Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the big new attraction now open in Toontown at Disneyland, uses a virtual queue and sells Individual Lightning Lane line-skipping access. This ride guide covers how to experience it (since there is no standby line), with strategy for successfully scoring spots in the VQ and buying an ILL for the Toontown ride.
A comprehensive how to guide for a single ride probably sounds excessive. After all, isn’t it just a matter of lining up, waiting an hour or so, and sitting down?! Unfortunately, it is not. Instead, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway uses protocol and procedures that debuted a few years ago for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
After both that Galaxy’s Edge E-Ticket and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure both stopped their virtual queues, there are currently no other rides at Disneyland utilizing this much-maligned system. With that said, World of Color – ONE also uses a virtual queue, just like all other versions of that nighttime spectacular at Disney California Adventure. Disneyland Resort also uses virtual queues for certain shopping and limited merchandise releases, so it’s not like VQs have been vanquished completely.
In case you’re new to the virtual queue “conversation,” Disney’s rationales for using them mainly involve crowds, but reliability/downtime and physical queue space have been other issues. With Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in its first few months, there was also the issue with guests arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios earlier and earlier, which resulted in refinements to its virtual queue when the same ride debuted at Disneyland.
But before we dig too deep into the why of the virtual queue, let’s start with the ‘how to ride’ basics for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland…
When it comes to the easiest way to beat the crowd at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland, that’s simply paying for front of line access via the Individual Lightning Lane. Daily prices for MMRR currently range from $15 to $20, based on crowd levels.
With that said, if you’re only going to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes or Genie+ at Disney California Adventure, we’d recommend saving that for one of the other two attractions that offer it. For advice on that, consult our Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Disneyland & DCA.
One thing to note here is that demand has dropped off a cliff for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland since opening weekend. Granted, it’s currently the off-season and weekdays this time of year are always pretty slow–so things could change considerably during the weekends when Magic Key Passholders disproportionately visit the parks, or during the busy half of this month (see our updated February 2023 Crowd Calendar for Disneyland).
Of course, free is better than spending $15 to $20, so here’s how to join the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland…
How to Enter the Runaway Railway Virtual Queue
To join the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland, start by hitting the hamburger button on the lower right corner of the Disneyland app.
From there, select the “Virtual Queues” tile. Then “Join Virtual Queue.” Alternatively, there’s a shortcut from the home screen on the Disneyland app if you just scroll down a little bit–look for “Request Access with Virtual Queue.” Sometimes all of the tiles take a bit to load on here after you first open the app.
You’ll have the option of confirming your party starting at 6 am, or an hour before the virtual queue opens. Click the blue button to confirm your party (above left), ensuring that everyone visiting with you is selected for the virtual queue. So long as tickets are properly linked and everyone has a park reservation for Disneyland, this process should be smooth sailing and self-explanatory.
Once you confirm your party, you’ll see the above right screen until 7 am. Use the “fast finger” strategy below to get the timing right, and then either hit the refresh button or pull down to refresh at 7 am on the dot. You’ll then see the “Join Queue” button. Tap that and you’re done!
If successful, you’ll see an estimate of your waiting time, which will be several hours into the future (and not necessarily accurate) at 7 am since Disneyland isn’t even open yet. Once the park is open, this same screen will show you which boarding groups have been called plus a more accurate estimate wait time. Even then, return times can fluctuate based on downtime and other factors.
Once it’s your turn to join the physical queue, you’ll receive a notification stating “Your group has been called” (above middle). You can also see your virtual queue status towards the top of the Disneyland app home screen, as well as on the virtual queue page itself.
To access the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland, you’ll need to click that notification (or simply return to the virtual queue page in the app), which will then pull up your boarding pass (above right). Scan that at the standby entrance to MMRR and you’re good to go!
With that said, there’s no substitute for seeing for yourself. While it won’t let you complete the process, you can go through the first several steps of joining the virtual queue from home. Be on the MDX app some morning right at 7 am and go through the motions. It’s good practice for the real thing!
Next, we’ll cover some techniques to improve your speed and increase your chances of success at the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway virtual queue at Disneyland!
In the meantime, it’s important to optimize to ensure your timing is accurate and your phone and internet connection are as fast as possible to join the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway virtual queue. This might sound like overkill, but milliseconds matter. We’d recommend doing a quick speed test a few minutes before it’s time to enter the VQ.
Anything at or above 50 Mbps should be sufficient, but the higher the better. If necessary, move around to get away from other people or increase your speed to that threshold. Additionally, test on both WiFi and cellular to see which is faster and use that.
Second, make sure your phone is fully updated and force close all apps, including the Disneyland app shortly before it’s time to join the virtual queue. This will speed up your phone so there’s no lag on your end.
Finally, double-check the time on your phone or watch against time.gov, which is what Disneyland uses for opening the virtual queue. Attempt to join the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway the second the clock on time.gov hits 7 am or noon. These three simple steps can often be the difference between success and failure!
That’s really all you need to know, but if you want Disneyland’s official policy on virtual queues or our commentary about why Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is selling Individual Lightning Lane or using a virtual queue for this ride, that follows…
Here’s the info directly from Disneyland’s page on virtual queues: Guests will need to use the Disneyland app to enter the attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day. Follow these important guidelines to join the virtual queue and experience this wild and wacky attraction:
Guests with a valid ticket and theme park reservation for the same day may have 2 opportunities to join the virtual queue via the Disneyland app, subject to availability:
To access the virtual queue in the morning, Guests must have a valid ticket and theme park reservation for Disneyland Park. Guests can confirm their designated party starting at 6:00 AM and then check for an available boarding group starting at 7:00 AM.
To access the virtual queue later in the day, Guests must have entered Disneyland Park with a one-park ticket or Park Hopper ticket, or Disney California Adventure Park with a Park Hopper ticket. Guests can confirm their designated party starting at noon and then check for an available boarding group starting at 1:00 PM.
If the Guest’s boarding group is called, they will receive a notification through the Disneyland app to head over to the entrance of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway within a designated return window.
Get Ready to Join the Virtual Queue! – On the day of your visit, you may have the opportunity to join the virtual queue at daily distribution times, which are subject to change or cancellation as availability allows. Distribution schedules will be available in the Disneyland app. Follow these steps to join the virtual queue:
Step 1 – Check Availability: Log in to the Disneyland app at one of the distribution times. Select “Virtual Queues” on the home screen to view the current status and next steps for joining a virtual queue. The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time, or if a backup group is available.
Step 2 – Enroll Your Group: As long as your Disney account is linked to your group’s park tickets, and everyone has valid admission and park reservations for the park you will visit, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time (subject to availability).
Step 3 – Enjoy the Experience: If your boarding group is called to return, you’ll receive a notification via the Disneyland app. Then, head over to the entrance of the experience within your designated return window.
In terms of commentary, the big question among readers is likely going to be why Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway given that it’s counterpoint at Walt Disney World never used one–despite opening only a few months after Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
As a reminder, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted with a virtual queue during normal operations because it was (and still is) highly unreliable, inefficient, and prone to hour-plus breakdowns. It’s possible that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has a virtual queue because, like Rise of the Resistance, it’s unreliable and breaks down a lot. I highly doubt that. That wasn’t the case with the first version of the attraction, so it’s unlikely to be true with the cloned copy.
Instead, let’s look to differences between the two incarnations. The obvious one for me is the “blessing of size” enjoyed by the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version. Not in the traditional sense that’s often touted by Walt Disney World fans, but specifically, for this one attraction.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is located at the end of Hollywood Boulevard in DHS, in a huge open courtyard. There is a ton of space for an extended queue, and on opening day way back in March 2020, that line stretched back down the entrance street. (Since then, it has simply filled the ample courtyard space.)
By contrast, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is opening at Disneyland while the rest of Toontown is still being reimagined. No one knows what that means at this point–it could mean a corridor of construction walls leading to the attraction entrance. It could mean that there are Cast Members stationed at the Disneyland Railroad underpass and only allowing guests with virtual queue or Individual Lightning Lane reservations back into Toontown given the lack of space.
Neither scenario would surprise me. No matter what the situation, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have significantly less available space for an extended queue at Disneyland. The ride’s popularity will need to die down a bit before it can use a standby line.
The good news is that the rest of Mickey’s Toontown reopens on March 8, 2023. At that point, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will have been open for over one month, so the initial surge of locals should be starting to die down and the land should have more available space.
I wouldn’t expect the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to be retired on or around the time Mickey’s Toontown reopens, as it’ll see a second-wind of popularity then. However, after the Spring Break crowds subside (so around April 17, 2023) the end of the virtual queue seems highly likely. Who knows, though. I also don’t think Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind has “needed” a virtual queue since about last August, and yet it still has one.
It’ll be more interesting to see how long Individual Lightning Lane access sticks around at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It’s already gone at Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, which does not have a clone in the United States.
However, the potentially key difference is that Disney California Adventure has much less Genie+ Lightning Lane capacity than Disneyland. So that change might be less about ILL demand, and more about Genie+ supply. As such, I’m not prepared to make any bets or guesses about when Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will drop the ILL. It could last only a few months, or a few years.
Even though Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway had Individual Lightning Lane status at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it was one of the less popular secondary options, above Expedition Everest and Space Mountain, but behind Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
As you might recall, Walt Disney World shifted all of its secondary Individual Lightning Lanes to Genie+ a little less than a year ago on a temporary basis, which was made permanent last fall.
The differences at Disneyland are two-fold. First, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is brand-new in California, whereas it opened at Walt Disney World in March 2020. The ride briefly offered FastPass+ pre-closure and was standby-only for a little over a full year after that.
By the time it obtained Individual Lightning Lane status in Fall 2021, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was barely one of the top 5 wait times in DHS. In other words, a lot of the demand from locals and Walt Disney World regulars–who otherwise might’ve bought ILLs–was exhausted during the FastPass+ and standby window.
Second, Disneyland is incredibly ride-dense and offers a wide variety of attractions–arguably the most well-rounded ride roster of any Disney theme park in the world. Disneyland is essentially the opposite of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is incredibly top-heavy, with a number of headliners, but not enough “supporting players” to help absorb crowds.
This is significant because Disneyland has the capacity for Genie+ to work well without Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway being added to the lineup. As we’ve pointed out previously, our comparative lack of coverage about Genie+ at Disneyland is not due to neglect or lack of interest (we’ve used it many times over the last year-plus), but because the system works fairly well most of the time. Continued coverage would be overkill, whereas that is very much not the case at DHS. (To be sure, it’s getting better at Walt Disney World…but still has problems.)
From those perspectives, it makes sense that Disneyland would sell Individual Lightning Lane access for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Fans will be upset, but it’s a good way to capture more revenue and the a la carte line-skipping won’t negatively impact Genie+ users.
It’s really a question of how much Individual Lightning Lanes will cost for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and how quickly they’ll sell out each day. My guess is that it’ll be very comparable to Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure both in pricing and popularity. Despite being newest, that was the least-popular of the ILL offerings, behind both Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Radiator Springs Racers. I like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but it’s not as good as either of those modern classics.
Ultimately, we’re slightly disappointed by this. Not that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is an Individual Lightning Lane attraction–that actually doesn’t bother me all that much even though we never buy ILLs. More so that it uses a virtual queue. While we’ve gotten good at gaming the boarding group process (and have “speed strategy” advice so you can achieve similar success), my personal hope was for a standby queue.
Having a standby line is the more guest-friendly approach that levels the playing field, is less stressful, and results in fewer complaints. Then again, if it ends up being anything like Cosmic Rewind, the afternoon drop will become very easy most of the time. That’s similarly a high-capacity and efficient attraction, and the VQ there has basically become a “free” ride reservation. So perhaps the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway virtual queue will be a net positive for most guests once the initial rush subsides!
Are you looking forward to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? What are your thoughts on the virtual queue? Worried that this is going to be common for future attractions, or agree that it’s likely a temporary thing resulting from construction walls in Toontown? Are you planning a visit to Disneyland Resort for the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and kick-off of the Disney100 Celebration, or will you wait until later? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? 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!