According to PeopleHistory.com, several significant events took place 40 years ago in 1982. Doctors performed the very first artificial heart transplant. Nearly $9,800,000 was stolen from an armored truck in New York City. A man named Michael Fagan broke into the Queen’s bedroom at Buckingham Palace. Italy won the World Cup in Spain, and Disney World’s second park, EPCOT, opened to Guests on October 1.
Entertainment news was big in 1982 and included the debut in June of Steven Spielberg’s E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which was an immediate smash hit, bypassing even Star Wars in box office revenue and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time–an honor it retained until 1993. Michael Jackson’s sixth album, Thriller, was released in November. Poltergeist, Conan the Barbarian, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, Star Trek II, and Rocky III were also released in 1982.
But one Disney film released in 1982 was barely noticed and only grossed $33 million at the box office. Even so, Walt Disney Imagineers designed and constructed one of Disney Parks’ most popular and thrilling attractions based on the film.
TRON/Lightcycle Run is based on Disney’s 1982 TRON, a film about a computer hacker who is abducted into a digital world and forced to become a gladiator of sorts until he can escape. The attraction opened to Guests at Shanghai Disneyland on June 16, 2016, just a year and a month before the D23 Expo Park Panel was held, during which Bob Chapek announced that the same attraction would be built at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World–and be operational by the time the Resort’s 50th anniversary rolled around in October 2021.
Um. I don’t know about you, but this writer’s calendar shows that October 2021 has come and gone. It’s been more than FIVE YEARS since Chapek announced the new addition to Tomorrowland, and even when we allow for setbacks brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s still undeniable that Magic Kingdom’s version of TRON is simply taking far too long to complete.
It’s important to note that it took only 366 days to build the entire Disneyland Resort, which opened to Guests on July 17, 1955. Construction began on July 16, 1954.
Even the rivals at Universal are making fun of Disney for its turtle-speed progress on TRON, and we can’t say that we blame them.
To give Guests the illusion of progress, Disney Parks Blog and Orlando news outlets regularly publish “news” about steps taken along the path toward completion of the new coaster by Imagineering. But as we look back over the last year, it’s apparent that those “steps” are largely the tiny tidbits of info that Disney hopes will keep Guests from losing interest in the new attraction.
In a post from Disney Parks Blog in early July, the “news” was only that Imagineers are “hard at work” and in the testing phase of what will be one of Disney World’s fastest coaster attractions. Have they not been hard at work all along?
When you enter the attraction’s queue, you’ll feel as if you’re digitized and entering the Grid for a special Lightcycle race alongside your family and friends. You’ll all join Team Blue (hence the color of the wheels in the photo above) for a high-speed launch into a competition against Team Orange. As you swoop and swerve your way around the course, your goal is to be the first to race through eight Energy Gates and secure your victory. Will your team have what it takes?
But as Disney World fans, our question is, “Do you have what it takes to get TRON/Lightcycle Run up and operational for Guests who’ve been waiting more than 60 months now to experience it? We’re looking at you, Walt Disney Imagineering.
While we wait for Imagineers to get back to us, let’s spend our time looking at just a few things we could have accomplished in the time we’ve been waiting for the new TRON-themed coaster to come to operational fruition, shall we?
Since July 2017, when TRON was first promised to Guests at Walt Disney World (more than 5 years or 60 months ago), you and I could have done these things:
- We could have become familiar with, and fluent in, Mandarin Chinese.
- You could have conceived, carried, and delivered a baby that would now be almost old enough for Kindergarten.
- I could have watched Gone With the Wind 10,000 times.
- You could have watched 45,000 NFL games.
- You could have watched the movie that inspired the TRON attraction 27,375 times.
- We could have walked around the earth along the equator 4.27 times at the leisurely pace of 2.5 miles per hour.
- We could have endured about 20,000,000 Indy race pit stops.
- I could have hopped on a NASA rocket and traveled to the brightest star in our night sky, Sirius, located 8.6 light years from earth.
- You could have won your party’s nomination, campaigned, won the election, become President of the United States, and served your first term.
- We could have built more than three identical Cinderella Castles (1970’s Imagineers built it in 18 months).
- We could have been hired by Airbus and helped in the manufacturing of 4,105 A330 airliners.
- You could have endured your entire high school career all over again (but let’s be real, who wants to do that?) and had a year to spare.
- You could have graduated from early retirement to Medicare age.
And you could have read this article 657,000 times in the time fans have been waiting for Disney’s Imagineers to finish TRON/Lightcycle Run and open it to Guests. I wonder what we might accomplish in the time we have yet to wait for TRON to open at Magic Kingdom, and something tells me the possibilities are endless.