TRON Lightcycle Run is the big new roller coaster opening in April 2023 in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This covers how to experience the ride since there will be no standby line when it debuts–instead, you’ll need to join the virtual queue for the long-awaited attraction. If successful, you’ll also have to use a locker before riding.
Virtual queues are really nothing new at this point, with TRON Lightcycle Run being the fourth new attraction at Walt Disney World to use one. Prior to this, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure both used the systems, but stopped using them over one year ago. In the case of the former, the attraction became sufficiently reliable that it was no longer needed. In the case of the latter, demand died down enough that physical queue space became sufficient.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the only attraction still using a virtual queue at Walt Disney World, and it’s also the most recent addition. As covered in our recently-updated How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT, the virtual queue is no longer necessary here from a demand perspective–but could be given the limited physical space for an overflow queue. Nevertheless, our expectation is that Cosmic Rewind will retire its VQ before TRON Lightcycle Run opens.
Previously, Walt Disney World has ended virtual queues ahead of the next big ride opening, in an attempt to avoid having multiple virtual queues. These systems favor more knowledgeable and experienced visitors like Annual Passholders and locals, as there can be a bit of a learning curve (certainly more so than just entering a physical line) and you also have to know the virtual queue exists–and when to join it–in the first place.
We have gotten good at gaming the boarding group process (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), and do Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind more than any other attraction at EPCOT as a result right now. (Before that, Rise of the Resistance and the Rat Ride were high up our list of most frequented attractions.) Suffice to say, having a standby line is the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints.
Our guess is that the reason TRON Lightcycle Run will use a virtual queue is not due to reliability or downtime woes, but is actually in the approach–same as the EPCOT E-Tickets that use(d) virtual queues. The path between Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway that leads back to TRON Lightcycle Run is really narrow. For whatever reason, Walt Disney World didn’t shorten the Speedway track, and the result is very little space leading back to TRON Lightcycle Run.
It’s a recipe for potential problems, and could get downright dangerous at rope drop as guests stampede to be among the first to ride. This is exactly why Tomorrowland Power & Light Co. is currently closed and being modified–to give every inch of space to facilitate better crowd flow. Using a virtual queue means it’s highly unlikely that TRON Lightcycle Run will open for Early Entry–that’s unfortunate for on-site guests, and also means that it will not relieve pressure from the “SDMT Shuffle.” Here’s hoping that the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue doesn’t last long!
In any case, here are the basics about the virtual queue that TRON Lightcycle Run will use when it opens on April 4, 2023.
Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each Guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day during regular park hours.
Before Your Visit – Make sure you have the My Disney Experience app, with notifications enabled so you receive important updates about the virtual queue—including callback details and daily distribution times.
Get Ready to Join the Virtual Queue! – On the day of your visit, you may have the opportunity to join the virtual queue at daily distribution times, which are subject to change or cancellation as availability allows. Distribution schedules will be available in the My Disney Experience app. Follow these steps to join the virtual queue:
- Step 1 – Check Availability: Log in to the My Disney Experience app at one of the distribution times. Select “Virtual Queues” on the home screen to view the current status and next steps for joining a virtual queue. The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time, or if a backup group is available.
- Step 2 – Enroll Your Group: As long as your Disney account is linked to your group’s park tickets, and everyone has valid admission and park reservations for the park you will visit, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time (subject to availability).
- Step 3 – Enjoy the Experience: If your boarding group is called to return, you’ll receive a notification via the My Disney Experience app. Then, head over to the entrance of the experience within your designated return window.
If you’ve ever used the virtual queue for the trio of Walt Disney World headliners that previously or currently use the system, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this process–and to a greater degree than what Disney describes. If you haven’t, that vague description above probably didn’t do enough to familiarize you with the virtual queue process.
This is partly because this language appears to be boilerplate, and has not been tailored to the unique wrinkles of the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run. Although Walt Disney World hasn’t revealed the schedule for entry times, our expectation is that it works more or less the same as the last iteration of its predecessors–with entry times at both 7 am and 1 pm. The process has been refined and those times work well, all things considered.
Also not mentioned is whether TRON Lightcycle Run will offer a virtual queue on days when Magic Kingdom is open for Extended Evening Hours. Our expectation is that it will. Below is the description of how that works currently for Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. Keep in mind that this is subject to change–or not happening at all–but our suspicion is that it’ll be identical. This approach has worked well for Cosmic Rewind, so don’t fix what isn’t broken.
An additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue will be available at 6:00 PM on select dates during extended evening theme park hours, a benefit for registered Guests staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in the park to request to join at that time.
These Guests will 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.
Next, TRON Lightcycle Run will also offer guests the option to buy à la carte or Individual Lightning Lane access in the My Disney Experience app. On the day of their visit, Team Blue recruits with a valid admission and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Magic Kingdom may use the app to choose an arrival window and make their purchase before joining the high-speed race against Team Orange. Pricing and availability will vary by day–we’re expecting this to line-skipping option to be a hot ticket when TRON Lightcycle Run first opens, possibly selling out during the on-site early access window.
This news is not the least bit surprising. We previously predicted that there was a greater than 99.999% chance that TRON Lightcycle Run would be an Individual Lightning Lane attraction. It’s really a question of how much it’ll cost and how quickly it’ll sell out each day. My bet is that it ends up priced the same as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
The other big question is whether Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will move to Genie+ or if Magic Kingdom will be the only park with two Individual Lightning Lane attractions. My money is on Magic Kingdom being the lone park at Walt Disney World to have two Individual Lightning Lanes, but I’m not very confident in that prediction–it really could go either way. (If SDMT does move to Genie Plus, it’ll be right up there with Slinky Dog Dash in popularity and how quickly Lightning Lane ride reservations book up.)
In other unsurprising news, TRON Lightcycle Run will offer PhotoPass image and video offerings. You can relive your race through this dark, computerized world when you preview an onboard photo and video automatically linked to your My Disney Experience account through one of the following methods:
- Use your eligible mobile device, enable Bluetooth for the My Disney Experience app before riding, ensure you’ve logged into the My Disney Experience app sometime earlier that day, and keep your device out of low power mode. Make sure your mobile device boards your Lightcycle with you and is safely stored in the small Lightcycle compartment to use this method.
- Wear a MagicBand or MagicBand+ that’s linked to your My Disney Experience account.
Maybe more than any other attraction, TRON Lightcycle Run is fun for on-ride photos. Between the unique Lightcycles and thrill of the ‘race,’ it’s a great shot. Unlike awkwardly-placed cameras on some recent retrofits (looking at you, Frozen Ever After!), this should capture fun and memorable photos and video.
Finally, TRON Lightcycle Run will be the first attraction at Walt Disney World to require lockers for pretty much anything larger than a phone or wallet. This is a new system for the domestic parks, but is hardly a surprise–TRON Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disneyland has precisely the same requirement (albeit with a different set-up).
New to TRON Lightcycle / Run, a double-sided and digitized locker system will be used to store bags and loose items while you race your Lightcycle. Inside the attraction queue, these complimentary lockers pair directly with your MagicBand, MagicBand+ or ticket media so you can easily lock and reopen your locker with a quick tap.
Guests without a MagicBand or other ticket media will be provided with a card to assign their locker. All items must be placed either in a locker before you board your Lightcycle, or in a small compartment located on the attraction vehicle that can hold items such as cellphones, glasses or wallets.
If the only theme park you visit is Walt Disney World, the mandatory locker system might be a foreign concept. However, this requirement exists because there’s literally nowhere to put loose items at the base of the Lightcycles and also because the roller coaster travels directly over guest walkways.
As far as locker systems at roller coasters go, this is the best and most efficient type. Universal and Disney international parks have refined their approach to lockers over the last few years, and this the most streamlined option. It certainly beats putting everything in a locker before even entering the queue or something makeshift and unsecure at the load area. VelociCoaster likewise has a great and efficient locker system; if you’ve experienced that, expect something similar at TRON Lightcycle Run.
At Shanghai Disneyland, Cast Members are really diligent about enforcing the policy of having no loose items in your hands or on your person. I’m honestly slightly surprised that Walt Disney World doesn’t have an even more aggressive policy. Usually, safety rules are more stringent in the U.S. parks–it wouldn’t surprise me if TRON Lightcycle Run’s policies change over time and become even more strict. It’s certainly better than the alternative!
Ultimately, we’re looking forward to experiencing TRON Lightcycle Run opening on April 4, 2023 at Walt Disney World. Even though it’s not my favorite roller coaster in the world (it won’t even be my personal favorite in Magic Kingdom), I’m excited to see this finally debut. It’s been several years in the making, and will make a lot of WDW fans happy.
I’m also personally curious about how well the ride “works” at Walt Disney World given policies like the mandatory lockers, among other (bigger) things. Longtime readers might recall back in 2016-2017 that I was incredibly skeptical that TRON Lightcycle Run would ever be cloned at the domestic parks and downright dismissive of speculation and early rumors. Obviously, that turned out to be wrong–but the foundations for my skepticism were and are accurate. It’ll be interesting to see the extent to which the attraction has been modified for the American audience or, if not, the degree to which issues arise.
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Are you excited for the grand opening of TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom on April 4, 2023? Thoughts on the mandatory lockers for bags and loose items larger than a phone? Happy or disappointed that it’ll use a virtual queue? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? 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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