During the 30thAnniversary Celebration of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we had a chance to hear from Kevin Rafferty, Executive Creative Director and Charita Carter, Producer, both with Walt Disney Imagineering, about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 4, 2020. There are so many reasons to be excited about this attraction. Catch what we learned about it below.
1 – Mickey Mouse Finally Gets an Attraction
In July of 2017, Disney announced that Mickey Mouse was finally going to get his own attraction in a Disney Park. It’s great recognition for the Big Cheese himself. The first-ever Mickey Mouse themed ride-through attraction will feature a new original story and catchy theme song as it takes guests on a journey inside the wacky and unpredictable world of Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts. Inspired by the Mickey Shorts on the Disney Channel, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a collaboration between the people who bring the shorts at Disney Television Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering.
2 – Walt Disney Imagineering
For some time now Imagineers have been working hard to create Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. According to Disney Cast Member Thomas Smith, “Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required. Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a ‘dimensional display of amazingness.’ ”
3 – Ride Inside a Mickey Cartoon Short
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been shifting towards being a park that puts you inside the movies, and this attraction plays a vital role in that. On Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, we get to step through the movie screen and be a part of the zany, fun, unpredictable world of a cartoon. We get to be the star of this cartoon short, and we shouldn’t be surprised that anything can happen when you have cartoon logic and physics in place.
4 – The Chinese Theater
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be housed in the iconic Chinese Theater. In keeping with the theme of grand marquees from Hollywood’s heyday, they designed the marquee to be the centerpiece that will pop in front of your eyes. Keven Rafferty explained why they chose the theater to be the home of the new attraction. Mickey Mouse and the original Chinese Theater in Hollywood have a long history together. In 1931, “Mickey Steps Out,” premiered at the Chinese Theater, and in 1933, “Mickey’s Gala Premiere,” not only premiered at the theater but the cartoon itself features the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Kevin also emphasized what better place to put Mickey and Minnie in the heart of the park.
5 – Mickey Mouse in Perfect Picnic
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will take guests inside the cartoon short, “Perfect Picnic.” Rafferty explained Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway begins with going inside the theater for the premiere of this short. “The short is all about Mickey and Minnie packing up for a picnic, nothing’s going to get in their way today, they’re going to have the greatest picnic ever.” In the pre-show, guests will be introduced to their adventure, our “fish out of water story,” in the cartoon world. We’ll also be introduced to the “singable, lovable, ever-amazing attraction theme-song.” Kevin shared that something cool happens that allows a portal from the human world into the cartoon world.
6 – Old and New Technologies
What is also amazing is that everything is hand-drawn — “every square inch of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway experience is in the art directed style of the cartoon shorts.” Charita Carter explained that while they are using the rich heritage of theatrical techniques of the Walt Disney Company, they are also using new technologies for this attraction to really provide an immersive environment for the guests. One challenge was taking the flat style of a cartoon and making it multi-dimensional, so they could invite the guests into the short. Another hurdle was overcoming painting challenges for things to be seen in white light and dark light world. They came up with a special painting technique for both kinds of lights.
7 – Going on a Picnic
On Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, we get to go to the park, Runamok Park, where Mickey and Minnie are having their picnic. Guests get to go on board the Runamok Railroad for a tour around the park. The adventure begins when we see Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy all together in the first scene of the attraction. Kevin shared that after that, “Anything goes. As Charita said, ‘forget the rule of logic, forget the rules of physics,’ it’s going to be one surprise after another.”
8 – A Surprising Sound
Disney also stepped up for the music for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which Kevin described as a musical. Kevin also shared they are scoring the attraction like they would for a movie. They used a 65-piece orchestra and a 24-voice vocal chorus. There is also a bit of amination history used in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. They also used older techniques for the sound-scape. All of the sounds that we’ll hear on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway “are done lovingly by hand, by foot, and by voice,” not digitally, using Jimmy MacDonald’s old contraptions he used to make sounds over the years. (Jimmy MacDonald was the voice of Mickey Mouse for years and the original head of the Disney Studio sound effects department). One distinctive sound that is included in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the use of one of the original whistles used for Steamboat Willie. This special whistle was used for the sound of Goofy’s locomotive on the train on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. We got to see and hear this whistle used in 1928. Watch the video below:
9 – A Goofy Ride
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway sounds amazing, and it will be an unpredictable fun ride for the whole family. Kevin ended the presentation with this great thought, “With Goofy as your engineer, what could possibly go wrong?”
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