California Adventure’s Mission Breakout Could’ve Had a Completely Different Theme Said Joe Rohde
If you’ve been following along with MickeyBlog then you know that Legendary Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde has retired after 40 years with The Walt Disney Company. He was recently interviewed by D23 (Disney’s official fan club) where he had some interesting insights into what COULD have been the future of Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission: Breakout.
Before the Avengers Campus really came to fruition at DCA, Walt Disney Imagineering considered Spider-Man and Doctor Strange themes for Tower of Terror. According to a recent piece in the O.C. Register, Rhode discussed how Imagineering considered but ultimately rejected themes for the rides based on both Marvel Heroes before making the decision to go with the Guardians of the Galaxy theme instead.
The update to the previous Tower of Terror ride premiered back in 2017.
Transforming the popular Tower of Terror attractions was no easy feat and initially, the re-theming when it was announced seemed like a surprising choice. However, Disney was playing what the Regsiter calls a long-game with future Guardians films revealed as well as ultimately the Avengers Campus.
It should also be noted that though Imagineers ultimately went with Guardians, both Spider-Man and Doctor Strange will have attractions when the Avengers Campus opens at Disneyland Resort. Back in 2009 Disney acquired the rights to Marvel.
Disney California Adventure which is part of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California is still closed due to the COVID-19 virus. It shuttered its gates in Early 2020 meaning that rides and attractions have been closed there for almost a year.
Rohde was tasked with working up conceptual ideas for Marvel’s theme park introduction and launched into the project by asking key questions that would set the pace for future Marvel rides and attraction. Rhode said during D23’s recent podcast that it was important to work out, “What does Marvel mean to us? What do we mean to Marvel?” Another was, “What is this thing that we now have? How do we make it have meaning that is relevant to us?”
That’s a difficult task in and of itself, made more difficult by the short time frame Imagineers were given reimagine the attraction. During this time, they had to develop a new Marvel backstory for the existing ride to anchor the Marvel retheming and make it believable.
Rohde said his orders were broad but simple, “We want you to take Tower of Terror and find an overlay we can do so we can open something big.”
So what was Rhode’s initial reaction to the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay? “That’s impossible. That’s a dumb idea. But then you have to work your way through that,” said Rohde.
However, Rohde said in the podcast that after he spent time exploring the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror the more he could see the possibilities of a Guardians re-theming.
“There’s only a certain number of details on that building that make it look like a hotel. I can count them on one hand,” Rohde said during the D23 podcast. “If I pop those details off, I have a generic thing and I can make that generic thing look like anything. I bet I could make it look like something from the world of the Guardians — either from the film or from the comic books.”
Once the theme of the overlay was decided, it was up to Rohde and his team to create the backstory without it resulting in too many changes for the drop tower ride experience. “If it’s Guardians, that’s a whole different emotional tone,” Rohde said podcast. “It’s not like Tower of Terror. It’s not the same emotions. What are the emotions? How do we evoke these emotions?”
The first task was to make the re-theming make immediate sense to visitors even if they knew very little about Marvel or Guardians of the Galaxy. “I always believe no matter what the brand is, no matter what intellectual property you’re working with, in a sense for a designer, you still have to do all the homework you would do anyway,” Rohde said during the D23 podcast. “Go all the way to zero.”
A key element of the ride, just like the films themselves had to be the humor as well as the energetic spirit of the superhero team. “The plot lines will go on forever. The feeling stays the same,” Rohde said during the D23 podcast. “Forget about the plot line and what happened in the last movie. Everything has to feel like them. And that’s the work that we were really trying to do with that project.”
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Source: OC Register