Disney has shared more details about the 100 Years of Wonder global celebration, which will kick off with the debut of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Toontown at Disneyland. This post shares dates & details, plus our commentary about this new attraction, which also opened at Walt Disney World two years ago.
According to the company, the Disney 100 Years of Wonder will be the largest cross-company global celebration in history. The Walt Disney Company’s 100th Anniversary will be centered around California, with Disneyland being the heart of the celebration, according to Disney.
Disneyland has already announced New Nighttime Spectaculars for Disney’s 100th & Entertainment Additions, with the Disney100 anniversary celebration officially kicking off on January 27, 2023 with special limited-time offerings taking place throughout the resort all year long. Now, we have more details about Toontown and the opening date for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Here’s the announcement from Disneyland:
While Mickey’s Toontown is slated to reopen for guests in Spring 2023, we are pleased to announce that the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction will open early as we kick off the Disney100 anniversary celebration on January 27, 2023!
During last month’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney stated that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway would debut in “early 2023.”
Despite that, our expectation was that this meant Presidents’ Day weekend at the earliest and the start of Spring Break season at the latest. So sometime between mid-February and mid-March 2023.
To my knowledge and recollection, opening a blockbuster new attraction in January is relatively unprecedented on both coasts. Since I’ve been active in the fandom, I cannot recall Walt Disney World or Disneyland debuting anything big before March.
EDIT: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened at Disneyland on January 17, 2020. The precedent is in literally the most recent blockbuster attraction to open in the park.
There are a couple of possible explanations for the early opening date.
First, that Disneyland has determined that it simply does not matter when the park opens new attractions.
In a recent post about new discounts for Halloween and Christmas, I emphasized the reality that conventional crowd wisdom does not apply to Disneyland right now. While it’s still “generally true” that some time frames are better than others, there’s a lot of day-to-day variance based on staffing levels and park reservation refills.
Both of those things are inconsistent and not easily predictable, and the end result can be random weekdays that are busier than their adjacent dates. Likewise, some recent weekends have felt less busy thanks to superior staffing or more limited reservations for locals.
The bottom line is that Disneyland is busy pretty much all the time now. If anything, the argument could be made that the (historically) slower months of January and February could benefit more from a new attraction debuting than any other time period. People will pack the parks from March through July, regardless, so might as well entice locals to visit during the winter.
Second, there’s the reality that Splash Mountain is going to close soon–probably in January 2023.
Assuming that’s the case and also that Disneyland is always some degree of busy now, it makes sense to open Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway as close to the Splash Mountain closure as possible to maintain park capacity.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s interesting that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is opening so early in the year and before the rest of Toontown is ready. Debuting the ride before the land certainly suggests the added capacity is more important than a splashy debut of both the land and ride.
Of course, the ride can’t really debut without the land being “open” to some degree due to its location at the back of Toontown. Semantics aside, our assumption is that Toontown will be largely walled-off when Runaway Railway opens. It’ll be interesting to see whether Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin also returns in January 2023 (for similar capacity reasons), or if that’s not back until the rest of the land is ready.
As for the attraction itself, Disney has shared that there will be minor differences between the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. In large part, this is due to the respective surroundings–Hollywood Boulevard and Toontown are dramatically different.
There’s also the fact that both are shoehorned in different ways. The DHS version was built in the Great Movie Ride building, and reused some of that layout. By contrast, the Disneyland version was a fresh build, but is constrained by backstage space. Presumably, this means some of the scenes will be ‘tightened up’ a bit.
During the parks presentation, Disney shared a closer look inside the El CapiTOON Theater, where a special exhibit created by the Toontown Hysterical Society is celebrating all things Mickey with costumes and props from the toon world.
The exhibit features several items guests may recognize from classics including “Steamboat Willie” and “Plane Crazy.”
The attraction’s queue will also feature items from modern favorites such as “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and iconic music releases.
These new experiences will join existing favorites like Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Mickey’s House and Minnie’s House. Plus, other attractions will be reimagined in new and exciting ways, including Gadget’s Go Coaster.
One of the new areas coming to Mickey’s Toontown will be CenTOONial Park, the first space guests will see when they enter. This natural space will be anchored by two interactive play spaces.
At the center of CenTOONial Park will be a fountain, which will also become a center icon for Mickey’s Toontown. As its base, water tables will invite guests to play with the water and have a sensory experience. At night, the fountain will be brought to life in a unique spectacle.
A nearby dreaming tree will be inspired by the tree a young Walt Disney would daydream under in his hometown. (This seems like a stretch, but whatever.) Sculpted tree roots will provide an opportunity for children to play, crawl and explore, and undulating topography will offer rolling hills and a place to sit and dream.
When it reopens, Mickey’s Toontown will still be home to many beloved characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and more.
Finally, in case you’re totally unfamiliar with it and haven’t done the Walt Disney World version, we’ll close with brief background. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a trackless dark ride where the titular mice invite guests to the premiere of their newest cartoon, “Perfect Picnic.”
The ride-through portion of the attraction delivers upon the premise of stepping into the cartoon world. The visuals are vibrant and the scenery immersive–it feels like a dimensional version of one of the new Mickey Mouse shorts.
Given that Goofy is your train conductor, it shouldn’t be a spoiler to say that in short order, the attraction switches gears and hits its “something has gone terribly wrong” bump in the scenic road. With that, Runaway Railway delivers upon both a common Imagineering and cartoon trope (and the attraction’s name).
From here, you glide through a series of loosely-connected vignettes in a variety of environments. There’s tremendous range in the settings, and the pacing of the attraction becomes fairly frenetic at this point. While I’m tempted to quibble with the tenuous narrative through-line that links the various scenes together, it feels very much in keeping with how a cartoon would bounce around from locale to locale.
Ultimately, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is going to be a great addition to Disneyland. It’ll add yet another strong family-friendly attraction to the park’s already strong lineup, and give guests even more reason to spend time in Mickey’s Toontown.
The energy, pace, gags, repeatability, etc., are all very similar between Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. I’d go as far as to say that Runaway Railway feels like a spiritual successor to Car Toon Spin–how that attraction would’ve been made with the technology of today. It’ll be a great counterpart to that criminally underrated attraction. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has a ton of heart and personality, and is an absolute hoot. It succeeds incredibly well as a next-gen dark ride that will offer family friendly fun.
Have you experienced Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? What did you think of the attraction? Are you excited for Runaway Railway to open at Disneyland? Think it’ll be a strong addition that’ll also add more appeal to Toontown and its other attractions? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!