Theme Park Insider

First look inside Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout

April 25, 2017, 8:10 PM · ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Disneyland Resort this afternoon invited a small group of local reporters behind the construction walls of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! for a walking tour of Disney's first Marvel-themed ride in the United States.

As fans can see looking at the former Twilight Zone Tower Terror building in Disney California Adventure, the external transformation of the building is complete. And from walking through the building today, I can report that Disney has made no substantial changes to the building's construction on the inside. However, the decoration of the building will be completely different from its former theme, and most of those decorative changes are complete.

Guiding us through the building, Disney Imagineers described the story of the new attraction, which I've summarized in this quick video. (Now, we enter spoiler territory....)

Standing outside the The Collector's Fortress, as the tower is now known, Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Director Danny Handke talked about how the gaudy appearance of the tower, with its many pipes running up and down the surface, helps set up the story that fans will discover inside.

"The organic matter that they mine on Knowhere flows through these pipes, which power the giant generator that keeps every cage [in the collection] locked and secured," Handke said. "So if the generator ever happens to go out, then that would be utter chaos, so that's a very important story point that we wanted to start telling at the exterior of the building."

The newest occupants of five of those sealed cages are the Guardians of the Galaxy, whom Taneleer Tivan (a.k.a. The Collector) has captured and brought to the edge of Disney California Adventure to show off to the people of Terra (i.e. Earth).

"You might notice some alien language throughout the facility," Handke said. "We have some mystery elements here that you can decipher that will help give you clues to other reasons why The Collector is here."

The Collector is holding the Guardians inside the top of the tower, suspended over an abyss — an isolated location that visitors to the tower can see only by riding a special gantry up to the tower's highest level.

But before we see the Guardians in their cells, The Collector has invited us to take a VIP tour past some of his other collectibles. "There's a ton of Easter eggs in there, and I think what's fun about it," said Dave Bushore, Vice President for Franchise Creative and Marketing for Marvel Studios. The more than 2,200 props in the building will include items not just from the Guardians franchise, but from other Marvel franchises, including Agents of SHIELD and Doctor Strange, as well as from the theme park world, he said.

Marvel creative talent worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering in developing the attraction — some elements of which may find their way back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point, the team teased.

"One of the fun things for us was having the ability to partner James [Gunn, the director of the Guardians films] with the parks teams on this original Guardians attraction," Bushore said. "James was heavily involved in dialogue, in working in bringing the cast in, and having them work with the parks team."

The original cast members from the Guardians films, including Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, appear in original filmed sequences in the attraction, which will differ through multiple rides for visitors.

After meeting The Collector in his private office, visitors will move into a maintenance area of the Fortress to board the gantry that will take them up to see the Guardians. Instead of a slow journey up the tower, visitors will blast immediately to the top on Mission: Breakout!

And that's where it all goes terribly wrong. Rocket Raccoon has escaped and has a plan to blow up the Fortress' power generator. That will free the Guardians... but it also will plunge the tower into darkness and send our gantry plummeting back down to the ground.

As the emergency power tentatively kicks in, the ride will give you one of six different show segments, each with its own drop sequence and pop song accompaniment. We didn't get to see the sequences or go on the ride, but a prop board at the elevator entrance included an illustration of each of the six scenes, which were labeled: Escape, Abelisk Attack, Drak vs. Beast, Anti-gravity, Quill vs. Orloni, and Drones.

The pop songs that will play for the six different show scenes are:

In addition to those songs, throughout the building, visitors will hear an original underscore for the ride composed by Tyler Bates, who wrote the score for the Guardians films, said John Dennis, Executive Creative Director for Music at WDI. The audio experience continues even after visitors exit the gantry.

"As you get off the ride, you're going to hear some of those greatest hits moments from the Guardians soundtrack, but you're also going to hear some of the creatures that have set loose, running through the building," Dennis said.

Once through the hall following the gantry ride, you will exit the building through The Collector's warehouse.

"Since everything is in utter chaos, his cast members are selling all his stuff, all his collectibles on the site," Handke said, providing the best attempt at a thematic explanation for a post-ride gift shop I've ever heard.

"They're getting rid of everything. Everything must go. It doesn't matter anymore. The Collector is preoccupied with everything on the loose, saying 'Where are all my collectibles?' so while all that's happening in the hall, we're selling off all his good stuff."

The moment of the Guardians' escape is a moment of liberation for the cast members staffing the attraction, as well, who will be working with forced smiles as they toil under the oppressive control of their boss, The Collector.

"We've never done an attraction where we're working for the villains," Handke said. "They want to be good guys, that's why they are on with Rocket's plan. They think it's going to be hilarious when all the creatures are on the loose and The Collector is freaking out."

"They're sticking it to The Man. They have to work for this guy, but they don't like it."

Replies (37)

April 25, 2017 at 8:35 PM · It sounds like fun, and I didn't enjoy the movie that much. That being said, I still think this was a bad decision. Tower of Terror may not have been the oldest or most beloved attraction, but it did not need to be replaced anytime soon. If Tower of Terror could not co-exist with Marvel and they had to get rid of it, they should have just torn it down. The exterior does not fit with the rest of the park at all. Even if it fits with the rest of Marvel area, it is too tall not to be a distraction elsewhere.
April 25, 2017 at 8:41 PM · "I can report that Disney has made no substantial changes to the building's construction on the inside."

That statement of "no substantial changes" is a bit misleading for your readers. The OC register has a photo of the interior and the former hotel lobby looks very different;

http://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/25/new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ride-at-disneyland-will-feature-music-from-the-movies/

April 25, 2017 at 9:33 PM · The exterior looks awful. Should have just done a slight retheme of the Disney SEA story.
April 25, 2017 at 10:00 PM · Oh no. My biggest fear has been realized. This isn't a ride built off a franchise, this is a ride built off the misunderstanding of why the GotG soundtrack is so great.

The reason why Tarantino films or the GotG have such memorable soundtracks isn't about the playlist, its about context. Its not the song, its the moment in the film when a song is played. You cant just grab Bohemian Rhapsody and throw it onto a Suicide Squad fight scene. And you cant just take cool classic songs and throw it on an elevator ride and expect it to work. This will only make the ride age quicker.

I tried to overlook the Gaudy-ians of the Galaxy ride exterior. But now it seems the interior is where things are really going to be ugly.

April 25, 2017 at 10:00 PM · I thought they will redo the interior queue in the main lobby with the collector's glass enclosures before you enter the unchanged former library and boiler room. The background noise in the video was loud.
April 27, 2017 at 11:40 AM · So we finally have a plausible explanation for why there are seats in these elevators, as well as a better explanation for the drop sequences than the "it's the supernatural" cop-out from The Twilight Zone, which was more a series about ironic punishment, anyway - a theme that was completely absent from the ToT.

I also found it interesting that Disney's done so much to promote re-riding this attraction... but also written a narrative that creates a definitive conclusion, seemingly making a repeat of the experience impossible. If the collection's gone, how can we turn around and see it again?

This is hardly unique in the theme park world, where the same thing goes terribly wrong indefinitely on almost every ride. But that conflict seems especially acute here. In my head canon, I'm going to call in another member of the MCU here and attribute this to GOTG: MB taking place inside one of Doctor Strange's infinite time loops.

Also, to 108.231.17.154, I consider those decorative changes. The location of walls, etc., has not changed.

April 26, 2017 at 11:05 PM · All I can say is that I'm glad I'll still be able to ride the REAL Tower in Orlando this Fall.
April 26, 2017 at 12:24 AM · I wasn't happy about this project when it was announced, but I'm excited about this now.

I think the tower looks ugly in pictures. On a recent trip to DLR, however, it looked distinctive and interesting in person. Granted, more of the tower was under tarps around this point, but I was still surprised at how much better it looks in person than in pictures. If there's some kinetic energy around the ride when it opens, that would also make it more aesthetically interesting.

I think the storyline sounds interesting and fun. The drop sequences in the original tower were already fun but not too intense, and although I didn't really like the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I will agree that it has the kind of lighthearted, fun, action vibe that could definitely work with the ride mechanism. As for the pop songs, I don't think they can really be judged until you really know exactly what the segments will entail; i think they could work really well or not at all.

Overall, I'm still cautious about this ride, but am becoming more excited about it as more details emerge.

April 26, 2017 at 12:36 AM · I'm in the minority of people who are actually excited about this GotG re-theme however I am really disappointed by the music playlist. Of those five songs, only ONE of them ("I want you back") is actually from the soundtrack of either of the two movies. The rest are just... I don't know... vaguely of the same genre I guess. This will disappoint fans. It's a bit like Disney building a Beauty and the Beast dark ride and then adding generic orchestral music rather than music from the actual score. I imagine it comes down to rights and royalties, but it's a real disappointment. I was seriously expecting the signature "Hooked on a Feeling" track at least.
April 26, 2017 at 1:17 AM · Besides the "...went to Disney Land to show" story part (Disney never bothered to explain why Peter Pan's ride is in Fantasyland, it just is and I'm ok with that) the story sounds fun. But like most the exterior is the most eye soaring overlay Disney ever did to a ride.
Regarding the acting requests for the cast members, that is a tough one. Only so many actors are able to portray 2 emotions convincingly at the same time. I see a huge problem there.
And...another screen based ride at Disney, oh dear.
April 26, 2017 at 3:36 AM · Sounds like a fun change. Nice to have something different on each coast. Looking forward to riding this version of the attraction (several times to catch all the sequences, it would seem) when/if I ever make it out to SoCal again. Also looking forward to seeing GotG Vol 2 on May 4th.... cannot wait!
April 26, 2017 at 4:34 AM · i hope they dont do this at hollywood studios. i love tower of terror
April 26, 2017 at 5:35 AM · "Since everything is in utter chaos, his cast members are selling all his stuff, all his collectibles on the site" -
This is why the Twilight Zone no longer exists. Disney wanted to sell more toys as quickly and cheaply as possible.

"They're getting rid of everything. Everything must go" -
Where have I heard this line before? Maybe Disney will sell used cars in Carsland next?

"The moment of the Guardians' escape is a moment of liberation for the cast members staffing the attraction, as well, who will be working with forced smiles as they toil under the oppressive control of their boss, The Collector" -
How long until Disney's oppressed cast members are freed from Iger and Chapek?

"They're sticking it to The Man. They have to work for this guy, but they don't like it" -
Finally some truth. This must be how the Imagineers feel about working for Iger and Chapek.

April 26, 2017 at 8:22 AM · Gosh they worked pretty darned hard to emphasize what a necessary design choice those pipes are. They must be feeling the criticism.
April 26, 2017 at 8:50 AM · I don't understand the vitriol targeted at this makeover. DCA's version of ToT was vastly inferior to DHS's and TSD's, so any improvement to the poor copycat attempt should be lauded. It's clear that if Mission: Breakout improves even slightly over the popularity of the Twilight Zone theme, you'll see Disney move quickly to surround the tower with other Marvel themed attraction. I do wish they would have picked better songs, and should have only used songs featured in the films ("I Want you Back" was in the first film).
April 26, 2017 at 9:36 AM · I'm all in on this new version. If it's terrible, I'll be the first to admit it. The fact that there are multiple scenes is a plus in my eyes.

I'll agree with Robert's assessment of the ToT storyline and reason why we are there in the first place. It misses the point of the Twilight Zone.

April 26, 2017 at 9:51 AM · Let's turn around and look at it this way. If the original version of the tower at DCA were Guardians... then Disney announced that it was going to retheme it as Twilight Zone, how would people react?

Now, you'll find fans for any attraction who would be upset if Disney closed their favorite ride. And people who are happy to see any change in the parks. But I think that if we were going from GOTG: MB to TZTOT (DCA version), fans would be complaining (rightly, IMHO) about the lazy storyline that didn't fit the TZ theme, about the loss of abundant Easter eggs in favor of a been-there, done-that Haunted Mansion-style interior, a single storyline and drop profile replacing the multiple versions, and even about a "boring" new facade.

Not to mention the complaints we did get at the DCA TOT's introduction that it was an abridged and inferior version of the Orlando original.

I've been arguing ever since the rumors of this project started emerging from WDI that GOTG could be a better fit for the tower than TZ was. After walking through the tower and seeing what WDI has planned, I'm now completely convinced of that.

April 26, 2017 at 9:52 AM · The Twilight Zone theme was never particularly good. The Guardians of the Galaxy may offer a better story, which wouldn't be hard to top honestly. However that exterior looks awful, it's a bunch of grunge painted pipes and cat walks. Looks like the "improvements" they did to Space Mountain back in the 90's.

Japan has the best story of this ride, with a beautiful exterior to boot.

April 26, 2017 at 9:58 AM · Agreed on Japan.

When I asked if GOTG: MB would be officially part of Hollywood Land, Handke replied, "Yes, it is part of Hollywood Land. On opening day."

To me, that's as close to a confirmation from WDI as we are going to get at this point that GOTG: MB is eventually going to end up as one of the anchors of a new Marvel Land in DCA. Whether any part of Hollywood Land survives the development of Marvel Land remains to be seen.

April 26, 2017 at 10:06 AM · With all due respect Robert, you don't seem to grasp why it Guardian's doesn't fit in a land called Hollywood land and a theme park about California. No convoluted story line that no one will even know. Nothing revealed yesterday gives any indication that despite their best efforts this is forced. How you can argue the Hollywood Tower hotel in Hollywood land fits less than Guardians, shows the corporate shill you have become.

If they did the reverse and put in an attraction that fit the theme of the park and the land, the majority would embrace it.

April 26, 2017 at 10:19 AM · Makes me wonder how the antiqued cable car is going to fit into that land pulling right up to drop you off in front of a space power plant. I guess that cable car gets axed? Stark Tower would actually have made the cable car pulling up to it mirror the SF cable car which is towered by sky scrapers on each side of it. The space plant kills that little treat of a transportation ride.

The painting is on the wall to watch this turn into Marvel Land, however this facade could have been executed better.

April 26, 2017 at 10:32 AM · Robert, are there any animatronics? Does Rocket play the role of the cursed tiki in the Tokyo Tower ride?
April 26, 2017 at 11:01 AM · The more I look at it, the more I'm panicking. The building looks messier by the day. Twilight Zone looks sedated in comparison. Rocket Raccoon is definitely a radical character in Guardians. It brings a new manic energy to the ride that TZ never had. I agree that they can never go back. Can't wait for the announcements at D23.
April 26, 2017 at 11:05 AM · To 68.54.63.107, I think the issue here is that Hollywood Land - at least in the area surrounding the tower - is going away. That context is on its way to Yesterland.

Now, how will GOTG: MB fit within the Marvel Land that Disney eventually will build around it? That, I have no idea. Frankly, I don't think WDI is entirely set on that yet, either.

April 26, 2017 at 12:09 PM · If Disney doesn't even know how this will fit into the rest of the Marvel area yet, they did this prematurely. If the rest of the Marvel area blends into the tower, it will look just as bad as Hollywood Land does now. If it doesn't, at least they won't make the same mistake they did with the tower for the new area.

I think they should get rid of A Bug's Land and use that and the undeveloped area behind the Tower and Cars for Marvel. Then they could turn Hollywood Land into a real Hollywood street, not a combination of a real street and the terriable old backlot theme leftover from opening day. They can't hide the tower, but maybe they could alter that side to blend better similar to how the part of Tower of Terror that is visible from Epcot was designed to blend into the Mococo Pavilion. I just hope one day it will link better than it does today.


While I agree with Robert about Tower of Terror's flaws, at least the outside looked much better than it does now. It was worth keeping just for the wonderful exterior Disney has failed at disguising. Now it just looks like the giant baby from Honey I Blew Up The Kid played with it then puked on it.

April 26, 2017 at 12:20 PM · I was in the park with my family this past week, and that's one cluttered, tacky-looking exterior! And they've somehow managed to make the building look smaller. Their used of forced perspective worked in the original theming, because all the architectural elements (hotel windows, roofing, etc) were familiar to us. But this new version just has a whole bunch of vaguely 'spacey' claptrap tossed onto it, making it look fatter, shorter, and certainly uglier.
April 26, 2017 at 1:50 PM · If I'm reading this right, it sounds like you board an elevator that will take you up to view a screen showing the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, something goes terribly wrong and your ride turns into a highly themed drop tower with additional screens and special effects, but no animatronics or practical sets. I don't get why everyone is hating this so much...it is exactly what Universal would do.

Joking aside, I am cautiously optimistic about this ride, but I am a little worried that Disney has created something that is popular because of the IP and not because of the ride quality. Tower of Terror was great not because of the Twilight Zone or because it had the world's best story, but was great because everything fit together so well. You didn't need to know anything about Twilight Zone to like it. This, however, sounds like it may not make sense to those who aren't fans of Guardians of the Galaxy, so I could see a lot of people leaving thinking it was a good thrill ride but a weak Disney attraction. I hope to be proven wrong, but I won't know until I ride.

April 26, 2017 at 2:14 PM · "If Disney doesn't even know how this will fit into the rest of the Marvel area yet, they did this prematurely."

It's not premature. It's done to take advantage of marketing for the new Guardians 2 movie coming out in less than a week.

The rest of the park can wait while Star Wars is still being worked on. I don't expect a Marvel makeover to happen until well after Star Wars Land is over.

April 26, 2017 at 2:22 PM · There's a difference between being a good marketing decision, and being a good decision for the park long term. I hope it ends up being both, but it's too early too tell, though I have my doubts.
April 26, 2017 at 4:22 PM · "The Twilight Zone theme was never very good" This makes my heart ache. Can't an attraction just be an immersive, surreal experience? Must everything have a 3-act story? Must everything "make sense?"
An attraction can just be a thrilling sensory experience. This need to limit rides to the same parameters as books and movies is limiting the possibilities of immersive entertainment.
April 26, 2017 at 8:24 PM · Gosh, wouldn't I love Mr Toad's wild Fast and Furious ride.
April 26, 2017 at 8:33 PM · It's a good park decision if the park attendance goes up, which justifies the Guardians makeover and ensures the new Marvel Land is made. Seems like you're only concerned with the short term look. They could jump start the updates with a successful Guardians tie-in.
April 26, 2017 at 9:27 PM · While the ride sounds fun, the visual intrusion is terrible!
If Disney wanted this to be the start of Marvel land, a light re-theme to WW2 Captain America would have fit much better. That way they could have kept the hotel facade, added Marvel and kept with the actual theme of the area.

I understand they want to tie it in with the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but that is pretty short sighted in the grand scheme of things.

April 27, 2017 at 5:04 AM · I still think that this is a terrible move by Disney. It sounds like they have done very little on the inside physically. It pretty much is the same motions as the ToT. This is just like Frozen Ever After.

What I do not get is why the Tower of Terror was a bad ride that needed to be replaced. It was one of the most successful attractions ever created by Disney. In my mind, it hits classic status just like Pirates, the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain.

Once again: Tiki Room Under New Management.

April 28, 2017 at 3:25 PM · that should ease, people's fears and complaints, they they did figure out a way to make the guardian's thematically work, on the building. very clever. they should have released that info, (at the same time), as the ride change announcement.

Only, thing. is how can we possibly survive, with the elevator plunging, to the ground. but, that bit of unrealism, is (really) true with every action movie, where the hero's would (realistically) have died. somewhere, in the movie.

April 28, 2017 at 3:51 PM · to 104.181 it's possible, the forced smiles idea (was the imagineers therepy), working on a remake, when they prob prefer doing original attractions.
April 29, 2017 at 2:20 PM · People are complaining about DCA's TOT storyline, but fail to realize that the TOT at DHS has the exact same storyline! The only major difference between the ride experiences at DCA and DHS is the tacky 5th Dimension Scene. When you really think about it, that scene makes no sense in the context of the ride's story. Why would the floating things from the show's intro play a part in the transfering of elevator shafts? You already saw the show's intro in the library, that was the start of the episode that you're supposed to be in. If you're gonna go and bash DCA's TOT for "not being elaborate enough", then I have the right to do this as well.

Plus, the TOT at DCA always felt more like you were in a Twilight Zone episode while the TOT in DHS always felt like it was just themed to The Twilight Zone. Sure the exterior and interior were bigger, but that's because they had more space to play with.

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