It’s been a controversial decision, but Disney, in an effort to cash in on their yet-unused Marvel intellectual properties, has been busy transforming the former Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout!” in Disney California Adventure. Since rumors first came out about this change, many people throughout the Disney Parks fan community have been vocal about their disapproval. Their main criticism is that the Tower of Terror was an icon, appearing on park maps and commercials every year, and was one of the park’s best attractions, if not one of the resort’s best attractions. Regardless, the decision was made, and the new attraction is set to open in late May. Before then, I’ll look at how the conversion from creepy hotel to energized fortress has occurred.
Things first started to shake up in the summer of 2016, when billboards came up around the California Adventure park stating that guests would need to have their final visits to the Tower of Terror in the second half of 2016. At D23, Disney’s annual convention, it was officially announced that Guardians of the Galaxy would be occupying this space. Fans like myself were outraged. Disney has a history of turning iconic, classic attractions into lame thrill rides, which made this change especially upsetting as the ride being replaced was a thrill ride to begin with. Nevertheless, other fans voiced their more positive opinions, that the Twilight Zone is much less popular than Marvel movies are now, and that change should always be welcome because Walt himself said that Disneyland should never be complete, so long as there is imagination left in the world. Well, imagination there must be, as evident by this change.
In the Tower’s last months, park guests were given the special opportunity for a “Late Check-Out“, a ride through with most of the lighting and special effects removed to put them in total darkness. It wasn’t exactly what anyone asked for, but at least Disney gave us something. However, that could not possibly cover up how crude the conversion of the building was. The “Hollywood Tower Hotel” sign on the building’s facade was removed in September, almost 4 months before the attraction was slated to close. An even bigger offense was when most of the exterior was covered in scaffolding and tarps, to cover up the work being done. It made it more obvious just how badly Disney wanted to use their Marvel characters and how uninterested they were in keeping this old ride around. After some fairly uneventful months, the time came, and with January 3rd, the Tower of Terror closed forever.
Some look to the future with excitement. Others, like me, wish we could have just one more journey into the Fifth Dimension at the Happiest Place on Earth. It was an amazing experience that had just the right intensity to fit into a Disney park but still feel edgy. For now, we have only our memories (and three other Tower of Terror attractions around the world), but maybe someday we’ll be able to go back. Maybe someday we’ll visit that thirteenth floor one more time… in the Twilight Zone.
Featured image by Loren Javier, taken from his Flickr account and used under the Creative Commons license.