In all likelihood, Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. is now gone. The gift shop at the exit of Space Mountain has closed for construction on TRON Lightcycle Run, as Walt Disney World prepares for the opening of this roller coaster in the Roaring Twenties. This article will look at work, rerouted trip output, and what’s changing.
If you followed our TRON Lightcycle Run Build Tracker, you already know that this is an ongoing project. The side exits to Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. closed this spring, as did the path on the side of the building. This was done to remove the ornamentation from the side of the building.
In particular, the protrusions that jutted into the walkway were eliminated, which flushed the building to the side. This was done for several reasons, the most important being that the path between Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle Run is already really narrow. Walt Disney World probably wants every little space there, as it will clearly be a choke point for the crowds.
Additionally, Imagineering has removed just about every remnant of Tomorrowland ’94 over the past few years. Much of this involved removing the ornamentation and embellishments that characterized the 90s aesthetic of earth gears, swirls and other industrial elements.
In doing so, Tomorrowland has moved from a country overflowing with details to a cleaner, more streamlined style. Whether you’re a fan of the changes or a critic largely depends on your view of Tomorrowland ’94. Personally, I loved it. This incarnation of the land and its now-defunct attractions was a highlight of my childhood, and I loved everything about this version of Tomorrowland back then.
Therefore, I was more opposed to the changes when they started. Trading more details for less is something that’s been happening all over Walt Disney World over the past few years, so I think the skepticism was well placed.
However, looking at photos from a few years ago before this project started, I understand better that Tomorrowland ’94 hadn’t aged well. There are aspects that have the hallmarks of 1990s hyper-themed design, and not in a good way. Other aspects had given up the mall vibes. Tomorrowland needed to be modernized.
The result so far has been mixed. Tomorrowland has Space Age flair once again, with swooping lines and eye-catching visuals infused with a sense of retro-futuristic optimism. However, there is still plenty of Tomorrowland ’94 in place. Some of this was simply painted over or covered up, probably deemed too expensive or involved to restore the retro-futuristic style.
Personally, I’ll consider this place-making project a “success” if Walt Disney World goes all out and really manages to convey the space-age style, and it’s not just a mid-century aesthetic century. where convenient as well as lingering but muted tracks from Tomorrowland ’94.
Regardless, the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building is now closed to give construction crews full access to modify the interior of the building without a constant stream of guests exiting Space Mountain.
Speaking of which, let’s start with some photos showing how Space Mountain’s exit was temporarily hijacked:
If you’re unfamiliar with Space Mountain, everything is the same from unloading to post-show. The only change is a U-turn where you would normally enter the gift shop. Instead, you now exit through a door immediately to the left of Lightning Lane and the Rescue Line.
This is actually not the first time in the past few years that Space Mountain has used a temporary exit. Although it seems like a distant past, not too long ago Space Mountain removed the speed ramp in the post-show. This put the entire long walkway out of service, redirecting guests to a narrow backstage hallway. It doesn’t impact customers as much…unless you want to buy something from the gift shop in Space Mountain.
Speaking of which, Disney has moved some of the merchandise from Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. to Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus. This gift shop has been underutilized for the past year and more as Disney moved merchandise from here to other stores during the worst supply chain shortages. In its place, seats were added here.
Merchandise moving to Big Top Souvenirs includes custom phone maker D-Tech on Demand, Star Wars items and Space Mountain memorabilia. It’s worth shopping around here if you’re interested in riding-specific products, as Space Mountain has a solid product lineup.
When it comes to the reimagining of the building formerly known as Tomorrowland Light & Power Co., thematic changes have already started to happen. Most notably, giant gears were removed from the facade that was above the clock.
It will be interesting to see if that changes further. While I like the energetic Art Deco stylization (it reminds me of the Rocketeer and the Griffith Observatory), it doesn’t fit the future vision of Tomorrowland. However, it’s also not as noticeable as the gears…so removing the gears but keeping the rest might be yet another half measure.
There are a lot of construction activities on the side of the building, continuing to streamline the side next to the gateway to TRON Lightcycle Run.
There were previously projections protruding from each of the now-removed columns along the building. It’s hard to see where they were, but basically between each set of doors exiting the side of Tomorrowland Light & Power Co.
Early in concept art, it looked like the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building would be converted into a covered walkway that guests could walk through to reach TRON Lightcycle Run.
It’s unclear if that’s still the plan, but we hope so. The existing path is really narrow, even with the towers removed.
Above is this concept art, for reference.
A lot of things changed a long time ago. In particular, TRON Lightcycle Run has an approach with hover ramps instead of stairs (a big improvement), among other things. Related to this article, the Tomorrowland Light and Power Co. building still has its columns in concept art. These have since been removed.
We were slightly surprised that Walt Disney World didn’t shorten the Tomorrowland Speedway track around this bend when this attraction was closed for renovations and other changes a few years ago.
This would have given TRON Lightcycle Run and Space Mountain a little more leeway, making the new addition less stuck in a back corner of Tomorrowland. Well, I guess.
Still, turning the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building into a covered walkway that connects Space Mountain’s courtyard to TRON Lightcycle Run would make the new coaster feel like it’s part and parcel of Tomorrowland.
So it’s not too late to make the roller coaster feel like no shoehorn addition.
It looks like that might be the plan, at least on half of the back.
Further modifications are being prepared in this back corner, including what appears to be an entry point into the building. It will be interesting to see if that’s the only one, or if more of the rear is open for flow.
It will also be interesting to see if the current construction wall is expanded to encompass the entirety of the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building. This would allow crews to breathe forward, in keeping with this early concept art.
While I’m still hoping that will be the case as it would improve crowd flow, I’m skeptical. It appears that this would have happened alongside the closing of the building.
Regardless of the scope and scale of the changes to the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building, this process will likely last well into the fall. This is in addition to everything that needs to happen on the ground around TRON Lightcycle Run itself.
It still looks like the upcoming holiday season is the attraction’s earliest likely opening time, with spring 2023 being another realistic possibility.
Speaking of TRON Lightcycle Run, the work is now mostly on the ground, focusing on flyovers and approach walkways. The installation of the ETFE cushion canopy was completed a few months ago. The biomimicry-inspired roof membrane looks great when illuminated with spectacle lighting at night.
This canopy also serves a practical purpose: to cover guests as they approach and enter the attraction, and to allow the ride to run in the rain. Luckily, Walt Disney World has learned its lesson about weather-related downtime for Test Track’s indoor/outdoor rides.
That’s the end of this Tomorrowland Light & Power Co construction update. If the wall above becomes covered, we’ll update it with new photos.
Otherwise, stay tuned for more monthly updates on TRON Lightcycle Run. Here’s hoping we only have ~4 photo stories left before this opens up and becomes Magic Kingdom’s newest rollercoaster!
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What do you think of the changes to Tomorrowland Light & Power Co? Hoping to have more of the building open for better crowd flow between Space Mountain and TRON Lightcycle Run? Are you excited for the new Magic Kingdom roller coaster, or are you just not interested? Any thoughts on the new aesthetic for Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World? Questions? Hearing your feedback on your experiences is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so feel free to share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!