Many Disney fans are nostalgic for their favorite attractions. When news was announced regarding the end of the Great Movie Ride, Guests were outraged. How do Disney fans feel about this change after enjoying Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway for two years?
Beginning of MGM Studios
How did Walt Disney World add additional parks over the years? Many Disney fans may remember that Walt Disney’s initial plan was not to create a duplicate of Disneyland. He lovingly referred to this as the “Florida Project” and the main focus of Walt Disney was EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow).
As many of you know, Walt Disney passed away in 1966. He was never able to see his visions and dreams take shape of the “Florida Project,” but his brother Roy Disney did. Magic Kingdom welcomed Guests on October 1, 1971. Walt Disney’s dream of EPCOT was slightly different, but this new park opened on October 2, 1982.
Like all Disney Parks, EPCOT continued to be reimagined. A new pavilion was set to be added to EPCOT for MGM Studios. Over time the grand ideas for this pavilion grew. In 1985 Disney announced that a third Park would be added to Walt Disney World.
Opening Day for MGM Studios
MGM Studios opened to Guests on May 1, 1989. The theme of this new park was to serve as a window into “Old Hollywood.” MGM Studios welcomed Guests, but it also served as a production studio for both television and movies. The first movies filmed at MGM Studios were Earnest Saves Christmas and Newsies.
Since this was a working studio, on select dates Guests could enjoy the “Star Today”. While at MGM Studios, these stars would conduct interviews while at the MGM Studios.
MGM Studios welcomed Guests, but it would also serve as a production studio for both television and movies.
Guests could enjoy a mini-parade of the star riding through the park with our favorite pal, Mickey Mouse. To end this amazing event, the “Star Today” would make an imprint of their hands and feet in front of the Chinese Theatre. Guests can still see these impressions in front of the Chinese Theatre today.
MGM Studios opening day attractions included Disney’s Hollywood Studios Entrance, Backstage Studio Tour, the Magic of Disney Animation, the Monster Sound Show, Superstar Television, and The Great Movie Ride.
Disney added additional attractions throughout the years. Soon the focus shifted from the studio experience of opening day to a new vision.
The Great Movie Ride
The Great Movie ride was housed in the grand Chinese Theatre. It truly was revolutionary for its time. This dark ride allowed Guests to board a vehicle led by a Cast Member that was the star of the show. Animatronics were found through this attraction depicting many of our favorite films such as Casablanca, Tarzan, The Wizard of Oz, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mary Poppins and more.
Many Disney Guests felt that this was such a great attraction that allowed Guests of all ages to step back into the golden age of film and experience some of the greatest movies of all time. The Cast Member interacted in each scene which made you feel as though you were part of the action.
A new update was made to this attraction in 2015 when Turner Classic Movies partnered with Disney. Many Disney fans shared that they preferred this attraction prior to this new update. In 2017, Disney announced that the curtain would close on The Great Movie Ride on August 13, 2017.
Many Disney Guests felt that this was such a great attraction that allowed Guests of all ages to step back into the golden age of film and experience some of the greatest movies of all time.
Since this closure, many of the displays and animatronics that were once housed in the Chinese Theatre are now found in various locations. The above photo from Aliens is on display at the Walt Disney Archives exhibit.
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
As the curtain closed on The Great Movie Ride, Walt Disney World announced that Mickey Mouse would receive his first ever attraction. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway found a home in the Chinese Theatre. On March 4, 2020, Guests climbed aboard Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Many saw this as a great fusion of two of Walt Disney’s loves, which were trains and Mickey Mouse.
Disney has described the attraction as: “once you step into the cartoon world of Mickey and Minnie, you’ll board a train with Goofy as the engineer. Then, one magical moment after the next leads you to a zany, out-of-control adventure filled with surprising twists and turns.”
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway features a new technology called 2 and 1/2D, which is 3D without the glasses. This special technology will give depth to 2D environments.
The entire journey takes you through both white light and black light scenes. There was even a special paint engineered to ensure Goofy’s train maintains its “flat” cartoon look throughout the attraction and still look good in all light!
But what do Disney Guests think? Is Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway better than the previous attraction, The Great Movie Ride?
The Votes are In
So which attraction truly occupies the Chinese Theater better? We asked this question in the Kenny the Pirate Pirate Crew page, and we received an overwhelming response from Crew members.
Over 200 responses were given and a clear winner prevailed. The Great Movie Ride was favored by 63%. Many agreed that the The Great Movie Ride was dated and could have used an update. That being said, this attraction had the “Old Hollywood” vibe that we loved when the park was MGM Studios.
Over 200 responses were given and a clear winner prevailed. The Great Movie Ride was favored by 63%.
As the years have passed, many of the elements of “Old Hollywood” have diminished. Many Crew members shared that one of the turning points of this park was the closure of The Great Movie Ride.
How many Crew members voted in favor of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? The answer to this actually surprised me. Only 29% of those that responded prefer the new Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway to the previous attraction.
Many of those responding stated that do love Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway but felt as though the Chinese Theatre was not the best location for this new attraction. A few Crew members suggested that Animation Courtyard may have been a more welcome home to this ride.
The remaining 8% of readers stated that they simply could not decide between the two attractions.
My Personal Vote
I (Donna) enjoyed The Great Movie Ride during my first trip to MGM back in 1991. At that time, I didn’t quite understand all of the older films that were represented in this attraction. However, I would agree that this was a wonderful way to carry on the heart of the “Old Hollywood” storytelling.
That being said, I really do prefer Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. I love the immersive experience, that Mickey Mouse finally has an attraction, and that this is a bit more family-friendly. My family truly enjoys the experience of Mickey & Minnie’s Runway Railway. It is one of our favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
What do you think with these poll results? Would you vote for The Great Movie Ride or Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook Page.