Magic Kingdom changes set Walt Disney World on the fast track to thrills

(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images) /

As the 50th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World comes to a close, 2023 is set to bring more excitement to the Florida theme park. For guests who are looking for more magic, it appears that some of the Magic Kingdom changes take the iconic storybook locale in a forward-thinking direction. Is that Pixie Dust amplifying the thrill factor?

While Cinderella’s Castle might be the centerpiece of walking down Main Street, Magic Kingdom has often showcased the classic Disney characters and stories in a somewhat nostalgic way. Even if dreaming of that prince might be more of a fairy tale than a reality, the truth is that many people long for that escapism. Instead of the screams from the velocity of hairpin turns and steep drops, guests squeal and wave at their favorite characters and channel their inner child.

Although some iconic rides may, nor should, ever change, Magic Kingdom sees a transformation in 2023. The most notable, and possibly the most anticipated one, is the opening of the Tron Lightcycle ride. Even though another Disney theme park has brought this concept to guests, the newest addition to Future World may impact the area more than just the ride itself.

As riders prepare to step onto that Lightcycle, it is more than just the thrill of twists and turns through an intricate course that will have people hoping for that sometimes elusive ride reservation. It is a step forward for the classic theme park. Even though the Teacups might have people seeing blurry after all that spinning, there is something bigger, bolder, and more memorable about riding a roller coaster.

From the uniqueness of the rider’s positioning to the track going in and out of various areas, the ride itself is just one aspect of why this addition matters to Magic Kingdom. Its mere presence adds gravity to the Future World area. The fluid-like structure that gleams in the distance is the juxtaposition to move the Disney theme park forward. Even though Space Mountain might be iconic, the thrills are not as engaging as Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. Darkness might add to the wonder, but familiarity may not produce the same butterflies in the stomach.

Given that Magic Kingdom needs to look forward as much as it should respect the past, the Tron Lightcycle addition attracts a wider audience to the theme park. For every person who wants to soar with Peter Pan, there will be others who want to think about zipping through the sky with speed. Offering more variety can make for happier guests.

While Future World might be embracing a forward-thinking approach to its attractions, it is only one part of the changes coming to Magic Kingdom. As Splash Mountain retires its old theme, it might be time for other concepts to get a once over.

Although some purists might prefer that everything stays status quo, it may not always be the best choice. Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That curiosity applies to both looking forward and backward. Sometimes the story needs to be written to better serve the end goal.

For now, the Magic Kingdom changes are on the fast track for new adventures. It might be time to book that reservation and not miss out.