Anyone who has stood in line in the warm California sun in the outside queue for the Tower of Terror will disagree that public interest is waning for this ride (as we write this the current wait time is 65 minutes at 9:00pm with 1 hour of park time left).
Clearly the attendance numbers tell a different story as Disney Imagineers set about looking to a new IP to “plus” the current Twilight Zone fit out. With the IP outdated and with a new generation having no understanding of the history of Twilight Zone, it is time for Disney to update this to something new, interesting and to be honest, more “Hollywood” for the current times. With the addition of Marvel and Star Wars into the Disney repertoire, Imagineers are banking on Sci-fi being the missing element in the Hollywood portion of its California Adventure park.
Enter Marvel and the Guardian’s of the Galaxy IP. Prior to the movie opening, little was known about this comic book by the general public, but with people exiting the theater clamoring for more and a sequel approved before initial box office close, GOTG was destined to be pushed in Disney’s parks. But how? Toys and merchandise was immediately placed on shelves but this was nothing the general public probably could not get in regular stores. One may have seen the occasional GOTG themed t-shirt with nods to Disneyland/Disney World, etc, but until recently that was it.
The option for Imagineers was clear either tear something down or re-brand it. Disney has made it very clear that they are not afraid to “remove” buildings or rides, however recently re-branding areas and general re-theming seems to be the more economical option for them and rightly so. At roughly $140-150 million dollars for the build, each Tower of Terror is quite a financial and resource commitment. Simply tearing it down would be financial nightmare, never mind the cost of removal, etc.
The logical option would be to re-theme this attraction to match the more recent GOTG IP. That will be no small undertaking as the theming of this installation was a fan favorite and impeccably detailed around the Hotel motif. If the concept art is to be believed, the new installation will open up the are much more as more of a display/zoo type building with creatures and artifacts from around the galaxies. The ride itself will center around Rocket enlisting guests into rescuing and escaping with the rest of the GOTG gang. How this will work into the current elevator concept is hard to fathom, but it will at least be interesting to see how the same ride has been altered.
Though keeping the same ride but changing the visuals doesn’t seem like it would make the ride unique in any way, one only has to look to the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland and Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom (WDW) to see how an identical ride can be so very distinct from the other with the right theming. That said, the obvious question is more about park aesthetic really. How will this imposing “Weenie” stand up to the current old-time feel surrounding this area of the park. The current ageing hotel structure stands out over the old school Hollywood streets, but still lends itself to the imagery. How will Disney block out this futuristic monstrosity or will it be used to change the focus of the park from a distance?
Basically, if anyone can do it, Imagineering can.
We will keep on top of this one as more details and concept art come out, in the mean time the BTT team is still divided on this one but we are all remaining hopeful that Imagineering can make an ageing ride even more memorable.