point.)

That puts it in a new fiscal year and just before the busy holiday season. It would make sense from a demand perspective, and help increase Magic Kingdom’s capacity for the busy Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s weeks.

For my more moderate and “most likely” scenario, I’ll predict that TRON Lightcycle Run opens on December 1, 2022. If I could only choose a single date rather than all of these ranges, that would be my precise prediction.

I’ll go a step further and say that’ll be accompanied by a few weeks of previews beforehand for Cast Members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, etc. (Suddenly that November 6, 2022 reopening of Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. makes sense.) In terms of past precedent, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and New Fantasyland both opened on the first Thursday in December–that just so happens to be the first day in the month in 2022.

To be crystal clear, that is not a rumored opening date or timeframe for TRON Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom. It’s simply my speculative prediction based on what’s likely and feasible given the current pace of work.

The good news is that Walt Disney World has been able to ramp up 50th Anniversary plans and demand is proving strong. This has emboldened Disney to get more aggressive with its projects.

There’s also the reality that TRON Lightcycle Run will be an Individual Lightning Lane attraction, which means that it’ll immediately generate direct revenue for Walt Disney World once it debuts. That means there’s less incentive for the company to wait around to have it be part of a marketing campaign.

The money that TRON Lightcycle Run could make during the busy holiday season could outweigh the value it has for Walt Disney World’s 2023 marketing push. (Moreover, there’s no reason TRON Lightcycle Run needs to be brand new to be the focus of marketing–Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and other attractions that are several years old remain a focus of ads.)

While I really enjoy TRON Lightcycle Run, it “only” scored a 9/10 in our Shanghai Disneyland Ride Reviews. The big thing that prevented it from receiving a perfect 10/10 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.)

Another concern 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. As noted above, 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.

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YOUR THOUGHTS

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!

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