Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is the talk of the town, and it’s going to help if you’re up to speed on all things mouse. The new attraction opens March 4, 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The ride, which takes place inside the park’s iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater replica, places Guests in the middle of an adventure-filled Mickey Mouse cartoon. While Mickey and the gang have starred in literally hundreds of animated short films in various mediums and styles since 1928, Runaway Railway takes its inspiration from the latest wave of Mickey shorts airing on Disney Channel. The self-titled series, Mickey Mouse, began in 2013 and has now spanned five seasons and 94 episodes.
The Emmy-winning shorts present a scrappy, high-energy interpretation of Mickey and the gang, rooted in the youthful spirit of their earliest work from the ’20s and ’30s. The artwork is detailed and stylized, and the stories often include clever nods to Disney history or even cameo appearances from classic characters.
You may have seen these cartoons airing on the television inside your Disney resort room, or en route to Orlando onboard the Magical Express, or maybe even seen a few online here and there. But in case you’re new to the series, have only seen a handful of them, or maybe you’ve seen them all and want to relive some of the best moments, here’s a list of what I consider the best of them, and a perfect primer to familiarize yourself with the version of Mickey and Minnie that you’ll encounter as you journey into their world on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
(At the time of this writing, all shorts listed here –– as well as about 100 others –– are viewable for free on YouTube. If you have Disney+, you can also catch them there.)
#15.) ¡Feliz Cumpleaños!
Season 3, Episode 6
To start things off, here we get a well-rounded look at a few traditions that are signature to this series. Firstly, Mickey’s adventures in these cartoons frequently take place in exotic international locales, with the entire short being spoken in the language native to its setting. Here, with the action taking place in Mexico, Mickey and the gang speak Spanish. Secondly, it’s been tradition on more than one occasion for this series to commemorate Mickey’s birthday, with a host of his classic pals making cameos. This is no different, and it’s delightful.
Season 3, Episode 9
This short gives a nice example of how the series likes to hone in on the “golden boy” side of Mickey’s personality, here focusing on how he’s too nice to say “no” to anything. It’s a fun assignment of who Mickey is as an individual, aided again by a collection of amazing blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances of classic characters. On a sad but touching note, this was the final performance of Alan Young as Scrooge McDuck, a character Young voiced for over 30 years prior to his passing in 2016.
#13.) Space Walkies
Season 2, Episode 9
Mickey and Pluto proved themselves as an iconic screen duo across dozens of short films during the 1940s and ’50s, and here we’re treated to a new take on their chemistry… in space! Featuring Chip and Dale, and even a bit of Disney theme park eye candy, this short is a great example of the series being handled with care by artists who not only know their Disney history, but know the characters they’re creating for.
#12.) No Reservations
Season 3, Episode 16
Minnie shares equal billing alongside Mickey for their upcoming Walt Disney World attraction, and rightfully so. While the cartoon series may be titled Mickey Mouse, a handful of its shorts are presented as Minnie Mouse cartoons, this being one of them. Starring Minnie, Daisy, and Clarabelle, it presents a refreshing contrast to the traditional Mickey/Donald/Goofy trio as the girls attempt to verify their dinner reservations. (Crystal Palace, amirite?)
#11.) Croissant De Triomphe
Season 1, Episode 1
This was the project that set the precedent for what was to come, and did so with a few bold statements: 1.) This is quintessential “scrappy Mickey,” a phrase I like to use in describing Mickey’s higher-energy, friskier side that’s utilized and at times even hyperbolized to great comedic effect within this series. 2.) It’s entirely in French. 3.) It establishes that the shorts not only include appearances by characters we might classify as “Mickey and friends,” but also borrows from Disney Animation’s library of feature films for an occasional surprise.
#10.) Tokyo Go
Season 1, Episode 5
Mickey’s late to work, and in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, that means it’s going to be an adventure to make it on time. This short is inventive in its visual gags, clever in its odes to Japanese culture, and wonderfully honoring in its reveal of what Mickey’s job ends up being.
#9.) Mickey Monkey
Season 2, Episode 10
Imagine a ride on Jungle Cruise, but instead of a human skipper, it’s a monkey impersonating Steamboat Willie-era Mickey Mouse, all enveloped in gorgeous background art derivative of a vintage Adventureland aesthetic. Have I just described the perfect cartoon? Maybe. This is a start-to-finish joy bomb, something that sets a defining tone to a newcomer of the series, especially if they’re a Disney fan.
#8.) Carried Away
Season 5, Episode 18
Minnie’s written a song for Mickey to tell him how much she loves him. Absolutely adorable even without any more context, this short is given even greater significance as the final cartoon to be released prior to the death of Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse since 1986. It’s a perfect showcase of Taylor’s voice talents, and in retrospect a love letter to her three decades of performing Minnie. (It’s been confirmed that Taylor recorded Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway prior to her death, so she’ll still be the star of the new attraction.)
#7.) New Shoes
Season 4, Episode 15
Mickey, Donald, and Goofy teaming up as a trio is a grouping we’ve seen produce hilarious results through the years, and this short hones in on what gives these personalities such fantastic chemistry: the personalities themselves. The oft-used “switching bodies” trope is put to use here as Mickey, Donald, and Goofy find themselves spending a day in each other’s shoes. It’s a wonderful study of which qualities have made each character such an iconic staple of popular character withstanding generations.
#6.) Wonders of the Deep
Season 3, Episode 7
Professor Ludwig Von Drake takes center stage in this cartoon that sees the gang traveling in a submarine to explore the depths of the ocean. Von Drake, who first appeared in the 1960s television series Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, is a great character that this new wave of cartoons seems to get just right. In this short we also get possibly the funniest Disney movie character cameo out of any in the series.
#5.) Wish Upon A Coin
Season 3, Episode 3
Some of these Mickey shorts lean into their Disney heritage more than others, and this is one of them. Using the song “I’m Wishing” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as its foundation, its story finds Peg Leg Pete stealing the wishing wells’ coins, much to the panic of the dwarfs. Casually.
Season 1, Episode 3
A tribute to the beautiful art style of the late renowned Disney artist Mary Blair, this cartoon places Mickey and Minnie in the Swiss Alps, where their happy-go-lucky day is interrupted by the yeti from the Matterhorn. Best sentence ever.
#3.) Roll ‘Em
Season 4, Episode 19
Particularly fitting in context to the placement of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway being inside the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, this short sends the couple on a madcap chase through a movie studio lot, weaving in and out of hot sets filming productions from different genres. It’s a perfect complement to a day in Hollywood Studios, filled with adventures in and out of the wonderful world of the movies we all love.
Season 1, Episode 13
This is the most revered cartoon in the new Mickey series among the Disney fan community, and for good reason. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy gear up for a trip to a place Goofy’s dreamed of visiting since he was a child: Potatoland. Upon realizing that Potatoland never actually existed, Mickey and Donald throw together an entire theme park made out of potatoes so that Goofy’s dream can come true. A wild story, a clever new showcase for all three characters’ personalities, and an endless stream of Disney theme park jokes make this cartoon a must-watch if you want to get a feel for what these shorts are all about.
#1.) Nature’s Wonderland
Season 4, Episode 8
This quite possibly might’ve been the cartoon to inspire the construction of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. In fact, the short could’ve been titled that same name. The mice encounter a “big, thundering mountain” while trying to find the fabled Rainbow Caverns using a map left to them by Walt Disney. Translation: Stop reading this paragraph and watch this cartoon immediately.
What’s your favorite of the new Mickey cartoons? How excited are you for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway?