AR Mickey Mouse brings a bit of Disney World to your home
Disney's first experiment with AR and theme parks could be a sign of more to come.
Scott SteinEditor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
I missed a chance to travel to Disney for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, where I was also hoping to get a chance to ride Disney's new Mickey rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios. My family was planning a trip this year, and it probably won't happen. With Disney parks still closed and vacations largely abandoned, Disney's new AR experience within the company's DisneyNow app could at least be a bit of a holdover. If you've already played with all the AR animals, maybe AR Mickey could be your next distraction.
The game is called Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway: Adventure Kit. It's based on the Mickey and Minnie ride that opened briefly this March at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, before parks were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Disney, it's also a way to see how it might someday be possible to bring theme park memories home virtually. The app has a non-AR mode for phones don't support augmented reality (AR requires an iPhone or Android phone that's ARKit- or ARCore-compatible). But if you turn AR on, it creates a little pop-up world where cartoon Mickey and Minnie will live in a set that's based on the new ride.
You can make a little world on your floor in AR. There's also a racing game with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, but the racing game part doesn't work in AR.
Disney has already made several projects around its park imagineering. Check out the excellent Disney Plus miniseries The Imagineering Story. There's also a Khan Academy series, Imagineering in a Box, which I'd recommend you try with your kids.
Watch this: How to create Disney theme park magic at home
Disney hasn't brought any of its parks to life in VR yet, although ILMxLab's Vader Immortal is a Star Wars adventure that often feels close to being a home version of a theme park experience.
Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway: Adventure Kit is free to try out, and doesn't require a DisneyNow subscription. I'll give it a test once the kids can dive in a bit. Eventually, maybe, AR and VR peeks into theme park attractions give us a sense of Disney's worlds even more. With everything still shut down, virtual experiences are something Disney and others will need to get more serious about.
Update, 1:37 p.m. PT: Clarifies that the experience is part of the DisneyNow app.