I spent a week at the Walt Disney World Resort experiencing all of the beautiful Walt Disney World theme parks, staying in Walt Disney World hotels, riding the new TRON roller coaster, and much more!
Starting the Theme Park Shark has presented me with an incredible amount of opportunities. Some of these opportunities are as simple as the fact that I am able to visit theme parks hundreds of times a year, and some of the opportunities are as big and special as Disney World actually hosting me and the Shark. During last week’s event, a group of myself and other members of the media were shown a fantastic time as we were escorted around the resort, taken to ride Tron Lightcycle / Run, given a preview of Roundup Rodeo BBQ, and an advanced showing of Disney’s Happily Ever After!
When we first arrived, we checked into our beautiful and recently refurbished Grand Floridian Resort & Spa hotel room. We had two beds in our room and overall, a very luxurious stay! Our stay was made even more special by the helpful staff at the front desk and a very welcoming and friendly bellhop who assisted us to our room via golf cart.
We learned during our stay that our bellhop was once a professional horse racing jockey. He loved being a jockey but he had the magic inside him to retire and work at the Walt Disney World resort. He loves what he does and it was nice to make some new friends. He told us that he once worked for the Walt Disney Company when he was much younger and that he was excited to return. He explained to us that he has now been back at Disney for over 10+ years and he wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was wonderful to meet him!
Day 1 of the #AllTheDisneyThrills media event took us to the Contemporary where the ballrooms had been transformed and prepared for the arrival of invited media. Entering the space, we noticed these TRON arcade booths. Activating these booths officially uploaded us into the world of TRON. After being uploaded, we entered this room filled with arcade games, a spectacular neon mural, food, drinks and a prize booth! Look at how cool that Tron walkway was!
As our event proceeded, it was time to officially be shuttled off to TRON Lightcycle / Run. This is the latest and greatest attraction to make its way to Magic Kingdom Park. Busses picked Jake and I up at the Contemporary and we were moved over to Magic Kingdom for our ride and to speak with some Imagineers outside of the attraction.
Where do I even begin with TRON? Well, first, let’s start with the major fun facts! Walt Disney World Resort guests, also known as Users, will be digitally scanned into a mysterious game world in TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by Enterprise. As members of Team Blue, they will board high-speed Lightcycles for a thrilling race through a dark, computerized world, facing off against a fierce group of Programs known as Team Orange.
The new attraction, located in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom Park, is the fastest coaster attraction in a Disney theme park, alongside its sister coaster at Shanghai Disneyland. It masterfully blends coaster thrills with speed, visual effects, music and a one-of-a-kind ride system to create an experience like no other.
The ride follows the events of The Walt Disney Studios 2010 film, “TRON: Legacy,” and enables guests to enter the digital world via gateways that Grid creator Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam Flynn, opened. The Magic Kingdom gateway complements another gateway located in Shanghai Disneyland. Sam created the Lightcycle / Run competition as a “friendly” way for Users and Programs to interact in a gaming-style, competitive event.
For this review, let us begin with the Ride Queue!
The official experience of TRON begins as you walk by the initial TRON Lightcycle / Run marquee and up the ramp! The visuals here are simply stunning.
As you make your way up the ramp, you are immediately awe-struck by the canopy that engulfs everything above you and surrounds the ride track. During the day it is mesmerizing. At night, the canopy is simply breathtaking. Disney calls it a “curved wave” canopy. Lightcycle trains appear from seemingly out of nowhere, making high-speed twists and turns beneath the gleaming canopy as they launch onto the Game Grid. The experience is even more dramatic after dark as shifting patterns of light and color create a powerful visual for riders and bystanders alike. In my 15+ years of covering theme parks, this has to be one of the most impressive architectural achievements that I have seen in the parks.
Continuing on, there is a test seat to assist guests and provide reassurance for the experience that is about to follow. TRON uses a very unique style of ride vehicle in that you are quite literally positioned as a rider on Lightcycle. We have seen other takes on motorbike style attractions in the Orlando area but this attraction takes things up a notch by placing riders in a more realistic riding position.
For riders with disabilities, Disney has you covered as special ride vehicles are also available on The Grid!
Entering the queue is where things become a little more recognizable in terms of other attractions around the world. Passing under a relatively typical ride style queue entrance structure, you make your way into a covered, but still outdoors, switchback. This area of the queue has a few banners to look at while you wait but the real party happens inside. Once you make your way inside the doors, music begins, voice overs can be heard and the first major surprise of the queue is now only steps ahead.
Inside, you walk down a narrow path that leads users into an intimate room to be “digitized.” Once inside this room, a pre show guides you and prepares you to officially enter the world of TRON. Without spoiling too much, we left this room with a massive smile and renewed energy for what was still ahead.
To prepare for upload onto the Grid, guests can input bags, purses, hats and other items into double-sided lockers that are opened and locked using a MagicBand, MagicBand+ or ticket media. Smaller items such as cellphones, sunglasses or wallets can be placed in a small compartment located on each Lightcycle. Following the race, guests will return to the real world and retrieve their belongings.
Guests with valid park admission and Magic Kingdom Park reservations can request to join the virtual queue to experience the attraction via the My Disney Experience app on the day of their visit. The virtual queue is limited and subject to availability and is not guaranteed. Guests will also have the option to purchase individual Lightning Lane entry for the attraction via the My Disney Experience app on the day of their visit. Lightning Lane purchases are limited in availability. More information about the virtual queue is available at DisneyWorld.com/virtualqueue. A standby queue will not be available for TRON Lightcycle / Run.
Overall, the queue is very impressive, the “armory” soundtrack from the film is used and it makes for a quite impressive and thrilling ambiance. The use of the neon lights and the atmosphere created is a ton of fun. Although it may feel short compared to some other queues, this one is still very impressive and that first “surprise” that we mentioned earlier has to be the star of the entire show.
So what about the ride? The ride was thrilling and quite honestly longer than I expected. The indoor portion of the ride was much more expansive than I was personally expecting and I would argue that it rivals any indoor coaster, anywhere in the world. I heard a lot of talk online about how short this attraction is and while it does go by relatively quick, I was not left with a feeling that it needed more. It felt just about right and it was a lot of fun. That first launch is quite impressive!
Outside the attraction, an all-new retail experience is the place to gear up for the Grid with racing-themed apparel, collectible pins, must-have toys and light-up accessories all inspired by the TRON films and the new attraction. Guests can also purchase and customize their own TRON action figures.
Later in the night, it was time to party! Tomorrowland was ours for the night! We had food, cool lights, music, dancing, and characters decked out in TRON-inspired costumes! We even found this amazing TRON ice sculpture.
There was a DJ playing techno inspired hits throughout the night and a massive celebration to commemorate the “opening” of TRON Lightcycle / Run.
To finish our night, we had a discussion with James Silson, show director for Happily Ever After, and an exclusive viewing of “Happily Ever After” during the Cast Member Preview taking place at Magic Kingdom Park, Cinderella Castle. The show officially returns for all guests April 3rd.
#AllTheDisneyThrills was a fantastic event that showcased all of the incredible offerings on the way to the Walt Disney World resort. We encourage all of you to watch our review video for an even more complete and comprehensive guide of the entire event. Our biggest thanks goes out to the Walt Disney World resort for having us.
If we can answer any of your questions, please leave a comment below or catch us on all of our social media channels @ThemeParkShark!