Disney fans around the world are always digging to figure out how famous attractions like Star Tours or The Jungle Cruise work and secrets to the “magic” of making some of the most beloved theme park attractions in the world. Disney is set to satisfy that craving with a new series called Behind The Attraction, streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting July 21, 2021.
The series paired director Brian Volk-Weiss and executive producer Dwayne Johnson together to show off behind-the-scenes moments that go on every day at Walt Disney Imagineering and at the Disney Parks and Resorts to bring new attractions to life. Of the show, Volk-Weiss said, “I cannot believe this was green lit. I mean we saw things that I don’t think the public will see for five to 10 years.” He also mentioned that working with Johnson had a huge impact on the show because Johnson is such a big Disney fan. “His curiosity really helped us navigate and pick the targets that we focused on,” said Volk-Weiss.
Behind The Attraction also shows how some older attractions get new life as something completely different, in the case of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure getting transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Jeanette Lomboy, Vice President/ Site Portfolio Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering recounted her experience on changing the iconic drop elevator ride into a new Marvel-themed attraction using the same ride system as the previous Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. “I will never forget there was a lot of noise in the system for good reasons. Tower of Terror is a great attraction, and it exists in other parks around the world, but we wanted to do something different with it, we wanted to have fun with it. Bringing Guardians of the Galaxy to Disney California Adventure with that ride system in place, we thought it was just funny. With that kind of comedy, and it’s just not really done that often, we were laughing the whole way. To open it and have seen guests come through it and for many people to say that it felt longer than the original attraction and it was exactly the same amount of time, just tells you how much fun we can pack in. It’s gratifying to know that we can do impossible things in a very short amount of time. Even with the pressures on us, and we have fun doing it,” she said.
Now that Avengers Campus is open at Disney California Adventure Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! doesn’t seem so strange in Hollywood Land because it’s actually part of Avengers Campus. “Marvel is always something that we knew that we wanted to put into our parks and how could you not, but certainly when we opened Guardians of the Galaxy we didn’t fully know that we were going to be opening Avengers Campus at that point,” said Lomboy.
The forward thinking of Walt Disney Imagineering is what continues to bring new lands, like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge into the parks. The same ideas help to fuel redoing and upgrading classic attractions like Star Tours. Even for Imagineers like Dave Durham, riding Star Tours is what essentially launched his career. He recounted his first time riding the attraction at Disneyland, “I remember just sitting there saying this is absolutely amazing. So, a few decades later, to be involved on the team, make the upgrades to a branching storyline, and then to work with George Lucas directly and to work with our ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) partners and for our new films and that was a dream come true.”
Durham continued, “It’s amazing! And to go back to the kid in me thinking wow this is so cool, but little did you know that years later, you’re gonna have a strong voice on how it’s going to change, but at the same time, remember what it’s like to be that guest on day one. And how do you make sure that the changes you’re making are making it better and not just different? How do you make sure that you’re setting it up now for that next kid who’s going to ride it for the first time and have those same experiences?”
During the series viewers will hear more stories like these from a variety of Walt Disney Imagineers including Kim Irvine, who has been with the company since 1970, Joe Rohde, who recently retired but was the leading force at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and Scot Trowbridge, who recently led the team of Imagineers creating Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Viewers can stream the first five episodes of Behind The Attraction starting Wednesday, July 21, exclusively on Disney+. Watch the trailer now.