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In just five days, I have visited Disney World’s new Pandora: The World of Avatar, experienced Universal Orlando’s third theme park Volcano Bay, and the grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure. I’ll have more on Volcano Bay and AvatarLand next week, but today, I wanted to give you my quick reaction to Mission Breakout. How does Marvel’s first step into North American Disney Parks compare to the former and beloved attraction it replaced, The Twilight Zones Tower of Terror?

The Set-Up

If you’re reading this, you may already know that Disney is developing a Marvel-themed land for the Disney California Adventure theme park and their transformation of Tower of Terror into a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction is the first step towards that plan. The Hollywood Tower Hotel has been re-themed into Taneleer Tivan’s (aka The Collector, once again played by Benicio del Toro) fortress-like museum, showing off his immense collection. His newest and most prized acquisition is the Guardians of the Galaxy. Most of them.

The Outside of the Tivan Collection

The outside of the building is quite striking, and maybe even a bit ugly looking. Perhaps the gaudy intergalactic fortress just looks out of place in Hollywood Land with an old school Red Car Trolly traveling by the front entrance. I think that once Disney begins to transform the surrounding land into a Marvel-themed land, it may work a bit better. I will say this: the building looks a hell of a lot cooler at night with its special lightning than it does in the hot California daylight.

The exterior of the building is full of so many cool details. For example, the sign for the attraction is composed by Rocket Racoon, who has apparently found some red paint and rearranged some of the letters. On the side of the building, we see Rocket’s red footprints leading up to a hole in the side of the fortress, which the armed and dangerous space raccoon has used to infiltrate the collection to save his team. We also see a wanted poster for Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, the newest member of the Guardians team, who has eluded Tivan and may play a part in helping the team escape.

The Ride Queue

The interior queue of the attraction is fantastic – a Marvel fan’s dream come true. The old lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel has been transformed into a museum gallery showing off the Collector’s acquisitions from across the galaxy. Included are props familiar to fans of the films, television shows and comics, including an animatronic recreation of Cosmo the space dog. There are supposedly 2,200 different pieces on display in the collection, although only a couple dozen can be seen in this room. There are also a bunch of sly easter eggs, which we plan to cover in detail next week. On the wall is a screen featuring the Collector introducing you to his latest acquisition: the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are more than enough fun things to look at in this room to keep fans entertained while they wait. While I loved the old Hollywood Tower Hotel lobby, this is a pretty cool replacement.

While this room may be the centerpiece of the queue, the next room is even cooler. Replacing the study from the old hotel is Tivan’s office, which is filled with artifacts he has collected over the years. They are jam-packed into office shelves, and I’m assuming that a good 1,000 plus of those supposed 2,200 objects are on display in this room. You have to look fast, as you won’t have much time to explore the many items on display on these shelves.

A recorded message on screen from Tivan is quickly interrupted by a walking, talking audio animatronic of Rocket Racoon, who explains his plans to break out the Guardians of the Galaxy. But he needs your help to get access to the gantry, which goes up to the top of the tower where the team is being held in protective cages. Watching Rocket come to life in this room is a real joy. At the end of his spiel, he steals Starlord’s walkman from one of the display cases so that he can play music during the escape.

You might be wondering how Starlord’s old Sony Walkman exists in a universe where Mantis is already a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy team, or why grown-up Groot from the first Guardians of the Galaxy appears as a costumed character outside the attraction while the same character appears in his Baby Groot form in the ride itself. The answer is, unfortunately, that this ride takes place outside of the MCU in a parallel universe. Guardians series director James Gunn has explained that “there are different universes of the Marvel universe”:

“There’s the 616 universe in the comics, there is the MCU, which is the universe that I have played in, and now there is the theme park universe which is very closely related to the MCU, but it’s a separate universe. And what you see happen in this ride is not the same thing as the MCU.”

Although the connections to the MCU might surprise you. Tivan is the brother to Jeff Goldblum‘s character the Grandmaster, who will be seen in Thor: Ragnarok. And if you look closely, you’ll see a painting of the two brothers together in the main exhibition gallery. Imagineers have promised that Tivan’s collection will also be rotated in the future, which would probably allow them to add new artifacts from upcoming MCU movies, which is pretty cool.

The most disappointing part of the queue is the old boiler room set from Tower of Terror. While so much work was put into the previous two rooms, this one has been given a bit of the shaft. They have mostly repainted the room and added a few props and signs. It’s not as big of a renovation as the previous rooms. Fans who want to spend the time can translate the alien language on the signs and walls of the attraction. I haven’t put that much effort in at this point, so I’m not sure what kind of fun jokes may be hidden in those messages.

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.