Walt Disney World’s new Tron experience: Gorgeous, however not the following Space Mountain

The skyline of Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland has lengthy been marked by the round dome and star-reaching spires of Space Mountain, a cylindrical constructing whose ornamental traces are continuously pointing skyward. In Florida, Space Mountain is nestled near the Contemporary Resort and is well seen to these taking transportation and strolling to the Magic Kingdom. It stands as an emblem of optimism, a mid-Seventies construction that desires upward and celebrates the promise of discovery through area journey.

The new Tron Lightcycle / Run — sure, that’s how it’s stylized — doesn’t precisely seem like a constructing. Its entrance is a grand cover, one that’s designed to match the sense of movement of the curler coaster nestled beneath it. All glistening white curves and otherworldly flows, the doorway to Lightcycle / Run remembers attractive architectural works — I consider the Frank Gehry-designed bridge and pavilion of Chicago’s Millennium Park, the place metal panels wind us by way of an city park and body the greenery and skies with a way of marvel.

As a sight, it’s a triumph — a constructing for a experience impressed by a film about video video games — a experience that feels like a online game — that also can evoke a way of consolation whereas wanting like nothing else in a Disney theme park. It works with Space Mountain, as each are terminals to different locations — Space Mountain to the horizons and Lightcycle / Run to our digital-focused universe of at present and certain tomorrow. The newest addition to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the experience opens April 4, with a gentle opening set for March 20. The attraction brings a singular car to a Disney theme park, and makes the argument that video video games are the dominant cultural medium of our time.

The entrance to Tron Lightcycle / Run at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.


The experience is an import, first opening at Shanghai Disneyland in 2016, and introduced for Walt Disney World in 2017. It brings a much-needed new attraction to the Magic Kingdom, probably the most visited theme park on the planet, and it stands as one of many quickest coasters ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering. It’s brief — the experience is simply a few minute lengthy, if one doesn’t depend some preshow magic tips within the queue — however Disney reps stated it might hit 60 miles per hour, and it does so rapidly.

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Though “Tron” might seem like a barely unlikely franchise to convey to American audiences — right here within the States “Tron” was a hit, nevertheless it’s certainly not one of many firm’s most recognizable franchises — I see it extra as an acknowledgment that at present’s audiences have been weaned on the interactivity of video video games and more and more count on content material that displays that. Disney has created an elaborate backstory for the way the attraction matches into the world of “Tron,” however prior information isn’t actually wanted: We are digitized and introduced right into a blacklighted online game area to have a Lightcycle race towards one other computerized group.

One fast factor to notice: The experience automobiles really feel nice. Even if “Tron” isn’t a model on par with Marvel or Star Wars, these neon-lit bikes — the Lightcycles — are certainly recognizable, and one glimpse of them and their panther-like slickness and we want we might get on one. We can, and the attraction stands as Disney’s first motorcycle-like coaster, as in friends will straddle a seat and lean ahead as if on an precise motorcycle. Pulling again on the steel handlebars and being locked into the attraction might be my favourite second of the experience, as instantaneously we really feel as if we’re getting into a fantasy car.

Early social media response has centered closely on the accessibility of the attraction. Getting on the experience would require some mild flexibility, as these coaster seats are strong, however in numerous ride-throughs at a prerelease media occasion I witnessed just one visitor having hassle being locked right into a seat. An casual sampling, in fact, however I do know of not-small individuals who haven’t had a difficulty on the automobiles once they visited Shanghai Disneyland, and till theme parks extra overtly acknowledge restrictions on new thrill rides, will probably be a supply of social media hypothesis and backlash.

But whereas it’s true that one’s physique kind might have an effect on their skill to experience a Lightcycle, some coaster trains are outfitted with somewhat large-but-standard coaster automobiles within the again. While some might select this feature to keep away from the heightened thrills of the Lightcycle, there’s a worthy debate available over theme park design and rider accessibility, and as audiences demand extra thrills and distinctive experience experiences, such a dialog isn’t going to vanish. (An Imagineering rep declined to debate any specifics on the experience car’s accessibility.)

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Let’s get to the precise experience expertise. The excellent news: Lightcycle / Run is enjoyable. The dangerous information: It’s brief, and total feels slight.

The precise experience, for example, doesn’t match the ambition of the constructing it’s housed in, as as soon as we’re off, we’re off, and the experience might use an additional 20 or 30 seconds, with the understanding that the quicker coasters grow to be, the faster the experience might be. We first journey outdoors and beneath the cover — twinkling at night time however white-bright throughout the day. I don’t actually have a day or night time choice, as each body the riders with airiness and permit us to really feel as if we’re touring someplace new.

That place is the video game-like darkened present constructing, and the second we enter is the strongest a part of the coaster, as we take a slight dip and a fast flip. As our eyes modify to the darkness, the monitor is basically invisible, and when you’re on a Lightcycle, count on a a releasing sensation because the experience car leans to its left. There are projections of our experience opponents, and digitized gates we have now to cross by way of to efficiently full the game-like trappings of the expertise.

A look at the panther-sleek vehicles of Tron Lightcycle / Run.

A take a look at the panther-sleek automobiles of Tron Lightcycle / Run.


In phrases of Disney thrill rides, it’s quick, it’s smooth and it does certainly present a thrill. But after spending a few days in Walt Disney World, and revisiting coasters reminiscent of its Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, ever-so-slightly longer than our Anaheim model, Space Mountain, Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest, Lightcycle / Run felt a bit missing in ambition. It’s relying on the individuality of the experience car and its pace greater than it’s theming and even coaster design.

I missed the feeling I had after driving Expedition Everest for the primary time, and marveling on the mysteries hidden inside an elaborately detailed mountain. While Disneyland’s Space Mountain is superior to Walt Disney World’s model, I really feel that experience captures a way of explorer’s optimism, and Big Thunder Mountain, on each coasts, is filled with lifts and turns with a monitor constructed cleverly into the panorama to maintain us guessing. With an assortment of critters, fossils and risks, there’s no scarcity of design to seize our consideration and stroke our sense of marvel. Even the brand new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot, although given a too-elaborate setup, places us in automobiles that twist and switch and really feel as if we’re dancing on a monitor, a sensation constructed for shock.

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Lightcycle / Run will please friends — I used to be comfortable the primary time I rode it, in any case — however I fear it lacks a degree of repeatability that different coasters at Disney possess (a lot of which higher spotlight Imagineering’s famed consideration to element). And given how crowded Disney theme parks are lately, the precise time within the coaster car — once more, a few minute — feels too brief. The computerized innards of the queue, in addition to a short phantasm that introduces friends to the digital world, are effectively accomplished, however for a experience that goals to move us right into a online game, and place us in a race towards different Lightcycles, alternatives have been missed to intensify the stress, both in monitor design or a present constructing design that might enable for extra elaborate projections of our opponents.

Ultimately, Lightcycle / Run appears a sufferer of Disney’s personal prior successes. Big Thunder Mountain, for example, stays a masterpiece, and when it was launched at Disney parks within the late Seventies and early ’80s felt epic in design, arguing that the curler coaster might inform a narrative in addition to it might present a thrill. Lightcycle / Run performs it extra easy, emphasizing pure leisure somewhat than theme park awe.

However, the brand new experience does have timing on its aspect. In an period when theme park rides are more and more interactive — and video video games are dominating popular culture and being tailored to movie and tv at a fast tempo — a experience that locations us inside a online game race feels of-the-moment in 2023. And for being impressed by a 1982 movie and its 2010 sequel, that could be Lightcycle / Run’s biggest accomplishment.