Disney Trackless Ride System Experiences (Jason’s Thoughts) & Brief History
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters is set to open on March 7th at Disney California Adventure in the Disneyland Resort. This will be the first automated trackless ride system at Disneyland (there have always been human controlled trackless vehicles – Cars, Canoes, etc..). What this means is the vehicles will move around without any guide rails/wires/etc. and be controlled by the ride system vs a human. This allows for a lot more freedom of movement as well as randomization when compared to the standard track systems. See the video above that Disney released of the new attraction to see what I am referring to.
Disney has used similar systems in the overseas parks in several attractions dating back over 15 years. The original Disney trackless system was at Epcot done with an embedded guide wire for the moving theater cars in the Universe of Energy. At the Great Movie Ride they have a similar system but it utilizes an onboard operator to control starting and stopping. The latest generation uses an array of sensors and electronics to autonomously control the vehicles as they proceed through the attraction or in the case of Luigi’s around the dance floor:
- Universe of Energy (Epcot – October 1982)
- The Great Movie Ride (Disney-MGM Studios – May 1989)
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt (Tokyo Disneyland – September 2000)
- Aquatopia (Tokyo DisneySea – September 2001)
- Mystic Manor (Hong Kong Disneyland – May 2013)
- Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy (Walt Disney Studios Park, Disneyland Paris – June 2014)
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters (Disney California Adventure – March 2016)
The attraction in Anaheim will be most similar to Aquatopia in that it will be an outdoor attraction where the vehicles will move around an area. Luigis will be a much smaller attraction in terms of where the cars will travel (the ride area is the same as the Flying Tires). Luigis will also feature more synchronization and “interaction” of/with the other cars. I am looking forward to seeing how this experience is. I thought Aquatopia brought a lot of kinetic energy to the area and was great to see in motion as you arrived in Port Discovery, but was not overly enjoyable to ride. The ride itself was fairly straightforward and you just drove around. If you did not know it was a trackless system you would just assume there was something in the water guiding you. Also interesting to note you do drive around, you are not floating on the water, but driving through it. Some in my traveling group to Tokyo last year got off the attraction and asked what the point of it was. They said it looked much better than it was. I tried to explain about the tech but they said it really did add to their experience.
Here is a video of what Aquatopia looks like from above (taken from the Electric Railway – you can skip ahead to 2:22):
Here is a point of view video I took aboard the Aquatopia at Tokyo DisneySea:
If you would like to see more pictures of the Aquatopia here is a direct link to where they start in my Tokyo Picture Set
The Pooh’s Hunny Hunt attraction was closed for renovation during my Tokyo Trip so I did not get to experience that. I did ride Mystic Manor and Ratatouille several times each last year and I enjoyed both attractions. The trackless component seemed to be best utilized in Mystic Manor since you had what felt like choices throughout. The vehicle movement sync’d to 3D film in Ratatouille was very well done too but I felt like most of the trip could have been accomplished with a track just as easily. Since both of these are closer to a dark ride experience neither is that comparable to Luigis though.. Pooh’s Hunny Hunt also falls in this category as an indoor more dark ride type attraction. The Universe of Energy is slightly different than the others since it is a moving theater and not small/individual cars, but it is the original Disney system. So far out of the four I have experienced I thought Mystic Manor used the technology the best and was the most enjoyable to ride.
It will be interesting to see how Luigis does. I actually enjoyed the Flying Tires. I wish you could of had more freedom of movement and control, they felt bulky to me and with the direction/spin control removed you were limited in motion choices. But with minimal waits it was an enjoyable experience and if you got the right tire and with some practice you could fly around pretty well. The problem from a satisfaction stand point seemed to be guests who invested a long wait and had one shot at flying the tire would exit frustrated by the experience. I think the new attraction will not suffer from the same expectation since it will hopefully be more obvious from seeing the cars you sit passively as the cars dance/move around. So there is no expectation of control which may lead to those guests setting a different bar or not riding and just enjoying the movement. Time will tell though.
If you are curious here is a point of view video I shot of Mystic Manor:
Some links that may be of interest:
- Full Press Release on Luigis
- My Hong Kong & Tokyo Trip Summary with links to pictures, thoughts and observations
- My Paris Trip Summary with links to pictures, thoughts and observations
- A first look at Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters from the Annual Passholder Preview on March 4th
- Disneyland Press Release with information on Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters