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Ride Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout

May 25, 2017, 6:50 AM · ANAHEIM, Calif. — If I live a fortunate life, I never will see a superhero.

Don't get me wrong — I enjoy watching Spider-Man, Batman, or the Avengers just as much as many fans. But think about when those guys (and gals, thanks Wonder Woman!) show up someplace. It ain't when everything's all sunshine and happiness. When the superheroes arrive, you know it's a paws-up, oh-my-God, run-for-your-life, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?.

Like draining your checking account at a casino ATM, eating instant ramen noodles on a daily basis, or realizing that the social media app you use most often is Tinder, watching a superhero actually show up in front you would be a sign that your life ain't turning out the way you should have hoped. You've become one of those poor fools whose greatest moment in life was when they got a call to come on the Dr. Phil show. Something, somewhere, has gone horribly wrong.

So why do we love superheroes? Maybe it's the "call of the void," or maybe the daredevil's creed that we feel life only when we risk its loss. A superhero tale allows us to bundle all our fears and insecurities and then project them onto the screen or page — where a superhero can rescue us from them. It's our secular faith in a savior who will protect us from our sins, as well as those who sin against us.

Such as intergalactic jackass Tanleer Tivan.

According to Walt Disney Imagineering's Joe Rohde, the creative director on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout, Tivan, aka "The Collector," decided that he wanted to show off his latest acquisition — the Guardians of the Galaxy — by bringing them to a high-profile, well-visited location on Earth... which just happened to be Disney California Adventure.

In my head canon, Tivan decided to plop his museum on top of the Hollywood Tower Hotel because he's a giant turdbucket who enjoys making people mad. Let's call that one "Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Accomplished."

But the Hollywood Tower's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is gone now and no amount of online wailing will return it to the park. So how should we judge its replacement?

While Disney has decorated the tower with pipes and conduits that draw power from the alien world of Knowhere, the actual structure of the building, its queue and ride system has changed little from its Twilight Zone incarnation. That's the main reason why Disney was able to convert the attraction to its new theme in less than six months. With its now-garish detail and golden statue of Tivan himself at the entrance, the Tivan Collection — as the tower is now known — sticks out horribly in the formerly coherent Hollywood Land of the park.

As it was designed. The Guardians ride is a literal disruption of Disney California Adventure — the first step toward the establishment of a Marvel-themed land that will transform the eastern side of the theme park. The superheroes are here, kids. Stuff's about to get real. Not everything you love will survive. That's what happens in a superhero tale.

Let's follow Rohde as he sets up the backstory, then leads us through the queue and into the preshow room.

In the preshow, Mission Breakout flips the script on our superhero tale. This time, it's the superheroes who need saving and we are the ones who must come to their rescue. Sure, we don't have to do much — just put up our hands so that the escaped Rocket Raccoon can get security clearance in the tower to reenter and wreak havoc. (And if you don't do it, the ride will proceed as if you did — just like the "don't look into the eyes of Mara" bit on Indiana Jones Adventure. We're just going to assume that someone in the crowd did what the script demands.)

Once in the elevator, Mission Breakout does its best to make you forget all about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. To start, unlike the old version, Mission Breakout provides an answer why this elevator has seats. (We are guest being taken by gantry to view the Guardians, who are being kept at the top of the tower.) And Mission Breakout wastes no time in getting to the action. We raise our hands, Rocket pulls the power that contains his friends in their cells, he plugs in Star Lord's Walkman instead, and we blast away. There's no slow build as we climb up the tower. The ride starts with a blast upward and barely pauses along the way.

Mission Breakout features six randomly selected ride profiles, each with a different rock song accompaniment and screen vignettes of the Guardians battling their way out of the tower. Disney brought Guardians stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Benicio Del Toro to reprise their roles for the ride, and they command every moment on screen here just as effectively as they did in theaters. Director James Gunn participated in every step of the attraction's production, Rohde said, creating a seamless integration for the ride into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rohde joined Brian Crosby from Marvel Themed Entertainment and Vice President of Character Integration for Marvel Studios Dave Bushore after a media preview last week to talk about the development of the attraction.

With the six ride profiles, fans will want to circle around and reenter the queue to sample the rest — seeing what other props and Easter eggs from the MCU they can find in Tivan's collection along the way. Back to my head canon again: I'll just assume that the ride is caught in one of those time loops we discovered in the MCU's Doctor Strange, where the Guardians here are forever escaping, returning to their cells, then escaping again.

That way, the Guardians can remain perpetually on their mission... until the next time Disney decides to change this park.

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Replies (28)

May 25, 2017 at 8:07 AM · Judging by the videos I've seen and your own review, this looks like a blast. While I lament the loss of ToT, I've been around Disney long enough to know that nothing lasts forever (except for Ellen's Energy Adventure it seems). I am impressed by the quality of the new attraction since it was reskinned in such a short amount of time. I can't wait to ride this!
May 25, 2017 at 8:07 AM · Did you fly on the same plane with Joe Rohde? Can't imagine there were too many flights between Orlando and LA that would allow one to catch both openings of PtWOA and Mission Breakout.
May 25, 2017 at 8:39 AM · Absolutely brilliant makeover of the TZ Tower of whatever. You can walk into the lobby rather than just seeing staging. That robot with glowing eyes is creepy. I will get a selfie. Love the Rocket Raccoon animatronic. I will see the preshow just for that.

I would love to see a Dr. Strange ride in reference to the Q&A video. To the future of Marvel Land and beyond.

May 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM · I have to admit...this caught my attention. I really didn't want to like anything I was going to see in this review but that's no longer the case. I'm not a Marvel or GotG fan (though I saw the 1st movie) and I really wanted to see more of this attraction. As far as overlays go, the structure now makes far more sense.

And Shaun, even Ellen can't escape "FOREVER"! It would appear she's next on the chopping block.

May 25, 2017 at 9:23 AM · Looks better than I imagined it would!
May 25, 2017 at 9:43 AM · I can't wait for more Marvel in DCA!!! As Groot said, "This awesome attraction is just the first friggin' step to bigger and better things" - except he didn't use friggin'.
May 25, 2017 at 10:14 AM · I wasn't as bugged about loss of the ToT in California as it was the weakest version of the ride. This does look pretty fun overall and the idea of Collector just picking a place so tacky to stand out makes total sense.
May 25, 2017 at 5:47 PM · This actually looks pretty great. I wonder if the same overhaul will be given to Hollywood Studios' ToT?
May 25, 2017 at 5:57 PM · Pretty much no chance. The Guardians will go elsewhere at the Walt Disney World Resort.
May 25, 2017 at 7:02 PM · So fun. I'm all about layovers, or makeovers or whatever were calling it. And I think the tower looks great, especially at night.
Whatever it takes to get new attractions into the parks, I'm all in.
May 25, 2017 at 7:33 PM · @RobertNiles: "Pretty much no chance. The Guardians will go elsewhere at the Walt Disney World Resort."
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Will they though? I mean, what about that Marvel contract with Universal? They can't use Marvel, not even Guardians, in Florida, right? Maybe we won't be seeing any Marvel on Disney World for a very long time...
May 25, 2017 at 7:50 PM · Alternatively, they can reinvent the Tower as Guardians that's taller and in another park that needs more rides other than DHS. The ride seems like a winner.

Just saw your YouTube video. This ride is definitely a winner. They used the screens better and they opened it several times to better effect. They are more colorful than the ghostly images of Twilight Zone. It's just so much fun.

May 25, 2017 at 8:17 PM · Wow. I cannot believe this turned out so well. I'm not going to lie but I had my hopes this was going to fail because I do not want Disney laying a finger on the Tower of Terror in Orlando but I must admit this looks great. I still don't want them touching Orlando's version but this is great for California's. Joe Rohde did it again.
May 25, 2017 at 8:23 PM · @LukeFouyer Gaurdians are not in the Marvel Universal contact. But from what I understand can't use the word Marvel and it can't be a motion simulator.

My prediction is they'll use the Mission Breakout theme and media for a roller coaster in Epcot's Energy space.

May 25, 2017 at 8:30 PM · ^Hope you're right!
May 25, 2017 at 9:19 PM · After watching the video, I have to say that while this doesn't look quite as good as Tower of Terror, it still looks like a very fun ride and appears to be quite a bit better than I think most expected it to be. I'm probably not going to get back to the park until mid/late June, but I am looking forward to giving this a try the next time I visit.
May 26, 2017 at 5:09 AM · I agree with AJ. Probably not a surprised, but this is a huge downgrade from the Tower of Terror. Instead of looking at lighting and some practical effects, we now have turned the old Tower of Terror into a screen attraction.

Also, Burning Love? Peter Quill plays late 70s/Early 80s music. Not Elvis.

May 26, 2017 at 9:50 AM · Universal should allow Disney to convert Twilight Zone Orlando into Guardians of the Galaxy in exchange for releasing all Twilight Zone licensing rights to Universal.

Then, Universal should build new Twilight Zone Towers in Hollywood and Orlando. Win-win. Disney sells more toys and Universal acquires the customers that Disney doesn't want anymore.

May 26, 2017 at 9:55 AM · Burning Love wasn't released until 1972, while Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede (an important song in the first Guardians) came out in 1974. Not that big a difference. Also, I Want You Back by The Jackson 5 came out in 1969 and it's also used on the ride.
May 26, 2017 at 3:06 PM · @AaronMcMahon Huh, well, that'd be awesome
Are you sure about the contract, though? I mean, from what I've seen on the web, it seems like no one's sure about any of these Marvel contracts(be it with Fox for the X-Men movies, or with Universal for the rides in Orlando).
But I sure hope they can do something like that in Orlando. Maybe a coaster, like you said, but in a more Space Mountain/Aerosmith sort of way... Maybe even with screens(like in Escape from Gringotts)!
May 26, 2017 at 4:10 PM · Gardians doesn't fall under the existing contract. Some it didn't even exist, like Groot and the rest were very obscure at the time that it wasnt included. It is part of the marvel universe just not specifically called out as part of universal's contract. That said , Disney can use gardians in FL, they just can't use the word Marvel.
May 26, 2017 at 4:21 PM · And universal is not using anyone from the gardians family in Any if their theme parks, so Disney would be free to use it: just not as a simulator or virtual reality ride.
May 26, 2017 at 4:46 PM · "Pretty much no chance. The Guardians will go elsewhere at the Walt Disney World Resort." Reading a little between the lines here, is that an unofficial statement that you believe Guardians will crash Epcot, sooner or later?
May 26, 2017 at 5:35 PM · Looks pretty craptacular
May 27, 2017 at 7:02 AM · Well, based on the way this ride looks, Disney cannot just plop the exact same attraction at DHS.

I think DCA's TOT had a problem because it was a story built around a thrill ride. DHS's version seemed to be a story built around a thrill ride. DHS's version always seemed to give the chills and creepiness along with the drop thrills.

May 27, 2017 at 11:24 AM · Everything's all good so long as they Leave the Original Alone!
May 27, 2017 at 5:38 PM · I don't see why everyone is so angry, just come to FL! We have the original & the best version, it's literally my favorite ride in the world. The one in DCA was nothing compared to ours in DHS.
May 29, 2017 at 5:26 PM · I almost died on this ride!

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