Monday, June 3, 2024

Tron vs. Guardians - Which is the Best New Coaster?

Since we don't get to go to Walt Disney World all the time (regrettably), in between trips, it stands to reason that a bunch of new attractions will open (and/or be renovated).  Then by the time we come back and visit again, there are some "new to us" attractions, even if they've been open for a little while.  When we took our recent trip, those new attractions included two major thrill rides - Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind at Epcot and Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom.

I've already reviewed both of these rides individually - you can find Guardians here and Tron here - so I'm not going to rehash most of what I wrote there (though do please read these first if you want some more specifics about each one).  Instead, I thought it would be fun to have a good old "fight" between the two to determine which is "better."  I'm using heavy air quotes here because you probably know my general feeling - there is no right or wrong answer.  Without spoiling too much of my earlier reviews, I really enjoyed both rides and they are both worthy tentpole attractions at their respective parks.

In thinking about how to approach this, I decided to look at all the different components of these attractions, comparing and contrasting each of them.  Which one of them is the true new top dog?

Attraction Building/Approach:

Both of these rides have impressive entrances, but for different reasons. For Guardians, you can see a Centurion ship on display outside of the show building, which in itself is the "Wonders of Xandar" exhibit.  This helps it fit into Epcot's theming (in a way).  The ship is a great feature and a good spot for photos.  The building is lit nicely, and compliments both the monorail track and Spaceship Earth nearby, which is always a plus.

Tron's entrance might be even more impressive, however.  The canopy is large, and lights up at night, adding to the luminescence of Tomorrowland.  It towers over everything and makes for another great photo spot.  The entrance walkway is long and sprawling, which might tire guests out, but it does make it seem like a big deal as you get closer and closer to the entrance itself.  I have to give this one to Tron.


Once you get inside the buildings, the theming on both rides continues.  Guardians has a cool split walkway, one side for standby and one for Lightning Lane.  They curve in a smooth way, less harsh and rigid than Disney's usual switchback system.  There is also the AI computer, World Mind, in this first room, helping set the stage for the storyline.  The queue is LONG, so you should have plenty of time to enjoy it.  Once you get past the first room, there are various clips of the Guardians playing in the background, with them being interviewed (in character).  There are also some other Xandar artifacts placed throughout.  

Tron has the more traditional switchbacks inside, though I do like the neon blue lighting that make you feel like you're walking through a circuit board.  My favorite part of this queue is the section where you overlook the ride vehicles as they pause and then launch.  This is a great way to build anticipation for when it's your turn.  They also show some "stats" of the riders on the other team that you will be facing along the way.  Both queues are very impressive and modern (I guess this is just how big rides are built in the current day) but I'll give a slight edge to Guardians here, despite the fact that I spent more time in a total standstill on our first attempt at riding.


This one is essentially a win for Guardians by default, as Tron doesn't have much of a preshow to speak of.  There are some monitors along the queue itself that are supposed to be setting the stage for the ride, but people often ignore that (and/or you're actually moving quickly through the queue, so you don't have a chance to get the whole story).

By contrast, the Guardians pre-show(s) is fantastic, a great blend of technology and classic Guardians humor.  You understand your assignment and it really prepares you for the ride itself.  I have heard stories where guests who have had the chance to ride multiple times want to skip the preshow and just head for the ride, and sometimes cast members oblige them.  This reminds me a lot of guests who loop Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom; the preshow there is great too, but there's only so many times you can listen to "and, uh, fly" when you just want to get on with it already.  If you've never ridden Guardians before, though, the preshow is perfect, and might be my favorite part of the experience.

Ride Vehicles:

The vehicles for Guardians are the first of their kind (to my knowledge). It's often referred to as an "omni-coaster", meaning that the vehicle has a lot of freedom of movement (and is a take on Haunted Mansion being the first "omni-mover").  It really is pretty incredible how much range of motion it has, as you turn and spin throughout most of the ride (I'm actually having a hard time thinking of a time when you're just going forward, one car in front of the other, as you would in a traditional coaster).

On Tron, the vehicles are also innovative.  They are "lightcycles" (think motorcycle), where you straddle the seat and lean forward.  They are most similar (in Disney terms) to the banshee that you ride on Flight of Passage, except that these actually move instead of just simulating movement).  The forward leaning motion makes the ride feel faster and more "dangerous" (but in a safe way!).  The coaster travels all together, though, so I'd say that for pure originality alone, the Guardians vehicles are better.

The Ride:

All of that other stuff probably doesn't mean all that much if the ride itself isn't any good. Fortunately, that's not the case for either of these attractions.  I've already gone over what I liked and didn't like about the rides in my original reviews.  So here I'll just say that they are both among the most "intense" rides on Disney property - they have really upped their thrill ride game in both cases.  

The ride part of these rides is probably the most subjective.  If you're asking my personal opinion (and I guess you kind of are, if you're reading this), I prefer Tron here.  Guardians is almost too fast/frenetic, and it's hard to pay attention to what's going on around you.  Tron blasts you off immediately, giving you a thrilling start to the ride before going inside and furthering the "competition" story, such as it is.  I'm sure other people have differing opinions here.

In summary, if you asked me which is better, I would answer it this way - as a "ride", I prefer Tron, but as an "experience", I think Guardians is better.  There is much more in the way of setting the stage for Guardians, and the preshow is a big part of it.  If you like the movies, you will love this.  I hope to ride both of these for many years (multiple times a trip, if possible), so perhaps my mind will change with many repeated rides.

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