We've known for some time that Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom was getting a Tron themed roller coaster, but now we have some specifics about when the construction of this new attraction is going to start to impact the existing ones. It had already been announced that construction would close the Tomorrowland Speedway as well as keep the Disney World Railroad from running at all. However, it turns out that these temporary attraction closures won't be happening at exactly the same time. The Disney World Railroad will actually close after service for this coming weekend wraps up, while the Speedway will remain open until just after the new year.
The closure date for the Walt Disney World Railroad has been confirmed to be December 3. This means that unless you're spending this weekend at the Magic Kingdom, you'll miss out on the train that takes you around the park and allows you to actually get someplace while still resting your feet. The construction of the Tron roller coaster will interfere with the track, which unfortunately means the entire train will be out of commission.
No reopening date has been announced for the railroad which means that it will likely be well into 2019 before the train is back up and running.
On the plus side, the train's closure will give guests an opportunity that they rarely have otherwise. One of the Disney World Railroad train engines will spend the closure period at the Main Street U.S.A. station so guests can get an up-close look and even get pictures with it.
The other major attraction being impacted by the Tron coaster is the Tomorrowland Speedway. That attraction will remain open through the end of the holiday season. As Walt Disney World News Today reports that the attraction will close on January 2, 2019. The good news is that the Speedway now has an official reopening date as it will be back on May 18.
The Tomorrowland Speedway timing is far from surprising. Walt Disney World tends to slow down, at least as much as the most popular theme park in the world can be "slow," after the Christmas holidays and, while it's never quite as slow as it usually is in late January, clearly the park wants to have the attraction back up before the busy summer season.
Disney Parks vacations can often be a bit tricky due to scheduling issues like this. Trying to avoid the crowds as much as possible and going during a less popular time can be nice for dealing with lines, but frequently you'll see different ride closures during those same periods as things get refurbished to make sure they survive for the long haul.
Of course, this makes the Disney World Railroad's closure schedule a little more interesting because it's going down during one of the busiest months of the year for the theme park. Usually Disney Parks would schedule a closure like this closer to the slow season as they did with the Speedway, but it's likely, since we don't have a firm reopening date at this point, that the closure was going to run into the busy reason regardless and that it would be unavoidable due to the length of the closure.
As far we know, the Walt Disney World Railroad will reopen with no changes once it's ready. However, the expectation is that the Tron Light Cycle Coaster will require a permanent modification of the Speedway track in order to have enough room.
Fans of the attraction, who may be stuck with a shorter track when the ride reopens in May, will simply have to be glad that the ride exists at all. When the first rumors started that the Tron coaster, which currently exists at Disneyland Shanghai, was going to be built in Florida, it was believed the coaster would replace the Speedway entirely.
While the coaster itself is quite exciting, its location has been more than a little interesting, as it means the new coaster will sit right next door to Space Mountain, putting two major roller coasters side by side in one corner of the Magic Kingdom.
To be honest, I'm still more than a little surprised that the Speedway is hanging around. Both it and its Disneyland counterpart, Autopia, are far from being attractions that promise "the future" as Tomorrowland is supposed to do. The cars actually use traditional fuel, which, among other things, makes the air around the attractions less than pleasant. If the ride is going to continue into the next few decades, I'd love to see the cars replaced with electric vehicles. Most car companies make electric or hybrid vehicles these days and surely one of them would be interested in sponsoring the attraction and using it to show off technology that's at least a little bit more forward-looking than gasoline.
Based on the size of the Shanghai Disneyland version, the Tron roller coaster is huge, and so it's possible that construction could end up leaving the Railroad closed longer than expected, or that other closures could happen between now and when the attraction is complete.
The good news is that, in about a year, nobody is going to care what happens at the Magic Kingdom as everybody will be crowding Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The expectations for the new land are so big one even wonders if a brand new Tron roller coaster will even put a dent in the number of people going to the new Star Wars Land.
Still, as a big fan of the Tron franchise who's not likely to make it to Shanghai anytime soon, I'm certainly looking forward to living my fantasy of playing on the game grid. A Tron lightcycle coaster seems even more perfect than many other Disney World attractions. Hopefully this construction will be done long before 2021 so we can all experience it much sooner.