July 24, 2024

TRON Lightcycle Run Virtual Queue Strategy

TRON Lightcycle Run is the newest roller coaster at Walt Disney World, and is also difficult due to no standby line. In this ride guide, we’ll answer questions about the virtual queue, boarding groups, Lightning Lane, and answer FAQ about Magic Kingdom’s most popular thrill ride.

To many first-timers, a lengthy guide for “successfully” riding a roller coaster might seem excessive. After all, isn’t it just a matter of “lining up, waiting, and sitting down”?! Unfortunately, it is not. TRON Lightcycle Run the biggest addition to Walt Disney World’s most popular park in a decade, instantly one of the most in-demand attractions anywhere.

Not only that, but Magic Kingdom restricts demand by using a free virtual queue and ‘pay-to-play’ access via the Individual Lightning Lane. These systems are nothing new, as TRON Lightcycle Run currently operates in exactly the same way. Before that, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure had similar systems.

Nevertheless, all of this has been confusing even for longtime Walt Disney World fans. Our goal here is to help you avoid similar frustrations. If you show up to Magic Kingdom, thinking you’ll be able to ride TRON Lightcycle Run, you’re in for colossal disappointment.

To the contrary, you’re almost guaranteed you won’t be riding if you simply show up at the official opening time. Hence this ride guide and FAQ, so you can plan accordingly, beat the crowds, and have a magnificent day at Magic Kingdom!

Before we dig in, one final note: the virtual queue dynamic is always evolving. Walt Disney World tinkers with policies, demand rises & falls, and so forth. It’s entirely possible that the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue process will “evolve” and will end up differing–or not existing at all–within the coming months.

If you want all of the latest updates on the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue–or notification when the ride’s standby line is announced–subscribe to our free Walt Disney World email newsletter. We also share other news and on-the-ground reports from the parks, when discounts are released, and much more.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about riding TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom…

How to Enter the TRON Lightcycle Run Virtual Queue

What is the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run?

The virtual queue is one of two main ways to ride the TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster.

Rather than a standby line, you join this virtual line via the My Disney Experience (MDX) app and are notified when it’s your turn to ride. The process requires a few clicks in-app, but it’s pretty intuitive.

What are boarding groups for TRON Lightcycle Run?

If the virtual queue were like a lottery (it isn’t exactly), the boarding group would be like the ticket. The method versus the means.

Stated differently, boarding groups are the means of organizing guests into groups when it’s their turn to ride. Rather than a specific return window of 2-3 pm as is the case with Lightning Lanes, you might be in boarding group 71. Your return time is not specified in advance, but rather, as an estimate. That estimate is often wildly inaccurate and based upon how quickly the attraction cycles the guests through who are in front of you in the virtual queue. (Plus how many or few times it breaks down.)

When can we enter the virtual queue?

You can join the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue at 7 am or 1 pm via the My Disney Experience app.

The first of those times can be joined by anyone who has a Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom that day. The second can be joined by anyone who has tapped into Magic Kingdom that day.

What about Extended Evening Hours? 

Starting April 5, 2023, an additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run will be available at 6:00 pm during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a benefit for registered guests staying at a Deluxe Resort, Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select hotels. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in Magic Kingdom to request to join at that time.

Extended Evening Hours guests need valid admission and a theme park reservation for the same park on the same day to experience Extended Evening Hours—or they may experience Extended Evening Hours if they have a ticket or Annual Pass with the Park Hopper option and first enter the park for which they made their reservation.

What is the process like for joining the virtual queue?

The steps are identical to past virtual queues and similar to the FastPass+ or Genie+ selection processes, if you’ve done either of those.

Here’s a quick run-through:

Start by hitting the hamburger button on the lower right corner of the My Disney Experience app.

From there, select the “Virtual Queues” tile.

Then “Join Virtual Queue.”

There’s a shortcut from the home screen on My Disney Experience if you just scroll down a little bit. Sometimes all of the tiles take a bit to load on here after you first open the app. (It appears above your PhotoPass images.)

You’ll have the option of confirming your party starting at 6 am, or an hour before the virtual queue opens.

Click the blue button to confirm your party, ensuring that everyone visiting with you is selected for the virtual queue. So long as tickets are properly linked and everyone has a Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom, this process should be smooth sailing and self-explanatory.

(As is probably obvious, these screenshots are from the Cosmic Rewind virtual queue. We’ll update with screenshots from TRON Lightcycle Run once the VQ launches–but it’ll work identically to this.)

Once you confirm your party, you’ll see the above screen until 7 am.

Use the “fast finger” strategy below to get the timing right, and then either hit the refresh button or pull down to refresh at 7 am on the dot. You’ll then see the “Join Queue” button. Tap that and you’re done!

This shows your estimate waiting time, which will be several hours into the future (and not necessarily accurate) at 7 am since Magic Kingdom isn’t even open yet.

Once the park is open, this same screen will show you which boarding groups have been called plus a more accurate estimate wait time. Even then, return times can fluctuate based on downtime and other factors.

Once it’s your turn to join the physical queue, you’ll receive a notification (if you’ve allowed the My Disney Experience app to send notifications). You can also see your virtual queue status towards the top of your My Disney Experience home screen, as well as on the virtual queue page itself.

With that said, there’s no substitute for seeing for yourself. While it won’t let you complete the process, you can go through the first several steps of joining the virtual queue from home. Be on the MDX app some morning right at 7 am and go through the motions. It’s good practice for the real thing!

Next, we’ll cover some techniques to improve your speed and increase your chances of success at the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue!

Virtual Queue Speed Strategy

Disney WiFi v. Cellular Data?

It really depends on your carrier and where you’re located in the park/resort/etc.

We’d recommend doing a quick speed test with both a few minutes before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Anything at or above 50 Mbps should be sufficient, but the higher the better. If necessary, move around to get away from other people or increase your speed to that threshold.

Are there any ways to improve speed?

Obviously, there’s only so much that’s within your control when it comes to your internet speed at Walt Disney World. With that said, two big things are getting away from congested areas and out from under things. Some lower-level Walt Disney World hotel rooms have issues, so for the 7 am entry time, you might want to go outside, to the lobby, the balcony, an exterior walkway, etc.

When it comes to the 1 pm entry time, avoid congested areas of the parks. If at all possible, attempt to join while not standing in line for anything else, as some queues have ‘dead zones’ without WiFi or cellular service. (Soarin’ and Rise of the Resistance are notorious for this, but you might have weak/no signal at other attractions, too.)

How should we prepare for joining the virtual queue?

This might sound like overkill, but milliseconds matter.

Make sure your phone is fully updated and force close all apps, including My Disney Experience shortly before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Double-check the time on your phone or watch against time.gov, which is what Disney uses for opening the virtual queue.

What’s the best strategic approach for joining a boarding group? Should one person try for everyone, should we each try individually, or what?

Do not try individually–you won’t be in the same boarding groups, meaning you won’t ride together.

We recommend everyone try for everyone in your party. Launch the MDX app about 10 seconds before the official virtual queue entry time and hit the “Join Boarding Group” button. If that doesn’t work, force-refreshing by pulling down “hard.”

Everyone in your party who has a valid Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom should already be pre-selected. The person in your party with the fastest fingers will score the boarding group, while everyone else will receive a “Not So Fast/Already in Boarding Group” message. Just be sure that anyone in your party who tries for boarding passes attempts to add everyone.

Again, it’s good to do a practice run or two at home so you’re comfortable with the process in the My Disney Experience app so you don’t get flustered and mess up. We’ve heard horror stories of readers clicking through too quickly and forgetting to add one of their family members. Don’t freak out if that happens–go to the Guest Experience Team Cast Members stationed at the blue umbrellas.

What if not everyone in my party is pre-selected?

During the process of joining the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue, everyone in your party who has a Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom and/or has tapped into the park (as applicable) should already be pre-selected. However, you have the option to hit “Change Party” before tapping the “Join Virtual Queue” button.

Our strong advice is not mess with this–don’t even check whether they are or are not in your party–simply to click “Join Virtual Queue” as fast as possible. Pausing for even a second to review this screen can doom your chances of success. If, for some reason, someone in your party was not selected, see a Cast Member at the Guest Experience Team stands (look for the blue umbrella) in the park. Adding one person to an existing boarding group is a problem they can fix. No one in your party getting boarding groups because you hesitated or didn’t join due to an error is not a problem they can fix.

Once notified that “your group has been called!” how long do we have to return? 

You’re expected to return within 1 hour of being called.

Do we need to be in the park for the 1 pm virtual queue opening?

No. However, everyone in your party does need to enter Magic Kingdom at some point before 1 pm in order to “unlock” access to the virtual queue at 1 pm. Meaning you could arrive for park opening, take the monorail back to your hotel for lunch and a pool break, and try again at 1 pm.

It is not geofenced or based upon proximity—this functionality unlocks in the My Disney Experience app for each guest after they have physically tapped into the park’s tap/turnstiles. You can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever.

You could literally be inside Magic Kingdom or in Manitoba. The virtual queue system only validates whether you’ve tapped into Magic Kingdom, not your current location. It can actually be advantageous to leave Magic Kingdom midday, as that’s when crowds and wait times are worst. If you’re like us, you also may prefer to do lunch at a Magic Kingdom area resort rather at Walt Disney World’s worst food park.

Anything else we can do pre-vacation to improve chances of success?

As with every other theme park at Walt Disney World, you’ll need to start by booking a Park Pass reservation before visiting Magic Kingdom, usually at least several days in advance. Park reservations are mostly a formality at this point, but mostly is the operative word in that sentence. During peak season, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are still running out of reservations.

If you don’t mind monitoring the Disney Park Pass reservations calendar, consider booking multiple days at Magic Kingdom. Even if you’re only going to do the park one day, it’s savvy strategy to book reservations for Magic Kingdom on your Animal Kingdom day in addition to your dedicated Magic Kingdom day.

With the 7 am entry time, it’s possible to attempt to score TRON Lightcycle Run boarding passes from outside the park before you start your day. If you’re unsuccessful, you can change your Disney Park Pass reservations day-of to Animal Kingdom subject to availability. (Since the start of 2023, Animal Kingdom has yet to run out of reservations.)

Keep in mind that this could be a risky approach on busy days if reservations start filling up again, but that has not been occurring as of Spring 2023. Nevertheless, keep an eye on the Disney Park Pass availability calendar and switch in advance if this looks like it’s becoming an option around your travel dates.

TRON Lightcycle Run Ride Questions & Answers

Is it better to ride TRON Lightcycle Run during a certain time of day? 

Night.

A big part of the TRON Lightcycle Run experience is the outdoor canopy. Not only does the attraction look better at night, but the story makes a bit more sense. This is definitely one attraction that is superior at night.

How can we guarantee a night ride with the virtual queue? 

With the 7 am virtual queue, you cannot. Your return time will almost certainly be during daylight hours.

Your best bet would thus be gambling on the 1 pm virtual queue, but even that offers not guarantee. To the contrary, it introduces what we would consider unnecessary risk. Do not do this unless you really like adding a sense of exhilaration (and not the fun kind!) to your Walt Disney World vacation planning.

Any other alternatives? 

That depends upon how access to the TRON Lightcycle Run area works. It might be possible to enter this subsection of Tomorrowland without a valid boarding group and it might not. We suspect that it will.

Assuming that’s true, simply walk back there and stand under the canopy for a bit at night. In fact, we’d recommend doing this regardless of whether you’re riding. It’s a fun and unique experience, and is instantly going to become an under the radar spot for watching the Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom.

Is there any other way to ride TRON Lightcycle Run? 

Yes.

TRON Lightcycle Run also offers paid Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) access. It’s likely the latter will sell out within minutes of 7 am, supplanting Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as the most popular Individual Lightning Lane in all of Walt Disney World.

In general, we’re not fans of paying extra for ILLs, but TRON Lightcycle Run could end up being an exception to that general rule. Our updated Individual Lightning Lane Info & Tips post has more info about this paid line-skipping option.

Is TRON Lightcycle Run open for Early Entry at Magic Kingdom? 

No.

Despite Tomorrowland being one of the two lands open during Early Entry at Magic Kingdom (Fantasyland being the other), it will not operate during Early Entry.

Are larger-sized guests still experiencing issues with TRON Lightcycle Run?

Yes, albeit to a lesser extent than was first reported as TRON Lightcycle Run Cast Members have gotten better about assisting borderline guests.

In case you have not heard of this issue, larger guests have had issues not fitting into the lightcycle 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 ride vehicles on TRON Lightcycle Run.

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.

What happens if we “win” the virtual queue or buy an Individual Lightning Lane, but can’t fit on the ride? 

You will still be able to ride TRON Lightcycle Run, you’ll just sit in a regular roller coaster ride vehicle (pictured above) rather than the lightcycle.

The only material difference is that your wait time will likely be slightly longer, as there are very few of these ride vehicles. Each offers different pros & cons, but we’d recommend seeing if you can fit in the lightcycle if at all possible.

Will the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue be available during After Hours?

Not for now, no.

However, this comes with the colossal caveat that only two After Hours at Magic Kingdom dates are scheduled after TRON Lightcycle Run opens, and both of those are during the soft opening period. It’s our very strong belief that this is a case of one hand not knowing what the other was doing, and the special event not being properly staffed to operate TRON Lightcycle Run during that on such short notice.

What about during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party? 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

We have every reason to believe that every event after April 4 will include TRON Lightcycle Run. That includes future After Hours at Magic Kingdom, should more be added to the schedule. As for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP), well, those don’t start until after the summer off-season. With any luck, the virtual queue will be retired by then. (Or not. Cosmic Rewind’s still isn’t!)

Which is easier, the virtual queue or buying an Individual Lightning Lane? 

That depends on whether you’re staying on-site or off-site. It also depends upon crowd levels.

If you’re on-site and it’s a busier day, buying an Individual Lightning Lane will be easier, since you can do that starting at 7 am. If you’re off-site on a busier day, the virtual queue will be easier, since you cannot purchase Individual Lightning Lanes until park opening. They a long gone when crowd levels are high.

On slower days, both the purchase of Individual Lightning Lanes and the 1 pm virtual queue will be easier for all.

Is it possible to score a spot in the virtual queue and purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for TRON Lightcycle Run?

There’s nothing that prevents it aside from how quickly both book up–meaning that there’s no policy preventing you from double-dipping that way. However, it can be a challenge juggling both right at 7:00:00 am–unless you have one person in your party “assigned” to each.

Another alternative is doing the virtual queue first, and then waiting for a refill of the Individual Lightning Lane for TRON Lightcycle Run. See Ride Reservation Refill Rules at Walt Disney World for timing on when these typically occur.

Can we get more than one boarding pass per day?

Not during regular park hours–you cannot join both the 7 am and 1 pm virtual queue.

However, those who are eligible for Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom can join the third virtual queue entry time at 6 pm. You can enter at one of the earlier times and again at 6 pm for the bonus hours after normal park closing time.

In fact, you could theoretically ride up to 3 times in one day. Once thanks to one of the earlier two VQ times, once via Individual Lightning Lane, and once during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom.

What time does TRON Lightcycle Run run out of boarding passes?

There is no set time, but expect the first virtual queue to fill up by literally 7:00:05 am each day during most of the year. That’s what has happened with all attractions that have come before and used virtual queues.

As for the 1 pm virtual queue, that really depends upon demand. There have been low to moderate crowd days when Cosmic Rewind has still had availability after 2 pm, or even after 4 pm. On busier days, it’s gone within seconds of 1 pm.

Another key distinction is that Magic Kingdom is the most popular theme park at Walt Disney World, with significantly higher average attendance than its counterparts. More guests equals more demand for the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue. Consequently, we are not expecting it to last long after 1 pm on most days.

How do I get a spot in the 1 pm virtual queue if Park Hopping doesn’t start until 2 pm?

You don’t.

That’s part of the point in staggering the times. Walt Disney World is prioritizing people who start in Magic Kingdom and have reservations for that park. If there’s still availability after 2 pm, guests who have Park Hopped to Magic Kingdom then are given a chance to join.

Is it possible to score spots in both the TRON Lightcycle Run and Cosmic Rewind VQs in the same day? 

Theoretically, yes.

The reason we say it’ll be theoretically possible is because it all depends upon your speed, demand, and and crowd levels. In a nutshell, it’ll require being able to score a boarding group for TRON Lightcycle Run at 7 am with a relatively low number, and then Cosmic Rewind still having availability once Park Hopping starts.

We did this many times at Disneyland when two VQs were in use there, and “won” many times. We’ll be trying again with TRON Lightcycle Run and Cosmic Rewind at Walt Disney World, but don’t expect to have any success until the peak of spring break season ends.

Does everyone have to be present to join or can we send one ‘runner’ to the park?

For the 7 am entry, the only requirement is a valid Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom. The park isn’t even open at that hour, so entering the park isn’t even possible for that.

For the 1 pm entry, everyone in your party must tap into Magic Kingdom before they’re eligible to join the VQ.

What if we’re all near the park?

Nope.

It’s not based upon proximity–this functionality only unlocks in the My Disney Experience app once you physically tap into the park’s tap/turnstiles. It’s worth noting that you can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever. The system only validates whether you’ve tapped in, not your current location.

Can we leave the park once joining the queue?

Yes. You could go back to your resort and take a nap, eat lunch, etc.

How do we know when we can return?

If your phone has push notifications for My Disney Experience enabled, you’ll receive an alert that your boarding group has been called.

Failing that, the “My Status” screen on the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue screen displays the same information. It also gives an estimated wait time, but that’s often wildly inaccurate.

What happens if we have an Advance Dining Reservation that conflicts with our return time?

Ideally, you should see a Cast Member at the Guest Experience Team stands (look for the blue umbrella) located throughout the park. They can assist with scheduling conflicts.

Failing that, see a Cast Member at the attraction entrance–they are typically pretty flexible.

Does TRON Lightcycle Run accommodate Disability Access Service (DAS) card?

Yes, but this is still truly first come, first served.

That means everyone must join the virtual queue first, which means arriving and going through that just like everyone else. To take advantage of DAS, go to the Lightning Lane return line once your boarding group is called.

What about Rider Switch?

Yep, same process as above.

How long is the average wait once in the physical line?

Assuming nothing breaks down and the attraction didn’t just return from being down, around 20-40 minutes.

Boarding groups are fairly small in size, so if you get lucky and return at the “right” time, most of the queue will be empty and you’ll practically walk on the attraction. Time it poorly and things can back up quite a bit, and you might be in a line that’s closer to an hour long. We’ve been in line when the ride breaks down and ended up having to wait over 2 hours.

Is it possible to be too good at the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue? 

Sorta.

If you follow the speed strategy here and get really lucky, you could end up with a boarding group under 10. This means your return time will likely be in the first hour that Magic Kingdom is open. There’s honestly nothing really wrong with this, but that comes with the important asterisk that you do not return immediately upon being called. Take your full hour and do other rides with low wait times first.

(This “warning” brought to you by watching several families rope drop Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT during spring break who would’ve been far better off doing Frozen Ever After or Test Track. Do as much as you can via standby lines while wait times are low!)

Should we buy Park Hopper tickets?

If you’ve read our Money-Saving Walt Disney World Ticket Guide, you know that we typically recommend Park Hopper tickets. They allow you to bounce around, which is strategically advantageous.

For guests who really want to ride TRON Lightcycle Run, we recommend booking Park Pass reservations for at least two days at Magic Kingdom. As with the above day-of switcheroo above, you might consider reserving 2 days at Magic Kingdom and 0 days at Animal Kingdom—and plan on sticking with those reservations at least one of the days.

On slower days, it’s also possible that you’ll be able to Park Hop to Magic Kingdom and join the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue after 2 pm. You also might consider doing 1.5 days at Magic Kingdom, as it’s the park with the most to do. For all of these reasons, we highly recommend purchasing Park Hopper tickets right now.

Which days of the week are best for visiting Magic Kingdom?

Statistically speaking, Wednesday and Thursday are your best bets for the lowest crowds at Magic Kingdom.

For more comprehensive advice and explanations, see our Best & Worst Days to Do Each Park at Walt Disney World. That offers definitive advice for picking dates, and not just for Magic Kingdom, but for all 4 parks.

Does arriving to Magic Kingdom for park opening matter? 

Not for the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue.

It’s always good practice to show up early, as that’s when normal attractions (the ones with standby lines) will have their shortest wait times of the day.

Is it safe to rely on Walt Disney World transportation for getting to Magic Kingdom in time for park opening?

Yes.

This is especially true if you’re staying at one of the resorts in the area, and can use the boats, monorail, or walking paths. You’ll get to the park pretty quickly. Anyone relying on bus transportation should build in a buffer, as there can be long lines to board the buses early in the morning. For example, if we want to enter Magic Kingdom for Early Entry starting at 8:30 am, we usually aim to leave our room at one of the Value Resorts by 7:15 am.

Should we just wait to do TRON Lightcycle Run until our 2024 Walt Disney World trip?

Although the virtual queue creates winners and losers, if you’ve already read the ~5,000 words above, you’re much more likely to be one of the winners. You are far better positioned than 95% of other guests–many of whom arrive without knowing what a virtual queue even is or when it’s offered–and are more likely to succeed in scoring a boarding group. With a virtual queue, your wait time will be significantly shorter than if you just wait until 2023 or whenever the virtual queue is replaced with a standby line.

You’ve already learned what to do and how to do it–now put that knowledge to use!

When will this all die down?

When Villains Land opens. Maybe. 

The last big attraction to debut in Magic Kingdom was Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and that was about a decade ago. If you visit today, the vast majority of the Early Entry and rope drop crowds still race (well, more like shuffle!) to that ride and it instantly posts wait times of an hour or longer. Throughout the day, it Seven Dwarfs Mine Train routinely sports triple-digit wait times. Suffice to say, TRON Lightcycle Run will be very popular and in-demand for years to come. If you’re waiting for that to die down, see you in 2045!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Do you have any questions this FAQ failed to answer? If you’ve done TRON Lightcycle Run, do you think there’s anything else first-timers should know? Do you agree or disagree with any of our advice or answers? Any questions? 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!

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