To be read in your best Rod Serling:
“You find yourself in a popular attraction, themed around an antiquated yet beloved television program. But something is about to change. A newer film, popular in its own right, has been staged to take over the attraction, seemingly against the wishes of the populace at large. Strange as it may seem, this move may prove to be an excellent choice, and you may find yourself as a passenger in…
…Guardians of the Galaxy.”
As you’ve probably heard by now, it was officially announced at the San Diego Comic-Con that the Tower of Terror attraction, a popular ride in California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort, will be getting a Guardians of the Galaxy overhaul in the very near future. And, as is tradition now for whenever there is a change at the parks, there’s been a fairly sizeable public outcry against it.
Before I get myself in too much trouble, let me say a few things. I am a HUGE Twilight Zone fan. Rod Serling is a hero to me. Tower of Terror is one of my all-time favorite attractions at the Disneyland Resort.
But, hear me out-
This probably isn’t a bad thing.
Okay, put down your pitchforks for a second, and let’s talk this out. I will try to address some of the major complaints about the change, and then we can all move forward. Just remember what Mr. Serling said himself:
“For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.”
With that in mind, here we go.
This is just a shameless marketing ploy!
Short answer? Yes. Yes it is.
But everything else you hold dear at Disneyland is exactly the same thing.
Let me be perfectly clear. It’s not happenstance that this new overlay is conveniently lining up with the next movie’s release. Disney is very well aware that the success of the last film bodes well for the next. Guardians of the Galaxy is a good movie, and the next is shaping up to be the same, so of course they’re going to market it with a presence in the park. It’s kind of their business model.
For comparison, let’s look at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. It is easily the most iconic thing in all of the Disneyland Resort. It is synonymous with Walt Disney himself. But, when Walt built his castle, it was almost more billboard than icon.
In the summer of 1955, when Disneyland first opened its gates, the film Sleeping Beauty was still about four years from anyone seeing it. Walt intentionally built the castle as a marketing tool for the upcoming movie. He was a very forward-thinking kind of guy, and was much more concerned with the next big thing that they were working on than the last thing they had made.
So, if I may include an even more unpopular opinion in this write-up of unpopular opinion, I don’t think Sleeping Beauty’s Castle would still exist in it’s current form if Walt were still around.
While most of us would consider it sacrilege to even consider changing the castle that much, I don’t think Walt would agree. There’s a good chance we might have been looking down Main St. USA at the ice castle from Frozen, and I think Walt would have been on board.
So, if they are truly trying to honor Walt’s “keep moving forward” attitude, why shouldn’t they adapt an attraction to the newest project?
They’re destroying an iconic attraction!
Well, let’s talk about “iconic”. Tower of Terror has only been around since 2004, which isn’t a huge amount of the Disney timeline. While the attraction has become beloved since its construction, this isn’t the first time an attraction is edited and updated, and it won’t be the last.
Think of the most iconic attractions from Walt’s original park. Pirates of the Caribbean. Haunted Mansion. Small World. Space Mountain. All of these attractions have been changed since their creation, some with temporary overlays, most with massive permanent changes that we now accept as part of the ride.
You can argue that those changes didn’t alter the nature of the attraction as a whole, which is true, but it doesn’t change that there is a demonstrated track record of incorporating new elements in to old rides.
Also, as of writing this, only California is getting the change, which means the Tower in Florida currently unchanged. Of course, that may be only a temporary caveat, but it would mean that there’s an incentive to visit another park for diversified content. Again, solid marketing stategy.
It completely ruins the theming/skyline/aesthetic!
Right now, it does seem like the new Guardians attraction will be sticking out like a sore thumb in the Hollywoodland. I won’t even try to argue against that. But, really, who’s to say it won’t work? Some of the top design minds are on this at WDI, I have a feeling this will flow better than we’re expecting.
And, of course, the move to theme this attraction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hints at more changes in the immediate area around it. I mean, this IS California Adventure, so there’s a logical tie to the major Hollywood blockbusters the MCU is producing. We could be stepping from the streets of Hollywood on to the set, where these movies come to life. That sounds like good theming to me.
Also, there hasn’t been a major visual update on this scale to California Adventure since the addition of Cars Land, and I think it needs it to remain significant enough to visit (and re-visit)
Why would you want to get rid of the Twilight Zone at all?!
This is a tough one for me. I don’t want to see Rod Serling’s masterwork fade in to obscurity. I think certain episodes of the show should be required viewing in High School, for goodness sake!
But it’s not Disney.
I mean, it has certainly been woven in to the fabric of Disney, in the same way Indiana Jones has been. But Disney doesn’t own it (yet), which makes it a good financial decision to bring the branding in-house.
Moreover, shame that it may be, Disney’s target demographic (i.e. kids, and families with kids) just isn’t as familiar with Twilight Zone. If you’re coming to the resort to experience Disney-owned and operated properties, Twilight Zone is really out of left field, no matter how much it is loved by those who know it.
Guardians of the Galaxy has room to grow with its audience, and as the MCU continues, it will remain relevant (or at least more easily adaptable for updates).
And, c’mon. Guardians of the Galaxy is really good. It’s not like they’re replacing Twilight Zone with a subpar property. It’s just good in a different way.
Why couldn’t they just build a NEW Guardians-themed attraction, rather than destroying an established one?!
Well. They could.
But there’s the little matter of Shanghai and Star Wars.
No matter how profitable the company may be, Disney needs to make sure it isn’t stretching itself too thin. They just finished another major resort, and are adding huge expansions to their first two parks. Adding in rather than building out makes a lot more business sense, and they need to strike while the Guardians-iron is hot.
Ultimately, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s really only one way to make Disney listen if we don’t like something. But, is changing over this attraction really enough of an egregious mistake to keep us, and our money away? Remember, Disneyland is not a right, it is an entertainment luxury. If we’re no longer entertained, then we can very easily take our money elsewhere.
…But I’m still entertained, and I’m actually pretty excited to see what they come up with for the attraction. If I end up disliking it, well, there’s a whole lot of park left for me to enjoy.