The official grand opening for Walt Disney's (DIS 1.27%) new Tron Lightcycle Run won't happen for another two weeks, but the high-speed roller coaster opened to all Magic Kingdom park guests for the first time on Monday morning. Aspiring riders will have to be as quick as the ride itself.
Just as with the popular Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster, which opened at Disney World's Epcot last spring, virtual queue reservations will be required to grab a boarding group to experience the shiny new attraction. Guests with existing park reservations for the Magic Kingdom will have a chance to secure a ride time for their party at 7 a.m. from the mobile app. Visitors can also purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for expedited access to Tron Lightcycle Run at that time. A second window opens at 1 p.m. for anyone who has already scanned into the park but was not able to grab an earlier slot in the virtual queue.
The early risers will need to be quick. Theme park watcher Scott Gustin is reporting that the morning virtual queue reservations filled up in mere seconds. Individual Lightning Lane purchase opportunities sold out in minutes. It's not just the shiny new coaster that's moving fast.
Punctuality is all about perspective
A common shot taken at the new ride -- by Disney enthusiasts and bashers alike -- is that Tron Lightcycle Run is opening a couple of years late. It's not a fair assessment. The illuminated motorbike coaster was announced in 2017, and construction began in 2018. The pandemic's arrival certainly slowed development plans for all theme park operators, but how far is it from the original timeline?
The 2017 announcement closed by noting that Bob Iger's plan was to introduce the ride during the resort's 50th anniversary in 2021. The meaty milestone became an 18-month celebration that concludes at the end of the month. Tron Lightcycle Run is now available to all Magic Kingdom guests with another 11 days left in the anniversary event. The new attraction wasn't available when the celebration started in late 2021, but it's running now while the party is still taking place. It's fashionably or unfashionably late, but Tron Lightcycle Run is finally here.
A lot of guests have already ridden the ride that launches bike-mounting thrill seekers into the grid at nearly 60 miles per hour. It's been running since early February for the resort's cast members, Disney World pass holders, D23 fan club members, and media folk.
I finally got my shot to preview Tron Lightcycle Run last week. If Disney World is going through a midlife crisis -- springing for a speedy motorbike to feel young again -- I'm all for it. Tron Lightcycle Run is unlike anything else at the world's most visited theme park. It reaches nearly double the peak speed of any other existing attraction at the Magic Kingdom.
It's a rarity in the amusement park industry where typically something old has to go to make way for something new. It was built on expanded and previously undeveloped land adjacent to the iconic Space Mountain attraction. It's a truly incremental addition to the gated attraction, and it's going to be ridiculously popular.
The Magic Kingdom will continue to be home to the classic rides and characters that fans expect to find there. It just happens to now have a massive new ride that will draw fans of thrill rides while extending vacation plans.
It's not just about a ride experience that guests will want to repeat in subsequent visits. Registers will be ringing at a new gift shop featuring franchise-exclusive merchandise. A food kiosk selling savory and sweet treats unavailable anywhere else in the Disney World resort will also open soon. If you were wondering what the top travel and tourism stock would be doing to keep guests coming after the 18-month anniversary soiree comes to a close at the end of this month, the answer is now darting through the air on the fastest ride at the Magic Kingdom.