'Guardians of the Galaxy' Disney Attraction Delivers Rockin' Epic Ride

It was a whole new ride. A whole new experience. And as soon as I saw a life-size Cosmo wagging his tail in a glass case, I knew this was going to be special.

I was a huge fan of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride at Disney California Adventure, so when visiting Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! for the first time Thursday for a media-only preview, I was somewhat ambivalent. After all, the new Guardians attraction replaced the classic ride, and not everyone was happy about it.

I quickly changed my mind. 

It happened the moment I stepped foot in what used to be the lobby of the haunted hotel, which has been transformed into the Collector's (Benicio Del Toro's eccentric Guardians of the Galaxy character) massive display room in his fortress.

It was a whole new ride. A whole new experience. And as soon as I saw a life-size Cosmo wagging his tail in his glass case, I knew this was going to be special. 

I don't want to give too much away, because it is totally worth seeing firsthand, but the setup for the ride begins in what used to be the room where guests were told they were entering the Twilight Zone's Fifth Dimension. It is now the Collector's office, and it is chock-full of items from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

While in the office, a shockingly realistic animatronic Rocket breaks in and explains his Guardian pals have been captured by the Collector and he is there to sabotage things, naturally. He needs your help because the scanners won't work on his paws, he needs human fingerprints to gain the necessary access for a rescue.  

After a few more twists and turns, which feature more items (2,200 different artifacts, or "Easter eggs," as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told me he likes to call them) strewn about, you arrive at the main feature. There are six escape scenarios, which are random, but I kept getting "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar. I'm pretty sure that was the only one running for the media preview. 

It was a blast. The drops are just as terrifying as they were on Tower, but Guardians also features quick ascents. The initial one is like being shot out of cannon. This is all happening while riders stop at certain sections and watch the Guardians — on screens so clear is looks like a window — fight their way out while the selected song blares.

The ride isn't unnerving (which I did enjoy) like Tower was. Instead it's exhilarating and left me wanting to get right back in line to go again.

I rode it multiple times and then got to hang out with some of the stars of Guardians and the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Bob Chapek, who explained why Mission Breakout would thrill everyone, even those not overly pleased Tower was discontinued.

"I think when you start with the storytelling, it makes for a different experience. And obviously Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout is a completely different storytelling experience than anything we have done before," Chapek said. "And when you blend that with the multisensory aspect of this attraction — with the music and randomized experiences — then what starts to fade is anything you have done before." 

Director James Gunn explained where this ride's story fits into the Guardians' overall tale. 

"There are different universes of the Marvel universe," Gunn said. "There's the 616 universe, which is the comics, there is the MCU, which is the universe that I have normally 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 that you see happen in the MCU." 

Pom Klementieff, who plays Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, loved the ride, but said she was still a little wobbly from it. 

"It's really well done," she said. 

Michael Rooker, who plays Yondu (the character unfortunately is not a part of the ride) said his family enjoyed the ride, but there was no way his stomach was going to take it. 

"I think it's really well done, but I tried rides like this earlier on in my life, and they don't do well with me." He did add that Yondu would likely be too busy stealing parts from the ride to even be able to enjoy it.