On Wednesday, March 4, Walt Disney World welcomed guests into the first-ever dark ride devoted to the Mouse who started it all, and we were there on opening day to bring you this full review of the brand-new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In case you weren’t already aware, Walt Disney World’s new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride is based on the recent series of Mickey Mouse cartoons, which have been in production since 2013. Mostly written and directed by Paul Rudish, these 4-minute vignettes— more than 90 have been made so far—are minor masterpieces of storytelling, animation, and humor; Mickey and Minnie sport a retro-1930s look, complete with “pie eyes.” In settings across the world, and sometimes entirely in languages other than English, the Mouses, Goofy, Donald, and the rest of the gang embark on crazy adventures that always seem to end up just fine.
If you haven’t seen them yet, plan on binge-watching the shorts with your kids (they’re all on YouTube and Disney+). For a quick refresher before boarding the new ride, stop and watch “Vacation Fun” at DHS’s newly opened Mickey Shorts Theater (formerly home to the Path of the Jedi film), which features a 10-minute compilation of clips from favorite episodes, including the brilliant theme park parody “Potatoland.”
The Mickey Shorts Theater was handsomely refurbished with adorable Mickey-themed seats, and there are a few funny photo ops in the exit hallway that fans of the series won’t want to miss.
WARNING: Mild spoilers for the ride follow.
Guests begin their Runaway Railway adventure by entering the park’s re-creation of Hollywood’s iconic Chinese Theater, whose facade and lobby look largely the same as they did when the venue housed the original Great Movie Ride.
The display cases of classic movie props have all been removed, but you’ll spot digital posters advertising various Mickey Mouse shorts on the walls.
TIP: Most of the queuing for Runaway Railway is outside in the theater’s partially shaded courtyard. Once you reach the interior standby queue, you’ve got about 30 minutes to go before reaching the preshow.
Eventually, guests enter a preshow theater to enjoy the “world premiere” of a new Mickey Mouse animated short, “Perfect Picnic.” The film begins, but, about a minute in, the performance is explosively derailed.
Thanks to some special effects magic, the audience gets to step through the movie screen and into the animated world of the cartoon, where a railroad train conducted by Goofy is waiting to whisk them off on a relaxing grand circle tour of Runnamuck Park.
The twist is that each of the train’s four open-air compartments is actually its own separate trackless vehicle—not unlike the ride cars on DHS’s Rise of the Resistance and Epcot’s upcoming Ratatouille attraction—capable of splitting up and sliding around independently of each other, before reassembling again.
During the 5-minute adventure, guests head out for a supposedly placid picnic in the park with Mickey and Minnie, but soon find themselves lassoed into a Wild West stampede, lured down a carnival midway, and twisted up in a tornado.
Along the way, you’ll plunge down a simulated waterfall, bust a move in Daisy Duck’s dance studio, and get trapped in a fearsome factory full of Mouse-mangling machinery.
Runaway Railway employs advanced video projection mapping atop sparsely detailed dimensional sets, creating what the Imagineers have dubbed a “2.5-D” effect that brings static surfaces to life without requiring riders to wear 3-D glasses.
The ride makes sparing use of audio animatronics, and a few of those it does have look disturbingly disproportionate, owing in part to the extremely stylizated art direction. But the use of projections is truly magical, making the distinction between static set-piece animated figures virtually disappear.
More important than the impressive technology, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has loads of humor, a catchy earworm of a theme song, and an overload of visual details that require multiple rides to appreciate. Best of all, there’s no height requirement, and the lap-bar is barely needed for the vehicle’s smooth (but still peppy) physical movements, so everyone in the family can enjoy the attraction together.
Ok, if you’ve made it this far and want full spoilers, watch our complete POV video of the entire Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction below. Otherwise, skip past the video for our touring tips.
The Unofficial Guide to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: Touring Tips
FastPass+ is available for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and (unlike Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run) it does not offer a Single Rider option. Runaway Railway is a Tier 1 FastPass, which means you will be forced to chose between prebooking it, Slinky Dog Dash, or Smugglers Run. When it is operating optimally, Runaway Railway can handle over 1,900 guests per hour, and the standby queue moves at a reasonable pace, so, if possible, you may want to pick the lower-capacity Slinky Dog Dash for your Tier 1 FastPass.
If you don’t have a FastPass+, a new Mickey & Minnie’s Trivia Time game is available within the Play Disney smartphone app, to help you kill time while waiting in the standby queue.
The good news is that, at least on opening day, actual standby wait times were about half of the posted wait time, when Runaway Railway was operating properly. Even though a 5-hour standby wait was posted early in the morning, by late afternoon it was down to 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, like any brand-new attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s train is liable to run into trouble. I made three attempts to experience the attraction on opening day and only made it on board once. Thankfully, we were provided with “Multiple Experience” FastPasses (good for any ride in the park except Rise of the Resistance) as compensation, and I ultimately felt any delays were worthwhile after enjoying Runaway Railway as intended.
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.