We made it out to Magic Kingdom yesterday to find an active Tron roller coaster construction site. The best vantage point from inside of the park is in the Barnstormer queue in Storybook Circus, where you get a clear look across the site. We’ve been closely following the progress on the construction, from the first day of land clearing, to the beginning of the installation of the crane, to the first footers to be installed. We wanted to return to give you a closer look at the extremely active site, where Disney is constructing their biggest thrill ride yet.
A Look Around the Tron Construction Site
We’ll start with just a look around the site to see what type of work is taking place. As we’ve seen over the past week, not only have the footers been installed, but so have support columns for the roller coaster track. We’ll start with a wide look at the plot, so we can get our bearings a bit. Standing in the Barnstormer queue, we’re positioned just north of west of the construction site. From here, we can see from Space Mountain all the way to the pond north of the Tron roller coaster construction. The roadway that runs along the east of the site is the World Drive extension past The Contemporary, and the parking lot seen to the northeast of the site is a mixed-use lot for both management Cast Members and construction crews. The north end of the plot is where the construction crews enter the site and the west side of the plot is where the canopy and entrance to the attraction will be.
The monorail runs along the World Drive extension to backstage support buildings when it’s not in service. While our view of the construction work was good, I’d imagine the view from the monorail is better!
A couple of wide views to show how “small” of a portion of the site that the construction is that we’ll be looking at today. We’ll have some close, detailed shots, so it might be easy to lose sight of the scale of the project.
Here’s a look at the concept art for the Tron roller coaster coming to Magic Kingdom and where it sits next to Space Mountain.
Ok, back to the construction site itself. While there is a lot of attention both in this post and online for the actual roller coaster support column installation, the construction site is busy with a lot of different trades and work being done. From trench digging to carpentry, rebar installation to continued land preparation, there is a lot going on at the site. After this general look around the site, we’ll watch the process of installing the tallest support column to date.
Tron Roller Coaster Support Column Installation
With a look at all of the “other” work, let’s check out the process of the installation of the tallest support column to date. We’ll write the report of the installation and surrounding events in the order we saw them to give you an idea of all of the moving parts on the construction site, and the real people who are making the magic for all of us to enjoy.
First up, when we got into position to take the photos, we noticed that the crane cables were positioned in the middle of the “steel forest” of support columns. Of course, from our position, all of the columns make it look quite crowded, but a careful dance of the tower crane cables helps position everything where it needs to be. Crews were just finishing securing the cables and straps around a column for the crane to move it into a position where they could attach it to another piece of the column.
It wasn’t long before the piece was airborne and making the 50 to 100 foot journey to existing pieces ready to be attached. Once crews had secured it to the crane cables, they could relocate to the drop zone.
A careful alignment of the new piece to the existing pieces is made easy by the crane holding the weight of the column while crews maneuver it.
As crews were lining up the support columns, a truck arrived at the site with some more columns to be used the next day. While what we captured is quite a bit of work, it’s just a small piece of the bigger puzzle with new puzzle pieces arriving daily.
Meanwhile, crews have lined up the newest section of the support column and are tightening the nuts and bolts of the two pieces. While it’s easy to think that a roller coaster just shows up for your next vacation to Disney World, there are plenty of workers who tighten every bolt by hand to create the magic.
The truck is finally positioned close enough to the site to allow for the crane to eventually pick up the new pieces.
With all of the pieces of the support column secured, it’s time to lift it into place. Crews wrap straps around the support column multiple times to allow the crane to get the leverage needed to hoist it aloft.
While around 6-10 construction crew members are sticking around for the installation of the support column, it’s quitting time for some of the other trades. It’s about 2:30pm, which means that they likely started around 5:30am, hoping to avoid not only the heat, but also the afternoon storms.
It’ll take about 6-8 minutes to get the support column vertical. It’s a delicate and deliberate process that sees the crews clear out from the immediate area while the crane gets it upright.
With the column now safely upright, crews can get back to positioning it onto the foundation. It’s turned and maneuvered by about three workers. Again, with the weight being held by the crane, workers are able to carefully turn it until everything lines up.
A worker is in a cherry lift to help direct the crew on the ground.
Monorail Yellow is getting ready to go to work and inspecting the latest progress.
The geometry of the monorail nose almost lines up with the belly of Space Mountain.
Speaking of Space Mountain, it looks like there is a wall being constructed between the Tron site and a backstage area at Space Mountain. As a matter of fact, this backstage area was actually a temporary exit while work was being done to remove the speed ramp from the normal exit to Space Mountain. Of course, that work has been completed and it’s business as usual when blasting off into space.
Crews are now making the final adjustments before lowering the support column onto the existing screws in the foundation.
The alignment assisting position of the cherry picker crew memeber’s job is over, but he’ll still have to disconnect the straps from the crane once the support column is secured to the foundation.
A specialized tool is used to secure the support column to the foundation.
With the support column now secured, it’s time to remove the straps and let the column stand freely.
With the crane now free from tasking, we return to the two columns delivered via flatbed earlier in the post. The final task of the day before the construction crew can go home is to transfer these columns off of the truck and into position for the next morning.
Here’s a look at the updated landscape with the newest and tallest support column to date now in place.
With the crane work done for the day, the crane operator can climb down from his cabin, just under 200 feet in the air.
With the day now complete, we make the trek up to the top of The Contemporary, to take an updated look at the construction site from above. We can see the newest column now inpace just left of the crane.
We really hope you enjoyed this detailed look at the Tron roller coaster construction. If you did, please share the post with your Disney friends on Facebook and Twitter! Also, let us know via our Facebook or Twitter pages if you enjoyed the post and would like more in-depth look at construction and more from around Walt Disney World.
Want to know what it will all look like when it’s done? Check out our detailed queue tour and review of the attraction in Shanghai Disneyland.
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