Why Disney made a mistake replacing Great Movie Ride with Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is housed inside a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre at
Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is housed inside a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre at / Eve Chen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mickey's Runaway Railway has become a huge hit at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The inventive ride mixes top-notch effects with a fun system for a rolling adventure. However, there is a big question: should Disney have decided to put it in another building in Florida rather than take over the beloved Great Movie Ride at the Hollywood Studios?

It's rather amazing it took until the 2010s for Disney to create a ride based on its iconic company character. It's a terrific experience, starting with Mickey and Minnie on a car ride when an accident causes a train run by Goofy to smash through the screen. Guests are then taken on a wild ride through the cartoon.

Since its opening, the attraction has been a smash hit and very popular with park guests. However, it seems its home in Disneyland is far more fitting than in Disney World and that choosing this to replace an iconic Studios attraction may have been a bad move. 

Replacing the Great Movie Ride was a bad move

While it may have seemed dated at times, the Great Movie Ride had been an institution since the Hollywood Studios opened in 1989. An attraction celebrating movies in a park inspired by them was a natural fit, and guests enjoyed this classic dark ride that took them past Audio-Animatronic recreations of classic movie moments. 

Several scenes could still be effective, such as being attacked by an Alien or the fantastic Wicked Witch of the West. There was potential to update it, replacing some of the more obscure scenes with famous ones but keeping classic scenes intact to celebrate the changing nature of film. 

The Great Movie Ride still had a lot of fans who loved it, and it felt like something was lost from the Studios when it was taken away. There are also obvious difficulties fitting a new ride into an existing structure, and a recreation of the Chinese Theater doesn't quite match the Railway ride. 

The Disneyland version is much better

Compare this to how Disneyland has placed Runaway Railway in a brand new building in the redesigned Toontown. This fits so naturally, it's amazing. The exterior of an old theater is much better as it's brighter, and the lobby of "props" and posters from Mickey's movies are delightful to see. 

A new building also gave more "flex" to the Imagineers, as it seems this version of Runaway Railway pops much better than the WDW counterpart. Overall, it's the theme that clicks better, as this take on Runaway Railway just feels much more fitting for the ride and the character. 

Where should Disney World have put Runaway Railway?

So if not at the Great Movie Ride spot, where should Disney have put Runaway Railway? It's possible it could still fit in the Studios, perhaps the Hollywood Boulevard section near Rock n Roller Coaster. However, the Magic Kingdom is a better fit for Disney's greatest character.

The Mickey's Toontown Fair section is long gone, and Main Street offers little room to fit the ride in, even though it would be best there. Fantasyland would be the best bet, then, as the fake theater exterior could still work in the right spot. 

Some will still argue the Great Movie Ride's time was done, and Mickey can fit there. But others may agree that replacing that long-time favorite was a poor move, not to mention the exterior not clicking right, and that perhaps Disney World was better trying to place Runaway Railway in the Magic Kingdom.

Mickey's Runaway Railway is still a wildly entertaining attraction that ranks among Disney's best. But in terms of theme and location, Disneyland had it better as fitting the Railway into the Great Movie Ride was never quite the match Disney hoped for.