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Here's an inside look at Disneyland's new Runaway Railway ride and Disney100 celebration

ANAHEIM, Calif. – When faced with a tornado, it's important to hold onto your ears.

I learned this lesson the hard way, when my ears flew from my head as our vehicle sharply swiveled around the large twister.

The ears, of course, weren't mine, but a hairband accessory designed after Minnie Mouse's ears. The tornado wasn't a real tornado, but a cartoon one that seemed to appear via a combo of animatronics and some sort of projection sorcery I'm still trying to figure out. And our vehicle wasn't a car, but a cart gliding through Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway – a newly opened attraction at Southern California's Disneyland, which is commemorating the Walt Disney Company's 100th anniversary with Disney100.

And luckily, when the fast-swerving, colorful, chaotic joy ride came to an end, my ears were waiting in our cart in the row behind me.

Guests will find in Runaway Railway an attraction Disney lovers of all generations can enjoy. What makes the experience stand out from others is its combination of classic Disney aesthetics with a sleek, modern execution.

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Runaway Railway, the first Disneyland attraction to star the company's icons Mickey and Minnie Mouse, takes guests on a trip down memory lane by showing Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Daisy Duck and more beloved characters in a retro animation style fans may recognize from Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts.

But Runaway Railway tells its own story. Following a romantic picnic outing between Mickey and Minnie that goes awry, guests are jolted from roving green hills to a cragged canyon to a waterfall and beyond, which appear seamlessly on walls and animatronics in poppy, cartoon style.

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opened at Disneyland Park on Jan. 27, 2023, for the Disney100 anniversary at Disneyland Resort.
Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway opened at Disneyland Park on Jan. 27, 2023, for the Disney100 anniversary at Disneyland Resort.

Following in the footsteps of more modern Disneyland fare, like the Galaxy's Edge attraction Rise of the Resistance, Runaway Railway continues the trackless trend. Guests think they're boarding a train (operated not so expertly by Goofy) when, not too long after, the train carts break off and race across the floor in their own path, making it hard to predict where you'll go next.

At one point, the carts face a mirror for Daisy's dance class and softly sway from side to side, mirroring ballet steps, before spinning out into a fierce conga, a moment that put an instant smile on my face.

Though the carts swivel and swerve, they never jerk too roughly, making the attraction an exciting, but smooth experience overall. The only drawback, if any, is that there's so much to take in at once, and it can feel a bit overwhelming the first go-round. I noticed more detail and ultimately got more out of the attraction my second ride through.

I'm sure I'd get even more riding a third, fourth or fifth time.

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Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is set in El CapiTOON Theater in Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is set in El CapiTOON Theater in Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland.

Is Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway worth a long queue?

New attractions at Disneyland infamously come with long wait times. But in this case, especially if you're visiting the park with kids, I think enduring a long queue is worth it, and it's totally different from the queue at Walt Disney World's version of the ride.

The front of the Disneyland attraction, called El CapiTOON, is a tribute to Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre, and the queue features adorable posters of classic films replaced with Disney characters, like "The Chipmunk Trap," "High School Goofical 3" and "Goofy Friday." The queue ends with a short film screening that features Mickey and Minnie, before the screen literally breaks open, revealing the secret entrance to the boarding era.

For adults, putting up with a long wait depends on what type of attraction you prefer. If your favorite Disneyland experiences are gentler ones that immerse you in another world, you'll want to prioritize Runaway Railway. If it's speedy thrills you're after, your precious hours are likely better spent waiting for epic classics like Big Thunder or Space Mountain.

Guests will rarely see the queue for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway this empty at Disneyland.
Guests will rarely see the queue for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway this empty at Disneyland.

New nighttime spectacular 'Wondrous Journeys' is extra in the best way

More is more seems to be the Disney100 motto.

In honor of the company's anniversary, two new nighttime spectaculars debuted at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. One of them, Disneyland's "Wondrous Journeys," which I caught at a preview, is completely overwhelming – in the best way.

The 13-minute show, which combines projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle with relentless fireworks, packs in nods to every film released by Walt Disney Animation Studios over the past 100 years. Waves of cheers broke out at one projection from "Treasure Planet," a niche but beloved 2002 film, and my heart swelled as Moana, Hercules, Belle and Quasimodo somehow formed a cohesive musical melody from each of their respective power anthems. At one point, the Blue Fairy from "Pinocchio" floated by the castle spires, and at another Baymax from "Big Hero 6" circled in the air.

The new nighttime spectacular “Wondrous Journeys” lights up the sky with fireworks and projections during Disneyland's Disney100 celebration.
The new nighttime spectacular “Wondrous Journeys” lights up the sky with fireworks and projections during Disneyland's Disney100 celebration.

"World of Color – ONE" at Disney's California Adventure wasn't available for preview when I visited, but its producer Jennifer Magill says the show has been in the works for a year and builds on the previous "World of Color" by focusing on the potential of each individual to impact the world. It also involves plenty of lasers and intricate lighting.

"We heard about the Disney100 celebration, and it really sparked in the team this creative idea (that) it all started with Walt Disney," she says. "What is the power of one? One small gesture, one small action can have this ripple effect."

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“World of Color – ONE” gives beloved Disney animation moments new life through water and light at Disney California Adventure.
“World of Color – ONE” gives beloved Disney animation moments new life through water and light at Disney California Adventure.

What else is going on for Disney100?

The Disney100 celebration also brings tons of new merchandise, specialty food and platinum park decorations to peruse. A new exhibit at The Disney Gallery also pays tribute to Disney history by featuring art and and designs of iconic characters and moments.

Mickey's Toontown, where Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway is located, also fully reopens March 19, with revamped areas to check out.

Pieces from the platinum-infused Disney100 merchandise collection are seen through a window along Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A.
Pieces from the platinum-infused Disney100 merchandise collection are seen through a window along Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney100: Is Disneyland'snew Runaway Railway ride any good?