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Mickey finally has his own ride at Disney World

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway uses Audio-Animatronics figures and projection-mapping to bring the adventures of these friends to life at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Posted: Mar 4, 2020 2:10 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2020 2:10 AM

At 91 years old, Mickey Mouse has waited a long time to finally get his own ride at a Disney theme park.

On Wednesday, Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway will open inside Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

CNN Travel got a first look at the attraction (remember spoilers ahead).

Hooray for Hollywood (Studios)

Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park is a tribute to moviemaking and the golden age of Hollywood, and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway fits right in with the theme, housed inside a re-creation of the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

Like Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom or the EPCOT Spaceship Earth, it's the first thing you see when you enter the park and draws you in.

The Chinese Theatre has been the centerpiece of Hollywood Studios since opening day in 1989, when it was the entrance to "The Great Movie Ride," which closed in 2017 to make room for Mickey and Minnie.

The ride concept, too, is old Hollywood nostalgia: Enter the theater under a neon-lit marquee to attend the premiere of a new Mickey Mouse movie short, "Perfect Picnic."

The cartoon begins with Mickey and Minnie on their way to a picnic in Runamuck Park, belting "We'll sing a song and absolutely nothing will go wrong." Of course something does.

Breaking the fourth wall

Cartoon mayhem ensues, and the screen explodes outwards.

You walk through a gaping hole left in the screen to enter a cartoon world. The cartoony-ness of this attraction is one of its greatest tricks. Disney's Imagineers deftly translate the flat, edgy, 2D design of the recent "Mickey Mouse" cartoon shorts onto a three-dimensonal world, which manages to stay true to form.

The Imagineers used "a combination of physical sets, Audio-Animatronics figures, animated media and projection-mapping techniques," according to Disney. Indeed, every surface in this ride acts as a projection screen, even the faces of Mickey and Minnie's animatronic characters.

As passengers board a train car, with Engineer Goofy at the helm, they're whisked into a series of scenes, escaping one misadventure to encounter another: a stampede through the Wild West, the chaos of a carnival, a tornado, an exploding volcano, a dive over a waterfall, a factory on the brink of explosion and more.

A ride with a mind of its own

While it sounds intense, the ride is more charming than thrilling. The ride vehicle is trackless, which makes the experience feel unexpected and unscripted. And while it can't manage big drops or major speed, the vehicle itself has a lively personality: it will spin and dance and even simulates an electric shock through your seat.

In the ride's most entertaining scene, a dance studio under the direction of Daisy Duck, it does a waltz and a conga. The ride is pure whimsy, and your train car is in on the act.

Should you rush to ride it?

Here's the thing: You're going to visit Disney's Hollywood Studios anyway.

The park is currently overflowing with impressive new lands and attractions, like Star Wars' Rise of the Resistance and Toy Story Land, as well as classic-but-still-great thrills like Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. So Hollywood Studios is already the can't-miss park on a Disney World vacation.

But in a theme park jammed with intense experiences, "Micky & Minnie's Runaway Railway" is a welcome addition for families with young children or anyone who needs a pleasant break from drops, motion simulators and inverted roller coasters.

It also has no height requirement, and anyone of any age can ride. Also, FastPasses available on opening day, so it's a good antidote to any theme park tantrums.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is a charming tribute to one of the world's most enduring icons, and a strategic addition to Disney's most vibrant park.

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