10 Fascinating Facts About the World of TRON
TRON Lightcycle/Run officially opened on April 4, immediately becoming one of the most intense and exciting experiences in all of Walt Disney World. As Disney notes in their official description, the attraction lets Guests, “Climb aboard your very own Lightcycle and take off on a high-speed adventure, racing against the Grid’s most menacing Programs. Surge past your fierce opponents as you attempt to cross through 8 Energy Gates and secure your team’s victory.”
But before you embark on that literally breathtaking journey, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the franchise that inspired its creation.
1. The Original Movie Was Inspired by Pong
Released in 1982, the original TRON first introduced fans to the world of the Grid, with the brilliant Kevin Flynn, the villainous MCP (Master Control Program), his second in command Sark, and, of course, the hero TRON.
The film’s origins date back to 1976 when animator Steve Lisberger came across a demo reel created by the computer firm MAGI. The concept intrigued him as a way to change animation, but the idea of a feature film set in the video game world didn’t fully crystallize until he encountered the revolutionary video game, Pong.
2. “Alice in Wonderland” Also Inspired Its Creation
In the film, the character of Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) is digitized and loaded into a computer world, as Flynn attempts to prove that the company ENCOM plagiarized his game Space Paranoids. While the creation of Pong played a pivotal role in the story, so did a much older source. Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which told the story of a young girl mysteriously transported into a strange world, was also an inspiration to Lisberger and company.
3. The Special Effects Used a Startlingly Small Amount of Computer Memory
These days, we tend to take massive amounts of digital storage for granted. After all, the iPhone 13 starts with 128 gigabytes of RAM. So, it’s strange to think that the entirety of TRON’s special effects used only TWO megabytes of memory and 330 megabytes of hard drive space.
4. A TRON Arcade Game Debuted a Month After the Movie’s Release
As a movie built around the world of video games, it’s a no-brainer that it ultimately became a video game itself. In fact, it happened roughly a month after the movie hit theaters. TRON debuted on July 9, 1982, and the video game was released in August.
The game, simply titled TRON, was manufactured and distributed by Bally Midway. A sequel, Discs of TRON, was released the following year.
5. It Took Almost 30 Years For the Sequel to Arrive
While TRON is generally considered a groundbreaking classic today, it was viewed by the Disney company as a financial failure at the time of its release. In fact, Disney wrote off some of its $17 million budget. That could help explain why it took so long for a sequel.
TRON: Legacy hit the big screen on November 30, 2010 in Tokyo, and a few weeks later in the United States. Jeff Bridges returned in his role as Kevin Flynn. He also provided the voice of CLU (Codified Likeness Utility), a digital likeness of Flynn that acts as an upgrade to Flynn’s original hacking system.
6. The Special Effects for TRON: Legacy Were a Massive Undertaking
Given the revolutionary nature of the special effects in the original TRON, it makes sense that Disney would want to plus the experience for TRON: Legacy. It took a lot of work to make that a reality. Ten different companies labored for two years to create the 1,565 visual effects employed throughout the film.
7. CLU’s Appearance Was Based on a 1984 Film
One of the special effects used in the film was its presentation of a de-aged Jeff Bridges in his form as CLU. They wanted the character to look several years older than Bridges appeared in TRON, but not as old as his 61 years at the time of the movie’s release. To achieve this, they used an image of the actor from his 1984 film Against All Odds and built a digital likeness based on his appearance in it.
8. The TRON Animated Series
Two years after the release of TRON: Legacy, Disney released an animated series called Tron: Uprising. It debuted on Disney XD and starred Elijah Wood in the role of Beck, a young program that leads an uprising against CLU. The series, set between the events of TRON and TRON: Legacy, ran for 19 episodes. Despite the fact that it would go on to win two Annie Awards and a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation – Art Direction, no additional episodes have been made.
9. The TRON Lightcycle/Run Wasn’t the First Disney Attraction Based on the Movie
The TRON LightCycle Power Run opened at Shanghai Disneyland in 2016. It was an opening day attraction for the park and would go on to rank number 35 on Golden Ticket Award’s Top Steel Roller Coasters. The Walt Disney World version is a nearly identical recreation of the Shanghai attraction.
However, the Lightcycle coasters weren’t the first attractions to be based on the classic film! Though Shanghai Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom are now home to the Lightcycle Power Run coasters, the first attraction based on TRON was actually located in Disneyland. Anaheim’s version of the PeopleMover was refurbished in 1977 with the addition of the Superspeed Tunnel. This was located in the upper level of the building that was initially home to the Carousel of Progress and, at that time, was home to America Sings (and now houses the Star Wars Launch Bay). For its first five years, the Superspeed Tunnel featured a scene with racing cars projected on the walls surrounding the PeopleMover as you passed through the tunnel. After the release of TRON in 1982, the Superspeed Tunnel was updated with scenes from the film, and the attraction was rebranded as the PeopleMover Thru the World of TRON. And as you entered the tunnel, the narration changed from your pleasant female guide to an ominous male computer voice that said, “Warning! You have invaded the electronic realm of the Master Computer Program! Prepare for the Game Grid of TRON!” After your journey through the World of TRON, the same voice congratulated you on your survival: “You have escaped TRON’s game grid for now, users. But take heed, next time you may not fare so well…”
10. A third film is coming in 2025
Fans of the series were happy to learn that they wouldn’t have to wait another 28 years for the next movie in the franchise. Instead, the wait will have been a mere 15 years. The third film in the series, TRON: Ares, is scheduled for release in 2025.
It’s believed that filming will begin this summer. Earlier this year, it was announced that Joachim Rønning (director of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) will direct the film which will star Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto.