Disney has shared more details about the worldwide 100 Year Wonderland celebration, which will kick off with the debut of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Toontown at Disneyland. This article shares dates and details, as well as our thoughts on this new attraction, which also opened at Walt Disney World two years ago.
According to the company, Disney 100 Years of Wonder will be the largest business-to-business global celebration in history. The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary will be centered in California, with Disneyland being the heart of the celebration, according to Disney.
Disneyland has already announced New Disney 100th Anniversary Nighttime Shows and Entertainment Additions, with the official launch of the Disney100 Birthday Celebration on January 27, 2023 with limited-time specials resort-wide throughout the year. Now we have more details about Toontown and the opening date of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Here is the announcement from Disneyland:
With Mickey’s Toontown set to reopen for Guests in the Spring of 2023, we are pleased to announce that the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction will open early when we kick off the Disney100 Birthday Celebration on January 27, 2023!
At last month’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Disney said Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway would debut in “early 2023.”
Despite this, we expected this to mean Presidents Day weekend at the earliest and the start of the Spring Break season at the latest. So between mid-February and mid-March 2023.
To my knowledge and recollection, the opening of a new blockbuster attraction in January is relatively unprecedented on both coasts. Since I’ve been active in fandom, I don’t recall Walt Disney World or Disneyland debuting until March.
EDIT: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened at Disneyland on January 17, 2020. The previous one is literally the newest blockbuster attraction to open at the park.
There are a few possible explanations for the early opening date.
First, that Disneyland determined it was simply has no importance when the park opens new attractions.
In a recent post about new Halloween and Christmas discounts, I pointed out that the conventional wisdom about crowds doesn’t apply to Disneyland right now. While it’s still “generally true” that some turnaround times are better than others, there’s a lot of day-to-day variance based on staffing levels and park reservation renewals.
These two things are inconsistent and hard to predict, and the end result can be random weekdays that are busier than their adjacent dates. Similarly, some recent weekends have felt less busy thanks to superior staff or more limited bookings for locals.
The bottom line is that Disneyland is busy pretty much all the time now. On the contrary, the argument could be made that the (historically) slower months of January and February could benefit more from a new attraction debuting than any other period. People will pack the parks from March to July, whatever, so might as well entice locals to visit during the winter.
Second, there’s the reality that Splash Mountain will close soon, likely in January 2023.
Assuming that’s the case and Disneyland is still a bit busy now, it makes sense to open Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway as close to Splash Mountain’s closing time as possible to maintain park capacity.
Whatever the reasons, it’s interesting that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is opening so early in the year and before the rest of Toontown is ready. Debuting on the road before the dirt certainly suggests that the extra ability is more important than a splashing debut on both the dirt and the road.
Of course, the ride can’t really debut without the land being “open” to some degree due to its location at the back of Toontown. Semantics aside, our guess is that Toontown will be largely walled off when Runaway Railway opens. It will be interesting to see if Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin also returns in January 2023 (for similar capacity reasons), or if it doesn’t return until the rest of the land is ready.
As for the attraction itself, Disney shared that there will be minor differences between the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This is largely due to the respective surroundings – Hollywood Boulevard and Toontown are starkly different.
There is also the fact that the two are shod in different ways. The DHS version was built in the Great Movie Ride building and reused some of this layout. In contrast, the Disneyland version was a new build, but is limited by backstage space. Presumably, this means that some scenes will be a little “tightened up”.
During the parks presentation, Disney took a closer look inside the El CapiTOON Theater, where a special exhibit created by the Toontown Hysterical Society celebrates all things Mickey with costumes and props from the world of toons.
The exhibit features several items that guests may recognize from the classics, including “Steamboat Willie” and “Plane Crazy.”
The attraction’s queue will also include items from modern favorites such as “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and iconic musical releases.
These new experiences will join existing favorites like Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, Mickey’s House and Minnie’s House. Plus, other attractions will be reimagined in new and exciting ways, including Gadget’s Go Coaster.
One of the new areas coming to Mickey’s Toontown will be CenTOONial Park, the first space guests will see when they enter. This natural space will be anchored by two interactive play areas.
At the center of CenTOONial Park will be a fountain, which will also become a central icon for Mickey’s Toontown. At its base, water tables will invite guests to play with water and live a sensory experience. At night, the fountain will come to life in a unique spectacle.
A Dream Tree Nearby will be inspired by the tree under which a young Walt Disney would daydream in his hometown. (It sounds like overkill, but whatever.) The sculpted tree roots will give kids a chance to play, crawl, and explore, and the rolling topography will provide rolling hills and a place to sit and dream.
When it reopens, Mickey’s Toontown will still be home to many beloved characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and more.
Finally, in case you are not familiar with it at all and have not done the Walt Disney World version, we will end with a brief history. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a dark, trackless ride where the titular mice invite guests to the premiere of their new cartoon, “Perfect Picnic.”
The crossing part of the attraction is based on the principle of entering the cartoon world. The visuals are vibrant and the scenery immersive – it looks like a dimensional version of one of Mickey Mouse’s new shorts.
Since Goofy is your train driver, it’s no spoiler to say that in a short amount of time, the attraction changes gears and reaches its “something went terribly wrong” bump in the scenic route. With that, Runaway Railway offers both a common Imagineering and cartoonish trope (and attraction name).
From there, you glide through a series of loosely connected vignettes in a variety of environments. There’s a huge range in the settings, and the attraction’s pacing gets pretty frenetic at this point. Although I’m tempted to quibble with the thin narrative line that connects the various scenes, it’s very much the way a cartoon would bounce from location to location.
Ultimately, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be a great addition to Disneyland. This will add another family attraction to the park’s already strong lineup and give visitors even more reason to spend time at Mickey’s Toontown.
The energy, pacing, gags, repeatability, etc., are all very similar between Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. I would go so far as to say that Runaway Railway feels like a spiritual successor to Car Toon Spin – how this attraction would have been created with today’s technology. It will be a great counterpart to this criminally underrated attraction. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has a ton of heart and personality, and is an absolute hoot. It does incredibly well as a next-gen dark ride that will provide family fun.
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Have you experienced Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? What did you think of the attraction? Are you excited for the opening of Runaway Railway at Disneyland? Do you think this will be a significant addition that will also add more appeal to Toontown and its other attractions? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!