Disney has officially announced that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open in Spring 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That Spring 2020 window is beyond the reportedly planned opening that would have seen the new attraction featuring Mickey and Minnie ready for guests in advance of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening on August 29, 2019.
So, what does the delay for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway mean for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the upcoming opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
Summarized: It’s not too good.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is expected to see some of the largest crowds in Walt Disney World history. The estimates for the Star Wars crowd size will rival anything seen around New Year’s Eve at the Magic Kingdom or the Harry Potter crowds that arrived for the opening in Universal. Wall-to-wall crowds are anticipated.
Unfortunately, Hollywood Studios does not appear to have the necessary capacity to accommodate such large crowds. As of the date of this article, Hollywood Studios will have roughly nine attractions (not counting the stage shows or stunt show) for guests when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, depending on how you define an attraction. Of those nine attractions, six have a height requirement.
Alien Swirling Saucers -32″
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – 38″
Slinky Dog Dash – 38″
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue – 40″
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – 40″
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – 48″
Counting all of the stage shows into the mix (Frozen Sing-a-Long, Indiana Jones Stunt Show, Beauty and the Beast, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior Dance Party), there are 14 total “attractions” that can give guests something to do in Hollywood Studios. Note that this doesn’t include walk-through areas such as Launch Bay or the Incredibles in Municiberg, and it doesn’t include character meet-and-greets.
That’s not enough. It’s especially not enough for groups with smaller children. There’s just not enough for these enormous crowds to do. The Magic Kingdom is able to address crowds like these due to the volume of attractions they have in place. Hollywood Studios won’t have that luxury.
Disney took a calculated risk by building Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and even Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway over top existing attractions and areas. Instead of fully expanding, they opted to remove and replace. In the case of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the park lost its starring attraction in the Great Movie Ride.
The Great Movie Ride is a polarizing topic in the Disney community. Many love it and recall it fondly. Others point out how dated much of the attraction was and believe it was time for a change. No one will argue against the idea that the Great Movie Ride needed to be updated. But, the best case scenario would have been an update to the Great Movie Ride and then a brand new location created for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The Great Movie ride was described as a people-eating attraction. It could accommodate large numbers of people both on the ride itself and in the queue. The theory is that Mickey & Minnie’s will be similar and will be able to remove a large number of guests from the park’s walkways, but it may be viewed as a one-for-one switch. That’s not ideal when you’re talking record-breaking anticipated crowds. It’s less ideal when the attraction won’t be open.
Now, we officially know that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway won’t be ready until early 2020. The reasons for the delay range from potential ride connectivity issues to the idea that workers shifted over to complete Star Wars before it opens. Regardless, it won’t be open to guests who will be craving something to do in a sea of people.
Disney may be learning the hard way in this situation. While Disneyland will receive Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in a new location that doesn’t eliminate an existing attraction, Walt Disney World continues to favor the replacement approach despite its blessing of size and space.
That could come back to haunt them during the chaos that will surely be the opening days, weeks and months of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Keep the cast members working in Hollywood Studios in your thoughts during the Star Wars opening. They’ll need all the support they can get when guests realize that Hollywood Studios might not be ready to accommodate such large crowds.