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Disney’s ‘Tron’ Monorail: Clever Marketing or Ad Overkill?
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Tron Monorail Disney World

Last week, The Disney Blog posted a first look at Disney World’s new Tron-themed monorail train.

In promotion of Disney’s Tron: Legacy, the sequel to their 1982 film which comes to theaters this December, one of the monorail trains at Disney World was given a Tron-themed makeover, painted with a light cycle with walls of trailing colored light. The “Tronorail” travels only to Disney’s EPCOT, which brings guests into the Future World side of the park, and is yellow on one side and blue on the other. [See image at top; video here below of train in action.]

The Daily Disney is reporting that while some fans are loving the Tronorail, others are outraged, criticizing Disney for adding advertising to the monorails.

“You get the feeling that over the years, the hard sell has been creeping in further and further. And finally it’s come to monorails as moving billboards,” Michael Crawford, publisher of Progress City USA, a blog devoted to Disney news and history.

Of Disney World’s current 11-train monorail fleet, only one was given the Tron transformation, and Disney made it a point to state that the train never goes into the Magic Kingdom, where it would be out of place, unlike in the technology-themed EPCOT.

Like most people, I hate having advertising shoved in my face, but honestly, I love a good product tie-in and in my opinion, the Tron monorail is pretty clever. As a fan of Disney and its theme parks, who happens to be anticipating Tron: Legacy, I instantly and absolutely loved the Tronorail. I wish I could get to EPCOT right now to see it in person and get a chance to ride it. It’s only one train in the fleet, so it’s not like EPCOT is riddled with Tron trains now; plus, it’s a limited time only and it’s cool as hell!!! While Dave3 thought it looked cool and approved the Tron monorail makeover, he was a little disappointed that it doesn’t leave a light trail behind it to kill other monorails. I guess he has a point.

But, there are a lot — and I mean a lot — of Disney purists out there who really dislike any change in the parks. For instance, in 1996, Disney World transformed Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom into a giant colorful birthday cake in celebration of the theme park’s 25 anniversary, and plenty of park-goers were furious. Taking a photo in front of the Castle is something nearly everyone does at the Magic Kingdom, so many people felt it ruined the look and feel of the park, not to mention their photos.

I visited Disney World that year, and I was excited by the look, which was only to be in place a limited time, but then again, I go there once every one or two years, so I knew eventually I would see the Castle back to normal. It was a novelty to me, but there were people who traveled there for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation and I spoke to a lot of people at the time who felt that the big cake castle put a damper on their experience.

Don’t even get me started on the couples who had planned a Fairy Tale Wedding at the Wedding Pavilion, which provides a backdrop of the castle as the couple stands at the altar. Instead of having the open window with a view of the castle, Disney closed up the window with a stained-glass panel with an image of the original Cinderella’s Castle. Yeah, lots of disappointed couples.

So basically, I’m not surprised there’s fan outrage about the monorail, I just in this case, I think it’s unwarranted. Walt Disney’s vision for his parks was that of change and progress, yet every time a ride is revamped or closed to make way for something new or if something new is inserted into the parks, there’s an outcry. The Tron train is a clever and fun piece of marketing that Disney is using to promote their own movie, and what would Disney World be without the Disney movies? Isn’t that part of the reason visitors come to Disney World, because they like Disney movies and want to go on Disney movie-themed rides and attractions, and meet the Disney characters that originated from the movies?

What do you think of the Tron-themed monorail train? Is the Tronorail a fun addition to the park or has Disney gone overboard with advertising? Let us know what you think!



  1. Personally I think it’s way too soon for something like this. The movie isn’t coming out till december. at least wait until july-august. Personally, When ever a movie is hyped up this much it’s bound to be a stinker.

    Comment by Dumok — March 27, 2010 @ 10:29 am

  2. I haven’t seen the movie but I’m excited about the new film and I like the way the monorail ad looks. Speed lines FTW!

    Comment by Vactor — March 27, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  3. I think it’s pretty cool!

    It’s pretty much a Disney thing, so, it’s no different than everything else they do at Disney World. But, to me, it’s pretty freakin’ cool

    Comment by MK2Fac3 — March 27, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  4. Listen to this while you read this

    Comment by Vactor — March 27, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  5. My family goes to Disney three times a year at least. I think the Disney purist have a place but need to relax. It is a business and stuff like this is temporary and just something different. I think this is a great idea and it looks amazing.

    Comment by Roobyk1974 — March 28, 2010 @ 10:28 am

  6. @Vactor You totally beat me to it. Also I think the Tron-themed monorail is pretty cool. I imagine if my friends and I were going to Epcot we would probably wait until we were able to ride on it.

    Comment by Demonstrable — March 28, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  7. I’m a big Disney fan, though I probably would not consider myself a “purist”, and I really like the overlay. The futuristic theme of Tron fits the futuristic feeling of riding the monorail. If anything, like Dumok said, it’s a bit early for a film that premieres in December, but likely the Disney Marketing people wanted to be certain to get it in front of the Spring Break and Summer theme park visitors who probably will nto be back later in the year.

    Comment by Bix — March 29, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  8. Walt Disney had starting to cross-merchendise almost since he began his career. How do you think the “wonderful world if disney” began. It was an ad for Disneyland as well as upcoming movies. Nothing wrong with it just great marketing.

    Comment by BDD — March 29, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  9. I look forward to the new Tron movie. I loved the first one. The monorail looks cool … but …

    While the Tron monorail looks cool I’m afraid it could lead to Disney selling advertising space on the monorails. Who wants to see great big ads for say an iPad on the monorail.

    Just look at what happened when the Epcot pavilions had to be sponsored by some company. Disney doesn’t seem to be able to open or update a pavilion unless there is a sponsor that will pony up a bunch of money.

    I’m just afraid this is the start of something we’ll be sorry to see.

    Comment by The Disney Dad — March 30, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  10. I am in the middle of a Disney World vacation right now. I’m from California and a season passholder at Disneyland. I have loved Disneyland ever since I was a child. This is my 3rd visit to WDW and as always, the monorail is a highlight of any Disney visit. The first monorail I caught a glimpse of on this visit is this new TRON monorail and immediately I cringed in disgust. I feared they had turned the entire fleet into giant billboards. As Disneyland transitioned from the Mark V trains to the new (hideous!) Mark VII trains, they painted up the remaining Mark Vs to commemorate the Year of a Million Dreams promotion. So seeing the TRON paint job wasn’t the first time I had seen a Disney monorail advertisement. I am relived to see, as of now, it’s just one train!

    Comment by SANman — April 1, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  11. If you are a “Disney Purist” keep one thing in mind….. Disneyland was created to promote Walt Disney Movies.

    Comment by Benny — April 7, 2010 @ 8:47 am

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