Disney World's new TRON ride is unlike anything we've tried, and that's what worries some fans
Nearly six years after it was first announced at Disney's D23 Expo, fans are finally getting a chance to enter The Grid. TRON Lightcycle / Run soft opened this week at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, with its official opening set for April 4.
The roller coaster is unlike anything most people have experienced before, and that's what worries some fans.
"For the first time ever, I was anxious about going on a Disney ride, not because it's scary or because I'm afraid of roller coasters," Dan Becker, who's known as Disney Dan across social media, said on YouTube. "I was anxious about being fat-shamed for the first time on Disney property."
A number of plus-size park lovers have expressed concerns about fitting on the long-awaited ride, but it was made with all sorts of sizes and abilities in mind.
"One of the things that we have to absolutely take into account any time we build these types of big, small attractions, anything in between, we want everyone to be able to enjoy it," Josh Eisenhardt, a project planner with Walt Disney Imagineering, told USA TODAY. "You want to create as many opportunities as possible."
Here's everything you need to know about riding TRON Lightcycle / Run:
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What is the TRON ride like?
Disney calls TRON / Lightcycle Run one of the fastest coasters at any of its parks. I had the chance to see for myself during a media preview last week. Its intense launch and ride time feel similar to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith at Disney's Hollywood Studios. It's extremely smooth, like EPCOT's Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, without the spinning. And like EPCOT's Test Track, part of the track goes outdoors. The indoor portion is relatively dark, but not scary. It's thrilling.
The experience begins as you queue outside under a giant canopy that lights up dramatically at night. Once inside, you are digitized into The Grid, just like in the TRON film franchise. And like Sam Flynn and his father Kevin Flynn before him, you have to race against personified computer programs on futuristic lightcycles.
"The ride has just this gorgeous aesthetic of the original movies, where just you feel like you've literally stepped into a computer," Becker, who is not affiliated with Disney, told USA TODAY. "I really enjoyed the idea, the vibe, the lighting, the music. It was really, really fun, except for the ride vehicles."
“It puts you in this super awkward position, unlike any other roller coaster you've likely ever been on, and that's the primary source of discomfort for most people, plus size or not," he added.
You straddle the seat like a motorcycle, leaning your upper body forward as you tuck your legs behind you, bent at the knee. Pulling back on the handlebars slides the seat back forward and sweeps the leg restraints in place behind your knees.
It takes a little getting used to, but there is wiggle room. You can shift your weight a bit, rest your feet or push them back, bend or straighten your arms, lean your torso into the lightcycle, or lift up like Ariel on the rocks in "The Little Mermaid." I found lifting up more comfortable.
"The ride system itself is designed in such a way that you aren't able to be unsafe, so there's a certain amount of freedom in there," Eisenhardt said.
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What is the size limit for TRON?
The minimum height for TRON / Lightcycle Run is 48 inches. No maximum dimensions are listed, but guest policies state, "The seating and restraints on this attraction may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding."
Test vehicles are available along the queue, but Becker said those present their own problems.
"It can be super embarrassing," he said. "You're trying to figure out if you're fitting on the test vehicle or not, while people in the queue are walking by taking pictures of you ... And then what's worse than that is that the test vehicles don't have an indicator to show you whether or not the ride actually (locks), if you do fit or not."
Guests with their hearts set on riding the straddle-style seats may want to try them out a few times.
"If there's a line, try out the test vehicle, get off of it, and circle back around and get in the line for the test vehicle again," he said. "Keep retrying because I would put good money on the fact that a lot of people who think they wouldn't be able to fit actually will be able to fit in one way or another."
Are there accessible seats?
Guests who can't ride the motorcycle-like vehicles for any reason can still experience TRON / Lightcycle Run in accessible cars with traditional bucket-style seats and lap bars.
"It's no different than most of your regular roller coaster sit down, lap bar, pull over your lap (seats)," Becker said.
I had the chance to try both types of seats during the press preview and can confirm you don't miss a thing in the accessible car, with its prime location in the last row.
"Definitely a unique experience all its own," Eisenhardt said.
The only drawback is there are fewer of those seats, so the wait for them can be longer.
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Will TRON have a virtual queue?
There will be no standby line for TRON Lightcycle / Run initially. As with all big, new attractions opening at Disney World in recent years, there is a virtual queue system in place to manage wait times for the highly anticipated ride.
The queue opens at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. EDT each day. There is no cost to join the queue on the free My Disney Experience app, but you do need a ticket and park reservation for Magic Kingdom. Both Disney World and Disneyland began requiring park reservations when they reopened amid the pandemic. If you buy a one-day ticket for Magic Kingdom, Disney makes that reservation for you, but guests with multiday tickets need to make their own park reservations.
On the day of your visit, you can try to join the queue from anywhere at 7 a.m., and you should plan to log on early. If you don’t have luck, you can try again at 1 p.m. from inside Magic Kingdom. Theoretically, the queue could open again later pending availability, but don't hold your breath.
The other option, also open to park hoppers, is to pay for a la carte Individual Lightning Lane access to the ride. Pricing varies by day and attraction.
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Does TRON have lockers?
Like its sister attraction at Shanghai Disney, TRON Lightcycle / Run requires guests to store large, loose items in free lockers, available along the queue for the ride. They're double-sided, so you store items on one side before the ride, then remove them from the other side as you exit. The lockers themselves are large enough for backpacks, not just compact collectible Loungeflys. They open and close with your unique park ticket or Magic Band. If you forget your locker number, interactive screens are available to remind you.
For guests with smaller items, there is a pouch on accessible ride vehicles and a compartment on lightcycles for storing phones, sunglasses, or wallets.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney World’s TRON Lightcyle / Run soft opens. All about the ride.