Demise of Tower of Terror

January 5, 2017, 10:52 AM

Saw your column in today's OC Register and want to point out a disturbing trend. Part of what makes Disneyland special is the one-of-a-kind experience it creates. Until relatively recently, that experience was anchored on Disney-created themes.

The creation and conversion of the Tower of Terror is part of a move to non-Disney themes that threaten to dilute the Disney brand. We had Twilight Zone, soon we will have Marvel as well as Star Wars Land, or whatever it will be called.

California Adventure failed, in part, because guests did not have a sufficient Disney experience. Initially, there was very little to be seen of Mickey, Donald, and the other root characters and that was a major mistake. (I was a cast member as DCA was under construction.)

But instead of learning from that experience, the planners are doubling down, with Marvel and Star Wars just the beginning of the end of an era.

Replies (5)

January 5, 2017, 10:59 AM

Disney is a huge company with many intellectual properties. I believe what you are trying to say is that Disney is leaving some of the Mickey associations.

Edited: January 5, 2017, 12:32 PM

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Do I have to rebut each one of your complaints.

1. A near clone, not unique.
2. Not Disney. Based on a licensed television show.
3. Marvel is owned by Disney, thus Disney.
4. Marvel Cinematic Universe was always controlled by Disney. All recent Avengers and Guardians movies were made by Disney. The exceptions are Spiderman, X-Men, and Fantastic Four (a few others), but Spiderman was recently featured in Captain America Civil War. Heard that the failure of Fantastic Four reboot might mean Disney will get back the IP.
5. The Iger Era means 99% of IP in the theme parks is owned by Disney. The exception to the rule is Avatar.
6. The debate over Pixar was similar and now we happily assimilated Woody and Buzz as Disney.

January 5, 2017, 5:05 PM

I agree that the core Disney characters should be present within the parks and everything should have that feel, but I do not think this means the parks should stick strictly to attractions based on classic Disney. The brand has diversified significantly in the past twenty years, and in order to cater to the new generation of fans it is necessary to represent a wider range of experiences in the parks. A theme park is going to do what it needs to do to maximize appeal, and if you look at the most popular attractions at the Disneyland Resort, very few of them have direct ties to Disney IP. For the most part, they are either original concepts or are based on IP that was acquired by Disney rather than created by them. With Marvel and Star Wars becoming nearly as associated with Disney as fairy tales and princesses, it would be a mistake to not use them where possible.

If you look at the history of destination theme parks, the early 90s to the mid 2000s were a transition in the types of attractions they chose to offer. Previously, most attractions were original concepts created to provide a unique experience. Now, however, IP and cross-promotion is the main focus, and original creations are becoming exceptionally rare. What visitors want is not the same as it used to be, and a park that doesn't adapt will find their revenue and guest numbers in decline.

January 6, 2017, 6:15 AM

I think it was a mistake to get rid of the Tower of Terror because I thought it was a good ride and fit the area that it was in.

Come on Disney, you can think up much better attractions for Guardians.

January 7, 2017, 4:12 PM

>>>The brand has diversified significantly in the past twenty years, and in order to cater to the new generation of fans it is necessary to represent a wider range of experiences in the parks.

Indeed, this is a massive accomplishment for Disney.

I remember watching some video when I was a kid about branding. Disney were concerned that they had a massive audience drop off (for their movies) in the teen years, so did some Market research by interviewing some teens... The results were that Teens didn't hate their movies, or even dislike them - they were just concerned about being seen at a disney movie - but tended to look forward to the day their siblings would be old enough so they could take them to see the movie (the sibling giving them cover). That lead to the creation of Touchstone Pictures as a seperate brand.

Disney still somewhat use this to their advantage - their Disneyland Paris ads warn parents that their kids are growing up and soon will be "too big" for fairytales, so they should bring them whilst they still believe. However, the Marvel and Lucas brands have an iconic factor that Touchstone wasn't quite able to achieve, and I can see why they're very eager to get these brands into the park as quick as they can.

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