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: opening date, Cast Member and AP previews, and answers to common questions. (Updated February 3, 2023.)
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. Fortunately, the Walt Disney World Railroad has now reopened after being closed for several years. return very soon.
If you’re only wondering when the new roller coaster will open, we now have an answer: TRON Lightcycle Run will open at April 4, 2023 in Magic Kingdom. If you want more information about its Lightning Lane and virtual queue status, likelihood of soft openings, and more, continue reading. If you’re an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member who wants to be notified when signups for those previews go live (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.
On-Ride Video & Photos
Now that Cast Member previews are now underway as of February 3, Walt Disney World has shared on-ride video and more photos of TRON Lightcycle Run. Below is an official ride-through video that Disney Parks shared on social media:
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 will serve as the digital bridge into The Grid for your Lightcycle when this attraction opens in Magic Kingdom on April 4, 2023. 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!
There’s a lot more news coming out of the Cast Member previews of TRON Lightcycle Run, so stay tuned for another update this weekend!
Cast Member Previews for TRON Lightcycle Run
Walt Disney World sent a ‘save the date’ to Cast Members regarding their previews of Magic Kingdom’s new attraction. This revealed that Cast Member previews for TRON Lightcycle Run will begin February 3, 2023 and end March 3, 2023.
Note that with past Cast Member previews, not all dates were available and previews only ran a portion of the day. For example, Cosmic Rewind CM previews occurred April 17, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29 and 30; May 1 and 2 between 1 pm and 3:30 pm.
Our expectation would be that it’s a similar story here, with the possibility that previews are not held at all during what we’ve already identified as the Worst Week of Winter at Walt Disney World. Other than that, the first half of February and early March are both relatively slow at Walt Disney World.
Annual Passholder Previews for TRON Lightcycle Run
It’s a similar story for Annual Passholder previews, which are rumored to begin immediately after Cast Member previews conclude–on or around March 4, 2023. It’s likely that Disney Vacation Club previews will begin around the same time, and occur for a few days.
For reference, last year’s AP preview dates for Cosmic Rewind were May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, and 21 with multiple time slots from noon until 3:30 pm. Our expectation is that Walt Disney World will follow suit and offer approximately 9 days of AP previews for TRON Lightcycle Run.
We also expect that the previews will not coincide with Orange County’s Spring Break, meaning a gap of about a week in the middle of the previews. Note that this is not part of the rumor–simply our expectation based on crowd projections.
If I had to make a guess, my expectation would be that AP and DVC previews for TRON Lightcycle are held March 4-10 and March 20-24–give or take a few days, and with a portion of those dates potentially removed for local media previews, promo filming, etc. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the rumor is wrong and AP previews don’t actually start until March 6, 2023 and occur only on weekdays.
TRON Lightcycle Power Run Lightning Lane Status
The question of whether TRON Lightcycle Run will be part of Genie+ or another Individual Lightning Lane at Magic Kingdom is really a “question” in name only, since Walt Disney World hasn’t officially revealed its line-skipping status.
With that said, 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. 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.
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. Our expectation is that Magic Kingdom will become the lone park at Walt Disney World to have two Individual Lightning Lanes. However, we are not even remotely confident in this prediction, putting it at about 60/40 in favor of happening.
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. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind still uses a virtual queue, so the answer to this probably seems obvious. In all likelihood, TRON Lightcycle Run will get a virtual queue–and Cosmic Rewind will lose its VQ in the process.
However, even that is not entirely settled. Not every recent attraction has debuted with a virtual queue (Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway never used one) and Disney has tried to get rid of them wherever possible. 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. So TRON Lightcycle Run should use 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. This is a recipe for potential problems, and could get downright dangerous at rope drop as guests stampede to be among the first to ride.
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.
TRON Lightcycle Run Construction Updates
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. Accordingly, the company has determined that the “best” date to debut the ride is April 4, 2023. 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!