Disney fans are unique people. They really like the products that Disney puts out for them and the moment you get rid of something that they really like, they aren’t second guess to criticize you.
That’s exactly what happened when the Disneyland Resort announced that they were going to “re-imagine” the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction into a new one based off Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. The second Tower of Terror opened at Disney California Adventure Park in 2004 after huge success at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
The DCA version quickly became a hit, especially with local Disney fans in Southern California; so much so that they cried out in opposition to the change for various reasons like “it’s a classic” and “Tower of Terror will always be better.”
But those statements have had no merit since the new Mission: BREAKOUT attraction has been under heavy renovation and construction by Walt Disney Imagineers since January 2017. “It was a massive undertaking,” said Joe Rohde, the senior creative force behind the re-imagined attraction (and other story-drive projects like Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and just recently Pandora – World of Avatar). “To pull it off in just 5 months was just crazy especially because of all the technical elements.”
Rohde wasn’t kidding. The new Mission: BREAKOUT attraction doesn’t feel like the Tower of Terror attraction at all. While the exterior and interiors haven’t changed their structures or flow, everything has been re-themed to make it feel like Tanleer Tivan’s Fortress and home of his collections.
You know, his collections like the “lost” CCCP Golden Retriever from the Soviet Union space missions and now, the Guardians of the Galaxy aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. They are characters that you will see on the attraction (and the actual actors like Chris Pratt, but they arguably won’t be the star of the new experience.
That star would be the impressive use of technology and show elements that seamlessly come together to create a new experience. As one of my colleagues put it, the Tower-now-Fortress has now become an “attraction.” That classification comes from the idea that all Disney attractions are deeply rooted in purposeful story.
For Mission: BREAKOUT, that purposeful story is that Rocket wants to help breakout his Guardians friends from The Collector’s Fortress. And since his methods of help require destruction, his actions ultimately hijack your VIP tour of the Fortress and cause your “gantry lift” to lose power and lose control – which means drops and high-speed ascents. Where the drop was always called out to be the main source of thrill for a falling elevator ride, Mission: BREAKOUT shrouds its thrill in a thrilling and entertaining character and stories that isn’t afraid to change with each experience.
“Once guests take a seat and we close the doors, it blasts off like a rocket ship. This stuff is loose – all kinds of chaos; You’re in for some real, high-energy fun,” Rohde continued.
For all the backlash the change has received, I am personally impressed with the attraction because of the “awesome mix” of existing drop-ride technology and the already entertaining franchise that is Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” If Disney were ever to “re-imagine” an existing attraction in the future, it should continue to focus on what it does best by first making sure its deeply rooted in a deeply entertaining story. If they do, the rest will be awesome.
Our thanks to our friends at the Disneyland Resort for allowing us to preview the attraction early!
Check out more of our coverage from the grand opening by clicking HERE.