We generally lead with Disneyland on Monday, but today is different. With the huge new Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! finally open to guests, we have a lot to see and discuss. But there’s more than just Guardians today, there are superheros, adorable bread (yes, that’s a thing), and gossip.
We start with a mini MiceAge Update sent in from one of our contributors and then we’ll take you into the park to see all the MARVELous news.
MiceAge Mission: BREAKOUT! Mini Update
TDA and Burbank bosses are all thrilled with the critical reception “Mission: BREAKOUT” has received the past week. Reviews have been nothing short of fantastic and the media buzz has been better than anyone had hoped for. The lead-up to the holiday weekend timeframe received near saturation coverage in all the local media markets west of the Rockies. The viral videos of TV reporters totally freaking out on the ride while the anchors back in the studio laugh hysterically has also pleased Burbank and TDA.
While those on-ride videos became Internet sensations accidentally, one element of the media events that fell totally flat was the faux hazmat scene themed to the Avengers that was artfully staged just past the ride near the Hollywood trolley station. No one attending the Thursday media party or the Friday $150 preview party cared about it, and Burbank’s plan for that hazmat scene to “go viral” failed completely. The goal was to give people a big hint about the new Avengers high tech coaster E Ticket now greenlit for the expansion pad just beyond the trolley station, which is an attraction Miceage Updates have been mentioning for over a year. When you try hard to make something go viral, it usually fails. The folks at those events were there to see the Guardians of the Galaxy, not the Avengers.
The one other failure from the opening weekend was the operating plan for the merchandise shop at the ride’s exit. The merchandise folks had no idea how to manage the crowds, they under-estimated the amount of stock they’d need, and the whole exit shop area was a crowd control nightmare. At one point on Saturday they had pulled in random CM’s from around the park to help with crowd control, so the elaborate Guardians themed store that WDI built for them was staffed with crowd control CM’s in clashing uniforms from Cars Land, Bugs Land and Paradise Pier. And they tried to cram all the cool Guardians merchandise into only the exit gift shop, while the other nearby stores in Hollywood Land were devoid of the hot merchandise and the crowds. The merchandise teams really dropped the ball opening weekend.
Despite their lack of planning, merchandise is flying off the shelves and some of the most popular items will be sold out within a week or two. The Groot beverage sippers were also woefully under-stocked, and at DCA they are currently selling at a daily rate three times faster than the WDW locations that are also selling them. It’s anticipated that the Groot sippers will be sold out by the 4th of July.
The Summer of Heroes entertainment in the Backlot area has also been very well received by park visitors. TDA planners added a nightly DJ dance party to the area at the very last second for the next two weeks, just to try and keep the energy up after sundown and help entertain the big crowds.
The Resort is now bracing for the AP blockouts of the holiday weekend to lift, while hundreds of thousands of lower level Annual Passholders mob DCA to try and get on the ride. Since the attraction can barely handle 20,000 riders per day best case (thanks to Paul Pressler’s budget cutting decisions when the Tower ride was greenlit for DCA in 2001 with a scaled down ride system), the lines will be tragically long this week and until the summer AP blockouts kick in later in June. It will be ugly until the AP blockouts kick in again.
Disney California Adventure Photo Update
There are few things more exciting to a Disney fan than the opening of a new attraction (the opening of a new land or park perhaps). I arrived at the Pumbaa parking lot at 5:50 am on Saturday morning to get a jump on the crowds and hope to find a spot in line for Guardians. The lot was nearly empty. A good sign.
But there were a lot of folks who did come out to the park early on Saturday for the grand opening of the attraction.
I walked the lineup a few minutes after they started letting people in.
They even had to queue up the standby folks on the Frozen patio.
If you wanted a Fastpass for Guardians, it took a bit of an effort on Saturday. The line got long for a brief while in the morning.
Park staff created a queue area behind the Animation building capable of holding 1.5 hours worth of guests.
But by later in the afternoon, it was clear that more folks were returning for their Fastpass window OR too many Fastpases were being given out. The line to use a Fastpass had reached up to an hour long. Therefore, some folks ended up waiting up to an hour early in the morning for a Fastpass, then waited up to an additional hour when they returned. Still, that was better than waiting in the standby line, which reached up to 5 hours on Saturday morning.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. At the height of demand, the attraction hit a 5 hour wait. No attraction is worth a 5 hour wait in my opinion. But later in the day, it dropped to as low as 90 minutes. We recommend keeping your eye on the Disneyland app to check times on this attraction before riding. Or better yet, get yourself a fastpass and avoid the insane waits.
Is ANY theme park ride worth a 5 hour wait? Click To Tweet
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
And then the time came for me to finally set foot inside this highly dynamic warehouse power plant museum. I admit I was nervous as I don’t always do well on thrill rides. But You’ve got to try the latest thing at least once.
Let’s take a look, and I’ll share my thoughts as we go . . .
If you didn’t know that this attraction was originally the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you wouldn’t have any clue that you were experiencing an elaborate overlay.
The queue is impressive. The high ceilings of lobby are put to good use, with cages of varying size strung from the rafters.
When you enter, take time to look around.
Tivan is an eccentric madman who has imprisoned the Guardians. But it is Rocket and we, the guests of the attraction, who are the heroes.
Tivian’s office is packed with treasures. It’s very much like the idea of the library in the old Tower of Terror. But, I’d say that the delivery of the pre-show in this version of the attraction beats the Tower of Terror due to the inclusion of a very special animatronic.
Dusty posted a video of the interior of the attraction which includes the full interaction with Rocket:
From the office, you move into the Boiler Room from Tower of Terror, which still looks very similar. It has been dressed up with glowing panels, but it’s still mostly the same idea.
Though, keep your eyes open and you might spot an old friend or two, including Disneyland’s old Abominable Snowman.
The ride itself is high energy and a surprisingly different experience than the Tower of Terror. With the Tower of Terror, your first thrill was a drop. The Guardians version of the attraction begins with a thrilling launch. It’s an entirely different and unexpected sensation.
Yes, this ride is a knockout. I’ll be honest here. I had trouble with the Tower of Terror. My version of the Tower was always Orlando’s. And while I loved the look of that tower and it’s brooding gardens, elaborate set decoration, and deep storytelling, I didn’t enjoy the drop portion of the ride itself. So I wasn’t a big fan of the watered down version of Tower in Anaheim. I just have trouble with drop rides. So I rarely ever went on it. But Mission Breakout is a different beast. And, for me, it’s repeatable. There’s something about the additional pauses between the drops to display additional show scenes that make this ride palatable for me, even though I can’t stomach other drop rides. In fact, I can’t wait to ride Breakout again. And that’s saying something.
Summer of Heroes
Guardians launches as new entertainment offerings land in DCA as well. While I didn’t get the chance to fully explore these offerings, there are a few things that Dusty and I have to share from this corner of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot and elsewhere in the park.
The little back corner of the park which contains Monsters Inc. is now the landing pad for Summer of Heroes.
Get your face painted.
Groot is making appearances (we expect him to mostly be seen around the Guardians ride)
Black Widow makes a grand appearance in her armored vehicle. Then steps out near Monsters Inc. to take photos with guests.
The Hero Action Center allows you to answer questions and find out which superhero you are. When you are done, they give you a comic book and a sticker.
The Avengers Training Initiative is like Jedi Training Academy in Tomorrowland. Though, this time the kids are using their special superhero powers against the forces of evil. In the show, the kids are given shields and then told to throw them at the villain. Lightsabres are cooler, but the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves. Though the same probably couldn’t be said for the audience.
Also new is the Disney Junior Dance Party. It replaces Disney Junior Live, which was a very well produced puppet show. The new attraction requires a less highly skilled staff and is overall less ambitious than what it replaced. However, it does serve its audience, which appears to be five year olds.
A duo of human performers attempt to get the kids to sing and dance along. They are joined along the way by animated characters.
There’s a large video camera that the performers carry. The images shot by the camera are often displayed on the big screen. Shockingly, much of the video turned out not to be very flattering for the guests or the show as many of the kids being filmed didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves.
Across the way at Schmoozies, there are some superhero themed doughnuts.
File this next one away in the adorable department. Groot is now jalapeno cheese bread. You’ll find him in the Pacific Wharf.
And for those of you who have been desperately trying to track down the popular rose cups, they are now in the stores. These were found in the Ink and Paint shop on Buena Vista Street.
That wraps up our DCA coverage this week. We’ll be back again tomorrow with a look at Disneyland and Star Wars Land construction.
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