Opinion: Runaway Railway is as much of a classic as Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion

justintheharris

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Typical disclaimer: this is just my opinion, but hear me out.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is, perhaps, the closest we've had to a classic Disney ride since the 1990s. This is not to say that Avatar - Flight of Passage or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are bad in the slightest. They're both fantastic rides and also among Disney's greatest. But Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is executed in the same fashion that classic Disney rides always have been executed in which they began in a real world setting and took you into a magical setting via some Disney magic. This is the element that makes attractions truly timeless and garner name recognition. You may find that many people who have NEVER been to a Disney park can still tell you what Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are. I believe that over the course of the next decade, with the ride confirmed to be opening in California and, prior to coronavirus, were rumored to be added into other resorts, we will find Runaway Railway to garner that name recognition.

I have noticed a lot of people are quick to compare Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway to Fantasyland dark rides and simply noting the attraction as an updated version of them. I suppose you could see it that way, but I think the much easier comparison is with Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion in terms of execution and story-telling. Fantasyland dark rides took you into a new magical world but there's no real build up or continuity with reality. For example, in the case of Peter Pan's Flight, you simply sit in a pirate ship and fly off. There's nothing wrong with this approach and it is still, without a doubt, a classic Disney ride in its own right. But here's a break down of how Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean approach the overall journey of the attraction and how Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway does so in a near identical fashion. And do note, I will be using the Disneyland version of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean as Walt Disney himself oversaw the development of these versions.

For Pirates of the Caribbean, your mundane setting is New Orleans. The journey begins as your boat leaves the station. You are in a swamp in New Orleans. A beautiful swamp. This is a real world location. Once you round the corner, the talking skull forebodes what lies ahead as you go down a drop into the caves below New Orleans for a glimpse all that is left from a world that once was. And finally, through that magical moment, the world comes back to as it was in the past as you enter in the ship battle scene. And after your glimpse into the past, your lift back up to the loading dock brings you back to the present day and the attraction has come full circle.

In the case of Haunted Mansion, the mundane setting is New Orleans but, to be a bit more specific, a seemingly abandoned house. The journey begins when you step through the front door of the mansion into the foyer. The ghost host forebodes what is to come with his narration (I must say, in Disney World, this element is done a bit better with the aging portrait). Unlike Pirates where the build up to the magical moment lasts for nearly half the ride, the magical moment that takes you into a new realm happens much sooner: when you enter the stretching room. (For clarification, I consider 'the magical moment' to be when what you're witnessing is no longer ordinary or mundane. Sure, swamps are beautiful and we don't see skeletons every day in the case of Pirates and the foyer and front lawn are spooky but the moment we leave the real world behind is the moment in which we see dead pirates come back to life and/or witness a haunted room stretch). After the ride through the 'realm of the supernatural' you exit your doom buggy and walk up and out of a crypt bringing the journey full circle.

And finally, for Disney World's latest addition, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway begins in a mundane setting: Hollywood! At the Chinese Theater to be precise. You are headed to see the premiere of a new Mickey Mouse cartoon. You can make the case that the foreboding takes place in the song as Mickey and Minnie sing "we'll sing a song and absolutely nothing will go wrong!" The magical moment comes when the pie jams into the engine of the train causing an explosion and you step through the screen into the magical realm of a cartoon. After a wacky adventure, the journey comes full circle when you step back through the screen into the real world.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, despite having one of the most brilliant executions in story I have ever seen in a Disney attraction, has been subjected to an avalanche of unfair criticism. Almost none of the criticism has much to do with the ride itself. Instead, opting to criticize the location of the ride and rationalizing that since it is a kid-friendly dark ride (Haunted Mansion is too guys...) it MUST belong in Fantasyland. Others are simply bitter that it replaced a charming, but hopelessly outdated attraction that lacked the whimsy and magic that a classic Disney ride has. And some others opt to criticize the animation style despite the fact that the classic style did not lend itself to the storyline of the attraction as well and (someone verify) the classic version of Mickey Mouse's animation's imminent entry into the public domain in 2024. The only genuine criticism of the ride is its reliance of screen technology but even that criticism is rather flimsy when you consider the fact that the ride utilizes this technology to the fullest extent. There is a scene at the end that transforms from a factory to a park in a stunning display of projection mapping technology and because this happens before your very eyes, it was not possible to do this with real life props. And that is where screen technology should be encouraged. I understand that screen technology has been used as a dodge in many instances; however, it is often used correctly and used for effects that cannot be replicated with real life sets.

Instead of trying to rip down the attraction, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway should be embraced as a return to the roots of a classic Disney attraction. It was a formula that was laid out by Walt Disney himself and with Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, was executed perfectly with his most beloved creation. An attraction that truly would have made him proud.
 

Queen of the WDW Scene

If you don't like it then you can leave
In the Parks
No
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It was only open for like 12 days.
Don't know how it could be a "classic" yet.
I do feel like there are elements of classic dark ride so perhaps with a bit more time and people's reaction to it we can have a better idea of if it will be a classic.
 

The Real Buzz Lightyear

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
No
Typical disclaimer: this is just my opinion, but hear me out.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is, perhaps, the closest we've had to a classic Disney ride since the 1990s. This is not to say that Avatar - Flight of Passage or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are bad in the slightest. They're both fantastic rides and also among Disney's greatest. But Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is executed in the same fashion that classic Disney rides always have been executed in which they began in a real world setting and took you into a magical setting via some Disney magic. This is the element that makes attractions truly timeless and garner name recognition. You may find that many people who have NEVER been to a Disney park can still tell you what Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are. I believe that over the course of the next decade, with the ride confirmed to be opening in California and, prior to coronavirus, were rumored to be added into other resorts, we will find Runaway Railway to garner that name recognition.

I have noticed a lot of people are quick to compare Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway to Fantasyland dark rides and simply noting the attraction as an updated version of them. I suppose you could see it that way, but I think the much easier comparison is with Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion in terms of execution and story-telling. Fantasyland dark rides took you into a new magical world but there's no real build up or continuity with reality. For example, in the case of Peter Pan's Flight, you simply sit in a pirate ship and fly off. There's nothing wrong with this approach and it is still, without a doubt, a classic Disney ride in its own right. But here's a break down of how Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean approach the overall journey of the attraction and how Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway does so in a near identical fashion. And do note, I will be using the Disneyland version of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean as Walt Disney himself oversaw the development of these versions.

For Pirates of the Caribbean, your mundane setting is New Orleans. The journey begins as your boat leaves the station. You are in a swamp in New Orleans. A beautiful swamp. This is a real world location. Once you round the corner, the talking skull forebodes what lies ahead as you go down a drop into the caves below New Orleans for a glimpse all that is left from a world that once was. And finally, through that magical moment, the world comes back to as it was in the past as you enter in the ship battle scene. And after your glimpse into the past, your lift back up to the loading dock brings you back to the present day and the attraction has come full circle.

In the case of Haunted Mansion, the mundane setting is New Orleans but, to be a bit more specific, a seemingly abandoned house. The journey begins when you step through the front door of the mansion into the foyer. The ghost host forebodes what is to come with his narration (I must say, in Disney World, this element is done a bit better with the aging portrait). Unlike Pirates where the build up to the magical moment lasts for nearly half the ride, the magical moment that takes you into a new realm happens much sooner: when you enter the stretching room. (For clarification, I consider 'the magical moment' to be when what you're witnessing is no longer ordinary or mundane. Sure, swamps are beautiful and we don't see skeletons every day in the case of Pirates and the foyer and front lawn are spooky but the moment we leave the real world behind is the moment in which we see dead pirates come back to life and/or witness a haunted room stretch). After the ride through the 'realm of the supernatural' you exit your doom buggy and walk up and out of a crypt bringing the journey full circle.

And finally, for Disney World's latest addition, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway begins in a mundane setting: Hollywood! At the Chinese Theater to be precise. You are headed to see the premiere of a new Mickey Mouse cartoon. You can make the case that the foreboding takes place in the song as Mickey and Minnie sing "we'll sing a song and absolutely nothing will go wrong!" The magical moment comes when the pie jams into the engine of the train causing an explosion and you step through the screen into the magical realm of a cartoon. After a wacky adventure, the journey comes full circle when you step back through the screen into the real world.

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, despite having one of the most brilliant executions in story I have ever seen in a Disney attraction, has been subjected to an avalanche of unfair criticism. Almost none of the criticism has much to do with the ride itself. Instead, opting to criticize the location of the ride and rationalizing that since it is a kid-friendly dark ride (Haunted Mansion is too guys...) it MUST belong in Fantasyland. Others are simply bitter that it replaced a charming, but hopelessly outdated attraction that lacked the whimsy and magic that a classic Disney ride has. And some others opt to criticize the animation style despite the fact that the classic style did not lend itself to the storyline of the attraction as well and (someone verify) the classic version of Mickey Mouse's animation's imminent entry into the public domain in 2024. The only genuine criticism of the ride is its reliance of screen technology but even that criticism is rather flimsy when you consider the fact that the ride utilizes this technology to the fullest extent. There is a scene at the end that transforms from a factory to a park in a stunning display of projection mapping technology and because this happens before your very eyes, it was not possible to do this with real life props. And that is where screen technology should be encouraged. I understand that screen technology has been used as a dodge in many instances; however, it is often used correctly and used for effects that cannot be replicated with real life sets.

Instead of trying to rip down the attraction, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway should be embraced as a return to the roots of a classic Disney attraction. It was a formula that was laid out by Walt Disney himself and with Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, was executed perfectly with his most beloved creation. An attraction that truly would have made him proud.
I absolutely agree! I foresee the ride becoming a classic. Many people I know who rode it absolutely loved it!
 

justintheharris

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Something cannot be classic when it hasn't been open a month.

If may have a classic "feel", so "classic" in that sense... maybe.
It was only open for like 12 days.
Don't know how it could be a "classic" yet.
I do feel like there are elements of classic dark ride so perhaps with a bit more time and people's reaction to it we can have a better idea of if it will be a classic.
It just opened. It cant be classified as a classic just yet.
Is this seriously the only rebuttal I'm going to get? It's been open for two seconds so therefore it's not a classic? Has nobody ever heard of instant-classics? But even that aside, could we explore the topic a bit more than shutting it down with a reply that could've been made without reading a single word of what I wrote in the actual thread? You know... why I would already declare this an instant classic?
 

ParkerLoLs

Well-Known Member
Since so few have ridden the attraction, it's probably not the best time (yet) for this poll. Sure, you could go by the videos but a lot of folks like to experience things firsthand.
 

The_Jobu

Well-Known Member
Most people haven't ridden it yet so it will be hard to debate.

Looks fun though. Might be a classic one day.
 

Queen of the WDW Scene

If you don't like it then you can leave
In the Parks
No
Is this seriously the only rebuttal I'm going to get? It's been open for two seconds so therefore it's not a classic? Has nobody ever heard of instant-classics? But even that aside, could we explore the topic a bit more than shutting it down with a reply that could've been made without reading a single word of what I wrote in the actual thread? You know... why I would already declare this an instant classic?
Dude chill.
 

Mickey5150

Well-Known Member
I think the last classic Disney ride is Splash Mountain. There are a lot of rides after that can have the elements of a classic ride but I think Splash was the end of an era, the truly immersive animatronic theme song dark ride pioneered by Walt. That's how I would define a classic Disney attraction, something I could see Walt working on. I can't imagine Walt would work in screens. Something like Runaway Railway could be a "new" classic ride but there is something different about the newer attractions as they were designed for a different audience and using different technologies.
 

justintheharris

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I think the last classic Disney ride is Splash Mountain. There are a lot of rides after that can have the elements of a classic ride but I think Splash was the end of an era, the truly immersive animatronic theme song dark ride pioneered by Walt. That's how I would define a classic Disney attraction, something I could see Walt working on. I can't imagine Walt would work in screens. Something like Runaway Railway could be a "new" classic ride but there is something different about the newer attractions as they were designed for a different audience and using different technologies.
I think there's something to be said that the "something I could see Walt working on" is a way to define a classic but I still don't think it's fair to disqualify screen based attractions. Like, I know he was a big person for realism but he also understood that somethings weren't practical. For example, just because he loved things to be realistic doesn't mean he hated Matterhorn Bobsleds for the fact that it wasn't a real mountain. He obviously understood you cannot put a mountain in a theme park. xD Having said that, I think he would utilize screens when he realizes that the result would be much better than a real set. And I can understand the difficulty imagining Walt working with screens but I attribute that difficulty to simply imagining a dead person from history doing something modern. Similarly you probably have a hard time imagining George Washington using a cell phone.
 

PorterRedkey

Premium Member
Is this seriously the only rebuttal I'm going to get? It's been open for two seconds so therefore it's not a classic? Has nobody ever heard of instant-classics? But even that aside, could we explore the topic a bit more than shutting it down with a reply that could've been made without reading a single word of what I wrote in the actual thread? You know... why I would already declare this an instant classic?
I don't believe in instant classics. That phrase is an oxymoron.

By all looks of MMRR, it seems to be a great ride. I don't know... because it wasn't open a month before the parks closed. How can it be a classic, when you say classic attractions like HM and PotC are known and associated with the parks? MMRR is not. So many park fans and yearly visitors haven't even ridden the attraction!

Also, it is my belief that "classic" attractions are almost all universally loved, with the odd exception here and there. As you have noted in your post the reactions to MMRR have been mixed. In time, more people may like it or more may dislike it. Personally, without riding it, I think it has the potential to be a classic, but I only have the video to go on.

Is that better?
 

justintheharris

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I don't believe in instant classics. That phrase is an oxymoron.

By all looks of MMRR, it seems to be a great ride. I don't know... because it wasn't open a month before the parks closed. How can it be a classic, when you say classic attractions like HM and PotC are known and associated with the parks? MMRR is not. So many park fans and yearly visitors haven't even ridden the attraction!

Also, it is my belief that "classic" attractions are almost all universally loved, with the odd exception here and there. As you have noted in your post the reactions to MMRR have been mixed. In time, more people may like it or more may dislike it. Personally, without riding it, I think it has the potential to be a classic, but I only have the video to go on.

Is that better?
Yes, fantastically better.

You do make a point regarding instant classics so perhaps I should have worded the title more precisely. Runaway Railway has all the elements of a classic Disney ride. And I wouldn't say the reaction to the ride is mixed. The reaction to ANYTHING on the forum seems to be mixed if not outright negative. Among annual passholders, cast members and Orlando locals, I've yet to meet anyone in person who has not said the ride is, at the very least, good and at the most, some have said it is their favorite ride in the resort.
 
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Mickey5150

Well-Known Member
I think there's something to be said that the "something I could see Walt working on" is a way to define a classic but I still don't think it's fair to disqualify screen based attractions. Like, I know he was a big person for realism but he also understood that somethings weren't practical. For example, just because he loved things to be realistic doesn't mean he hated Matterhorn Bobsleds for the fact that it wasn't a real mountain. He obviously understood you cannot put a mountain in a theme park. xD Having said that, I think he would utilize screens when he realizes that the result would be much better than a real set. And I can understand the difficulty imagining Walt working with screens but I attribute that difficulty to simply imagining a dead person from history doing something modern. Similarly you probably have a hard time imagining George Washington using a cell phone.
Where screens work well on traditional attractions is when they are used to give depth or as a background. The underwater section or the fast moving street scene in MMRR work. Other examples would be in Navi River where some of the animals in the back are on screens, or in Alice and Wonderland in Disneyland where there are screens to add more characters in a limited space. Rise of the Resistance also uses screens properly, as the windows in the transport ship as we head to space or for the windows on the Star Destroyer. MMRR loses points by having the first thing being Goofy in the train car on a screen. There is no need for that and an animatronic would have been a better choice. Also in the gear room, that is an obvious place to have real working gears. MMRR is not a bad ride, but it's not something I would consider a classic Disney ride. Also, I don't get your Matterhorn argument, everything in a theme park has to be built, it's how they choose to do it that makes the ride.
 
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