Here’s a riddle for you: what do a Chinese theater and a cartoon mouse have in common? If you said nothing, you’re mostly right, but in spite of that fact, the Chinese Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is now home to the park’s newest attraction and the final component of the park’s transformation, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The premise of Mickey’s Runaway Railway is a simple one, as Guests are invited into the theater to attend the premiere of the newest Mickey Mouse animated short, Perfect Picnic. As with all good Disney attractions, things go astray and we end up venturing into Mickey’s cartoon world for a train ride around Runamuck Park, led by “Employee of the Month, Engineer Goofy”. Our train ride starts off simply enough, we have a chance encounter with Mickey and Minnie, and then, as one would expect while in Goofy’s care, things go horribly wrong.
And that’s it…that’s all I can tell you about the ride itself without spoilers, because literally everything else gives away something. If you want to know more, I’ll go into all of those details in a little bit. As always, however, our recommendation is to experience the attraction for yourself and stay spoiler free.
But a final thought before getting all spoiler-y, my overall take on the attraction is simple: it’s really cute, lots of fun, and the new song is super-catchy… but it’s no Great Movie Ride (to which it will surely be compared). The ride is extremely rich in detail and well designed. However, it lacks a cohesive story that connects one scene with the next, relying on the overall story arc to hold things together. If the wait is an hour or less or you can grab a FastPass+, go for it! Otherwise, I’m not sure it’s worth your time. Unless, of course, you’re traveling with very small children as this one of only two Hollywood Studios rides without a height requirement (Toy Story Mania is the other).
Warning! Beyond this, there be detailed spoilers! If you wish to learn the details of the ride for the first time when you’re sitting on it (which we wholeheartedly encourage), don’t continue on.
As mentioned above, our reason for being at the Chinese Theater is for the premier of Perfect Picnic, and this film acts as the attraction’s pre-show. The film starts with the catchy song custom-made for the new short, and sees Mickey and Minnie packing their car and leaving for a picnic, where they encounter Engineer Goofy on his train. Due to a pie-related mishap, the train ends up exploding and creates a large hole in our theater, through which we are invited to cross into the cartoon world. For those who have experienced Rise of the Resistance (skip the rest of this paragraph to avoid a RotR spoiler), it’s a very similar feel to when the Resistance members cut a hole through the wall of our holding cell in the third pre-show element of that attraction to lead us to the “real” attraction load area.
After crossing through, you go through another short queue and then board your train. If you’re put in the front, don’t worry about having an obstructed view, as shortly that won’t matter. Your train leaves the station, gives us a quick taste of the “2.5D” experience that we were promised at D23 2017 with an overview of Runamuck Park, and then we pull into a tunnel where we meet up with an animatronic Mickey and Minnie as they are on their picnic drive. Mickey pulls over to talk to Goofy, but inadvertently runs into the train’s track switch, and a few seconds later we see Engineer Goofy driving one direction and our cars individually split off heading in a different direction, with a guilty Mickey and Minnie in pursuit to save us. Surprise! The train setup was a decoy (and a nice nod to the Great Movie Ride’s ride system)…this is actually a trackless ride!
From here, if you’ve been on a trackless ride system such as Rise of the Resistance, Ratatouille, or Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at Sea World, you know what to expect…each car swirls around a lot, moving independently and in various orders, as we make our way through the rest of the attraction. We ride through various scenes including a western/desert setting, an amusement park, a tornado, and a tropical island, then make a brief stop underwater before emerging from the sewers onto a city street, take a class in Daisy’s dance studio, and visit a dangerous factory. Each scene is lush with detail and has tons of sight gags and things to look at, and it will take multiple rides to be able to take in most of what there is to see. As mentioned in the spoiler-free portion, however, if you’re looking for a cohesive, ongoing narrative to link all of these scenes together, you’ll be sorely out of luck.
When Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is over, we’re rejoined with Engineer Goofy, who is oblivious to the fact we were ever gone, and return to the unload area as Mickey serenades us. As we exit the cartoon world (and the attraction), they put a bow on the whole experience by having us walk out through a busted movie screen just like the one we entered through, avoiding the pitfall of several theme park attractions whose story transports you somewhere and then never explains how you get back. Finally, in true theme park fashion, we’re greeted outside the exit with a newly constructed gift shop full of attraction merchandise.
Have you gotten to experience Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and if so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!