This past week, the media was invited to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge Rise of the Resistance along with a presentation of new projects and experiences to come at Disney World in 2020.
BGN had the pleasure of speaking with Disney Imagineer Charita Carter, the creative mind behind Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway — an upcoming dark ride attraction scheduled to open on March 4, 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort. Along with fellow Imagineer Kevin Rafferty, the two introduced the press to an exclusive preview of the ride which includes a new 10-minute short film and song which, might I add, is quite an earworm.
So how long have you worked for Disney’s Imagineering team?
I have been with imaginary for 22 years. When I when I think about it, it’s gone by so fast. But I will mention that I actually started out in accounting. So the first 12 years of my career was in accounting. And then I became a financial analyst for our creative division. That opened up the door for me to work very closely with our creatives and our producers. And that eventually led to me managing a concept lab where we come up with techniques and tools for how we tell our story so that our designers have more tools, and we develop a critical mass of those types of things. We call them scenic illusions. So that opened up the door for me to become a producer and start bringing those things in front of our guests.
I started out with doing a lot of what we call new magic on some of our classic attractions. And now I am doing this Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway which is the very first ride-through attraction for Mickey and Minnie and the history of this company No pressure.
Can you briefly share with us the concept behind Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway?
Yes, I’d love to. So we are inviting our guests here at the tiny theater to see the premiere of a Mickey and Minnie Minnie Mickey short called “Perfect Picnic”. And so you come into our theater and from the moment you step in, you will be happy, happy, happy. Trust me on that because the entire experience is magical. It is musically scored from the moment you step into the lobby until you you leave the theater. So you come in and get to see the premiere after you’ve entered the Chinese Theater and then something magical happens which opens the door for you as a guest to actually ride through a cartoon, so you get to have an adventure with Mickey and Minnie, their friends, their beloved friends, and a few new surprises.
Are you able to disclose if this is a 3-D or 4-D kind of experience riding through this cartoon?
I can tell you it’s an extremely immersive experience because we really want to deliver on the fact that we are putting you in a cartoon. So we pulled out all the stops, we use all of our techniques and all of the latest technology that’s available to us. And we really integrated it in a very unique way, so that our guests really feel like they are surrounded and are actually in a cartoon.
Can you share with us the technology concepts that were developed to create that experience?
One of our design criteria for this particular attraction was we always wanted to use the right tool for the right job. And the technology story here is really about two things: innovation and integration. What we’re doing is using the latest technology, but we’re putting it together in ways that we have not done before, which is creating environments and adventures that our guests have never experienced. And in some cases, we went back into our vault and looked at some of our tried and true theatrical techniques that have worked for us. We’ve revisited them with that new technology to combine effects or create an environment that has never been seen before. So it’s all about innovation and integration.
What has been your favorite part of developing this project?
My favorite part about being on this project, there’s just so many aspects of it, but I have to say, I am working with one of the best teams I’ve got a world-class team, and everybody has a lot of passion and love for the characters and what we’re bringing forth and that has been just my favorite part, getting to work with my fellow Imagineers all with a common vision and everybody has taken ownership of what we’re doing. And we feel really good about what we’ll be delivering to our guests.
What do you think attendees will enjoy most about it?
Well, you know what they’re going to love every aspect of this, I guarantee it. But one of the things that I think is really special is the fact that because we are putting you in a cartoon, we are using this that zany cartoon cadence that you see in the Mickey shorts that you can see on Disney plus. And so our attraction is very layered. And so when our guests come through, and they ride through the for the first time, there is no way that they’re going to be able to pick up everything that is happening and all the things that are, you know, just in the attraction, they are going to have to come back and ride it again and again. So they’ll have many experiences where they’ll be discovering new things and continue to be surprised and delighted.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction is scheduled to open on March 4, 2020 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Walt Disney World Resort and in 2022 at Disneyland.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online community for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She's the primary film critic for BGN and is a member of the Critics Choice Association.