THEME PARKS

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!

By JERHOW

27 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! is an energetic, entertaining, and exciting re-imagining of the “drop tower” ride experience that was previously the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure.

Here’s the official description of the plot, via Disney Parks Blog:

Deep inside his fortress-like collection, the mysterious Tanleer Tivan (aka The Collector) is displaying his newest acquisitions, the Guardians of the Galaxy. They are trapped in customized display cases, suspended over a vast abyss. Unbeknownst to their unscrupulous captor, the intrepid Rocket has escaped and is enlisting the Collector’s VIP guests for help. Guests board a gantry lift, which launches them into a chaotic and hilarious adventure as they join Rocket in an attempt to break his fellow Guardians out of captivity.

At first glance, the transformation of the Tower is noticeable. It’s surprisingly more ominous and more alive than it’s predecessor. A flickering and changing lighting scheme add to the ambiance. If I’m going to nitpick, it would have been great to see more “moving parts.” For example, it would have been really cool if the satellite dish physically rotated, perhaps with steam emitting from those giant pipes that scale the structure. If It’s a Small World can do it, surely Tivan’s fortress can as well to sell us on the realism.

Inside, Tivan’s prized collections are on full display.

There’s plenty of eye candy, a ton of small details, inside jokes, all reinforcing the fantastic new theming.

Cosmo the Soviet Spacedog makes an appearace, as he does in the Marvel comic universe.

And here’s what’s left of Ultron, who clearly didn’t “Age” well.

Thor might cringe if he saw these Dark Elf artifacts.

Rocket takes center stage during the preshow, explaining our mission while digging himself into a little trouble in the process.

The physical animatronic works really well here, especially since Rocket in the films is an entirely computer-generated creation. Here, we see him in real time and space, bringing the character to life in an entirely new way.

Here’s an interesting little nod to a classic Disneyland attraction. What in the world is the Abominable Snowman from the Matterhorn doing in the Collector’s Fortress?

Could it be that Tivan took a ride on the bobsleds, encountered the creature, and decided he had to have one all to himself?

Or did Disney have an extra one stored in a warehouse collecting dust someplace and decided to gift it to the Collector as a “welcome to Earth” gesture?

Either way, it’s a fun touch, and Disney’s notorious taxidermy skills are on full display here.

No spoilery on-ride photos so you’ll have to experience it for yourself!

But the ride is upbeat and full of fun and thrills. When the elevator doors open, the video sequences featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy are bright, alive and exciting.

The drop profiles are more randomized than it’s predecessor, the ride feels longer and more aggressive.

I was a huge fan of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. I always felt the best version of this concept was found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, and I’m glad to see it’s still remaining intact there for now. So I’m not feeling quite as nostalgic over losing this experience in Anaheim.

Nevertheless, what kicks the thrills up a notch in the Twilight Zone version versus Guardians was the dark and ominous “haunted” aspect of the attraction. It added a sense of danger, of dread, when riding, and that really added a level of excitement I don’t quite get with the Guardians version.

Here, the tone is more akin to the new version of Star Tours, with a much more lighthearted tongue-in-cheek feel. The ride is still super fun, just lacks that added dimension the Twilight Zone version add.

Still, this new ride overlay is successful. It also represents the start of a significant change to Hollywoodland at Disney California Adventure, which will soon transition into a bona fide Marvel experience, with additional rides, attractions and shops all reinforcing the new theme. Right now, Mission: Breakout! is the anchor tenant for the land. When the Avengers come in with an E-Ticket ride of their own, which is the big rumor, the ride will be a very worthy complimentary experience that will keep it relevant for years to come.

Grade: A-

by JERHOW

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