Stitch's Great Escape! is a "theater-in-the-round" attraction found in the Tomorrowland area at Disney's Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The ride opened on November 16, 2004, replacing the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, and is the first Lilo & Stitch-themed attraction by the company.
The premise is that the park's guests are new recruits working for the United Galactic Federation's Prisoner Teleport Center. After being welcomed by the Grand Councilwoman and debriefed by Captain Gantu and a robotic sergeant, recruits are alerted to the impending arrival of a "Level 3" prisoner and taken to a large holding cell with seats surrounding a teleportation tube in the middle. Shortly after recruits are seated, the "Level 3" prisoner is teleported in and revealed to be an adorable looking creature called Experiment 626. Although confused at first, Gantu, his cohorts, and the recruits would soon learn why 626 is so dangerous, as the blue alien tricks his holding cell's security and begins his "great escape".
The ride last ran as a regularly-operating attraction on October 1, 2016 (the 45th anniversary of Walt Disney World) and began seasonal operationnote the following day. A full year later, on October 2, 2017, the pre-show area's first room was converted into a Stitch meet-and-greet, named "Stitch's Alien Encounter Character Greeting!".
The ride's most recent operating run was from December 23, 2017 to January 6, 2018, with cast members announcing after the last ride of that period that January 6 was supposedly its final day. However, the ride has been more in a state of limbo than anything since then; just a few days later on January 9, a Disney spokesperson told Orlando's Spectrum News 13 that "[the ride] is still seasonal and that it would reopen." Indeed, the ride's official webpage remains online, currently listing the attraction as "temporarily closed", but the webpage hasn't listed any new operating dates since, and the attraction's been delisted on paper guidemaps.
Stitch's Great Tropes!
- AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: A strange place called Flor-EE-Da. Also a minor Call-Forward.
- Aliens Speaking English: It's a Lilo & Stitch ride, so of course this trope comes into play.
- The Announcer: Pleakley guides "new recruits" (i.e. guests) between the theaters.
- Arc Welding: References to the ride and its title alien are strewn across Tomorrowland:
- When the ride first opened, Cinderella Castle was "decorated" with toilet paper and graffiti as part of Stitch's rampage through the Magic Kingdom. note
- A newspaper stand near Rocket Tower Plaza has the headline "Stitch Escapes!"
- Previously, when the PeopleMover passed by the entrance to Stitch's Great Escape!, the narrator would mention that guests on the ride would have to keep Stitch from escaping, only for Stitch to interject with, "I don't think so!", followed by an Evil Laugh. After SGE! switched to seasonal operation, the lines were removed.
- Stitch's stolen police cruiser can be seen along the queue line of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
- A holographic-styled 3D model of Stitch appears in the safety video of Space Mountain.
- Finally, in one of the gift shops connected to Stitch's Great Escape! (Merchant of Venus), pawprints can be seen going across the ceiling, leading all the way to a Stitch statue looking down from above. The gift shops (Mickey's Star Traders and MoV) also have murals with some Lilo & Stitch-related imagery; MST has one on its ceiling with Stitch and Jumba's ship appearing in an alien cityscape, while MoV has Stitch's "cousins" roaming around Tomorrowland (these murals were removed for several years when Star Wars merchandise took over the shop, but as of September 2018 they've been restored despite the ride's lack of operation).
- AstroTurf: Within the ride itself at one point. According to this blog post, Disney added voice clips in the background of a couple boys pointing out Stitch when he is first revealed to the audience, as well one of them incidentally spoiling the moment when Stitch hotwires the teleporter. The voice clips were later removed.
- Big Eater: The "donut guy" apparently.
- Butt-Monkey: Skippy and the "donut guy".
- Call-Forward: Stitch escapes the same way he did in the original film; he spits on someone (this time the audience), tricking the DNA-tracking blasters into firing away from him and then breaking out of his containment as they do so. He then takes a spaceship and uses its hyperdrive to reach Earth.
- The Cameo:
Stitch: Yoo-hoo! Cinderella! Your prince is here...
- Skippy from the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter is seen in one of the chambers in the pre-show. According to Sergeant 90210, he's in for "jaywalking between the moons of Jupiter".
- Stitch's cousins can be seen in the first part of the pre-show as criminals of the galaxy (with their names and numbers written in Tantalog), and one of the exit halls feature wanted posters for a few of them written in either Tantalog or English.note Of course, this ride opened when The Series was still airing on Disney Channel.
- The experiments that pass through the screen in the pre-show are (in order) 625/Reubennote , 303/Amnesio, 520/Cannonball, 177/Clip, 624/Angel, 360/Drowsy, 344/Dupe, 345/Elastico, 151/Babyfier, 149/Bonnie, 150/Clyde, 222/Poxy, 258/Sample, 297/Shortstuff, 254/Mr. Stenchy... and some green creature with the number 300M.note
- Cinderella's voice can be heard when Stitch enters her castle.
Cinderella: You're not my prince! Goodbye!
- Canon Foreigner: Sergeant 90210 and Skippy in the pre-show, who were carried over from Alien Encounter.
- Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Takes place before the events of the first Lilo & Stitch film, as it features Stitch's first run-in with the Galactic Federation.
- Decomposite Character: Skippy and the "donut guy". In Alien Encounter, Skippy was teleported to the other tube, in which he came out fried and disfigured. In this ride, the normal Skippy stays in his tube the whole time, while the disfigured Skippy is made into the messy "donut guy" who gets teleported in during the pre-show.
- Excited Show Title!
- Gasshole: Stitch's infamous chili dog belch, which is actually a "subtle" lampoon on the rules against eating and drinking in the theater. (He takes said chili dog from a "recruit" in the dark.)
- Hassle-Free Hotwire: Stitch hotwires the teleporter to take him out of the prison chamber.
- Lighter and Softer: Stitch's Great Escape! is a much softer version of the now-gone ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, about which parents frequently complained to the staff that it terrified their kids even though there were warnings saying it may be too intense for children 12 and under. Alien Encounter itself is actually lighter than the original concept for the show, which was based on the Alien franchise, and featured the Xenomorph, Ripley, and the Weyland-Yutani company. The idea was abandoned when it was decided to be too dark for a Disney theme park, though Alien still appeared in The Great Movie Ride.
- Long-Runners: If this ride can claim anything over Alien Encounter, it's the fact that it managed to outlast that ride in terms of how long it has operated/existed, operating regularly for almost twelve years and existing for over thirteen. Alien Encounter? Didn't even reach a decade.
- Mythology Gag: In late 2017, the entrance to the attraction was made into a meet-and-greet area that's titled Stitch's Alien Encounter Character Greeting!, a not-so-subtle nod to the building's former tenant.
- "No Talking or Phones" Warning: Along with the chili dog moment mentioned above, before that, Stitch hears someone's cell phone ring and goes across the theater to answer it (this causes the restraints to press down as he "runs" in the dark). This is a reference to the rule against the use of phones in the theater.
- Overly Long Name: The robot sergeant's full name is Sergeant C4703BK2704-90210.
- Pardon My Klingon: Stitch says "Meega nala kweesta!" a few times, first when he breaks containment, then twice (in a mocking "Na na-na na, boo-boo!" tone) when he escapes.
- Potty Failure: Sergeant 90210 faints and "oils himself" upon hearing of a class 3 alien arriving.
- Revised Ending: The first ending showed an animation of Stitch riding Astro Orbiter. It was later changed to him climbing on and entering Cinderella Castle.
- Role Reprisal: Several voice actors from the film and franchise reprised their roles for this attraction; Zoe Caldwell as the Grand Councilwoman, Kevin Michael Richardson as Gantu, Kevin McDonald as Pleakley, and of course, Chris Sanders as Experiment 626/Stitch.
- Series Continuity Error: Experiment 626 actually calls himself Stitch, even though he has not met Lilo yet.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy:
- Even when the new prisoner seems cute and harmless, and you have both two DNA tracking cannons and a small army of recruits standing by, no good can come from raising the glass tube he's in.
- The recruits themselves are unarmed, inexperienced, and currently being forcibly held in place by DNA scanners that have already finished serving their purpose.
- X Days Since: Seen in the exit. Apparently, they had a very good track record before Stitch came along.
Galactic Armada Officer: It appears we've been licked, sir!
Captain Gantu: What a day... Release the recruits. I need a vacation.