A Cast Member preview of Disney World’s newest attraction revealed issues with the ride vehicles, and as Guests continue to voice their concerns and frustrations, Disney has responded, but their solution–like the ride vehicles–may not prove one size fits all.
Earlier this month, Disney World hosted the first preview of Magic Kingdom’s newest attraction at Tomorrowland–TRON Lightcycle Run–and though fans have waited nearly six years for the attraction to be completed, the first encounter with the new experience left many less than pleased with the ride as it was made clear that the TRON ride vehicles present serious issues for some Guests.
Jeff Jenkins, a travel expert from Orlando, Florida, says he first noticed that the ride vehicles at the TRON Lightcycle Run attraction could present a potential problem when he first attempted to ride at Shanghai Disneyland.
“Going into it, I was nervous the whole time, or I was even skeptical like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to fit this one,’” he said.
“So, it’s more of like your hips and your thigh area that it doesn’t close the right way, and so since you can’t lock in that way,” Jenkins explained. “It won’t fit. It won’t shut.”
He says he was able to experience the attraction, but he couldn’t ride in a standard ride vehicle. Instead, he says Cast Members offered him the opportunity to sit in an accessible vehicle instead and use the lap belt as a restraint.
The same story was told by many who attended a preview of the attraction at Magic Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in early February. The motorcycle-style ride vehicle is too small for some Guests and doesn’t allow many of them to sit in the vehicle safely.
One rider who experienced the attraction tweeted, “Tried the test seat, and my thighs/calves are too big for the leg bar to fully extend out.” Another fan tweeted about her daughter, saying she is 5’7″ tall and weighs 170 pounds but “had a hard time getting on and off.” Her daughter told her that TRON Lightcycle Run is “not made for bigger people.”
The vehicles, according to many who have already experienced the attraction in a preview, are “terribly restrictive.” One fan said riding made her want to “cut off [her] thighs and calves.”
Twitter user Liam from Orlando tweeted his understanding of the scenario, saying, “Disney finally decided to break their good record and built a new ride that [fewer] people can ride.”
Jenkins says the issue at TRON isn’t an unfamiliar one for larger Guests–and not just at Disney Parks, but at theme parks all around. “It’s disappointing,” he said. “It can be embarrassing at times. You can feel isolated.”
Ken Martin, a theme park ride safety consultant, says that the size of the average rider should be taken into consideration by those designing the attraction.
“Amusement ride restraints are not a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” Martin said.
Disney World’s official website notes that riders must be a minimum of 48 inches tall to ride the newest Magic Kingdom coaster, but it makes no mention of weight limits and gives no seat dimensions whatsoever, meaning that it’s feasible to believe that many more Guests will find themselves in a similar scenario when they ride–or attempt to ride–the new TRON attraction for the first time.
The site does, however, state that “the seating and restraints on this attraction may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding,” but again, no specifics are given in terms of weight, height, or other measurements.
Disney World has finally responded to the dissension and disappointment among Guests who’ve faced issues associated with weight, height, or body shape at the TRON Lightcycle Run attraction in the form of a statement to Fox 35 Orlando, which reads as follows:
“We offer the opportunity for Guests to test the restraint system outside the attraction before entering the queue. A bench seat with lap bar is also available for Guests with a disability or fit concerns to experience the attraction if accessibility for this unique ride system is a concern.”
While some fans appreciate the response, others find little comfort in it, as the act of testing out the restraint system beforehand (much like the tester ride vehicle outside the Avatar: Flight of Passage attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) still doesn’t ensure that Guests will be able to ride the new TRON-inspired coaster. And what about Guests who purchase the Lightning Lane option to experience the ride? If they are unable to ride, will Disney offer a refund?
So far, that remains to be seen, as the ride doesn’t officially open until April 4.