It wouldn’t be Halloween at Disneyland Resort without some sort of seasonal overlay; The Haunted Mansion has been undergoing its annual transformation into a semi-sequel to Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas since 2001 (and, well before that, Christmas makeovers were popular at Disneyland Park, starting with Country Bear Christmas Special in 1984).
To continue the tradition – and, perhaps, to honor the legacy of the recently-overhauled Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Disney has just announced that it will be taking its already-classic attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, and giving it a fun new Halloween experience. If tinkering with the three-month-old ride seems a bit unusual, take comfort in the fact that its original Twilight Zone incarnation adds an additional 13 years to its lifespan – and the knowledge that the company is only going to continue ramping up the Marvel Entertainment presence at its resort, leading to next decade’s mammoth-sounding Marvel Land (which will be placed around Mission: Breakout at California Adventure).
This new experience, dubbed Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters after Dark, actually acts as something of a sequel to the ride proper: Rocket Raccoon (with your help) may have been successful in saving his Guardians friends from the Collector, but he inadvertently left baby Groot behind. All of the creatures that have been freed from their imprisonment inside the Collector’s fortress now need to be distracted to allow Rocket to conduct his second rescue operation – a task that the genetically- and cybernetically-enhanced raccoon once again asks you to assist him with. (And what Disney attraction would be complete without its own specially-written theme song? In this case, the track will similarly be named “Monsters after Dark,” will be written by the Guardians of the Galaxy films’ composer, and will be styled as a 1970s-esque punk song.)
Says Joe Rohde, the lead Imagineer on Guardians:
The Monsters after Dark story hinges on irreverence, on top of the irreverence that’s already in the attraction. It’s creepy, chaotic, and very funny.”
But the coolest part of the whole endeavor just may lie in another of its aspects: its transitory nature. Unlike with The Haunted Mansion, which typically closes for the latter half of August in order to be fitted for its holiday overlay for the next four months or so, Mission: Breakout will remain operational throughout the Halloween season during the day; when night falls, the Fortress of the Collector goes dark, alarms ring out, and a new lighting scheme plays out across its façade – indications that the Guardians have managed to escape and that all hell is breaking loose inside Taneleer Tivan’s stronghold (a shtick that carries on into the ride’s queue).
Should the digital nature of the experience allow such flexibility to Disney in designing and implementing Mission: Breakout’s Halloween version, one can only imagine what Christmas just may have in store – or what other potential fun makeovers are lying in Disneyland Resort’s future, especially with a property as hugely popular as Marvel. (Once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opened over at Disneyland in 2019, might we similarly expect some sort of holiday celebration or tie-in?)
Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters after Dark will run from Friday, September 15 to Tuesday, October 31. Its “transition” time may vary from day to day.