When the first Guardians of the Galaxy hit movie theatres in 2014 it took the world by surprise. Far from being just another mindless comic book franchise, its blend of irreverent characters, acerbic dialogue and kick-arse soundtrack ensured a loyal legion of film fans across the globe.
To tie in with the launch of the film’s sequel, Disneyland Anaheim has just unveiled its newest attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT!
Housed inside ‘The Collector’s Fortress’ towering at 183 feet– the highest of the park’s attractions– the new installation is an imposing spectacle.
Having originally accommodated The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (still available at Orlando’s Disney World) the building has been entirely remodelled to resemble a futuristic factory-come-spaceship, with industrial pipes snaking skyward amid the burnished gold of the triangular Tivan Group logo.
Inside, the fit-out is no less impressive. Winding our way to the front of the queue, we’re entertained by more than 2,200 galactic artefacts, from laser blasters to space costumes displayed in glass cabinets or hanging from the walls.
Once up front, we’re led into a room where an animatronic version of Rocket, the film’s much lauded, tough-talking rodent offers a facetious lowdown on the attraction’s basic narrative.
Though an original storyline, the concept for this attraction has been themed heavily around both Guardian of the Galaxy films, comics and animated TV series, devised as a direct collaboration between Disney Imagineers and the films’ director James Gunn.
In short, guests must help the mechanical genius Rocket rescue the films’ protagonists from the clutches of The Collector, an arrogant Taneleer Tivan who has imprisoned them in his fortress.
Heading inside The Gantry Lift, it’s clear from the moment we strap in this is going to be one intense ride. Carefully selected music from the tape player of the Star-Lord begins blaring as our seats whoosh skywards and then, heaven help me, we plummet suddenly and drastically in free- fall without warning.
The terror of these drops is interspersed only with fleeting 3D narrative bursts from the films’ characters before once again we’re plunging earthwards to a cacophony of screams and laughter in the pitch dark.
Cleverly, the brains behind this attraction have devised six different versions of the escape scenario with six different songs and visuals, meaning even diehard fans opting for multiple rides would unlikely experience the same narrative twice.
A phenomenal degree of thought also went into pairing the visuals with the right songs.
Though it seems unthinkable, Imagineers whittled down a list of about 100 to the final half dozen only by riding the attraction countless times while blasting music; a feat of serious devotion I can assure you.
Disney have succeeded here by striking a tricky balance. While fans of the films will relish the insider jokes and attention to detail, you don’t have to be a comic nerd or Marvel freak to enjoy it. And the flippant, upbeat nature of the experience also ties in well with the feel of both films, it hasn’t fallen into the trap of being excessively earnest.
“What I love about Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! is that it’s just so funny,” says Joe Rohde, Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.
“The whole Super Hero thing can become so serious with action and conflict, and this is lively, fun, joyful and irreverently funny, which I think will really surprise people.”
Surprise me it did.
Just be sure to take lunch afterwards.
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