On January 27, 2023, the Disneyland Resort kicked off its Disney100 Celebration to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Disney Company. The celebration includes the addition of a brand new family-friendly attraction to Mickey’s Toontown – Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
I attended the media preview for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland as well as the first day of its opening to the public. The ride fits perfectly into its home in Toontown and is a solid addition to the lineup of attractions the whole family can ride together at Disneyland.
Related: 2023 Disneyland Tips & Guest Guide
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been open at Walt Disney World in Hollywood Studios since 2020, so it is an attraction that is familiar to many Disney fans. But the Disneyland version of the attraction has a number of major differences, including how you actually manage to get aboard right now as well as what you will see while you wait in the queue.
If you want to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland, however, it’s not as easy as showing up and standing in line. Disneyland has several special rules in place for access to this new attraction. Keep reading to learn all the essential tips and tricks to be able to climb aboard!
Basics for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland
Before we get into the nitty-gritty how-to-ride details like queues and apps and Lightning Lanes, let’s talk about what the ride is first so you can decide if it’s right for you and your family.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is an indoor attraction located in Toontown in Disneyland park. It uses a trackless ride system, similar to the one used in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure in Disneyland Paris and Disney World, and Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland. Guests hop aboard a train that is actually several smaller trackless vehicles initially joined together that then separate for the attraction.
The ride is the first time Mickey and Minnie actually make an appearance on a ride at the Disneyland Resort. Runaway Railway features the stylized versions of Mickey and Minnie that appear in the modern cartoon shorts from Disney Television Animation. Before the ride itself, there is a short pre-show featuring the characters and setting up the train adventure that is to follow.
The ride follows Mickey and Minnie setting out into the countryside for a picnic together. But things go awry when Goofy steps into the train conductor booth. The attraction moves through physical sets featuring several Audio-Animatronic characters, but a number of the things to view are screen-based.
There is no height minimum to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but the attraction does have some jerks and fast turns in action sequences (although no major spins), so expect mild thrills. I’d recommend holding babies and younger toddlers tightly! The ride might bother some guests with more serious motion sickness issues, but the vast majority of visitors should find it manageable.
Ride vehicles can comfortably seat 4 adults across, with two rows in each. This is one attraction that should easily accommodate guests of all shapes and sizes, so kudos to Disney as always for making its vehicles more accessible than most other theme parks. The ride restraint is just a simple single lap bar that pulls down for the entire row.
Because the ride vehicles separate and enter and exit each room scene in different orders, the views are different each time you ride. Depending on where you sit, you may spend more time or less in certain rooms. As a result, guests see slightly different stages of the projections and animations from different angles.
I’ve now been on the attraction four times at Disneyland so far (and several additional times at Walt Disney World) and think it’s quite engaging and well done. It’s not an E-ticket ride, but it doesn’t aim to be. Instead, it’s a ride that works for all ages in different ways and is one that everyone in the family can happily agree to ride together. My 9 year old son who loves Disney and theme parks but isn’t much of a fan of coasters and thrill rides simply adores it. I can already see it will be an attraction we add to our family’s regular must-do rotation each trip, right along with “it’s a small world” and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway’s Interactive Queue at Disneyland (No Spoilers)
The video pre-show and on-ride experience of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland are nearly identical to the version at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. But what is not similar at all is the queue that leads up to the ride itself!
To enter the attraction, guests walk through the front doors of the “El CapiTOON” theater – a cute play on words conjuring up some Disney history. The theater is debuting a new Mickey and Minnie film, “Perfect Picnic.” But first, the theater has set up an exhibit chronicling Mickey’s films over the years. The queue walks through that exhibit, laid out in chronological order starting with Steamboat Willie all the way to more modern Mickey like Mickey and the Roadster Racers and the latest cartoon shorts. On display are “props” from these animated films.
The queue has several interactive features to touch and watch that will help entertain kids in line. But I think it is even more for adults! Take time to read the tongue-in-cheek plaques and search for Easter Eggs. I discovered multiple new references, puns, and gags each time I walked through, making the queue highly repeatable. It’s one of the most ambitious queues that Disney has attempted, and it just delivers in room after room.
If you want to explore more about the interactive queue, scroll all the way to the bottom on this post where I’ve included a more detailed description and lots of photos of every room.
Two Strategies for Riding Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland
***BREAKING February 21, 2023: Starting February 22, 2023, Disneyland will be retiring its virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and replacing it with a regular standby line. Paid Lightning Lane will remain. Stay tuned to this space for further updates.***
So now that you know what the ride is all about, let’s figure out how you and your family can get on it! For right now, there are only two ways to ride – by securing a spot in the virtual queue or by purchasing a paid Lightning Lane.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway currently does not have a standard standby line that you can enter as long as you are willing to wait. Other tricks that work for some other rides at Disneyland – like Single Rider lines – are also not available. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is also not one of the attractions on Disneyland’s Genie+, so purchasing that won’t help either!
1. Paid Individual Lightning Lane
Let’s start with the easiest of two options – paid individual Lightning Lane. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuts as one of three attractions at the Disneyland Resort (along with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Radiator Springs Racers) offering individual Lightning Lane.
This means that guests can purchase a ride aboard the attraction for an a la carte fee – separate and distinct from the Disney Genie+ offering that allows Lightning Lane access to a bundle of other rides. Thus far, the price for paid Lightning Lane for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been $15-20 per person.
The essential rules for paid Lightning Lane purchases at Disneyland are:
- Purchase paid Lightning Lane in the Disneyland app. Look on the Tip Board, scroll the alphabetical list of rides to “Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway,” click the third bar that says “Individual Lightning Lane” and follow the steps to purchase in the app. (Yes, you can use Disney gift cards to purchase it – find out how to get discount Disney gift cards to ride Runaway Railway for less!)
- Guests can only purchase paid Lightning Lane at Disneyland once they have scanned their ticket to enter a park for the day (NOT at 7am like at Walt Disney World).
- You are only offered the next available return time to ride the attraction at Disneyland – you cannot pre-select your time like you can with paid Lightning Lane attractions at Walt Disney World.
- Paid Lightning Lane purchases are non-refundable and non-changeable. Of course, if your party has an emergency arise, cast members tend to be accommodating. So always feel free to visit Guest Services under the green umbrellas in special cases.
- Only ticketed guests need to purchase a paid Lightning Lane. That means if you plan to ride with guests under age 3, they do not pay a separate fee.
There is one important thing to note, however, about paid Lightning Lane. Because the goal of Lightning Lane is to reduce guest wait times, Lightning Lanes often skip major parts of ride queues. For most rides, that’s a bonus because the queues aren’t that great. But for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and its amazing queue, that may be a major negative!
Lightning Lane for the attraction skips two of the four rooms in the queue and gives only more distant views of some of the features of the first two rooms. So if you absolutely want to see each and every detail the first time you ride, Lightning Lane is probably not for you!
Of course, if you aren’t able to ride the attraction any other way and don’t visit Disneyland often, something is certainly better than nothing. In that case, I’d recommend budgeting for a Lightning Lane just in case the other option (virtual queue – more on that below) doesn’t work out. Also know that some guests have reported that cast members have let them stand in the regular queue after purchasing paid Lightning Lane, but your miles may vary (I personally asked one cast member at the ride’s entrance and that option was a no-go for him).
Note that if you want to purchase paid Lightning Lane, you don’t have to do so first thing in the morning. Lightning Lanes sold out pretty quickly the first few days the ride opened, but likely will settle into a pattern of being available for much more of the day except at the highest crowd times.
2. Virtual Queue
The other way to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is by securing a spot in the virtual queue. Virtual queue guests enter through what will eventually become the regular standby line. This means the wait is a little longer than Lightning Lane, but it is nowhere near as long as it would be if a regular standby line were operating for this new ride.
The virtual queue is also FREE!
Here are the essential parameters and rules that govern the Disneyland virtual queue system overall:
- Boarding groups for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are released at 7:00am and 1:00pm (note: the second drop is NOT at noon, as used to be the case with virtual queues for WEB SLINGERS and Rise of the Resistance).
- Only guests with a confirmed Disneyland park reservation for the day may try for the 7:00am virtual queue. Guests may try for this drop from any location – no need to be in or near the parks.
- Anyone with a Disneyland single-park per day ticket who has scanned into Disneyland may try for the 1:00pm drop if they did not already obtain a boarding group during the 7:00am drop.
- Anyone with a park hopper ticket who has scanned into either park for the day may ALSO try for the 1:00pm drop. This means if you have a park hopper ticket but start your morning in DCA, you are eligible for this second drop. If you are successful, you simply hop over to Disneyland during applicable park hopping hours for an afternoon or evening ride.
- Guests can only join the virtual queue for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway once per day.
- Guests can, however, purchase a paid Lightning Lane in addition to securing a virtual queue spot, so there is the potential for some guests to ride the attraction twice in a single day.
- Not everyone who wants to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway each day can necessarily be accommodated. Boarding groups so far have usually run out immediately – sometimes in less than a second.
- For now at least, cast members are only allowing guests into Toontown with a Lightning Lane reservation or confirmed boarding group, likely due to the land’s small capacity with most of it still under construction. So if you want to check out Toontown, you can only really do it before and after your ride.
How to Snag a Virtual Queue Boarding Group for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disneyland
So now that you know all the rules, here are the precise step-by-step details with screenshots for how get a boarding group via the virtual queue. As already mentioned, virtual queue spots so far are being snatched up quickly. So you have to know what you are doing to be able to compete with this craziness, especially first thing in the morning.
Before your trip
- Make a theme park reservation: Make your Disneyland Resort theme park reservation (required for entry). If you have a single park per day ticket, you must reserve Disneyland park to be eligible for the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway virtual queue that day. If you have a park hopper ticket, you can reserve either park as your starting park. Only guests with DCA as their starting park, however, can try for the 7:00am virtual queue.
- Set up the Disneyland app: Before your vacation, log in to the official Disneyland app and link everyone’s tickets in your traveling party. Turn on push notifications on your phone for the app. Make sure you update to the most recent version of the app too. (Trips with Tykes Tip: Remember to purchase your park tickets in advance from our trusted ticket partner Get Away Today, which will get you the very same tickets that Disney sells but at a discount.)
Steps for Joining the Virtual Queue During the 7:00am Drop
if you want to join the virtual queue at the 7:00am drop time, follow these steps as shown in the screenshots above:
- A few minutes before 7:00am, open the Disneyland app from any location (no need to be in or near the parks). Scroll down and look for the image that says “Request access with Virtual Queue”. (You can also get to the same place by clicking the three lines in the bottom right corner and then selecting “Virtual Queues”, as well as from a few other places).
- Click “Join Virtual Queue” white button and then quickly toggle to the tab at the top right that says Disneyland Park. This is where you’ll see the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway option.
- Look for the button on this page where you can confirm your party. This allows you to select who will be in your group for the day without worrying about creating your party during the ride booking steps – there’s not going to be time for that!
- After confirming your party, wait at the result screen as 7:00 am approaches.
- Right as the clock approaches 7:00am, click the white “Refresh” button at the bottom. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you see the blue “Join Virtual Queue” button appear in the very same place place. Click as fast as humanly possible. (Note that the app also says you can pull down to refresh this same screen. I don’t find this as reliable or as fast. Clicking the refresh button at the bottom puts your finger in exactly the right place to click the join button so it’s speedier IMHO!)
- If you are successful, you’ll get a confirmation screen (if not, an error screen appears – whomp, whomp.)
- Assuming you are successful and obtain a boarding group, arrive at Disneyland for the day.
- Wait for a push notification on your phone to tell you that you are eligible to return to the attraction and ride. You can also check the status of boarding group progress in the app.
- Return to Mickey & Minnie’s within the 1 hour return time window given. Note that sometimes the queue stretches out into the streets of Toontown and you won’t reach the cast member scanning virtual queue barcodes until after your window expires. No worries! I’ve found that in addition to the 15 minute grace period common at Disney parks, there is much more flexibility than in accommodating late arrivals with virtual queues.
Steps for Joining the Virtual Queue During the 1:00PM Drop
If you want to join the virtual queue at the 1:00pm drop time, all of the same steps apply except one very important difference you must do first. What is that? Unlike at 7:00am where you can still be in your PJs in your hotel room, everyone in your party must first physically scan into one of the two parks. If your ticket isn’t scanned in at park entry, the virtual queue process will not be available to that ticket in the app.
Note as well that the 1:00pm virtual queue does not apply to you if you were already successful at 7:00am. You can’t ride twice with the virtual queue (although you can purchase a paid Lightning Lane in addition to a virtual queue spot).
Sometimes 1:00pm virtual queue spots last longer than 7:00am spots which go instantaneously (H/T to Thrill Data which is tracking this daily in real time). But be aware that just because you get a boarding group at 1:00pm, that’s not a guarantee you will get to ride the attraction. If the ride breaks down (which has happened quite a bit during its first week of operation), not all boarding groups will be called before park closure. If you want to guarantee a chance to ride, the 7:00am drop is a safer bet. And for the 1:00pm drop, at the very least secure a spot in the queue right away instead of a few minutes after 1:00 when later boarding numbers will be distributed if still available.
Advanced Tips for Hacking the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Disneyland Virtual Queue
Generally speaking, being successful in obtaining a boarding group for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (as with other rides like Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS that used to offer virtual queues at Disneyland) will be a result of some combination of speed and luck. Here are the tips that can speed you up and improve that luck:
Practice at Home: Disney regularly makes changes to the systems and screens ever so slightly for its virtual queues, so this gives a major advantage to frequent visitors to who know the latest layout and can move faster than everyone else in the Disneyland app. Even if you are a newbie, you can practice at home to see where the buttons are located and know what you are selecting on each screen so you can move fast. You can go all the way up to the last screen to test it out, even without having an eligible ticket. A few days before your vacation, set an alarm for yourself at 6:59am or 12:59pm to quickly check things out so you feel comfortable with the process.
Check If Your Device’s Clock is Accurate: Did you know that many phones aren’t properly synched up to the world clock? This can actually matter for your chances for virtual queue success. My device actually runs a tiny bit ahead of official time, which is actually perfect. By the time my eyes see the time change and I start refreshing and clicking buttons, that sliver of extra time has elapsed and I’m clicking at just the right moment. I highly recommend checking to see if you are in sync by going to time.gov on the device you will use to book the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway virtual queue. If your device runs behind the world clock, your best bet is to use another device to monitor the true time to make sure you click at the right time. When we have extra devices available, my family usually watches time.gov on another device to be able to click at precisely the right split second.
Use Multiple Phones: Guests with the fastest fingers are the ones who get the virtual queue spots. Unfortunately, the Disneyland app can run into troubles. If you have more than one smartphone in your traveling group, I recommend trying on both phones. Link all your tickets in both phones so the fastest phone will get through first and prevail. Bonus if someone in your party has an Android device rather than an iPhone. I’ve found in dozens of experiences with Disney’s virtual queues that there is something about Android devices that operate more speedily with Disney’s IT and tend to come out ahead, all other things being equal.
Check Your WiFi: Speedy data is essential to being competitive for a boarding group. If you are trying from your hotel, make sure the WiFi is up to snuff (check the night before! I use speedtest.net). Disconnect and use data if it’s spotty. If you are trying from Disneyland property during the 1:00pm drop, know that Disneyland WiFi can be pretty slow. If you have reliable cell data service in Disneyland park, you might consider disconnecting from the Disneyland WiFi to speed things up. You might also want to position yourself away from the crowds and where a data connection is stronger if you aren’t stuck in a line.
Keep monitoring when boarding groups are running out. Crowd levels and demand for rides with virtual queues change over time. While nearly everyone entering Disneyland park right now wants to ride a new attraction, this will not always be the case as we saw with WEB SLINGERS. The virtual queue will be easier to snag when this happens (and eventually, I suspect this ride will simply be transitioned over to regular Genie+ at Disneyland).
Book More than One Disneyland Day. If you simply must-ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, you can’t necessarily count on getting a free reservation your first try or even first day, especially while the ride is still brand new. If you are taking a multi-day Disneyland vacation, book Disneyland as your starting park more than one day to give yourself more chances of success at least once with multiple tries. Park hopper tickets will also give you more bites at the apple, allowing you to try for at least the 1:00pm drop even if you start your morning in DCA.
Avoid Fireworks Days. Because of its location, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway closes for a few hours at night when the evening nighttime spectacular features fireworks in Disneyland park – currently Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That means the ride accommodates far fewer guests on those days and likely distributes fewer boarding groups. So if you want an easier shot at securing a boarding group spot, aim to visit Monday through Thursday.
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Disneyland’s Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway Interactive Queue – Spoilers Ahead!
I have saved the very best part for last – many of the the photos, details and Easter eggs from the amazing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway queue in Disneyland. This section contains spoilers so if you want to discover the details for yourself, stop scrolling.
The queue ostensibly documents Mickey history as a “movie star,” showing “props” from his many films. The queue winds its way through multiple rooms before the ride’s pre-show. Guests in the standby line first enter a small room with a photo opp of the film featured in the ride as well as lots of movie posters on the wall (Lightning Lane guests shortcut part of this room into a separate parallel room with scanners).
Next, all guests enter the official exhibits celebrating “Mickey through the Ears.” The first room behind the entry banner has Steamboat Willie, Fantasia, Lonesome Ghosts, and more – covering roughly the period from 1928-1940.
The next room is a long and skinny corridor featuring more movie posters on the wall featuring World War II and post-War era Mickey Mouse. Here, you’ll spot exhibits from Mickey’s Birthday Party, Mickey and the Beanstalk, and Pluto’s Christmas Tree.
As the queue enters into the next room, Lightning Lane guests are shunted behind a wall where they skip the remainder of the exhibits. Standby line guests are, however, treated to all things more modern Mickey. There are exhibits in this room featuring a 1979 disco short, 1990’s Prince and the Pauper, and Disney Junior shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey and the Roadster Racers.
Just around the corner is the final room in the queue. The first part of the room features scenes from the Mickey shorts upon which Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is based. The rest is a concession stand for guests about to enter the theater. Look carefully at the food items and signage on the concession stand because the attention to detail is impressive!
Guests then go down one last hallway filled with even more movie posters and turn the corner to enter one of four pre-show theaters.
As you can see, the queue is not to be missed. There is so much more I haven’t shown and didn’t even start to notice until I had walked through multiple times, so take your time if you can. This is one ride where a long line can be a blessing in disguise!
Disclosure: I attended the Disney100 celebration and the launch of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway as a media guest of Disneyland. Since I always want to give this site’s readers real world expertise and not just experiences available only to media, I visit Disneyland regularly at my own expense without any special access. As always, all opinions are my own.