TRON Lightcycle Run Opening Date!

Walt Disney World has finally officially announced the opening date of TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom! This post shares the new details, AP & DVC preview info, crowd predictions, soft opening speculation, virtual queue v. standby, Lightning Lane status, and more!

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, 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.

TRON Lightcycle Run is a clone of an attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, which is an opening day attraction there. The roller coaster starts with guests entering a huge gravity/show building where they step onto the Grid and board their own cycle. 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 TRON Lightcycle Run’s exterior.

TRON Lightcycle Run is technically an expansion of Tomorrowland, located behind Space Mountain and the Speedway. It’ll also connect to Storybook Circus and is beyond the berm of Magic Kingdom thanks to flyover walkways that guide guests above the Walt Disney World Railroad, which finally reopened late last month.

The roller coaster is the biggest addition to Magic Kingdom since another roller coaster: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Ironically enough, both were developed for Shanghai Disneyland; the difference is that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened a decade ago in Magic Kingdom–several years before the theme park in China. Now, TRON Lightcycle Run will debut following Shanghai Disneyland’s 6th Anniversary.

Originally, Walt Disney World announced that TRON Lightcycle Run would open “in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort.” However, the closure and subsequent phased reopening threw a monkey wrench into those plans. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait too much longer.

Fast forward to the present, when Walt Disney World announced that TRON Lightcycle Run will officially open on April 4, 2023. That’s the peak of spring break season, falling the week before Easter. But before we get ahead of ourselves with crowd analysis, let’s cover more of the details.

Here’s Walt Disney World’s official announcement about the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run:

The story of TRON Lightcycle / Run picks up after “TRON: Legacy” where Kevin’s son, Sam Flynn, has opened a second gateway into a digital realm called the Grid. The first of these portals he created is found at Shanghai Disneyland with the original TRON Lightcycle Power Run.

When you enter the queue at Magic Kingdom, you’ll feel as if you’re digitized and transported to the Grid for a special Lightcycle race. It’s your Team Blue against the Grid’s menacing Programs, Team Orange. Your goal is to be the first to race through eight Energy Gates and secure victory. The attraction will be one of the fastest coasters at any Disney theme park in the world.

Before the attraction officially opens, cast members will be the first to enter the Grid during special previews. And I heard preview opportunities are coming for guests too, including Annual Passholders and eligible Disney Vacation Club Members.

Oh, for those who are wondering how the opening date of TRON Lightcycle Run is April 4, 2023 given last night’s cryptic clue, we’ll give you another clue within a clue (call it cluception):


Need another hint?

Match those letters with the corresponding high scores for the month, day, and year (respectively). If you’re still left scratching your head, you’re not alone. I did not figure this one out immediately…or at all. (Kudos to our friend, Mark Willard, who solved it!)

In terms of commentary, let’s start with timing. If you’ve been following the multi-year construction coverage of TRON Lightcycle Run, you’ve likely heard “rumors” or speculation about its opening, which has repeatedly been wrong. That includes our predictions.

It should go without saying, but there has been a lot of frustration among Walt Disney World fans about the way the company has slow-rolled TRON Lightcycle Run. The best time to open the roller coaster would’ve been back in Summer 2021. Even with the closure delaying projects, late that year still seems like it could’ve been achievable. But I’m not beating that particular dead horse here.

Once Walt Disney World delayed TRON Lightcycle Run until Spring 2023, we revised our prediction to February 17 at the earliest and May 26 at the latest, narrowing that down to March 10 to April 1, 2023 as the most likely debut dates.

Given the degree of testing with human riders, promotional footage from inside the attraction, and what little remains to be completed outside the attraction, it appears that Walt Disney World could have opened this ride within a month or so if they so desired. With Splash Mountain closing on January 23, we were hoping that Walt Disney World would surprise us with an earlier opening–ideally before Presidents’ Day weekend, which will be one of the busiest weeks of the year.

The March 10 opening prediction was predicated upon the week of spring break for Osceola and Orange County school districts. That week has been getting busier and busier at Walt Disney World as the local population continues to grow. However, with new AP sales still suspended (see our recently-updated When Will Disney World Resume Annual Pass Sales?) and the 2023 Florida Resident Ticket Deal blocked out for those dates, perhaps it won’t be as busy this year.

Instead, Walt Disney World is officially opening TRON Lightcycle Run on April 4, 2023. That’s about 3 days into the heart of peak spring break season, so still pretty good timing. I still think March 31 or April 1 would’ve made more sense–both coinciding with the conclusion of the 50th Anniversary festivities and with the start of spring break crowds, but it’s close enough.

Given all of that, it should go without saying that the two weeks after the opening of TRON Lightcycle Run will be incredibly busy. Last year, those same weeks hit 8/10 on the crowd calendar for all of Walt Disney World, and 8/10 to 9/10 at Magic Kingdom, specifically.

With the beloved nighttime spectacular Happily Ever After making its triumphant return to Magic Kingdom that same week, it’s safe to say crowds will be worse. While this may not be reflected in park-wide wait times (since things like this tend to draw fans who may not prioritize re-riding other attractions), it’ll absolutely be reflected in “feels like” congestion. Those two weeks should easily hit 10/10 levels most days when judged slowly on the basis of feels like crowds.

If you’re looking to target slightly slower dates for your Walt Disney World vacation, aim for after April 17, 2023. Between Tax Day and Memorial Day will be shoulder season, bringing with them more moderate crowd levels. Keep in mind that this is for Walt Disney World as a whole. 

Demand for TRON Lightcycle Run and Happily Ever After is going to be sky-high the entire year, so you’re going to encounter heavy crowds, congestion, competition for the virtual queue (more on that below), etc. no matter when you visit. We’re simply saying that, if you have flexibility, it’s far better to go in late April through May 2023 than it is early April. Your overall experience will be better.

All in all, it’s exciting news that TRON Lightcycle Run will finally opening after multiple years of delays. This is another blockbuster addition to Walt Disney World. Although the company doesn’t release attraction budgets, it’s believed this roller coaster is much less expensive than Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. It’s still one of the more expensive additions in recent years, but a far cry from the nearly $500 million that EPCOT E-Ticket is believed to have cost.

Now, let’s turn to questions about TRON Lightcycle Run’s Lightning Lane status, potential virtual queue, soft openings, AP previews, and more…

TRON Lightcycle Run Previews

Let’s next turn to the question of soft openings and affiliation previews. Soft openings are also known as trial operations or technical rehearsals, and are basically an unannounced and controlled test period. They provide an opportunity for theme parks to open an attraction prior to its official opening and conduct operations and Cast Member training in a more forgiving and low stress environment.

Soft openings are not publicized via any official resources: not on park maps, the official Disney Parks Blog, annoying TikTok videos, wait time boards, or even in the My Disney Experience app. As a result, they always draw significantly fewer crowds than official openings. They’re a nice perk for guests who are already in the park and the most plugged-in Walt Disney World fans.

Walt Disney World has moved away from soft openings in the last few years. Given that precedent, we do not expect general public soft openings for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom.

The one wildcard that has us potentially questioning this is the fact that this soft opening window would fall during a busier time of year, encompassing the first few days of the spring break season at Walt Disney World. Soft openings of TRON Lightcycle Run could help soak up normal crowds in Magic Kingdom between around March 31, 2023 and April 3, 2023.

I’m not saying I expect this to occur, but it’s certainly more plausible than soft openings were for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Soft openings in early April 2023 make much more sense than doing them in September or May, which are slower seasons. This time, soft openings would operationally advantageous, which is a big difference.

Regardless, we already know that TRON Lightcycle Run will offer pre-registered previews for select groups: Disney Vacation Club, Golden Oak, Club 33, and Annual Passholders–because the announcement indicates as much. We expect this to work almost exactly like the previews for the two EPCOT attractions in the last year, right down to all eligible APs not receiving the email before slots started filling up.

Also similar to that, we’re going to go out on a limb and predict roughly 2-3 weeks of previews for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom. As evidenced by the testing that has been occurring in the last few months, the ride is ready to roll–it’s just the landscaping around the front still to be finished. Walt Disney World is simply waiting for the most opportune time to open it. Offering these previews after Orange County’s spring break ends but before April 2023 starts just makes sense.

These are pretty bold and specific predictions regarding soft openings and pre-registered previews, but we’d honestly be more surprised if Walt Disney World doesn’t follow the exact same “preview playbook” for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom that was used for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. As noted above, the bigger variable is soft openings, which could occur for a few days here.

As always, Annual Passholder and DVC preview emails DO NOT go out to everyone who is eligible. I didn’t receive the one for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Sarah didn’t get the one for Cosmic Rewind. Maybe TRON Lightcycle Run will be the first time in ages that we both get one…or maybe neither of us will this round!

In any case, receiving the email does not matter! The link inside is what’s important, and ANYONE WHO IS ELIGIBLE can use that. Both of us will be monitoring our emails like hawks in the coming weeks and will give you a heads up ASAP if/when preview registration goes live. You can subscribe to our free email newsletter for instant alerts.

Genie+ v. Individual Lightning Lane

Next up, whether TRON Lightcycle Run will be part of Genie+ or another Individual Lightning Lane at Magic Kingdom. This is really a “wildcard” in name only, since Walt Disney World hasn’t officially announced anything.

We’d say there’s a greater than 99.999% chance that TRON Lightcycle Run will be an Individual Lightning Lane attraction. It’s really a question of how much it’ll cost and how quickly it’ll sell out each day. My bet is that it ends up priced the same as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. However, debuting this during spring break season might mean premium pricing (or increases for both…and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance).

The other big question is whether Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will move to Genie+ or if Magic Kingdom will be the only park with two Individual Lightning Lane attractions. My money is on Magic Kingdom being the lone park at Walt Disney World to have two Individual Lightning Lanes.

Although they’re both roller coasters, they have very different demographics. Beyond that, Magic Kingdom is also the lone park to have a healthy amount of Genie+ capacity, even after losing Splash Mountain. It makes more sense for Magic Kingdom to keep two ILL rides than it did EPCOT, both financially and in terms of supply v. demand for the Genie+ service.

Standby v. Virtual Queue

Another big question is whether TRON Lightcycle Run will use a virtual queue. With Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind still using a virtual queue, the answer to this probably seems obvious. However, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure both stopped their VQs…and we’ve been expecting Cosmic Rewind to follow suit for (literally) months. It hasn’t actually needed a virtual queue since (at least) last July.

Regardless, both of the more recent EPCOT attractions used virtual queues for different reasons than Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The Galaxy’s Edge headliner did due to a lack of reliability. The Rat Ride and Cosmic Rewind did so due to a lack of physical space back and concerns about crowds navigating to the attractions.

TRON Lightcycle Run hopefully doesn’t suffer from downtime issues and it probably doesn’t lack queue space. There should be a lot inside the building, and there’s definitely ample overflow space outside. That means we’re in the clear. TRON Lightcycle Run should be standby…right?!?

Probably not. The issue with TRON Lightcycle Run is actually the approach–same as the EPCOT E-Tickets. 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.

It’s a recipe for potential problems, and could get downright dangerous at rope drop as guests stampede to be among the first to ride. (This is exactly why Tomorrowland Power & Light Co. is currently closed and being modified–to give every inch of space to facilitate better crowd flow.)

Even though Walt Disney World likely wants to avoid bringing back the virtual queue due to the drop in guest satisfaction it causes, I don’t think they’ll have any other choice here. As such, I’m expecting a virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run. (The fact that Disney did the exact same thing for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for the exact same reason makes me even more confident in this guess.)

While we’ve gotten good at gaming virtual queues (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), my personal hope is for a standby queue. It’s the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints.

Plus, if there’s a virtual queue, TRON Lightcycle Run won’t open for Early Entry–and we really hope it is, as that’ll relieve pressure from the SDMT Shuffle, making that easier for families.

Ultimately, we’re looking forward to experiencing TRON Lightcycle Run opening on April 4, 2023 at Walt Disney World. Even though it’s not my favorite roller coaster in the world (it won’t even be my personal favorite in Magic Kingdom), I’m excited to see this finally debut. It’s been several years in the making, and will make a lot of WDW fans happy.

That’s really the core of the apple. TRON Lightcycle Run is likely to be a crowd-pleasing attraction that wows guests with its thrills and gives a bit of ‘fantasy fulfillment’ to lifelong TRON fans who finally get to step onto the Grid and board a lightcycle. That alone will make it a top tier attraction for many guests–and it’s undeniably cool to glide under that illuminated canopy and over guests at night. (With Walt Disney World’s perfectionist planners, I already know strategy for scoring boarding groups that are called at night instead of during daytime hours will definitely be “a thing.”) It’ll likely rival Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Avatar Flight of Passage as the most popular new attractions in all of Walt Disney World, as Magic Kingdom’s first major addition in almost a decade.

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Your Thoughts

Are you excited for the grand opening of TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom on April 4, 2023? Think it’ll have a virtual queue or standby line right at opening? What about soft openings v. pre-registered previews? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!

17 Responses to “TRON Lightcycle Run Opening Date!”
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