All aboard for the latest installment in the Unofficial Guide’s ongoing Disney vs. Disney series, in which we see how Disneyland’s newest ride stacks up against the original Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Walt Disney World.
Disney restarted regular production of Mickey Mouse cartoons in 2013. Mostly written and directed by Paul Rudish, these 7-minute vignettes—more than 100 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 them with your kids (they’re all on YouTube and Disney+).
Runaway Railway places you in the center of one of those cartoons, letting guests literally step through the movie screen during an explosive preshow. The premise is that you’re on an out-of-control railroad car, courtesy of Goofy.
You careen through large cartoon show scenes, from tropical islands to cities to out-of-control factories. In each scene, Mickey and Minnie attempt to save you from disaster, with mixed results.
The ride uses a mix of traditional, three-dimensional painted sets and the latest in video projection technology to show movement and special effects. It’s all done very well, and there are so many things to see on either side of the ride—with each car in the train getting a slightly different view—that it’s impossible to catch everything in one or two rides.
If you are lucky enough to ride Runaway Railway multiple times, keep your eyes peeled for “subplots” involving a chubby parakeet, a tenacious crab, and Pluto’s pursuit of Mickey’s lost picnic basket.
Both versions of the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway rides themselves are largely similar, but there are striking differences in their surroundings. Before we dive into the differences, watch and compare our POV ride-through videos of both attractions:
For starters, the Florida version is found inside the replica Chinese Theater that originally held Disney/MGM Studios’ beloved Great Movie Ride, identified by its slightly incongruous neon marquee.
In California, Runaway Railway was built atop backstage areas (without displacing any existing attractions) and given a whimsical El Capitoon Theater façade that fits in perfectly with the surrounding Toontown environment.
Stepping inside, Orlando’s interior queue is quite compact and offers little to look at beyond digital movie posters and ornate paneling.
It only holds a few minutes’ worth of standby guests, pushing most of the waiting into the outdoor courtyard, and the line eventually leads to a pair of preshow screening rooms presenting a cartoon identical to the one found in California.
The Anaheim version of Runaway Railway has been enhanced with an expanded queue that doubles as a museum of Mickey Mouse memorabilia from across the decades.
The exhibits aren’t exactly interactive, but they are periodically animated by lighting effects and illusions.
Lightning Lane users get to experience the Disneyland queue’s first portion but miss out on the second half of the museum and amusing snack stand that standby guests see; read the candy labels for punny Easter eggs, and check out the Mickey-shaped popcorn kernels.
Finally, the Disneyland version of the ride itself has been subtly tweaked with some expanded and enhanced show scenes, most notably improving the timing and pacing of the storytelling for those seated in the train’s rear cars.
It isn’t a huge difference, but it does succeed in making an excellent family-friendly adventure even more satisfying.
Runaway Railway has been a sleeper since it opened in 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, making it a good pick for guests using Genie+. At Disneyland, the ride (which initially required Virtual Queue boarding groups before quickly dropping them) currently sells Individual Lightning Lane access instead of participating in Genie+, but average wait times for Disneyland’s version rarely exceed an hour. Even so, your best bet is to get in line within an hour after the park opens or late in the evening after the fireworks.
We rate both versions of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway as 4 Stars, but we give the edge to Disneyland’s version for having a superior queue and slightly more polished ride experience.
Which versions of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway have you experienced, and which one gets your vote? Let us know in the comments below!
For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr. 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.
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