Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

In the House of Mouse

True story: From the Orlando airport to Walt Disney World to report on their new ride, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (the story ran in last month’s issue), I took the bus that Disney provides for their guests. (It was just a week before the park closed for this virus thingy.) I sat just behind the driver, and he asked if I realised that Florida is second only to Texas in raising the most cattle in the U.S. I later checked. He was wrong. Florida is 12th. But during the ride we passed a herd. “Do you see those cattle laying in the grass?” he asked. “Those are used to make ground beef.”

Pictured behind me, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is housed in the Chinese Theatre at the center of Disney’s Hollywood Studio theme park. That majestic theater has stood at the heart of the park since its opening day on May 1, 1989, when Disney’s Hollywood Studios gave guests a behind-the-scenes look at moviemaking in a dark ride called The Great Movie Ride. Disney incorporated films from outside of its own library, mainly through its licensing agreement with MGM. It was a good ride, but didn’t draw repeat riders, so attendance waned.

In recent years the park has been re-energized with an historic multiyear transformation. Toy Story Land was added, followed by the immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Lightning McQueen Racing Academy was introduced, as was the Disney Junior Dance Party and the Mickey Shorts Theater. Inside Toy Story Land the Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant will soon be added.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the next milestone in this transformation, bringing guests into the wacky world of a Mickey Mouse cartoon. It adds to the array of immersive new experiences propelling Disney’s Hollywood Studios into the future. In the story, Mickey and Minnie set off on a journey to find the best spot for a romantic picnic, taking their little red convertible for a drive through Runnamuck Park.

Anything can happen aboard Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, where guests burst through the movie screen and join Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and pals on a wild adventure. This first ride-through attraction themed to Mickey and Minnie uses audio-animatronics, trackless vehicles, and extensive projection mapping. It is a technological marvel, a showcase for state-of-the-art storytelling and attraction design. One can ride and re-ride it and still not see everything.

Did I mention the ride’s catchy theme song? “Nothing Can Stop Us Now” remains in my head, just like “Its a Pirate’s Life for Me” did from Pirates of the Caribbean, “It’s a Small World” from that attraction, or “Heigh Ho” from the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

I believe that many of Disney’s best attractions are those based on his early cartoons. Early rides based on Dumbo, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan remain guest favorites. New rides like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are the best yet. I can only wait and hope for a new ride based on Bambi. Or even better, if on the menu at one of Disney’s fine restaurants they added venison.

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