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Disney's Delay of the Mickey Mouse Ride Was a Brilliant Move

By Rick Munarriz – Apr 21, 2019 at 2:00PM

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Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway won't open until the springtime of next year, missing the 2019 debut it was targeting two years ago.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was wondering why Walt Disney (DIS -2.21%) was being so tight-lipped about Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, the theme park giant's first ride starring its iconic mouse, which was supposed to open in Florida later this year. We found out why on Friday, when Disney placed a new springtime 2020 opening on the the ride, which uses animated visual effects to create an immersive multi-dimensional experience without the need for 3-D specs.

Disney announced on Friday that the ride will come to the original Disneyland park in California in 2022. Buried five paragraphs into the official blog post was that the version going to Disney's Hollywood Studios won't make its debut until early next year. 

Concept art for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway.

Image source: Disney.

Use the force, Luke

This was already going to be a busy year for Disney World's least visited park. The first phase of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is set to open in late August, with the highly anticipated expansion's second attraction set to open a few months later. And Skyliner, Disney's new aerial gondola system that will give guests a new way to arrive and leave, should open this summer.

Disney's Hollywood Studios didn't need Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway to open this year to attract more guests. It's going to be Disney's busiest park for the last four months of this year. 

There are plenty of theories circulating on the internet about the delay of the ride, which will have customers boarding a locomotive-like vehicle and scooting through vivid cartoon sequences. Are there technical issues holding it back? Are construction crews hard to come by, since they're all busy making sure Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens on time? Since construction is taking place inside the gutted re-creation of Grauman's Chinese Theater that once hosted the park's original Great Movie Ride, people can't see the progress being made the way they can for outdoor attractions. 

The reason for the delay may be as simple as that it just makes sense to hold back. Diehard fans who had been planning trips to the park in late 2019 to see Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway are understandably upset, but the move still makes sense from Disney's perspective. In fact, it's a brilliant financial move.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is going to be an iconic ride, and waiting until the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge buzz dies down to open the attraction six months later gives Disney fresh marketing ammo for early 2020. Park guests this year won't like it, but shareholders will appreciate how Disney is spacing out the first and second phases of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge as well as Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, with a few months sandwiched between each debut.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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