It's been the talk of the town on Disney Parks social media: another E-Ticket made its way into the already jam-packed Disneyland... and while it's a clone of a ride Disney World guests have known and loved (or loathed) since 2020, Disneyland's version of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway found a way to "plus" several scenes from Florida's version of the ride...
Today, we'll compare Disneyland and Disney World's versions of this toon-tastic E-Ticket to point out several differences you've heard a lot about, and several you might not have picked up on... Are the changes between these two versions enough for you to prefer one over the other? Which "plusses" that Disneyland's version made would you like to see sent back to the original in Florida? Let us know in the comments below and when you share this feature on social media!
1. The setting
Sometimes at Disney Parks, context is everything. That's especially true with Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, which is presented in two incredibly different contexts between Disney's two stateside resorts.
At Walt Disney World, Runaway Railway can be found at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where it's located in the iconic Chinese Theater. As you can imagine, that's controversial for a few reasons. The most noteworthy is that the Chinese Theater once housed the Lost Legend: The Great Movie Ride, an epic, 22-minute "Journey Into The Movies."
A grand, classic dark ride akin to EPCOT Center's legendary attractions, The Great Movie Ride sent guests traveling through the greatest scenes in cinema history, from Singin' in the Rain to Casablanca; Alien to Raiders of the Lost Ark; Mary Poppins to The Wizard of Oz. It's understandable that some fans grimace at the idea of a modern Mickey Mouse overtaking the park's central structure and "thesis" attraction, instantly giving Runaway Railway an uphill battle to fight. See? Context!
At Disneyland, Runaway Railway found its way into the park in an unlikely place. Where most fans had imagined that Disneyland's Toontown would eventually be leveled for a New Fantasyland, or a World of Frozen land, the surprise announcement of a West Coast version of the ride signaled that Toontown was here to stay. Especially in Disneyland – notorious for having very, very, very few square feet available for expansion – the addition of such a large ride was a shock. Entered via the "El Capitoon Theater" that feels right at home in the land's "Downtown", Runaway Railway also released the funds needed to update the rest of the land, too, strengthening a space that hadn't really been touched since the '90s.
It's pretty wild that Disneyland – already packed with things to do and with very limited opportunities to grow – managed to squeeze in Runaway Railway without losing anything, while Disney World – with its often-celebrated "blessing of size" – closed a headlining ride to make room for it. Obviously, Disney World isn't going to change its Chinese Theater into a cartoonish cinema. But separate from the frustration fans feel is inherent in Disney World's version, frankly, both the Chinese and the El Capitoon Theaters are very compelling locations for the premier of a new Mickey Mouse short. The difference is how those theaters celebrate it...
2. The queue
Aside from Florida's ride taking place in a regal, opulent, Chinese Theater on a historic Hollywood Blvd. and Disneyland's taking place in the animated El Capitoon of Toontown, the biggest and clearest difference between the attractions is in their queues...
At Walt Disney World, much of the wait for Runaway Railway tends to happen in the concrete courtyards around the Chinese Theater. That makes sense since – as we saw in our jaw-dropping looks at how the layouts of Runaway Railway and the Great Movie Ride compare – the largest indoor space used as the former ride's queue had instead been re-imagined as the new ride's pre-show space.
The result is that Imagineers had to try to turn the narrow lobby and antechamber of the Chinese Theater into a queue. It's rich and decadent, packed with Oriental patterns and ornate chandeliers and tapestries, just like the real Hollywood theater it's recreating... But... that's about it. Other than the occasional monitor displaying posters for Mickey Mouse shorts (including "Perfect Picnic," above) the wait for Runaway Railway is basically just stanchions in an elaborate movie palace.
At Disneyland, Imagineers lucked out. By needing to connect the existing Toontown to a huge new auxiliary showbuilding, designers were able to build a custom-made queue for this trackless E-Ticket ride, packing the "El Captioon Theater" with tons and tons of space. Even better, to celebrate the premier of the new short "Perfect Picnic," the El Capitoon has apparently been co-opted for an exhibit curated by the Toontown Hysterical Society: "Mickey Through the Ears: A Tribute to Our Hometown Hero," curated by Minnie herself.
As anyone who's so much at glanced at social media since January 27, 2023 will tell you, the queue for Disneyland's version of the ride is truly an attraction in its own right. The "Mickey Through the Ears" exhibit tours past props, costumes, and interactives from throughout Mickey's century-long career, creating a living timeline that begins in the '20s with "Steamboat Willie" and "Plane Crazy" and advances up to the Paul Rudish shorts of today with "Perfect Picnic" as its conclusion.
We're talking about "real" props and costumes from Mickey's best-known features, plus deep cuts from way back on his IMDB page. (During times when the ride itself is closed for refurbishment, we wouldn't be surprised to see the queue stay open as a walkthrough.)
The El Capitoon experience is handled beautifully, including being a lot less "inflated" that the rest of Toontown. While fans worried that already being in the cartoon world might sap the jaw-dropping moment of stepping into "Perfect Picnic," the El Capitoon largely plays it straight and avoids looking outrageously cartoony itself. Instead, it's a decked out in chrome, teal, art deco accents, a mid-century snack bar, and more. Somehow managing the best of both worlds, the Disneyland queue leans into the Toontown style without going overboard, meaning it's still a "wow" moment to step into the cartoon itself.
We get it – Disney World is somewhat limited here... But it would be nice to see a few glass cases with Mickey's "costumes" placed in the Chinese Theater lobby, just costumes were on display during the Great Movie Ride era. Maybe Florida's outdoor queue could also gain some larger-than-life props "too big" to fit into the theater, or something else to make the premier feel like it comes with an exhibit, too?
But if you think the differences between Disneyland and Walt Disney World's versions of the ride are relegated only to the queue, you may be surprised to find what subtle and not-so-subtle changes have been made to the ride itself... Continue onto the next page...!
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