Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a new trackless dark ride in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. In this spoiler-free review, we’ll share offer comparisons to other attractions, thoughts, and commentary about this DHS attraction that will soon be built in Disneyland and likely some of the international parks.
For starters, I do want to note that this will be less vague than our recent spoiler-free Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Review. That gave away virtually zero details about the substance of the attraction to ensure you didn’t have any of the wow-moments ruined for you. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a different beast by its very nature. It’s like Titanic, whereas Rise of the Resistance is Psycho.
In fairness, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is not based upon historical events (to my knowledge), but the very premise of the attraction is “spoiled” by the attraction name. However, there are details, gags, reveals, and key moments that can be spoiled–and specifics of those will be avoided here. However, we’re not going to refrain from discussing the broad strokes, particularly those already given away the name Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. You’ve been warned…
Let’s start with some quick background for those who are unfamiliar with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the new trackless dark ride inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater. There, Mickey and Minnie have invited guests to the premiere of their newest cartoon, “Perfect Picnic.”
Before entering the cinema, guests experience a special exhibit created by the Toontown Hysterical Society featuring costumes and props from the toon world. (All of this is bypassed in the FastPass queue.) After going through the line, theatergoers enter the pre-show, and literally step from the human world directly into the cartoon world.
All of this sets the stage for the ride-through portion of the attraction, which 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 Walt Disney World 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.
All of this is aided tremendously by technology. While Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is heavy on projection mapping and screens, depth and dimensionality are created via the variety of surfaces and the spatial relationships. This is also aided by how the trackless ride vehicles dart around the environments.
Even the attraction’s larger rooms don’t feel cavernous and empty thanks to the dimensional set pieces and other ride vehicles that are present. It’s a seemingly minor thing, but it’s noteworthy when contrasted with other Disney attractions where this is an issue.
With that said, it’s not just Runaway Railway’s picnic that ends up being imperfect. For starters, I’d urge Walt Disney World fans to temper their expectations with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. (It really should’ve debuted before Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance because it would’ve been a great introduction to the trackless technology.)
Runaway Railway is the next evolution of Fantasyland dark rides, not anything revolutionary. While it has a wow moment or two, Runaway Railway is mostly iterative. It takes existing technology that we’ve seen elsewhere in the parks the last several years and integrates that into a dark ride pretty seamlessly.
Like Fantasyland dark rides, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is charming and fun. It’s not an epic or jaw-dropping adventure, but it doesn’t need to be. A range of offerings is necessary to fill a theme park’s attraction slate, and Runaway Railway is exactly what Disney’s Hollywood Studios needed on its roster.
While part of me would’ve liked more Audio Animatronics in Runaway Railway, I can’t say I particularly loved the ones that are there. The dimensional renderings of Mickey and Minnie look off, and it’s odd to see Mickey’s nose where his ear should be in 3D. Other characters don’t look much better.
As someone who is a staunch advocate of tactile sets and AA figures, it feels odd to think the latter is what worked the least for me in Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. I’m not sure what the solution here is–there’s probably no perfect way to translate these cartoon characters to dimensional versions. Admittedly, I’d also be criticizing the attraction if there were no Audio Animatronics at all, so it’s something of a no-win scenario for the ride.
Additionally, there’s one scene in particular that we both felt was out of place and almost exists solely for the purpose of “showing off” the trackless ride vehicle technology. (If you’ve been to Cars Land, this segment will be familiar.) Perhaps this is supposed to be a change of pace, but to us it felt like the flow of the chaotic action and energy came to a screeching halt in this room–we could’ve done without it.
Otherwise, there’s a lot to take in during Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. In typical cartoon fashion, it’s pure pandemonium. I’m not sure how the frenzied and frantic approach will play with some guests–I suspect kids will love it and some adults will find it disorienting. That was my initial reaction, but found myself enjoying it more upon a subsequent ride-through.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is highly repeatable, with the experience differing fairly dramatically based upon your ride vehicle. There are also a ton of gags, Easter Eggs, and even the obligatory nods to Great Movie Ride and Walt Disney’s love of trains. Fortunately, the attraction has a healthy hourly capacity and does not have any of the reliability or uptime issues of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
In terms of comparisons, let’s start with the obvious one about which Walt Disney World fans will wonder. The attraction that previously occupied the same physical space inside Grauman’s Chinese Theater: Great Movie Ride. Initially, I was inclined to dismiss this comparison out of hand, as the two attractions don’t bear much in common substantively.
However, both Great Movie Ride and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway do have a loose ‘step into the big screen’ premise, both technically qualify as trackless dark rides, and they’re both a string of loosely connected vignettes. Pacing, technology, and substance all vary pretty radically, but I don’t think it’s a totally absurd comparison.
I’d even go a step further and call each the logical fit for the front-of-park Grauman’s Chinese Theater attraction of their era. Great Movie Ride was the perfect culmination of the Disney-MGM Studios of yore, whereas Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway presents Walt’s most iconic intellectual property in the brand-showcase that is Disney’s Hollywood Studios of today.
It’s not a great comparison, but other direct comparisons will similarly fall flat. The obvious analogies are going to be to modern trackless dark rides, particularly those that heavily utilize screens or projection mapping. There are several attractions at Universal Orlando that are similar; you could make the case for these, but they all utilize space very differently and are less family-friendly in terms of intensity.
When it comes to Disney’s other trackless dark rides, none are all that close to a match. The one that feels most relevant to me is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. That may be meaningless to those of you who haven’t visited Walt Disney Studios Park (lucky you), but you’ll understand the comparison once the Epcot version opens in a few months.
Thankfully, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway fixes almost all of the technical shortcomings of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (I hope this bodes well for the Epcot version of the same). The end result is a much more immersive and dynamic attraction that has a distinct personality and charisma.
With that in mind, I actually think the most apt comparison is Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, which can be found in Toontown at both Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. For what it’s worth, this is no knock–I think Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is criminally underrated, and one of the best dark rides at Disneyland.
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. On balance, I personally prefer Car Toon Spin, but both are solid attractions.
Finally, there’s the question of whether Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a worthy replacement for Great Movie Ride. This is impossible to answer objectively. For me, it’s not. Great Movie Ride had tremendous depth, set design, and was a long attraction bursting with detail. It was a love letter to classic cinema and Old Hollywood that helped define the identity of the Disney-MGM Studios. It was the perfect counter-programming to the Backlot Tour and held tremendous personal appeal to me.
However, the Backlot Tour obviously no longer exists, nor does the Disney-MGM Studios in its original incarnation. It’s quite clear that Great Movie Ride didn’t resonate with contemporary audiences. I lost count of the number of times people suggested it be updated with “relevant” movies. (I’m glad it was retired rather than updated to showcase hot Disney franchises.)
It also doesn’t help that the new Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts are not my cup of tea. They are too rambunctious, and the art design reminds me a bit too much of Ren & Stimpy. (In other news, get off my lawn.) With all of that said, each generation has their version of Mickey Mouse, and this incarnation is tremendously popular with today’s youth. If updating Mickey & Minnie is what’s necessary to keep them “relevant” then I’m on board.
Still, I can’t pretend to be an unbiased voice on the question given all of that. Side-stepping things a bit, I’ll say that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway reflects the evolution of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and gives Mickey & Minnie a long-overdue attraction that’s worthy of the characters.
Ultimately, that’s where I stand with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. It’s a strong attraction that most guests will appreciate more than its predecessor, something that will help connect these iconic characters with new audiences for years to come. It isn’t an epic adventure like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, but it doesn’t need to be one.
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 in a park disproportionately full of thrills. Runaway Railway put a smile on both of our faces and is a ride we’ll do each time we visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That should speak volumes about its quality and how much we enjoyed it!
Have you experienced Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? What did you think of the attraction? Any other Disney or Universal rides to which you’d compare Runaway Railway? Where does this rank among the Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions for you? Are you interested in seeing a post with photo spoilers of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? Do you agree or disagree with our review? 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!