Bringing Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway to life

March 3, 2020, 3:34 PM · What does it take to transform a two-dimensional cartoon into a three-dimensional theme park dark ride? Disney's Imagineers have been doing this for decades, but never in the same style as they've employed on the new Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

After getting my first rides on the new attraction this morning, I spoke with Imagineering's Charita Carter about how WDI brought this cartoon adventure to life. Here is my video interview with her, followed by a transcript.

Robert: Mickey has had a lot of looks over the years. So, what drew you to this particular treatment for Mickey's first ever theme park ride at a Disney Resort?

Charita: With the onset of the Disney short, what that did was it provided us as Imagineers a design language and environment in which Mickey and Minnie reside. and it was really cool because he knows very 2D, and it was a challenge for us to just extrude that from the screen and bring it into the show. So we have this wonderful environment that we were able to create and deliver on and putting them inside a Mickey short.

Robert: It's kind of this trope in attractions that you're going along and then something goes terribly wrong. I have never seen an attraction that so enthusiastically embrace that theme than this one. How much fun did you have thinking of all the different ways that something could go terribly wrong in a theme park ride?

Charita: It was tremendous fun. Because you know, it's a cartoon where anything can happen and of course Mouse Rules apply. So it was wide open and so it was tremendous fun, and it was just an opportunity to really deliver on the cartoon physics, the cartoon logic, and we had so much to work with. We had the beautiful music from the shorts and actually engaged with the compose to score our attraction from the beginning - the moment you walk in - to the moment you leave. It's a musical. So there was so much to work with. So to answer your question, it was an absolute delight.

Robert: Talk a little bit about the physics because the physics - as you were saying, Mouse Rules apply. Completely different physics in the animated world, and you've got some neat little tricks here that play on that.

Charita: That was a wonderful design challenge for us as well because we have so many ways of creating what we call scenic illusions. Our story here is that we took a number of cutting-edge techniques and technology, we put it together in a way that we'd never have been integrated before, and it really delivers on creating these environments that our guests have never been in,. You are actually in a cartoon.

Robert: One of the nice things about an installation here right at the Walt Disney World Resort is there were some moments in there that kind of call back to some other Disney attractions from around the world. I mean there's some moments in there that make reminded me of Pooh's Hunny Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland. There's a moment that reminds me a little bit of Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters at California Adventure. How did you decide what you want them to kind of take - that you've learned from other attractions around the world - and then amplify for this particular experience?

Charita: I can tell you I'm this attraction, it was all about the story. Every design decision that we made was one that facilitated the story. That was our true north. So we wanted to tell the story. We we wanted to put our guests inside a Mickey short, to give them an adventure that was unique and something that they've never done before. And so we looked at that holistically and we reached into our toolbox and our experience and the technology that's available to us, and it had to serve the story. So that was our design criteria.

Robert: And then just all the wonderful physical environments here. I just think about a cartoon you're thinking about 2D, but there's the desert, there's underwater, there's wind, there's cities, there's heat. Tell me a little bit about just bringing all of that to life as well

Charita: What better opportunity than when you're going into a cartoon, where literally everything can happen, right? So we wanted to give our guests as much variety as possible, and to take them to as many places as we possibly could. We often say we put 10 pounds of show into a five-pound bag. There is so much in this attraction that there's no way that our guests can pick up on everything their first time through. So we encourage them to ride it over and over again. You know I use the term instant classic, and I think that's because we've really hearken to our classic Disney storytelling, and then we use our techniques and tools and our affinity for the theater to bring it all together to create this amazing attraction for our guests, and we cannot wait for them to experience it.

Replies (6)

March 3, 2020 at 4:58 PM

“We often say we put 10 pounds of show into a five-pound bag.”
CLASSIC! Great interview, Robert!

March 3, 2020 at 6:17 PM

Watched the video and was hoping to hear an explanation of the term 2 1/2 D that Bob Iger used to describe this ride, also posted the same question on the other post, can you explain how it is 2 1/2 D? Is it the projections on dimensional surfaces?

March 3, 2020 at 6:25 PM

I enjoyed the live interview. Really well done.

March 4, 2020 at 11:21 AM

Even after 30 years a fan, I will never tire of these looks at Imagineering and how they bring this stuff to life with all the challenges. That magic still has never died.

March 4, 2020 at 3:22 PM

Great interview, Robert. Thanks for sharing! It's incredible that Hollywood was once an active construction site and now it's home to several of my favorite attractions. What a transformation.

March 5, 2020 at 2:35 PM

Robert, does it really feel like you`re "inside" a cartoon?

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Need Discount Tickets?

  Now open, or date announced:

  Still waiting on these:

Get Our Newsletter

Read Robert's Book

Stories from a Theme Park Insider