Tag: disney

Remembering the Terror…

Remembering the Terror…

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.

Timeline.png

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.

Advertisements
The Good

The Good

 

I’ve decided to have some nostalgic fun by talking about old and defunct Disney attractions from the 90s. I’ll start in Epcot, Disney World’s second park.

Behold, Spaceship Earth: a testimony to human communication, the symbol of Epcot, and, to some, a giant golf ball. This ride has gone through several renditions, but the 1994 version is considered by many fans to be one of the better ones, if not the best version. While it doesn’t have a singular theme song, like Tomorrow’s Child, it does have a grand and varied orchestral score, ranging from the choirs of a church to the fast beat of 1950s jazz. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, Spaceship Earth ‘94 carries a sense of seriousness and historical authority, but also a sense of culture and wisdom. It shows us the good times and the bad, it looks to the past and the future, and it has both facts and heart. I’m sorry, Judy Dench, but Spaceship Earth as it stands today will never compare with this version.

Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Mark Kosinski.

 

The Bad

The Bad

Continuing where I left off, this next segment moves from Communications to a more abstract concept: Imagination. Imagination sounds like something that would be hard to make a ride about, but in the 1980s, “Journey into Imagination” was one of the best Epcot rides. It was a kiddie ride at heart, but the way in which it broke down the creative process was simple enough for kids to understand and inspiring enough in its scope to really get your engines going, and it had great, marketable characters. Why would Disney ever throw something like that away? Regardless of why, they did. Enter the creatively titled “Journey into YOUR Imagination” in 1999. Completely throwing away any sense of organization, flow, and emotion, this bizarre replacement tried to take a more scientific approach to imagination. That alone was the ride’s fatal flaw, but a host of others made everyone shake their heads at Disney and Kodak. It closed in 2001, and its replacement brought back the beloved Figment character, but the magic never fully recovered.

Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Theme Park Tourist.

The Ugly

The Ugly

Moving to the Magic Kingdom, we now turn to what has been labelled by many as the scariest Disney attraction ever created: The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. Trying to appeal to teens, CEO Michael Eisner ordered up attractions based on movies, even if they weren’t Disney ones. An idea that popped up was Alien: an R-rated, gory, sci-fi film. Eisner loved it, but some older Imagineers convinced him otherwise. The license to the film wasn’t used, but a scary attraction was still underway. The final attraction used surround sound, binaural audio, air and water effects, and more to create the illusion that guests were trapped in a room with a man-eating alien, which was free to get up close and  too personal. This proved to be too scary for little kids and contrasted sharply with everything else in the park. For reasons not officially stated by Disney, Alien Encounter closed in 2003. Stitch’s Great Escape, a cheap retool, opened a couple years later and it has since become almost universally hated, which makes one wonder why it hasn’t been removed.

Featured image taken from here, available under the Creative Commons license. Photo originally taken and uploaded to Flickr by Jeremy Thompson.