Theme Park Insider

Disneyland Visitors Soon Will Go Off the Track

February 8, 2016, 2:19 PM · Theme park fans in Southern California are about to get their first look at a new (for them) type of ride system that's been winning fans at parks around the world.

When Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters opens in the old "Flying Tires" lot in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in the next few weeks, it will be the first of Disney's next-generation trackless ride systems to open in Southern California. This trackless ride concept debuted with Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland in 2000, but the new Luigi's will represent the first time that Disney has brought one of these ride systems to the United States. (SeaWorld actually built the first such system in America, with Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, which debuted in Orlando in 2013.)

I take a look at the history of trackless rides in my Orange County Register column this week. Disney's first go at automated trackless rides relied on thin guide wires in the ground, but the newest trackless rides rely on wireless positioning systems that allow ride vehicles to cross paths while spinning and "dancing" with one another. The effect is to make each ride on the attraction feel unique, as visitors take a different path with their vehicle on each ride.

Luigi's won't use its ride system in the context of a narrative dark ride, as on Tokyo's version of Pooh, Hong Kong's Mystic Manor or Paris' Ratatouille ride — three of Disney's most popular recent trackless rides. Instead, the new Luigi's will be a landlocked version of Tokyo's Aquatopia ride, a "boat" ride in the Port Discovery section of Tokyo DisneySea.

Disney has not yet announced a specific official opening date for Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, but the ride has been testing behind construction walls for several weeks and its debut is expected sometime this month or next.

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Replies (9)

February 8, 2016 at 6:31 PM · I'm not completely sold on this ride. While it is nice that Disney is finally bringing their trackless tech to the American parks, this ride is basically relying on a simple gimmick as it's driving force. It's like if Tower of Terror only relied on it's on-board computer system as it's only appeal and taking away such things as story and theming; basically just making it a generic drop tower except for some fancy gimmick that makes each drop sequence different. The same can be said for Aquatopia. Sure the trackless tech is nice, but when you get down to it you're really just riding around in a small boat on a small (man-made) lagoon. And from the pictures that I've seen, it doesn't look like there's any interesting scenery to admire. Needless to say, it doesn't really sound all that interesting.
February 8, 2016 at 6:52 PM · Now Walt Disney World is the only one without a trackless ride! Shocking.
February 8, 2016 at 9:21 PM · I'm not expecting this to be anything special, but I am curious to try it. According to what I heard, the ride was supposed to be up for Presidents' Weekend, but due to testing delays the new target is Spring Break. If there are no further delays, I'm guessing soft openings will begin within the next couple weeks, so perhaps I'll be able to give it a try before the big crowds descend on the park. Hopefully the attraction will be successful and more trackless technology will be brought to the US parks in the near future (I know the IP is somewhat of a sore spot among fans, but a trackless Frozen dark ride would be perfect for Fantasyland).
February 8, 2016 at 11:40 PM · I'd love to try a trackless ride. Next Cali trip.
February 9, 2016 at 1:35 AM · It sounds like another over complicated ride that doesn't deliver and has low capacity.
February 9, 2016 at 4:48 PM · Its definitely not going to be a must do attraction, but I'm glad DCA is getting this ride, as they lack rides that are in between E-Tickets and kiddy rides (for instance Disneyland has Buzz Lightyear, Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, ect).
February 9, 2016 at 5:42 PM · Tokyo's Aquatopia was one of my favorite rides at that park. I am happy to hear this ride will follow that style, as I suspected, but I am worried about the size since it seems small for the trackless system. The first commenter may want to try Aquatopia for themselves before crushing it's design or scenery. Aquatopia was huge and had amazing views of Disney Sea and the "man made lagoon" so whats not to love!
February 10, 2016 at 6:04 AM · The technology is relatively expensive, and it does not add much to the experience, imho. I´d rather they spent the money on theming, effects and other things that can really be enjoyed. Tokyo´s Pooh cost an insane amount of money, and the trackless system is, at least partly, responsible for the huge bill. I have read marketing copy that claimed that the trackless system made it an e-ticket attraction, but that is just marketing bull. So the vehicles are taking a slightly different path each time? Oh, wow, big deal - but i´d prefer a couple of additional scenes,thank you very much...
February 14, 2016 at 1:11 AM · @ dlrwdwkd: Whats about Dinosaurs at Animal Kingdom?

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