REVIEW: Reliance on Screens and Odd Audio-Animatronics Makes Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway “Just OK” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I know this will be met with a chorus of “they never like anything”, but Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is honestly just OK.

Even if it didn’t replace The Great Movie Ride, Runaway Railway is a series of projection rooms with oddly shaped “animatronics” and an incoherent storyline. If this is the best Mickey Mouse ride they could come up with after 90 years, maybe they’ll be able to come up with something slightly more exciting with another 90 years of development time.

Despite advertising it as the advent of “2.5-D”, Runaway Railway is a mostly flat-walled rollick through confusing show scenes. The “animatronics” are jarring, reminiscent of something out of a fever-dream I once had. The Daisy figure is the most traditional of the bunch, and I can’t help but feel I would’ve liked the attraction a lot more if the rest of the characters were like her. 

The scenes are chaotic, but not cartoon-chaotic, more like “we just threw stuff everywhere”. This isn’t quite Pirates of the Caribbean, where you’ll notice new things every time while also being able to digest what the hell the story of the ride might be. It’s poorly-staged overstimulation.

What does work, however, is the build-up. The queue is mostly untouched, keeping the charm of the Chinese Theatre interior. The pre-show rooms are well-decorated and the effect that brings us into the cartoon world is neat, (as is the little touch as you exit that reverses the process.) The ride portion is odd for a trackless ride, only taking full advantage of the tech for a few moments (like the stop in a dance studio.) For having a scene with a twister, it is really odd that the cars don’t travel fully around it. That just seems like Trackless Ride Design 101 to me.

There are cute touches, like the moving bell on the train, projection surfaces that turn into something else, and tiny details you’ll need multiple rides to see all of. That being said, I didn’t experience a “wow” moment that many of the best Disney rides provide.

The original song is nice, but probably not as memorable as those it was compared to in early announcements, like The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, or others.

After spending the weekend at Disneyland, the difference between the two resorts is crystal clear. Disneyland has Rise of the Resistance too, but it also has a plethora of classic attractions that remained through the closure of a BBQ restaurant and a petting zoo. Disneyland is also building Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in a new space where no current attractions have to be lost. IMAGINE THAT: ADDING CAPACITY TO A THEME PARK! 

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, no actual capacity was gained, and Runaway Railway replaces a beloved classic in a park already short on things to do. Wait times in the park are mostly triple-digit for the headliners, so they now find themselves in a bind with heavily-marketed new rides and not enough space for the people who want to come see them. Who would have thought people would show up for new rides? What happened to Walt Disney World’s “blessing of size”? Instead, a unique idea was closed for a ride that will be replicated at Disney Parks around the world.

It’s well known that I dislike many Universal attractions for relying too heavily on screens, and it’s a battlecry yelled by most Disney fans, but now Disney is essentially producing the same thing: heartless, soulless, budget-conscious, projection-heavy 4-5 minute dark rides. I don’t hate screen-heavy rides because they’re at Universal, I hate them because they feel cheap, and aren’t the best a multi-billion dollar company can do. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway isn’t the best they can do, and the lukewarm responses from some guests indicates that. The ride is fine, and it has a few neat tricks up its sleeve, but none of which puts this in the conversation for one of the better rides at WDW, and I’m not even sure that it’s the best dark ride in Orlando. It’s a cute-enough dark ride on the level of Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, but that doesn’t need to be in the Chinese Theatre.

In the end, I believe Runaway Railway will be loved by some, forgotten by many, and hated by few. Nothing will ever make up for losing a vital piece of Walt Disney World’s character, but it probably could’ve been worse.

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Roger
Roger
4 months ago

Load of rubbish.

Bob Euripides
Bob Euripides
4 months ago
Reply to  Roger

You’re right, the new ride *is* a load of rubbish.

Phillip Ratter
Phillip Ratter
4 months ago

Well, let’s hope the Imagineers listen to the feedback, and find a way to improve it in a few years. Assuming they are finally given a budget to work with, of course. :/

Dizzylander
Dizzylander
4 months ago

Saw a few ride-through videos, granted while the audio quality wasn’t great on some of them, I had absolutely no idea what was going on during some of the scenes.

Jillian
Jillian
4 months ago

I couldn’t agree more Tom. I am very meh about the whole thing. The AA of M&M looked very odd to me and yes definitely relied on overstimulation. It was cute but it won’t be a must ride for my every trip here. Very much a shame to have removed great movie ride for it.

Jose
Jose
4 months ago

Thank you for your honesty. The Movie Ride should have never been replaced. Disney has too much money and too much land to be doing this to classic attractions.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

I won’t get to ride it until December so maybe I’ll eat my words then, but I somewhat disagree (respectfully of course). While it might not be the most exciting ever or Rise of the Resistance level, what I think it does well based on YouTube POV’s is capture the spirit of the cartoons. And to that I would say, I think this is aimed to be more of a family ride. I think this is something kids will LOVE. My only complaint was the tornado as well. It just didn’t look right to me given how much went into… Read more »

Ron Vanilla
Ron Vanilla
4 months ago

Great review, Tom! I appreciate that your review essentially states, “I like what I like… and this…? meh!”. I too enjoyed the Great Movie Ride, but… even with it’s fantastic animations, it did seem dated (to me). Still, I look forward to the new ride! LOVE WDWNT!

Keith
Keith
4 months ago

“Disneyland is also building Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in a new space where no current attractions have to be lost. IMAGINE THAT: ADDING CAPACITY TO A THEME PARK! […] What happened to Walt Disney World’s “blessing of size”?” This is a fair point, and worth exploring. It seems WDW has an aversion to clearing new land for park attractions – I’m not talking about transit and the Skyliner – and instead feels the need to re-purpose everything. Even heavily-marketed new originals (Runaway Railway, Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, Pandora – the World of Avatar & Frozen Ever After) are… Read more »

Johnny C.
Johnny C.
4 months ago
Reply to  Keith

Agreed, with all of this. I’m been trumpeting the same points to Disney (through surveys and such) and friends/family. They have a lot of places where they can add on rides without taking away others and causing massive gridlock. I mean, they could have put Runaway Railway where the now useless Star Wars Launch Bay is and built out behind it! I will disagree with you on Pandora though. It was like 90% a build out expansion. They removed one tiny theater and moved the Lion King show that was in the corner of the land (where the gift shop/quick… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 months ago

I hate that they went with the new animation style instead of classic animation for Mickey and Minnie. I don’t like the new Mickey Mouse shorts on the Disney channel. I call them angry Mickey. We prefer the traditional animation.

Shelia S Carter
Shelia S Carter
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

AMEN!!! I HATE the new animation style! I call it “Ren and Stimpy Does Disney”. Give me Classic Mickey animation and not this crap!

Brenda McBroom
Brenda McBroom
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I agree…hate the new animation that Disney is using. Of course…gasp…I am not a Mickey or Minnie fan so that just adds to the issue. I also loved The Great Movie Ride and believe they should have renovated and updated it instead of losing it. This means one less ride for me at Hollywood Studios.

Aidan
Aidan
4 months ago
Reply to  Brenda McBroom

It doesn’t even fit in holly wood studios , they should have put it in the circus area in magic kingdom

Robert P Wills
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

It’s very ‘Ren and Stimpy’ like. I used to work Security at Yacht and Beach on a graveyard shift for an6 month bid. The cartoons play 24/7 in the lobby. I got to watch them all multiple times.

Marissa
Marissa
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Agreed. We don’t like this animation style either. It’s kind of gross.

Pattyskiss2me
Pattyskiss2me
4 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Suzanne you are dead on. They could have mixed the designs. It’s ok to cater to the new generation but let’s face it, even the youngest of fans know and love the classic characters look. No offense, but this isn’t Tokyo WDW. We don’t need an anime Mickey themed ride.

Julie
Julie
4 months ago

I agree completely.

Mandy, yes, that one
Mandy, yes, that one
4 months ago

Accurate.

SJames
SJames
4 months ago

Well said!

WhyCantWeAllJustGetAlong
WhyCantWeAllJustGetAlong
4 months ago

A very fair and honest review. Thanks, Tom!

Justin Bryant
Justin Bryant
4 months ago

It’s an amazing attraction with great use of projections. It keys into the Mickey shorts it is emulating perfectly and is tons of fun for folks of all sizes. The pre-show was amazing and the concept of a train was really cool without giving anything away. Looking forward to riding it many times in the future.

imagineer97
imagineer97
4 months ago

So true. This ride has two strikes against it, as I see it. 1. The creepy style of these newer Mickey shorts is off-putting compared to the classic version of Mickey, and it doesn’t feel like Mickey is the same guy as the one fighting Maleficent down the street. I sincerely hope that this style of Mickey doesn’t replace the classic Mickey found everywhere else. Can you imagine how terrifying a walk-around character of THIS Mickey would be? I wonder if they would include his teeth. 2. Replacing the Great Movie Ride: Why could they not build this attraction on… Read more »

Johnny C.
Johnny C.
4 months ago
Reply to  imagineer97

Good stuff! You hit the same points I mentioned above. That whole area with SWLB used to be called Animation Courtyard! They could have re-emphasized that brand by adding Runaway Railway with Little Mermaid and (if they had to) the Disney Junior show already there. All animation! It was like low hanging fruit already there for Disney! They could have added a new ride and then (shock!) added some new scenes to the already awesome Great Movie Ride since they now own like 70% of the IP out there. Keep some classics like Casablanca, Mary Poppins, and Singing in the… Read more »

drew
drew
4 months ago

I agree 100% and all the people on twitter that is saying its fantastic, good for them. It’s not, it’s nonsensical. It adds 0 capacity to a park that needed it desperately. It doesn’t have to be better than Rise but the Mickey Mouse ride based on the company icon should be endearing and with heart. It lacks that,its sad and a poor use of this technology. Billed as timeless and a memorable song and its no more than a 1 and done. Better luck on the next one I guess.

Todd S.
Todd S.
4 months ago
Reply to  drew

People “loving it” are only doing so because they want to brag about riding it early but if the overall vibe is its lame it will ruin that pathetic need of theirs to feel special.

Jared West
Jared West
4 months ago
Reply to  Todd S.

Or, ya know, people really do love it.

Michael Doyle
4 months ago

I think you really need to put this in perspective. The Great Movie Ride was beloved–by some. Others like me thought it was shamefully ignored by the powers that be and, as a result, unbelievably frozen in time and hopelessly outdated. Cringe-worthy in more than a few parts. This isn’t a case of like being replaced with like. This is a case of it had to go being replaced with even if it’s not great it’s much better.

Ken G
Ken G
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Doyle

I agree with you. We went on TGMR back in 2014 and even then it was woefully outdated and laughable in tech. The kids that were with us just didn’t get 90% of it. And that’s the problem in general. Had they update just would have been outdated a year or two later. The generation now wants things instantly- this is not 30 years ago whenTGMR first opened and the internet did not yet exist. I think this was a huge improvement (I’ve only seen videos) and this can indeed be updated easily. I happen to like this version of… Read more »

April
April
4 months ago

I’m not surprised. When we visited WDW we had the misfortune of accidentally watching some of the new (?) cartoons in our room and were appalled at the animation and the stories. It was hideous and downright gross in a lot of it. We weren’t planning on giving this ride any time on future trips. I also hate Universal’s dependency on screens. We were so excited as Potterheads too go on Gringotts and then were terribly disappointed for that reason. If I wanted to watch TV I can just do that at home. I hope Disney steers away from it… Read more »

Tim
Tim
4 months ago

Rode it today and it was amazing. So much fun, so much to see, and it was beautiful. My daughter’s new favorite ride. My whole family got off with a huge smile and talking about how great it was.

JMost
JMost
4 months ago

Tom why do you only approve the comments that agree with your take?
While you may not enjoy the ride, it was a necessary step for the studios as outside of TSM there is no ride that the whole family can ride.

Disney fan
Disney fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

Lies.. I will screen shot my comments that are pending and post them on other boards for all Disney fans to see how you run this site

Disney Fan
Disney Fan
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

Tom, as should you, bashing disney because of your love for an old ride that was way passed it prime is absolutely ridiculous.. *screen shot…

drew
drew
4 months ago
Reply to  Disney Fan

Giving a billion dollar company a pass for substandard attractions is something I can’t seem to understand. They could have spent a few bucks for full animatronics. They said screw we’ll give them the cheapos and they’ll eat it up. We’ll raise the prices and they’ll fall in line like sheep. Congrats, you are exactly the person they are catering to now. And people like Tom are the bad guy now because they call them out.

Than
Than
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom Corless

Well, that’s clearly not true based on the comments approved on any post mentioning LGBT.

Robert
Robert
3 months ago
Reply to  JMost

Slinky Dog Dash as well, or by whole family, do you mean a ride without a height requirement? Because I feel that every ride in the park can be enjoyed by the whole family once they reach the height. Even Rock’n Roller Coaster.

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