ORLANDO -- I confess that I took a crash course in the Tron films before riding the Magic Kingdom's newest roller coaster, Tron Lightcycle / Run. But I'm glad I did, because it made me appreciate the details of the coaster even more.
That said, if I did go in cold, it still would have been a fun, fast and thrilling coaster, certainly the most thrilling in the Magic Kingdom. It's also one of the fastest in the Disney Parks around the world, matched by the Tron coaster in Shanghai Disney.
The coaster's story is set right after the second film, "Tron: Legacy," that came out in 2010 (the original "Tron" came out in 1982). The second film chronicles the adventures of Sam Flynn, who is looking for his father, Kevin Flynn (the main character in the first film), who disappeared 20 years ago. It turns out, he disappeared into the digital world he built, the Grid, where Sam finds him.
After "Tron: Legacy," Disney lore has Sam opening a new portal to the Grid at Shanghai Disneyland, where the Tron Lightcycle Power Run coaster opened in 2016. Now, Sam has opened another in the Magic Kingdom, inviting guests to get "digitized" and enter the Grid. Then, they board Lightcycles and race against Team Orange both inside and outside.
The ride vehicle is unique, one of my favorites in a theme park. Riders straddle a cycle and kneel into padded rests, with calves and feet at about 90 degrees to thighs. Then, riders lean forward and pull the cycle's handles. That triggers a restraint to come down on the rider's back to secure the rider.
I absolutely loved it.
Travel Weekly's Jamie Biesiada says the launch for Tron Lightcycle / Run is intense, but that the rest of the ride is "smooth and extremely enjoyable." Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
That said, this definitely isn't a ride vehicle for everyone. Some reported being a little uncomfortable. Some persons of size said they needed to take a little time understanding how to properly situate themselves.
Importantly, there is a test vehicle outside of the attraction that anyone can try in advance. A cast member is available for questions and assistance.
Also important: There is a vehicle for those who need to, or would rather, sit.
I was nervous about riding the coaster after a cast member told me the launch is a little intense. And it certainly is. The coaster almost immediately shoots riders out from the show building and underneath the outdoor canopy that covers much of the attraction (an Imagineer simply told me the ride is "fast," but the Tron ride in Shanghai reportedly reaches 59 miles per hour).
Thanks to the unique ride vehicle, it really feels something like flying, especially if you ride in the first row.
My only complaint is that I wish the ride lasted longer (isn't this everyone's complaint about coasters, though?).
Again, it's not the ride for everyone. It's got a 48-inch height requirement, and those who don't enjoy faster coasters should sit this one out. Its launch is more intense than the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith over at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
But once you're past the launch point, the coaster clearly takes advantage of modern ride technology. It's smooth and extremely enjoyable. It's the Magic Kingdom's most intense coaster, without doubt, but it's a welcome addition, especially for thrill-seekers.