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Weeks after announcing TRON 3, Disney unveiled its new TRON roller coaster at Walt Disney World.
Disney’s TRON franchise first launched in 1982 where it gained attention for its cutting-edge use of computer graphics.
Twenty-eight years later, Disney released TRON: Legacy directed by Top Gun: Maverick‘s Joseph Kosinski and with Jeff Bridges reprising his role from the original film.
Legacy also starred Garrett Hedlund as Bridges’ character’s son, Sam Flynn, and Olivia Wilde as the digital warrior, Quorra.
Amidst subsequent stop-and-start efforts for a threequel, Disney chose to move forward with the franchise in a different way: the parks.
Set to open at the Magic Kingdom on April 4, TRON Lightcycle Run grants fans the experience of entering the digital world of TRON and riding on a high-speed lightcycle, just like in the films.
Those choosing to enter the “Grid” board individual cycle-style ride vehicles that lean the rider forward for a white-knuckle launch from 0 to nearly 60 mph.
The coaster then takes riders (aka “Users”) out of the ride building and under the attraction’s impressive outdoor canopy before rocketing into a computerized world.
Both onboard and outside of the attraction, guests will hear a riveting new version of the TRON score, inspired by Daft Punk and Joseph Trapanese’s Grammy-nominated TRON: Legacy soundtrack.
But even though Lightycle Run may be Disney World’s latest attraction, it’s not the original.
The first TRON Lightcycle Run opened at Shanghai Disneyland in 2016 and less than a year after Joseph Kosinski’s initial plans for TRON 3 were delayed.
Still, that doesn’t mean the attraction doesn’t continue the director’s TRON: Legacy story.
In fact, both versions of the ride are set after the events of the 2010 film where Quorra and Sam Flynn have opened new portals to the digital world.
When Disney invited The Direct to preview this cinematic attraction, Imagineering explained that the Magic Kingdom’s version of TRON Lightycle Run “continues the story:”
“It continues the story, right? So the first portal or gateway is actually in Shanghai. Sam Flynn is continuing the story by bringing the second portal here.”
It’s worth noting that in late 2016 and early 2017, talk of Jared Leto joining the franchise and playing a new character named Ares began to make the rounds.
That happened to be about the same time Disney was prepping to announce Walt Disney World’s TRON Lightycle Run for the Magic Kingdom.
The recent TRON 3 news confirmed that Leto’s threequel was titled Tron: Ares and would continue the events of TRON: Legacy.
However, instead of Kosinski, longtime Disney director Joachim Rønning is behind the camera and Jesse Wigutow is penning the script.
Whether Ares will reference the plot of TRON Lightcycle Run, particularly since it’s currently serving as a mini-threequel, is currently unknown.
When The Direct asked Imagineer Dan Flynn whether TRON Lightycle Run can adapt to the upcoming film and potential additional sequels, he admitted “I really can’t speak to that,” noting the ride’s inspiration stems from “movies from the past:”
“I really can’t really speak to that because of what may or may not happen with it but we do take a lot of our inspiration from movies from the past and bring them to life so guests can be fully immersed in the attraction.”
Since multiple versions of the threequel and the ride were developed at the same time, it will be interesting to see if the two mediums will complement one another for a single cohesive story.
But for now, it’s safe to say that much like the coaster itself, the track from TRON: Legacy to TRON: Ares has been marked by twists and turns.
With production expected to begin in August, it will be interesting to see if TRON 3 can finally disembark at the station.
In the meantime, fans of the original TRON and its visually stunning sequel can continue to live out the story for themselves at the Magic Kingdom.
But for those unfamiliar with this Disney franchise, Lightycle Run is likely to spark their interest in the films and create new fans.
As Imagineer Chris Beatty told D23, “And if you are not a TRON fan, I think it’s [Lightycle Run] going to make you a fan because it’s just so much fun.”
Both TRON films are available to stream on Disney+; TRON Lightycle Run opens at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on April 4.