REVIEW: New TRON Lightcycle / Run at Walt Disney World Is Short But Snazzy (Spoilers!)
TRON Lightcycle / Run, the newest ride at Magic Kingdom Park, has been a hotly anticipated Disney attraction for a long time coming. Too long, if you ask us (and, not to mention, a whole bunch of other people). In fact, by the time the new TRON roller coaster at Disney World officially opens on April 4, 2023, it will have been 2,089 days since it was first announced at D23 way back in 2017. Not that we’re counting or anything.
Needless to say, with its opening date fast approaching, we’ve been pretty excited. So, as you might imagine, we were thrilled when we had a chance to experience it for ourselves during the soft openings this month. If you’re as eager as we were, then chances are you’re here looking for all the juicy details. Luckily, we can help with that! To get the tea on the new TRON roller coaster coming to Magic Kingdom this spring and to learn how you can upload yourself to the Grid once the ride finally opens, grab your identity disc and read on.
TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom Park: The Basics
Before we get to the spoiler-y bits, let’s give a brief overview of this futuristic roller coaster, including where it is, who can ride it, how you can go on it once it’s open and what it’s about.
How to Experience the Tron Ride at Disney World
TRON Lightcycle / Run is part of Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom and is virtually (pun intended) a carbon copy of TRON Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disneyland, which is part of Tomorrowland there, too. The roller coaster is right next door to both Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway, with two walkways leading to it: One coming from Tomorrowland that passes by the Space Mountain gift shop and one by way of Fantasyland that starts near the Walt Disney World Railroad station in Storybook Circus.
To be uploaded to the Grid (AKA go on the ride), guests must be at least 48 inches (122cm) in height. Additionally, you’ll also need to fit into the roller coaster’s unique ride vehicles, which are designed to look and feel like the lightcycles from the films. As we’ll note a bit later, this is one of the attraction’s biggest problem spots. Fortunately, one of the lightcycles is located near the entrance to the ride, so you can test it out before you get in line. Don’t worry if you don’t fit securely—an alternate ride vehicle is also available to guests once it’s time to board.
Of course, just like any other attraction at a Disney theme park, you’ll also want to give the TRON ride a pass if you have any pre-existing conditions that may be negatively affected by the ride experience, including high blood pressure or heart, back or neck problems. This also includes expectant mothers and those who are prone to motion sickness. Yes, as much as missing out on a new Disney World roller coaster sucks, the last thing you want is to wind up feeling miserable for the rest of the day.
There will only be two options to ride TRON Lightcycle / Run once the roller coaster opens, either joining the virtual queue or purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane entry. Similar to other new rides at Walt Disney World recently, like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, no standby queue will be available initially. In other words, if you want to ride TRON on your next trip to Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to prepare accordingly.
Although it may be tempting to go the free route (i.e., the virtual queue), keep in mind that due to the attraction’s popularity, especially initially, spots will most likely book up very quickly. As a result, you’ll need to have a plan if you want to guarantee you and your crew a place in one of the boarding groups. (For tips on how to secure a spot in one of Disney World’s virtual queues through the My Disney Experience app, check out our step-by-step guide.)
If you aren’t able to get a boarding group or you don’t mind paying more for convenience, you can always upgrade your park ticket and get Individual Lightning Lane access instead. For the uninitiated, this is like the new paid version of Disney’s previous FastPass+ service and requires a separate purchase on top of your regular park admission. You’ll simply book a reservation through the My Disney Experience app, then make your way over to the attraction once it’s your turn to ride.
Keep in mind that just like your ticket and the Disney Genie+ service, Individual Lightning Lane entry utilizes dynamic pricing, with prices ranging from anywhere from $15 to $29 per person. So, the cost will be higher during peak periods and lower when the park is less busy. As you can probably imagine, this can definitely get costly quickly, especially for those traveling as a family with kids. That said, if riding TRON Lightcycle / Run is an absolute must for your next Disney World vacation, and you’d rather not deal with the hassle of trying to do the virtual queue or can’t get a boarding group, then paying for Lightning Lane access will certainly be worth it.
TRON Lightcycle / Run Backstory
Whether you’re going on a ride, dining in a restaurant, or shopping at Disney Springs, everything in the Disney Parks has a storyline, and that includes TRON Lightcycle / Run. As we mentioned earlier, the ride has basically been copied and pasted from TRON Lightcycle Power Run in Shanghai Disneyland. That goes for the backstory, too. In fact, aside from a few changes to the ride queue, the only thing that seems to be different in the Magic Kingdom version and the Shanghai version is the name of the attraction itself. (As someone who’s lucky to have experienced the ride in Shanghai Disneyland a few years ago, I’m totally ok with that.)
As the story for TRON Lightcycle / Run goes, guests follow in the footsteps of Kevin Flynn and his son Sam, entering a computerized world known as the Grid. There, Programs climb aboard motorcycle-like vehicles and face off in an epic race across the technological realm. Win, and you live to play another day. Lose, and it’s game over. For your trip to the Grid, you’ll join Team Blue in a head-to-head battle against the menacing Team Orange. Your task? To beat them through eight Energy Gates and clinch a victory—or suffer immediate derezzing (that’s de-resolution for all of us non-Programs).
(SPOILER ALERT!) Our Take on TRON Lightcycle / Run
So, now that you know what TRON Lightcycle / Run is about, let’s get into our review and what you can expect when you ride. We’ll walk you through the entire attraction, from the queue to the ride vehicles to the actual attraction experience. So, if you’re trying to steer clear of spoilers and would rather be surprised, this is your cue to leave. Otherwise, keep reading for more on this exciting roller coaster with plenty of digital thrills.
Officially, the TRON queue starts near the sign for the attraction. However, depending on how busy it is, the line can extend as far back as Space Mountain. When we went on, there was a Disney PhotoPass photographer near the sign taking pictures (with identity discs for people to pose with, natch). So, be sure to snap a pic to commemorate your experience. Nearby, there is also a test version of the ride vehicle where you can try out one of the lightcycles ahead of time. This is something that you’ll definitely want to do if you’re concerned that you may be too tall or big.
As with other Disney park attractions, your experience begins before you’ve even entered the ride building, and as you walk towards the ride, you get a sneak peek of what you’re about to encounter. Without a doubt, the most eye-catching element of TRON Lightcycle / Run is the Upload Conduit, which is a huge, kinetically shaped canopy that protects part of the roller coaster’s track from the elements. It’s also here where you get to see riders on lightcycles race by as they’re blasted onto the Grid.
Though still impressive during the daytime, at night is when the Upload Conduit really shines. Literally—once it’s dark outside, the entire canopy is aglow with bright neon lights in shades of blue and orange, just like the rest of the attraction. While we didn’t have a chance to ride TRON in the evening at Magic Kingdom, we did ride when it was dark in Shanghai Disneyland, and as you might expect, it was stunning. The colorful lighting really does add to the entire experience and makes that portion of the track extra special.
As a result, we expect the ride to be especially popular later in the day. So, keep this in mind when planning out your day. You’ll also want to be aware that while a good portion of the queue is inside or in a shaded area outdoors with overhead fans, there is a good portion of the line that may be uncovered, particularly if there’s a long wait and you’re stuck further back. If that’s the case, then you may want to bring some bottled water along to keep you hydrated while you wait.
Closer to the building, you’ll enter a tunnel welcoming you to Team Blue, complete with cerulean-hued signs. From there, you pass through a portal to be uploaded to the Grid. Once inside, you pass into a loading area, where screens are busy processing your arrival. Then comes one of the most impressive parts of the queue, when the screen opens up, offering you a view from above of lightcycles cruising the Grid. With glossy black, blue neon and sleek glass everywhere and throbbing Daft Punk beats as the soundtrack, it really sets the tone for the rest of the attraction.
Sadly, the rest of the queue is decidedly less exciting. While still quite splashy in terms of aesthetics, it’s mostly just a parade of stanchions and screens spieling things like the ride’s backstory, the lightcycle races and the challenges you’ll soon face on the Grid. You’ll also be introduced to Team Orange, who you’ll see later on during the ride.
Before it’s your turn to race, you’ll first be directed to an area with free lockers. This is where you’ll want to stash any items you may have that are larger than your phone. However, you can only use a MagicBand or a physical park ticket to open them. While you might be able to use your MagicMobile pass pretty much everywhere else, this is one area where your digital ticket on your phone won’t work. Don’t have a MagicBand or a physical ticket? No worries! Simply ask a cast member nearby, and they’ll give you a card you can use instead. Finally, with your things safely stowed, it’s time to enter the main room, where you’ll be loaded onto the ride vehicle.
TRON Lightcycle / Run Ride Experience
As we hinted at earlier, one of the most distinctive parts of the TRON coaster is the ride vehicles, which are a series of lightcycles. That’s right, just like a motorcycle, you will lean forward over the vehicle for the entire duration of the race (you know, because aerodynamics). Similar to Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, a panel then moves forward to secure you in place and keep your back forward and flat.
Though this is certainly a neat concept, it’s also one of the biggest issues people have with the ride. Unfortunately, more than a few folks have had problems fitting into the lightcycles. While there is an alternate ride vehicle on the last car of certain trains, which has a regular seat and a lap bar instead, the demand for the alternative option seems to exceed what Disney Imagineers originally anticipated, causing longer wait times for certain people as a result.
Why this wasn’t figured out sooner, who’s to say. Since the attraction is a clone of a ride in Shanghai Disneyland, where guests tend to be physically smaller, it’s probable that the ride vehicles for Magic Kingdom weren’t adjusted to fit the ergonomics of the typical Disney World guess. Whatever the reason, it’s pretty clear that Disney dropped the ball here, and we can only hope that the issue is fixed before the opening date.
Anyway, we digress. Once you’re seated on your lightcycle, you’ll find a small compartment where you can place your cell phone and any other smaller items. Then, after some safety checks by an attraction cast member, it’s finally go time.
Like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the ride starts off with a bang: a high-speed launch that thrusts you to the attraction’s top speed of 59 miles per hour. As the fastest Disney roller coaster at Magic Kingdom and the second fastest roller coaster at Walt Disney World overall (Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is just a hair quicker at 60 miles per hour), TRON Lightcycle / Run is easily the most intense attraction in the theme park and an awesome addition to Disney World’s collection of thrill rides.
Following the launch, you’ll zip through the Upload Conduit before jetting back inside to make a break for each of the eight Energy Gates, which look like neon-powered portals. Throughout the roller coaster, you’ll also encounter some snazzy special effects like mirrors and projections, which make it feel as if you’re actually racing alongside your opponents from Team Orange. While the coaster is so fast that you only catch a glimpse, it’s a fun little detail that really adds to the experience.
Aside from the launch, the rest of the TRON coaster feels more like a souped-up version of Space Mountain or maybe Expedition Everest on steroids. While it is one of the more intense thrill rides at Walt Disney World, there aren’t any inversions to speak of. It’s mostly just a lot of digitally inspired glitz with speedy twists and turns and some small drops.
Sadly, with a total ride length of around two minutes (and with only 59 seconds of that actually being at high speed), it’s over and done with before you know it. That said, it’s still a heckuva lot of fun. After the race, it’s time to unload. If you’re suffering from motion sickness after the ride, there is a room where you can decompress for a while before heading back out into the sunshine.
Overall, we have to admit that we really like TRON Lightcycle / Run. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. The lack of adequate size-inclusive ride vehicles is definitely going to be a problem, especially since there were already wait time issues because of it during the soft openings for cast members, DVC members and annual passholders. Chances are that the issue is only going to get worse once the ride officially opens on April 4, 2023.
There is also plenty of people who are peeved by the attraction’s lackluster ride time, which we admit could be better. Having said that, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is also depressingly short, and it’s still on our list for one of the best rides in the park. Could there be more detailed theming in parts of the queue and during the actual ride itself? Sure! Not to mention the exit, too, which is mostly a long, empty hallway.
Still, in spite of all that, we still think it’s a perfect addition to Magic Kingdom and Tomorrowland. In fact, this might be a hot take, but we’d argue that TRON Lightcycle / Run is actually a better coaster than Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. With the flashy design, bright lights and pulsing soundtrack, the on-ride experience for the TRON coaster is certainly more exciting, though we’re sure that some people will disagree.
On the whole, even with its flaws, TRON Lightcycle / Run is still a ton of fun and well worth some time during your Magic Kingdom day. And we can’t wait to go on it again (and again) the next time we visit Walt Disney World.
Well, that brings our trip to the Grid and our review of TRON Lightcycle / Run to an end. Are you excited to try the newest ride at Magic Kingdom once it debuts on April 4, 2023? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how you can make Lightning Lane for TRON more affordable with our discount Disney World tickets.