Before I spent my fourth of July’s at Anime Expo, I had a ton of memories watching old Twilight Zone episodes with grandma. One of the local stations would play a weekend long marathon of all the episodes back to back. This was before Netflix where you can pick and choose when to have your marathons. I always looked forward to fourth of July weekend, not for fireworks or for ‘Murica, but I would watch some really creepy stuff about aliens, ghosts, and all things in between. Even as an 8 year old growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs, I was hooked. I’d have conversations with friends in the playground about episodes we did catch and how awesome it was. Much of my childhood memories with my grandma were watching these episodes together – she would provide dry and terse commentary to each of the episodes.
When Walt Disney World announced that they were going to have a Twilight Zone themed attraction, I was on every hanging word. When Disney’s Inside Out, the show that looked at behind the scenes work in the parks, did a special with Gilbert Gottfried, I wanted more. We couldn’t afford to go to Florida to experience Tower of Terror. California had to wait until 2004 until we had our very own Tower of Terror. Because of licensing issues and complications, Tower of Terror will be no more on the west coast. It’s stood elegantly off the 5 freeway. It was like the Haunted Mansion answer to Disney’s California Adventure. While I am sad to see Tower of Terror go, I can understand the reasoning behind why.
In addition to licensing termination, Disney’s California Adventure’s Hollywood Land has become the filler episode of the parks. Muppet 3D Vision has been replaced with a 3D preview zone for upcoming Disney movies. The Hyperion Theatre has caved into the Frozen hype. Monsters Inc is kinda there. The Animator’s Studio is still a nice place for Disneybound photo ops and learning some behind the scenes tricks of the trade (or if you’re like me, an excuse for air conditioning sans the Dole Whip). What I liked about the Tower of Terror is that it represented creepy Hollywood. I think of things like Black Dahlia, various film noir movies, etc when I see Tower of Terror looming outside of the main thoroughfare of Hollywood Land. It was the end of the line for the trolley. If it was one thing that really felt like old Hollywood in DCA, it’s Tower of Terror. However, with the popularity of Marvel and the movies that have been spawning, it makes sense on a financial level to slowly turn Hollywood Land into a Marvel themed “land.”
While there is no official confirmation, this video hosted by imagineer Joe Rohde, says, “And it is the first of what is going to be a whole new universe in Disney California Adventure. All of this is happening as we speak…I’ll be back to tell you more…as we go forward.” This was my main takeaway from the video. Because Hollywood Land has been in identity crisis mode, it wouldn’t surprise me if Disney would theme this to Marvel. We already have been seeing Captain America meet and greets. The Marvel HQ in the main park has recently closed. I would prefer if Disney could build onto Hollywood glamour and fame onto this part of the park rather than being the filler episode of the parks, but I want to keep my hopes up. As much as I want to link and support petitions to “save” the tower, at the end of the day, Disney is a business. The Florida and international towers will still exist as they are.
This is not the first time Disney has replaced beloved attractions. While it was not a part of my generation, one of my mentors looks fondly upon Journey Through Inner Space. However, I do enjoy Star Tours incarnations. While I was sad that the old Star Tours was taking off one last time, I knew the ride needed a serious update. The film grain was showing and fans for the longest time wanted to see more than a botched trip to Endor. I was also really sad when the People Mover went away, but I was also hyped for Rocket Rods. Though I never went on Rocket Rods (there was always a problem), there is a part of me that would like to see the People Mover back in the Anaheim park. I also felt the same way about ElecTRONica – it’s seriously the best nightlife attraction the parks had since Videoapolis. Mad T Party and subsequent replacements did not really cut it for me. There was just something profound and wondrous about entering in Hollywood Land to Daft Punk’s score for Tron Legacy and playing some classic 80s arcade games at Flynn’s Arcade. In short, Disney Parks do change over time to reflect what’s popular and what’s in demand whether we like it or not, but we are not alone in our nostalgia and sentiment.
As of this writing, the Hollywood Tower of Terror is slowly transforming into the Guardians Attraction. There’s already commemorative merchandise being sold at the gift shop; they are selling like hot cakes! One week, a Tower of Terror mug can be on the shelf and the next visit, there’s already new collectibles. Disney is smart; they know this attraction is popular to warrant commemorative merchandise. The lines are still about an hour long. There’s even a “late check out” experience where the entire attraction is pitch black. People in line are also oblivious to the change up; a few times, I’ll hear cast members explain that this will get the over lay for Guardians of the Galaxy. While I am excited for Guardians, I do want to say farewell to the original Tower of Terror in Disney’s California Adventure. My first trip to DCA was memorable because of the Tower of Terror’s grand opening. While I know I can have the same experience in Florida, it’s not every day I can visit Orlando. As a Disney parks fan that’s used to change, I am willing to accept the new tenants. Just let me say my fond farewell to one of my all time favorite Disney parks attraction before it disappears into another dimension.
While I am excited for Guardians, I do want to say farewell to the original Tower of Terror in Disney’s California Adventure. My first trip to DCA was memorable because of the Tower of Terror’s grand opening. While I know I can have the same experience in Florida, it’s not every day I can visit Orlando. As a Disney parks fan that’s used to change, I am willing to accept the new tenants. Just let me say my fond farewell to one of my all time favorite Disney parks attraction before it disappears into another dimension.