I loved my trip to Disney World this spring and I’m amazed at all the different types of rides that I got to experience. The best experience of all? Trackless rides!
What are Trackless Rides?
A trackless ride, according to AllEars.net, is “vehicles can easily double back through the attraction, swap places with one another, or perform maneuvers that would be impossible on a track.”
A tracked ride is a regular roller coaster where the vehicle remains on a track.
Trackless Rides at Disney World
Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway (2020)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This trackless ride begins like a normal ride as you enter the train for seating. You follow Minnie and Mickey as they go on a picnic. Goofy is the conductor on your train, but things go awry. All of a sudden your train carts separate and the thrill ensues! Each of the four carts rotate, spin and dance around each room – all on different trackless systems. Each cart can experience a unique point of view for this truly unique experience.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (2019)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This was by far my favorite experience of the entire trip to Disney World. We started our day by heading straight to this trackless ride. We waiting about 90 minutes to get on this ride, but the time flew by. The line moved what felt like quickly because the line weaved through the world-building of Star Wars. You walked by various “lockers” which featured different costumes and props that made you feel like you were on a Star Wars movie set.
When it was our time to get to the front of the line, we were moved into a room where BB8 downloaded a hologram message from Rey. We were immersed into the storyline. We then boarded a transport ship where we are captured by a First Order Star Destroyer filled with legions of stormtroopers. And then we were lined up to be put in prison holds… until are saved by the Resistance! Then the trackless ride begins as we escape Kylo Ren’s grasp!
We were so lucky to not have to wait more than 40 minutes to get on this ride. When we arrived at Epcot, the app said that the line was over 75 minutes. We went on a few rides in the morning and checked the app again. The ride was down for a period of time – enough for us to go on Soarin’ Around the World. By the time we were out the wait time was only 20 minutes for Remy’s! By the time we fast-walked our way to Paris, the app said it was a 30-minute wait.
Remy’s trackless ride consisted of sitting in a cart shaped like a rat (yes, so cute). The carts move and scurry across the floor – all three carts are separate and move at their own pace. The experience consisted of following a little fairy 3D Gusteau onto the glass roof of Gusteau’s restaurant. And the ride begins will us “falling” into the restaurant – just like Remy in the movie! The ride continues as we scurry around the busy floor of the kitchen where we’re met with the heat of the stove being lit, riding on a cart into the dining room, and gusts of air and light sprays of water for a uniquely 4D experience.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (1994)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Tower of Terror opened in 1994 and also features a trackless ride (except the elevator portion). You begin your journey by entering the elevator cart. You ascend up to one of the top floors. When the doors open, your cart moves forward through The Twilight Zone experience. Then you re-enter another elevator before the terror commences.
More Trackless Rides at Other Disney Parks
- Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland (2000)
- Aquatopia at Tokyo DisneySea (2001)
- Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland (2013)
- Ratatouille: The Adventure at Disneyland Paris (2014)
- Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters at Disney California Adventure (2016)
- Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast at Tokyo Disneyland (2020)
How do trackless rides work?
Trackless rides are a type of amusement park attraction that operate without a traditional fixed track or rail system. Instead, they use advanced technology, such as sensors, GPS, and computer-controlled systems, to navigate and move vehicles or ride units throughout a defined area. Here’s how trackless rides generally work:
- Navigation System: Trackless rides rely on a sophisticated navigation system that includes sensors, cameras, and sometimes GPS technology. These sensors help the ride vehicles detect their position and surroundings within the ride area.
- Central Control System: A central control system, often managed by a computer, oversees the entire operation of the trackless ride. This system receives real-time data from the sensors on each ride vehicle, allowing it to coordinate their movements and ensure they don’t collide with each other or with obstacles.
- Mapping and Pre-programming: Before the ride begins operation, the ride area is mapped out and programmed into the central control system. This includes defining the paths the ride vehicles can take, as well as any points of interest, show scenes, or interactive elements along the way.
- Vehicle Autonomy: Each ride vehicle is equipped with its own set of sensors and computing equipment. These onboard systems communicate with the central control system to receive instructions and updates on their path, speed, and actions.
- Dynamic Decision Making: The central control system constantly monitors the ride environment and adjusts the movement of each vehicle in real time. It takes into account factors like the position of other vehicles, the location of obstacles, and the ride’s programming to make decisions about the optimal path and speed for each vehicle.
- Interactive Elements: Trackless rides often incorporate interactive elements that can be triggered by the ride vehicles as they pass certain points. These elements might include animatronics, special effects, sound cues, and more, adding to the overall experience.
- Flexibility and Randomness: One of the advantages of trackless rides is their ability to provide a different experience each time a rider goes on the attraction. The central control system can introduce randomness and variation in the movement and interactions of the ride vehicles, creating a sense of novelty and surprise for riders.
- Safety Measures: Safety is a paramount concern for trackless rides. The navigation system and sensors work together to ensure that vehicles maintain a safe distance from each other and avoid collisions. Emergency stop systems are also in place to halt the ride in case of any issues.
Overall, trackless rides offer a dynamic and immersive experience by combining technology, creativity, and interactivity. They have become increasingly popular in modern theme parks due to their ability to offer unique and engaging attractions to visitors.
Are trackless rides new to Disney World?
No, trackless rides are not new to Disney World. The first trackless ride at Disney was, according to AllEars.net, Autopia cars at Disneyland in 1955.
You can also make the argument for all the water rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean, are also trackless rides since the boats float in the water on a designated route. Buuuut, I’m going to leave that one sit…
References & Additional Posts:
- Off the Rails – The Sleek Frontier of Disney Dark Rides by Pirates & Princesses
- Look, Ma, No Tracks! The Rise of the Trackless Ride System by The Literally Laboratory
- The Rise of Disney’s Trackless Ride Systems by All Ears
- Trackless, Wireless, and Borderless – The Sleek Frontier of Disney Dark Rides by Facts and Figment
- 5 Disney Rides That Were GAME-CHANGERS For Theme Parks Around The World! by Disney Food Blog
What’s your favorite trackless ride? Let me know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out these blog posts for more Disney travel tips and inspiration!