Mystery still surrounds two Magic Kingdom ride closures

click to enlarge Mystery still surrounds two Magic Kingdom ride closures
Image via Disney
Construction of Magic Kingdom’s new Tron-themed thrill ride is well underway. The building housing the massive indoor roller coaster will have a modern wave-like skin of slightly transparent panels wrapping around the building and stretching over an elevated entrance plaza, which itself is above the current Walt Disney World Railroad, before reaching to the ground near the Tomorrowland Speedway.

click to enlarge A Tron coaster car in the outside portion of the ride under the roof strutcture at Shanghai Disneyland - Image via Disney
Image via Disney
A Tron coaster car in the outside portion of the ride under the roof strutcture at Shanghai Disneyland
The Speedway track will be slightly altered to accommodate the large roof structure. With both the large pedestrian plaza and the sleek cloud-like roof stretching across the train tracks, the Railroad will require a lengthier downtime than the Speedway – the Railroad closed this past weekend, while the Speedway will remain open through the holidays, ceasing operations Jan. 2, 2019.

Disney has confirmed the Speedway will reopen on May 18, 2019, just ahead of the summer vacation season. No opening date has been announced for the Railroad, indicating that it will likely be closed throughout most of 2019. While the railway is closed, the train will sit in the Main Street Station giving guests an up-close look at the engine.

It’s unclear how much the Tomorrowland Speedway attraction will change. Artwork released by Disney shows a slightly shortened track. This would be the second time the Speedway has gone on a diet, with a significant length of ride path removed for the double spinner Dumbo attraction in the area now known as Storybook Circus. Disney has confirmed a small track realignment will take place and noted the attraction will "reopen as the same attraction our guests know and love in the summer of 2019.”

Rumors have been out there for some time now, arguing that Disney could shift the Speedway cars to an electric model similar to ones used at other Disney go-karting attractions. The demands of Magic Kingdom’s, likely the busiest go-karting attraction in the world, eliminate many of the options others can turn to. But with technology rapidly improving in the industry, many now think Disney has finally decided to shift Magic Kingdom karts to an electric model. These new karts would also be re-themed to match the Tron theming of the new attraction that will border it.

There’s been some indication by insiders that a Tron overlay to the attraction is coming, but that won’t be happening with this closure. According to them, this closure will be strictly focused on track updates and the new Tron-themed cars will be introduced closer to Tron’s opening, which is expected sometime in 2020 or early 2021.

It is possible that the new karts were budget cut. Disney World did receive used karts last year from Tokyo Disneyland after they closed their Grand Circuit Raceway attraction. It is still unclear exactly why Disney had these used karts shipped from Tokyo to Orlando.

While it’s unclear if the Tron-themed cars have been slashed, at least one of the aspects of Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland expansion seems to have been. Insiders had previously indicated that an indoor scene would be added to the Walt Disney World Railroad, similar to dioramas seen along the Disneyland Railroad. But more recently, some are saying these scenes have been postponed or removed altogether, with the underside of the Tron guest plaza being only slightly themed at best. There are some scenes along the Magic Kingdom’s Railroad, including one where passengers can look into an indoor section of Splash Mountain, but other segments of the trip include an unthemed bridge and areas where little theming is visible.

The artist rendering that shows us the altered Speedway track has color bursts, indicating that the cars on the track with colors are similar to the ones used on the current go-karts.

Four and a half months will be plenty of time for construction crews to shift the Speedway track and prepare the site for the Tron roof structure, but we might see a secondary closure later in 2019 where other updates happen, including adding the electric karts and possibly even a few small props.

There is still a chance those updates occur during this upcoming closer, removing the need for the secondary closure. Either way, if sniffing exhaust fumes is your Disney thing, you might want to visit the Tomorrowland Speedway very soon.

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