July 22, 2024

TRON Lightcycle Run Soft Opening Announced!

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Walt Disney World has announced a public preview period for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, with soft openings starting next week prior to the ride's official debut on April 4, 2023. This post shares

Walt Disney World has announced a public preview period for TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, with soft openings starting next week prior to the ride’s official debut on April 4, 2023. This post shares dates, details, virtual queue logistics, and everything else you need to know. Plus commentary about crowds and why Disney is offering a sneak peek of the new Tomorrowland attraction.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, soft openings are also known as trial operations or technical rehearsals, and are basically an unannounced and controlled test period. They provide an opportunity for theme parks to open an attraction prior to its official opening and conduct operations and Cast Member training in a more forgiving and low stress environment.

TRON Lightcycle Run’s soft opening bucks recent precedent. In the last 15 years or so, not much has had lengthy public previews. The last major additions to offer soft openings were Toy Story Mania, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Expedition Everest, and New Fantasyland. After Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, soft openings were mostly eschewed in favor of registration-only previews. TRON Lightcycle Run had those, and now is also having soft openings! Here are the official details from Walt Disney World…

Between March 20, 2023 and April 2, 2023, TRON Lightcycle Run will have soft openings at Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World guests may have an early opportunity to launch into the Grid on TRON Lightcycle Run presented by Enterprise prior to its official opening during this timeframe.

Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter this attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each guest can request to enter the virtual queue no more than once per day throughout regular park hours during the soft opening.

Guests may also purchase Individual Lightning Lane entry for TRON Lightcycle Run. Lightning Lane entry purchases are limited in availability, are subject to change or closure, may vary by date and are not guaranteed. Both the virtual queue and Lightning Lane will be available during TRON Lightcycle Run’s soft opening from March 20 to April 2, 2023.

As the attraction gears up for its official opening the next day, TRON Lightcycle Run will not be open on April 3, 2023.

Guests must have valid admission and a theme park reservation to join the virtual queue. There will be 2 daily opportunities to request to join the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle / Run:

  • 7:00 AM (Guests do not need to be in the park when they join, but must have a theme park reservation for Magic Kingdom)
  • 1:00 PM (Guests must be in Magic Kingdom park to join the virtual queue)

Please be aware that a virtual queue will still be in place when TRON Lightcycle Run presented by Enterprise opens on April 4, 2023.

Starting April 5, 2023, an additional opportunity to request to join the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run will be available at 6:00 pm on select dates during Extended Evening Hours at Magic Kingdom. For those unfamiliar with it, this is a benefit for registered guests staying at a Deluxe Resort, Deluxe Villa Resort, or other select hotels. Guests with this benefit do not need to be in Magic Kingdom 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.

In other words, TRON Lightcycle Run will NOT be open during Extended Evening Hours for the next three weeks. The soft opening is only occurring during regular daily operations.

Similarly, TRON Lightcycle Run will not be open during After Hours at Magic Kingdom during the soft opening period. There are only two relevant dates for this: March 20 and March 27, 2023. Unfortunately, TRON Lightcycle Run will not operate during those hard ticket evening events.

Don’t draw any premature conclusions from this about future After Hours at Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The explanation for TRON Lightcycle Run not being open for those two After Hours nights is likely one of logistics and not how the ride will operate during paid parties going forward.

Strategy-wise, we highly recommend doing Magic Kingdom during the soft opening window if your trip encompasses dates before and April 4, 2023. Even though Walt Disney World is officially publicizing this, there will still be far less awareness of the public preview than there is the official debut. Magic Kingdom will be busier starting April 4, 2023.

With that said, if you’re visiting Walt Disney World right now and your trip straddles dates before and after TRON Lightcycle Run’s soft opening starts, we’d highly recommend shuffling your days around, making Park Pass reservations for Magic Kingdom ASAP, and visiting the park on or after March 20, 2023.

Magic Kingdom is absolutely bonkers right now, and very few guests are going to rearrange their itineraries, Advance Dining Reservations, etc., to accommodate the preview. It’s just a non-starter for most people. So, unless you have ADRs that you love (and would lose), it’ll probably be a good idea to rearrange your schedule to accommodate a visit to Magic Kingdom after March 20 but before April 3, 2023.

Accordingly, the capacity that TRON Lightcycle Run adds should more than offset the slight uptick in crowds that the attraction draws during the soft openings. The end result should be that the TRON Lightcycle Run soft opening is a net positive for crowd levels and average wait times at Magic Kingdom. (Note that “should” is the operative word. In theory, this is how things will play out–but there’s nothing to say overall crowd levels won’t still be higher after March 20 due to other factors. This soft opening is not occurring in a vacuum.)

As for strategy to successfully score a spot in the virtual queue for TRON Lightcycle Run, refer to our recently-updated How to Ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. Obviously, they’re two different attractions, but the section on speed strategy is transferable to TRON Lightcycle Run. You will absolutely need to be quick–milliseconds matter! 

In terms of commentary, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Prior to its official opening date being announced, one date we flagged as a likely debut “deadline” candidate was March 10, which was the start of spring break for many Central Florida and other key school districts. After the official date was announced, that prediction proved incorrect; however, preview dates left the door opening for soft openings. We discussed this possibility in TRON Lightcycle Run Soft Openings?

I’d stop well short of claiming to have predicted this, as we said the odds of it happening were exceedingly low due to recent historical precedent. In further discussing a potential public preview, we speculated that maybe the plan all along was to open the ride ahead of its official opening. That Walt Disney World was planning a “surprise and delight” window for spring break visitors, and would effectively move the public debut date forward. As it turned out, that’s exactly what’s happening.

On a related note, this marks the first time that Walt Disney World is officially publicizing an attraction’s soft opening. This approach of announcing the public preview actually makes a ton of sense. For one, it alerts all guests to the fact that TRON Lightcycle Run will be open, and not just the very savvy and very online ones.

The news is a nice surprise and a way of exceeding expectations for guests here during some of the busiest weeks of the year. It also does so in a way that, aside from the local AP population, won’t induce even more trips during what’s already a busy time of year. With Magic Kingdom already bursting at the seams, adding crowd-absorbing capacity without a corresponding increase in demand is very much a good thing. The park needs all of the help it can get for the next month!

Then there’s the practical reality that an announced public preview was pretty much necessary due to the virtual queue. Sure, Walt Disney World could’ve offered standby only for a soft opening, but that would’ve been a recipe for congestion, chaos, and confusion. That’s especially true given the current crowd levels.

To that last point, my only complaint about this is that it’s happening a week too late. (Well, TRON Lightcycle Run is arguably opening a year or two too late, but I mean in the more immediate sense.) I’ve been in the parks from Early Entry until after park closing every single day this week, stress-testing strategy.

Magic Kingdom has been pretty bad, especially in the last few days. It hasn’t helped that Space Mountain has had a ton of downtime, including for multiple hours yesterday. Obviously, Splash Mountain is also down, meaning there has been a significant loss of park capacity as compared to this same time last year. (Average wait times definitely don’t tell the full story right now as a result.) Doing soft openings of TRON Lightcycle Run a week earlier would’ve been huge, but I’m just happy it’s happening at all.

Ultimately, this is great news for those who already have trips planned for the next couple weeks of spring break. While our Spring Break 2023 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World calls a portion of these dates the “sweet spot” during the school break season, we also caution against visiting during any of those dates if you have options, as “sweet spot” is used very much in relative terms. Meaning that it’ll be slightly less bad than Easter week, but still very bad as compared to late April or May 2023.

Suffice to say, we would not recommend planning a last minute Walt Disney World getaway to experience TRON Lightcycle Run during the soft opening. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve had a very good time in the parks this week, but I’ve also hit some unexpected “walls” and had to make strategic pivots due to crowds and unexpectedly high wait times. (Also, I’m weird and part of the fun for me is figuring out new ways to beat the crowds. If you’re a casual visitor, that probably won’t be the case.) If you are visiting, good luck at scoring spots in the TRON Lightcycle Run virtual queue. End of line.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

What do you think of Walt Disney World’s official announcement that TRON Lightcycle Run is soft opening from March 20, 2023 until April 2, 2023? Think the roller coaster officially opening early is a good way to ‘surprise and delight’ guests during the busy spring break season, while also adding much-needed capacity to Magic Kingdom? Agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

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