Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout Fun Facts
Once upon a time, not that long ago, the world learned that a largely anonymous space adventurer was Hooked on a Feeling. His name was Peter Quill, although he preferred the self-aggrandizing name of Star-Lord. Mr. Quill stumbled on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys, and his new friends helped him save the universe. Movie lovers quickly embraced this superhero team, and Disney pounced on the opportunity to re-imagine an old theme park attraction with a fresh concept. Here are a few fun facts about Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
Replacing a Classic
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! became one of the most controversial rides in Disney theme park history, and it managed this feat before it ever opened! The Walt Disney Company chose to shut down one of their most iconic attractions, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, to add this ride.
The company’s thought process involved branding and merchandising. The box office triumph of Guardians of the Galaxy the movie caught virtually everyone by surprise. Disney wanted to capitalize on it due to the sheer volume of money at stake. Both Groot and Rocket Raccoon proved extremely popular and conveniently lend themselves to wonderful merchandise to boot.
As a happy bonus, a Marvel attraction at Disney’s weakest North American park, Disney California Adventure (DCA), could elevate its perception. At the same time, Disney signaled that they had taken DCA’s criticism seriously and wanted to fix it. The Guardians attraction became the first step toward reimagining the other Disneyland park as half-Marvel and half-Pixar. So, the move made perfect sense to park planners.
Disney fanatics weren’t quite as enthusiastic. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is perennially ranked in the top three and oftentimes a winner in the category of Best Dark Ride at the Golden Ticket Awards. Over time, however, many Disneyland guests had the epiphany that their version of Tower of Terror was merely a clone of the one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Guardians of the Galaxy, on the other hand, was theirs and theirs alone, which is why it was so quickly embraced. Of course, it helps that the ride is wonderful. Here’s why…
Getting the Band Back Together
There’s no such thing as bad casting in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Everyone is terrific, which explains why Disney owns every major box office record right now. Even so, the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy is special.
For whatever reason, the odd combination of legitimate stars like Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper (the voice of Rocket Raccoon), and Vin Diesel (the voice of Groot) blended perfectly with virtually unknowns like obscure television actor Chris Pratt and wrestler Dave Bautista. Pratt leveraged his roles here and in Jurassic World to become one of the biggest stars in the world. That’s how much a single breakout performance in Guardians of the Galaxy elevated him.
In designing the new ride based on the movies, Imagineers understood that there was only one way to recapture that special magic. They’d need the cast onboard for the project, and that’s exactly what they got. Disney paid the cast to reunite and film entirely new scenes (although Diesel was unavailable and had to be replaced by Fred Tatsciore).
You may not even realize it, but the clips showed on Mission: BREAKOUT! are exclusive to the ride and not connected in any tangible way to the MCU. Let me explain why that is…
Disney’s Odd Marvel Problem
When Disney bought the entirety of Marvel in 2009, they faced an odd legal hurdle. The comic book corporation had licensed the rights to several of their characters. A different theme park, Universal Studios, gained these rights in perpetuity, which is a fancy legal term for “as long as they want.” The deal applied only to America, though.
At this moment, almost ten years later, Disney is still on shaky legal ground whenever they add a new Marvel attraction at DCA. Their belief is that they have the right to do so, as long as they only build at Disneyland, not Walt Disney World. Eventually, this matter will get settled in court one way or the other, presumably with Disney buying back the license that they should own. Until then, Universal Resort Orlando is technically the home for Marvel characters, the ones you see in the MCU.
You’re confused right now, and I understand why. Here’s the deal. Disney has to tread carefully when they build an attraction likes Guardians of the Galaxy.
They specifically chose to make this movie and this ride because they believe Universal doesn’t have the rights to these particular characters. That’s primarily because they didn’t want them back in the late 1990s. Universal only paid for the famous characters they felt had strong consumer appeal. The Guardians were super-obscure, even among comic book fans, and so Universal saw no need to acquire the license for them.
Just to be safe, however, Disney hedges their bets. Since the MCU features many characters like The Hulk and Spider-Man that Universal does have the exclusive rights to use at parks, any ties to those films are problematic for Disney. So, Mission: BREAKOUT! exists in a pocket universe called the Marvel Theme Park Universe (MTPU). Yes, I’m serious.
The oddest part is that the monster battle featured in the ride bears an uncanny resemblance to the fight sequence at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Plus, the line queue includes replicas of many props from MCU movies. You can look at one of Ultron’s robots, a Nova Corps uniform, and the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak. It’s odd how much Disney walks a fine line with Mission: BREAKOUT!, but the ride is undeniably a blast.
The Mechanics of the Tower of Terror Replacement
Tower of Terror was technically a drop tower ride. It’s what amusement parks called those rides when they take people up to great heights and then drop them straight down in free fall. Guardians of the Galaxy is quite a bit different. It uses the same ride structure as Tower of Terror, only in a new and novel way.
Each “bounce” in the elevator shaft takes you to a different film clip created especially for the ride. You’re experiencing the escape attempt by the Guardians of the Galaxy as it happens. The whole thing is messy and chaotic, just like the superheroes involved. And there’s fitting musical accompaniment to your version of the ride.
In fact, there are six different versions of Mission: BREAKOUT!, each of which features a unique song. Selections include Born to Be Wild, Burning Love, Free Ride, Give Up the Funk, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and I Want You Back. Any piece of music you’d find on Peter Quill’s cassette tape player is viable here.
You’ll know which Guardians of the Galaxy ride you’re getting by the music. And yes, the action on the digital display in front of your ride cart is specific to the song. The action scenes and comedic elements on Hit Me with Your Best Shot are different than the ones from Free Ride. You need to experience each one to have the full appreciation of what Imagineers have achieved here.
For that matter, there’s a special iteration of the ride during Halloween season. Disney uses a special holiday overlay entitled Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters after Dark. You can see video of it here. Including this version, there are seven (!) different Guardians of the Galaxy rides housed in the same building!
That’s like having all six of your favorite intergalactic superheroes plus Stan Lee thrown in for good measure! There’s a reason why this ride is so popular. It recreates the magic of the Guardians of the Galaxy while using the bouncing effect that everyone always loved about Tower of Terror.