TRON Lightcycle Run at Disney World
TRON Lightcycle Run is a new roller coaster by Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World. This covers everything you need to know: opening date, previews, problems, and answers to common questions. (Updated April 11, 2023.)
To bring you up to speed, TRON Lightcycle Run is now open at Magic Kingdom. The attraction is already proving to be one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World, and is relatively unique in NOT offering a traditional standby line. See our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for TRON Lightcycle Run or Individual Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World: Pricing & Info for how to experience the attraction. (The virtual queue is free, whereas the Lightning Lane is a paid upcharge.)
With that said, neither option is easy or convenient. There are two times to join the virtual queue–one is early in the morning and the other is in the afternoon–and both fill up within seconds. Buying Lightning Lane access is slightly easier, at least if you’re staying on-site. To that end, read our Ride Review: Is TRON Lightcycle Run Worth Your Time or Money? to determine if the hassle or expensive is justified.
The good news is that the virtual queue won’t last forever, and should be retired once the ‘new ride smell’ wears off and TRON Lightcycle Run’s popularity dies down. Even then, it’ll probably maintain pay-to-play Individual Lightning Lane status for years to come. For more breaking news and other updates about the ride (and more), sign up here for our FREE Disney newsletter here.
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. Fortunately, the Walt Disney World Railroad has now reopened after being closed for several years.
At Magic Kingdom, 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, and has an 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.
Above is the concept art from a few years ago, which also shows how TRON Lightcycle Run fits with Space Mountain, the Tomorrowland Speedway, and Walt Disney World Railroad around it.
This is the closest thing we have to an aerial look at the expansion, so it’ll have to suffice for context about the layout of the area.
Size Problems with TRON Lightcycle Run
Now that TRON Lightcycle Run is in previews, there have been reports of larger guests not fitting into the ride vehicles due to weight, height, and more. Suffice to say, if you’re tall, have muscular legs, or are plus-sized, you might have issues with the normal lightcycles.
We cover everything you need to know in TRON Lightcycle Run Problems for Larger Guests. If you think you could have problems fitting into the lightcycle, we’d strongly recommend reading that. Not only does it cover common issues, but also suggestions for improving your chances of ‘successfully’ riding the attraction in a standard seat.
Unfortunately, all of this was inevitable. TRON Lightcycle Run is unique in a number of ways, and unlike any other Walt Disney World attraction in terms of rules, restrictions, and accessibility. This was destined to be a hot topic of debate and complaints by fans, as the policies and protocol are more stringent than any other ride.
On-Ride Video & Photos
For those who are concerned, this is NOT the full ride. Although this roller coaster is on the shorter side, I’d estimate that it’s total duration is about twice this long (I don’t recall the precise length, but the ride time is under 2 minutes). Rather, it’s a look at the initial launch right after the load area, the outdoor section under the canopy, and then the conclusion of the attraction.
The portion that’s omitted is the middle section inside the gravity building, which is largely in the darkness of the Grid. Presumably, this was removed because there’s not much to see and doesn’t translate well to video. (Imagine Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but with the Grid instead of neon Los Angeles cartoonified landmarks.)
In addition to this, Walt Disney World has released new photos of the canopy fully illuminated with its show light. This canopy will be known as the Upload Conduit, and it was officially powered on for the first time this week.
The Upload Conduit serves as the digital bridge into The Grid for your Lightcycle at Magic Kingdom. The massive structure was constructed of nearly 40 pieces, strategically assembled and aligned, to create the perfect system for moving Lightcycles to The Games.
These glowing hexagon visuals are enhanced by familiar music from the “TRON: Legacy” soundtrack. In my opinion, standing underneath the Upload Conduit is the highlight of TRON Lightcycle Run. Even if you’re not into thrill rides, you should enjoy standing here, simply savoring the kinetic energy of the lighting and Lightcycles whizzing by overhead.
I speak from experience. During our time at Shanghai Disneyland, we spent hours under this canopy at night, mesmerized by the colorful stripes of blue and orange. The one-two punch of riding the roller coaster for thrills and standing under here for serenity makes TRON Lightcycle Run quite the attraction!
TRON Lightcycle Power Run Lightning Lane Status
TRON Lightcycle Run will offer guests the option to buy à la carte or Individual Lightning Lane access in the My Disney Experience app. On the day of their visit, Team Blue recruits with a valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom may use the app to choose an arrival window and make their purchase before joining the high-speed race against Team Orange.
Pricing and availability will vary by day–we’re expecting this to line-skipping option to be a hot ticket when TRON Lightcycle Run first opens, possibly selling out during the on-site early access window. Our expectation is that it ends up being priced on par with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. However, debuting this during spring break season might mean premium pricing.
TRON Lightcycle Run Virtual Queue
TRON Lightcycle Run will also use a virtual queue. Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each Guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day during regular park hours.
The reason TRON Lightcycle Run will use a virtual queue is not due to reliability or downtime woes, but is actually in the approach–same as the EPCOT E-Tickets that use(d) virtual queues. The path between Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway that leads back to TRON Lightcycle Run is really narrow. For whatever reason, Walt Disney World didn’t shorten the Speedway track, and the result is very little space leading back to TRON Lightcycle Run.
Expect Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to end its virtual queue shortly before TRON Lightcycle Run officially opens. Previously, Walt Disney World has ended virtual queues ahead of the next big ride opening, in an attempt to avoid having multiple virtual queues.
These systems favor more knowledgeable and experienced visitors like Annual Passholders and locals, as there can be a bit of a learning curve (certainly more so than just entering a physical line) and you also have to know the virtual queue exists–and when to join it–in the first place.
We have gotten good at gaming the boarding group process (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), and do Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind more than any other attraction at EPCOT as a result right now. Nevertheless, we’re disappointed by the ongoing use of virtual queues at Walt Disney World. Having a standby line is the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints.
TRON Lightcycle Run Construction Updates
Now that previews have started, it should follow that construction is finished on TRON Lightcycle Run. Nevertheless, if you want to see past construction updates, they’re preserved here for the sake of posterity.
The above video is a look at both construction progress and testing, which is now pretty common to see while visiting Magic Kingdom. On this particular day, I was in Magic Kingdom test Genie+ v. standby. This involved criss-crossing the park a lot, and virtually the entire day–up until around 11 pm (that’s when I last checked)–there was roller coaster train dispatching and at least some light effects testing in tandem.
Part of me wondered whether this is actual and necessary testing…or if Walt Disney World realizes there’s no better ‘free’ advertising than running the roller coaster during popular tourist seasons. Many casual guests were taking photos and videos, and I overheard many talking about TRON Lightcycle Run. Lots of excitement about it.
Walt Disney World has been dispatching trains at or near peak efficiency, with under 30 seconds between them. The attraction also has been operating with human riders, and company executives and others have already experienced it. This means that the inside of the attraction is finished and has been turned over to operations, and the only construction to be completed is outside on the approach and various walkways.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at construction progress. This is also nearly done, and has been for the last few months…
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.
Speaking of fresh, one of the “biggest” changes you might notice since our last construction update is all the landscaping that has been installed between the expanses of concrete. Much of the dirt has been replaced with trees, making the whole area look a lot closer to its final form.
Another thing that’s been installed is light fixtures. You can see those in the photo above, obscuring some views into the construction site. These curved lamp posts give a futuristic sensibility to the area and are somewhat similar to the ones at Shanghai Disneyland, and also in new areas EPCOT.
Continuing to the heart of the site, here’s a wider view of the main elevated walkway and first section of the swooping canopy. It’s harder to see now thanks to the landscaping, but there’s also 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. Lots of finishing touches happening here; the ‘big thing’ that has yet to be done is install the attraction marquee in that middle concrete area. That probably will be one of the very last things to occur before the ride opens.
Speaking of the attraction entrance, you can see the series of arches in front of the guest entrance for TRON Lightcycle Run. Thematic flourishes have been installed here and the final elements of the canopy have also been installed.
You can’t see them anymore due to the added trees, but there are multiple entrances here, and clearly two separate sides–one for standby/virtual queue and another for the Lightning Lane.
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.
Above and below are very similar wider views that shows pretty much the entire TRON Lightcycle Run worksite that’s visible from the TTA PeopleMover.
The ETFE cushion canopy is complete, with crews now doing the final finishing work on the ground and elevated pathway. Due to the aforementioned placement of the attraction, there’s a lot going on to integrate the attraction into a small parcel of land–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, this is now fully enclosed, mirroring the concept art–a necessity so the train doesn’t discolor the crisp canopy of TRON Lightcycle Run.
A ventilation system, lighting, and track for the train has all been installed. There are also windows cut into the tunnel that’ll offer a view from the train of TRON Lightcycle Run.
A few months ago, 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 within a few weeks given the work that remains.
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.
At this point, Walt Disney World is holding back on opening TRON Lightcycle Run until it’s most advantageous from a marketing perspective to drive new vacation bookings. We suspect fans will have sky-high expectations after waiting ~5 years for this ride to come to fruition.
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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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!
Landscape the entry sign planter already…
“you will be placed into the virtual queue in random order, regardless of how early you joined the waiting room page. Those who enter after booking begins will be placed in numerical order.”
Kudos to Disney IT for taking the old-fashioned chaos of a literal rope drop that somehow makes a line and bringing that experience to virtual reality (without the occasional physical accidents, of course).
Very nitpicky but I wish the canopy had more colors other than blue and orange, like Shanghai. Maybe this is a preview thing
What is the typical time for the sign up link to go live?
Thanks, Tom. I also got a DVC message… “ All resort reservations and modifications – including your party size – must be completed by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 13, 2023. Modifications to your resort reservation party size after today will not increase your party size for the preview event.”
Do you have additional details on DVC previews? We booked under our DVC membership, but have some staying with us under the reservation who are not DVC members. I wonder if they can participate in the previews with us.
Do you know what time previews have typically opened up? This is my first attraction opening as an AP so I want to be prepared! Also didn’t get the email today 🙁
I don’t think there’s been a lot of consistency in that, but I’d say mid-morning is about the norm. Unlike ADRs and discount drops, it’s usually not an early morning kind of deal…but there’s a first time for everything!
A few questions… if you are staying at a DVC resort as a guest of a member, but not a DVC member yourself, can you attend the DVC preview? Also, there is a Magic Kingdom After Hours Event on 3/27. Do you think that there could be a soft opening of TRON during the Magic Kingdom After Hours Event?
Golly that ride is incredibly short
If you get in for a cast preview but you are blocked out of the park for the day, are you allowed to stay in the park?
How do AP previews work? I’ll be there at the end of February into the middle of March and I’ll be a first-time Annual Passholder. Can’t even imagine getting the chance to ride Tron…
Was at Magic Kingdom last week (2023-01-18) and the ride was being tested at the time – saw the cars running on the track from the Barnstormer/Dumbo the Flying Elephant area in Fantasyland. Cool to see the ride in operation, even if not carrying riders.
If one does get the invitational email, and can go at the time of the preview, do they let you ride it more than once? Can we ride it on multiple days or multiple times in a day?
We have reservations for opening week, having is there on opening day, and day after.
That could potentially get us on 4 times if they do it as they did guardians.
We were there for opening of guardians, but never been for a preview.
I am just not sure how it works, and want to go when we have potential to ride it multiple times. We live in Texas, so want the most bang for our trip.
Thank you so much!
it’s usually just a one time go.
What about a soft opening April 3rd? I know the other park does it because we rode Velocicoaster a couple days before its “official” opening. But I don’t remember how Guardians was handled. I do have D23 but none of the other memberships. We’re also going to be there April 1-3 but won’t be able to make it down sooner. If it doesn’t happen we’ll live till next time but I made the 3rd an MK day just in case.
Do you think there’s any chance they’ll open it to the public earlier than April 4th?? We will be there March 17-19 :/ so sad that we’re just missing the opening date.
There’s an outside chance of soft openings, but I would not expect them to occur that early if they do happen (which is unlikely).
When do you think Disney will drop the invitation to AP holders to signup for Tron?
I have a different theory on the use now of virtual queues in that I think Guardians still has one in hopes of driving park reservations to Epcot. you cannot join the queue without reservation so it aligns with how WDW wants to level park capacity. Tron may use one but i forsee it continuing for Guardians.
Mmmm… but they are making a killing selling ILLs for RotR, FoP, 7DMT and Guardians. Without the VQ Guardians would sell more ILLS. The newly opened TRON free VQ is enough ‘good will’ in their mind.
Oh no the AP previews are happening when I’m going to be down there! The same thing occurred for Guardians of the Galaxy but by the time I was able to get into the queue they sold out – it was so frustrating. Even moreso when I went on my trip and could see everyone else going in and enjoying the ride. I even have a tron outfit I could wear…I really hope I have a chance to experience it this time.
I hope I have a chance to ride it before too many people complain that it’s too “intense” and they slow it down, like I’m convinced they did with Cosmic Rewind.
My son was losing his mind watching them test TRON during the 11/29 Christmas Party. He has been anxiously anticipating this ride since they had the test bikes in front of Space Mountain in 2020. We had originally booked an MK res 12/1 way back when you had predicted this as a possible opening date and we were so disappointed when it got moved to Spring 2023. We will be back during President’s weekend in February and would be so thrilled if this coincided with a DVC preview.