Disney World’s newest attraction – the TRON rollercoaster in the Magic Kingdom – has theme park and sci-fi fans alike buzzing with anticipation. The ride officially opened to the public on April 4 but has been in previews for weeks.
If you’re unfamiliar with the world of TRON and this new attraction, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the ride and its inspiration.
TWO MOVIES: There are two TRON movies – both produced by Walt Disney Pictures – and they are the setting and inspiration for this new coaster. The first film – TRON -was released in 1982 and starred Jeff Bridges as a boy-genius video game producer who becomes trapped in the digital world he created. It was one of the first movies to use computer-generated scenes. A 2010 sequel – “Tron: Legacy” – had Bridges reprise his role – both at his advanced age and also digitally re-edited to look like his younger self.
TWO RIDES: An earlier version of this attraction – TRON Lightcycle Power Run – opened in 2016 at Shanghai Disneyland. A TRON ride for California and Disneyland has yet to be announced. Thanks to the COVID pandemic, it took seemingly ages for Disney to complete construction on the Orlando ride, which is located near Space Mountain in Tomorrowland.
WHAT IS A LIGHTCYCLE?: A “Lightcycle” is a fictional motorcycle featured in both TRON movies. In the movies, they materialize from thin air, are neon-colored and travel at high speeds while creating trails of color. In the movies, the cycles are used in a deadly game where the players force competitors into their cycles’ trails, thus eliminating them from the contest. The Lightcycle races figure prominently in both movies and in the arcade game from the early ’80s that came in the movie’s wake.
FASTEST RIDE TO DATE?: Whether the TRON coaster – clocked at 59 mph – is the fastest ride at the Disney theme parks is up for debate. Some sources say it’s the fastest, followed by the Rock ‘N’ Rollercoaster Starring Aerosmith at 57 mph. Other sources say Test Track and Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind are faster by 5 or 10 mph. Let’s just agree it’s pretty fast. By comparison, Space Mountain is 27 mph. The TRON coaster definitely appears to be the fastest ride at the Magic Kingdom park.
NO BAGGAGE ALLOWED: Unlike other fast-moving rides at the theme parks, TRON requires guests to stow their belongings in a locker prior to stepping onto the vehicles. The lockers are free and use a digitized locking system that can be opened with a guest’s MagicBand (or a ticket if a guest doesn’t use a MagicBand).
DIFFERENT SEATING: To mimic the light cycles featured in the TRON movies, the ride’s cars require guests to sit “motorcycle style” in the car, leaning forward to grab “handlebars.” If that’s an uncomfortable position for you, a regular seat option also is available.
THE RIDE’S PLOT: The story behind the ride loosely reflects the movies. Riders board the lightcycles to “race across the grid” – the digital landscape that trapped the movie’s heroes. The cycles must cross through eight “energy gates” for victory.
A SHORT RIDE: The TRON coaster lasts 2 minutes. That might seem awfully short, but it’s not the shortest ride at the Disney parks. Rides that are less than two minutes include Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the Mad Tea Party, Barnstormer and Astro Orbiter. By comparison, It’s a Small World is 8 1/2 minutes long – seemingly an eternity to those who aren’t charmed by the repetitive song and dancing puppets.
HEIGHT RESTRICTION: Riders must be 48 inches – or 4 feet tall – to ride the TRON coaster. It is ADA-accessible. Signs do warn that some body types might have trouble fitting into the seats and the usual warnings about those with high blood pressure, and heart, back and neck problems are posted. Complaints about the ride that have been posted online usually focus on the seats’ small size.
NEW LINE SYSTEM: The TRON ride requires guests to use the virtual queue or Lightning Lane system instead of queuing in regular lines. The virtual queue is accessible through the My Disney Experience app. The Lightning Lane is a pay-for-play feature with the price varying depending on how busy the park is.
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