Why Guardians of the Galaxy > Twilight Zone for Disney's Tower of Terror
How in the world could Disney change the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror to a Guardians of the Galaxy Tower of Terror?
That's the question that many Disney fans are likely asking, as rumors intensify that Disney will in fact switch the theme of its Tower of Terror ride at Disney California Adventure (and perhaps even at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida) as early as late this year.
Let's start breaking down this question by noting that Disney already has installed a Tower of Terror ride without the Twilight Zone theme. At Tokyo DisneySea, the Tower of Terror is the former property of a character named Harrison Hightower, a member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers who traveled the world collecting antiquities that he brought to keep in his tower hotel.
Ultimately, one of those treasures — the Shiriki Utundu idol — wasn't as inanimate as it seemed. After dispatching Hightower and cursing his hotel, the Shiriki Utundu has been sending visitors on a wild ride on the hotel's elevators — as revenge upon those who would disturb sacred relics.
Even if you've not read any of the rumors about the new Tower of Terror overlay, if you're familiar with Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps that description of Harrison Hightower might sound familiar.
Here's the way that a Guardians overlay might not just work on Tower of Terror, but might even provide a better narrative device for the ride. Harrison Hightower's equivalent in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is Taneleer Tivan — aka the Collector. Featured briefly in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the Collector searches the galaxy gathering curiosities, including life forms, for his museum.
Disney could make a Guardians overlay work simply by starting with the Harrison Hightower framework for Tower of Terror and swapping the Collector in Hightower's place. Disney doesn't even need to change the exterior setting of the ride. It could remain the Hollywood Tower Hotel, while the story explains that Taneleer Tivan is using the property as cover for a secret new collection of stuff from our corner of the galaxy.
Why are we here? The Collector is trying to collect us, and it's up to the Guardians of the Galaxy to save us. We board the elevator, and the Collector tries to "file" us upstairs. But the Guardians attack, and we bounce up and down in middle of the battle before the Guardians prevail and we are freed.
Frankly, to me, that scenario provides a stronger narrative explaining what happens on the ride that the current Twilight Zone story does.
Here's some tough love for Tower of Terror fans. While I love the old shows, and I love the ride, Tower of Terror makes for a pretty weak episode of "The Twilight Zone." The best episodes illustrated ironic punishment: townspeople fearing aliens discovers that they are their own worst enemy, a woman whom other characters consider a hideous outcast is beautiful to us, a loner who just wants to get away from everyone to read books becomes the last person on Earth... and breaks his glasses.
The show wasn't really about the supernatural. It just used supernatural tropes to hold up a mirror to human attitudes and behavior.
On Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, we visit an old Hollywood Hotel that's been hit by a freak lightning storm. Visitors disappeared in the strike, and now we're entering the decrepit remains of the hotel, only to fall under the influence of the weird forces that remain.
There's no irony. No statement about human behavior. Just a wild elevator ride in a fried building. You want irony? With its story of a sacred idol's revenge on a treasure hunter, Tokyo's Twilight Zone-free Tower of Terror does a better job of reflecting the spirit of an old episode of "The Twilight Zone" than Disney's Twilight Zone-themed Towers of Terror.
In my version of a perfect world, Disney would just bring the Harrison Hightower theme to the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure, including the spectacular preshow, which includes the best visual trick I've ever seen in person in a theme park. (Though videos of the Captain Jack transformation on the new Shanghai version of Pirates of the Caribbean suggest that might top it.) Then Disney would build a Mystic Manor on the parking lot behind the Tower, and give us two pillars for an immersive Society of Explorers and Adventurers land.
But as much as I love SEA, it's nothing when compared with the popular support for Marvel. The use of the Collector seems to create an opportunity for a clever transition from DCA's Hollywood Land into a new immersive Marvel land that could be built behind the Tower. And even if a Marvel land is years away from happening, this proposed overlay creates an opportunity to refresh the Tower of Terror with a fun new narrative that works within both the existing ride and the Guardians franchise.
Disney hasn't confirmed its Guardians of the Galaxy Tower of Terror plans. But after thinking this through the context of what Disney did with the Tower in Tokyo, count me as cautiously optimistic.
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Whatever "story" works so Disney doesn't have to build a Marvel attraction in the states from scratch, I guess.
Keep in mind, a key reason for the original version in Tokyo is because "Twilight Zone" was never a big deal in Japan, so they wouldn't have the same connection to it.
We all know I abandoned Disney years ago for the park with the boy wizard (long before he arrived), but this ride is one of my all time favorites. Please don't screw around with it...
Personally, I prefer the original "Twilight Zone" theme and I hope they don't change ToT, but I'm not getting upset about any alleged changes just yet. As a former cast member, I have a lot of friends who still work for the Mouse and I hear rumors all the time. (The one about a new, villains-themed park has been around since 2005.) Until and unless the official announcement comes from Disney, it's all just rumors.
Millennials have never heard of Twilight Zone, so makes sense. Everything is changing. I'm getting old
The idea of them replacing The Twilight Zone with something that will inevitably be short-lived is completely pointless and a waste of money. Way to lose an iconic attraction that Disney California Adventure is known for; heck, even Disneyland resort is known for the abandoned hotel looming in the distance. Leave the tower alone!
When is this going to close , I will be over in October this year I'm a bit Pissed off that they are closing so much at one time at this park , is there seriously any point wasting a days ticket going to Hollywood Studios ......
Dropping the Twilight Zone theme isn’t as bothersome to me as I know it will be to some. This is because I know how amazing the story is at the TDS version featuring Harrison Hightower. I agree with Robert’s take on the similarities of Hightower and the collector. I like the idea of his using the HTH as his front for his collecting from Earth. The problem is most of the explanation for who Hightower was comes from murals painted on the walls of the lobby. You’d think if the Collector is hiding out in the hotel, there wouldn’t be anything so obvious in the lobby setting up the story. How will the story be developed? Also, what would be our reason to go into such a derelict building in the first place? Come to think of it…why do we go into the two US versions in the first place now? There is a real reason to visit in Tokyo. The Historical society is hosting an open house to see the dilapidated hotel. Perhaps that’s what it will be. Maybe the collector has dispatched some of his minions to lure people into the HTH to see this historical landmark “Today only!” It still leaves some gaps in how the story of who he is left untold, at least in the lobby. Good or bad, real or hoax, it’s going to be fun to see how this unfolds.
I agree with your "perfect world".
We had a poll about this on Disboards. 90% of respondents hated this idea. Frozen was bad enough, we don't need this mediocre movie shoved down our throats and ruining a perfectly themed ride!
I agree that using GOTG is a bad idea. Is there a way to switch out the story under the Twilight Zone theme? I think the Hollywood Hotel storyline is getting stale.
Is the collector also a member of SEA?
If they bring this to DHS, they need to retheme Aerosmith, not Tower of Terror. Perfect fit, with the on-board music.
Darn it, Robert, you won me over.
As far as the IP goes, Twilight Zone just isn't worth the licensing fees anymore. The current generation likely has limited familiarity with the IP and nobody rides the attraction because of the tie-in. Therefore, I support changing the ride to a different IP or, as Robert proposed, removing the IP entirely and going with the Hightower theme. The reality is, however, that Disney wants Marvel and that Marvel would draw way more visitors than Hightower or Mystic Manor, so like it or not Marvel it is.
Twlight zone is a classic of television, and American culture.
I love the Tower of Terror and the Twilight Zone so selfishly I wish Disney would leave that attraction alone, but I also know Disney has to think of the future generations that will be spending their money on stuff that I will not relate to.
Journey into Your Imagination fiasco all over again.
After doing the original at DHS, DCA's version is puny and not worth the Twilight Zone IP. Even worse, do any remember the hideous television movie version of the ride that didn't even bother acknowledging the Twilight Zone. It's simply called Tower of Terror.
"The climax of the ride occurs when riders view the Disneyland Resort from the top of the tower and a scrim over the opening makes it appear as if the Avengers are fighting Thanos above the park."
The theme of the ToT is beautiful, classic, and so perfect with the old California theme of that section of the park. The old jazz music sounds otherworldly and creepy. My kids know what the Twilight Zone is--they've watched and re-watched episodes on Netflix. Neither has expressed any interest in watching Guardians of the Galaxy, or wanted the toys. They do like Tower merchandise at the park store, however. I say keep the classics.
Gotta give Robert a shout out for his story analysis. I'm a "Twilight Zone" tv show fan and have never felt like the attraction told a satisfactory story at all. I mean, we get told the whole story in the library in a few seconds, and we never learn anything more. People were zapped away by lightning. Ok. We never find the lost people. We don't bring them back. We are none the wiser for our adventure, and we spend an awful lot of time in an ugly boiler room rather than, say, a fascinating hotel area with things to look at.
I can't quite comment on how it would work in DCA since I'm a Floridian. That being said it's hard for me to imagine a reboot at DHS because the whole theme of that area is old Hollywood. I understand the collector angle and how the tower is used as a front, but placing a Marvel ride on Sunset sticks out like a sore thumb to me.
If Disney wants a GOTG ride so bad and they don't want to build one from scratch, may I suggest swapping out Rock n Roller Coaster instead? Aerosmith is a way more tired IP than the Twilight Zone. To make it work, theme it to a space chase against Yondu while playing music from Quill's mixtape. It'd be a better move than losing Tower of Terror.
The fans sure do love a good "story," no matter how hackneyed it is.
There are so many rides with old themes, stuff that doesn't work or fit in the parks... Yet, here we are, Disney fixing something that isn't broken..
If they do this, I will seriously consider never going to Disneyland or Disney World ever again. ToT at both parks is one of my favorite rides and I very much dislike both Marvel and its movies. A rebuild like that would be a shallow, unnecessary means of remaining "relevant." I'm seriously getting tired of Marvel and the Star Wars taking over the parks.
I would really hate to see a re-theme of ToT. I have always felt this was a well done attraction. It seems like only yesterday it was built, I must be getting old. It's hard to believe that was 22 years ago. Why would they bother to build a bar in the attraction if they are planning to change it to GotG?
I'm still holding out hope for the announcement that the attraction will be remade as the Superstar Limo Tower of Popularity, where you plummet and rise based on your popularity as your films tank or become hits, as well as public reaction to political statements you make as a celebrity.
Why fix what is not broken? Well I guess I can answer my own question. Because Disney was too cheap/greedy to build a 3rd gate for Star Wars/Marvel and now, having forced SW into Disneyland, they are trying to force Marvel into CA Adventure. Whatever I guess it's the new Disney way. Build the best and most original stuff in China and squeeze themes and cheap overlays (frozen/test trak) into the US parks where your most loyal fans are.
I think it's being underestimated how many kids and millenials are familiar with the Twilight Zone IP. With Netflix (and illegal downloads), I think quite a few have watched it, and became interested in Twilight Zone due to the ride. At least my kids have.
"Because Disney was too cheap/greedy to build a 3rd gate for Star Wars/Marvel and now, having forced SW into Disneyland, they are trying to force Marvel into CA Adventure."
Robert, stop trying to defend the indefensible....I mean just look at the overwhelming disapproval here on your blog (other than the contributors of course) and the general public. Build Marvel from scratch and don't mess with the classics, unless you want to improve them!
Anon, just trying to keep it realistic. If Disney was willing to invest $100 million or so and completely redesign the attraction, something like what you suggested would definitely be worth considering.
Agree with Tony, I'm a millenial and myself and every other millenial I know have watched The Twilight Zone. It's on cable, Netflix and Hulu. It's one of my favorite shows! Beyond that, millenials seem to have a great love of Old Hollywood and Mid-Century culture (think of all the young people who dress up for Dapper Days). A new attraction is always fun, but I would miss the TofT.
The Guardians idea -- if true -- absolutely stinks, period. Leave the iconic TZ Tower alone and develop new attractions.
My long-time patronage of DLR will come to a permanent end if the Tower is ruined with a cheap and pointless re-theming to some passably entertaining Marvel flick no one will give a damn about ten years from now.
On the future 3rd park, I wonder why Disney passed up the chance to buy GardenWalk when it was auctioned due to bankruptcy. Also, why didn't it buy the street facing parcels of the employee parking lot on Katella Blvd, the former strawberry fields. A new hotel will somehow become the closest hotel to the future 3rd Disneyland Resort theme park. Many hotels changed ownership on Harbor Blvd yet Disney didn't buy much except for the one hotel that will be ripped out for the new bridge to the new parking structure. Yeah, Disney is slow walking this. Maybe a decade later after Its latest foreign investments we will know if Disney cares about its US parks.
1. The reason for the GotG in California is that the area where ToT is will be transformed into Marvel Land. As many people who shake their fist at California Adventure's ToT getting a GotG overlay, there will be those who shake their fist that, if untouched, the ToT won't fit the theme of the new Marvel Land. So, we have a battle of theming purists v. nostalgia purists. Put them all in a room and let them fight it out. Hopefully, no one comes out alive. :p
Throwing a new skin on a ride is like a Hollywood reboot. Usually somewhat entertaining, and often forgettable. I grew up a huge fan of comics so I may be somewhat biased, but Marvel deserves its own land in California, Id happily visit its own park. They should have done it instead of Star Wars to make people have more of a reason to visit both coasts. Marvel is killing it at the box office and the characters aren't getting younger, it should be happening.
"if the parks went 5+ years between new attractions they would definitely see significant attendance drops."
ToT is an original. It has a huge fan base and re-theming it to "Guardians of the Tower" is quite possibly the worst idea WDI has had since the opening of DCA. If they truly wanted to build a "Marvelland", then they could most likely find a way to incorporate ToT's facade into "Marvelland". Instead of trying to hide ToT's facade from "Marvelland", WDI should be spending resources on fixing Paradise Pier's sight lines. Currently, one can see the Anaheim Convention Center and other Anaheim hotels from Paradise Pier. If anything, this issue should be prioritized over fixing "Marveland's" sight lines. Lastly, I'm still praying that Iger and Chapek get removed ASAP. Luckily with WDC's latest quarterly earnings, it appears that this might happen within the next 1-2 years.
I do not believe that this could be done in Florida. The contract with Universal would not allow that. The contract does not allow Marvel's in any park within 50 miles of Universal. Disney could not even run the monorail with the Avengers wrap on the EPCOT because it goes through the park.
Thats so long let me make this quick.
Anon, not every attraction is a ride. By my count, excluding temporary attractions Disneyland has added six new attractions in the past 10 years (two rides, two parades, a nighttime spectacular, and a miniland with a show and character encounter) and DCA has added six as well (a whole themed land, two additional rides, a parade, a show, and a nighttime spectacular). Even if we restrict it to only rides, that's still all of Cars Land and four additional rides in the past ten years. Sure, a couple of them are new versions of old attractions, but to the public something like the Nemo Subs or the new Star Tours are new rides. I don't disagree that Star Wars and Marvel Land are designed to increase capacity of the resort, but most additions do not have a single purpose and those lands are designed to bring in just as many additional people into the park as they'll allow to visit by simply existing.
Whew! Finally read all the comments! My turn to put in my 2 cents!
Disney is hoping the Anaheim angels announce they are leaving in 3 to 5 yrs. Once a new city builds then a splashy New park. In fact, the angels are currently operating on a yr to yr contract. The long term lease has expired. So Disney may get a chance to buy the land from the city at a big discount to market. Disney wants to do the trump way to build a resort. Get the land from a government for a big discount
In fact. The original fantasyland is a package of related ip. Just like marvel is. It's an old marketing idea. Not a new one
Yes, this is a terrible idea, but don't blame WDI. It's the dubious idea of the new parks chairman, Bob Chapek.
There are things which simply cannot be discussed. Changing the ToT theme to some insipid Marvel nonsense that will be forgotten in a couple of years is an insane idea that only a corporate idiot could come up with. Why not tear down the castle and build "like an epic, you know, VR-coaster there - and they could add Jack Sparrow,how epic would that be!"
I first didn't like it but after your article I'm a bit more on board. In the end I rather have a remake paring it to the Adventurer mansion.
It seems really strange that they would take a wildly successful ride, one that is probably top 5 most popular across every Disney park that has it, and want to change something because the theme is 'stale' and 'outdated'. Whenever people say things like 'kids dont know what x and y are', I feel that is not giving some people some credit. Kids also have parents who know of these things. Whether or not they DO know, they enter this building, and there is an entire theme and mood to this ride. It's its own story, and I can safely say not one child walking off that ride thought "I dont get the story."
If it's truly a matter of IP costs, then simply drop any allusions to the twilight zone but keep the haunted hotel theme. A little bit of creative re-imagineering to the show scenes and voila! Everyone's happy!
FROM WHAT I'VE HEARD: Here's what's odd: apparently, Disney is currently in pre-production on a Twilight Zone Tower of Terror film (to replace/update the older version that--let's just say it--stunk). They want it to be scary and exciting. If that's so, then the ToT isn't going away, right? The answer: It's going away in California but not Florida.....Florida still does not have the legal rights to Marvel films/properties, they belong to Universal. So Florida is staying AS-IS for probably a very long time. The California Tower, though, is going to change into a GOTG attraction. There's no details yet on timing, but you can bet the announcement won't be long after the opening of Shanghai Disneyland.
So, I mentioned this story without any bias to my family, and my 14 and 12 year old, both of whom love guardians of the Galaxy, responded with shock and disgust. They both stated it is a perfect ride, and we love the Twilight Zone. My opinion is if they leave the Orlando intact, that is fine by me, since it is the better of the two; however, I disagree with their rationale. All of the kids in my family under 20 love it currently. Look, Disney has billions. Billions. Why not expand and make a Guardians ride? It is easily my favorite Marvel movie, but they really are making bad choices with the theme parks. Orlando did not need to revamp the fast pass system to make it more convenient for them. They should add to the theme parks instead of taking away from it. They announce a massive expansion to Magic Kingdom, and all it is is a very poor little mermaid ride and a restaurant (a very nice one I'll admit). How many unbelievable attractions did Universal add during that time? Several, and you can still go there and ride 15-20 attractions in a day. Disney? Maybe 10. They have no idea how many people they are driving away.
Yeah this is a great idea! Then Disney could retheme the Haunted Mansion to a Zootopia ride and just put animal masks over the dancing ballroom ghosts faces because the story for the mansion is lacking and Zootopia is such a hit! Then they could just retheme Jungle Cruise to Star Wars to save money instead of doing a whole land! Just paint the boats to look like the millennium falcon, dye the water black and add a few LEDs to make it look like stars and space and there you have a hit attraction! And I almost forgot to put a DarthVader and storm trooper masks over the canable tribesman to blend them into the story!
You know what? I can rage all I want about the loss of the Twilight Zone experience, but darn it Robert if you haven't swayed me with this fantastic option.
Guardians of the WHAT!?!? You're all just making stuff up now!! :D
We were recently asked exiting the Rock & Roller Coaster if we liked Aerosmith. We assured the surveyor we did. I wish someone would have asked me if I thought Tower of Terror should be re-themed with a GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY overlay. My answer would have been, "As a lifelong Disney and Marvel fan and passholder-"NO!" Don't try to shoehorn a mismatched IP into an existing attraction because you don't think kids recognize the original. I discovered THE TWILIGHT ZONE in syndication when I was kid on a local independent TV station in the '80s-long before we had MeTV, Cozi, Antenna, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and all the rest. The attraction is perfectly themed to fit into a movie and TV themed park as it is. If Disney doesn't want to pay the licensing fee anymore, fall back on the Harrison Hightower model-but keep it appropriately themed to its area: Old Hollywood. This is just common sense! It's not in Tomorrowland!
Robert, how much does Disney pay for Twilight Zone licensing fees? I'll bet the number is shockingly low. Licensing fees are an excuse for greedy Iger and Chapek to monetize every square inch of Disneyland.
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