If you're up on the happenings and goings on of Disney Twitter, you've surely heard the rumor that Disney is considering replacing the Twilight Zone theming of their popular Tower of Terror with a new story based on the Marvel hit Guardians of the Galaxy. While this is purely rumor and far from official, it did get us thinking about whether or not we'd be in favor of such a change.
What follows is a debate between LaughingPlace Executive Editorial Director Kyle Burbank taking the pro-Guardians stance and site co-founder Doobie Moseley opposing the changes:
Judging by the reaction on Twitter, I know I am definitely in the minority here, but I don’t hate the idea of changing the theme of Tower of Terror. In fact, I may even be for it. First, I never understood why anyone thought that a tower getting struck by lightning was an amazing story for an attraction. Yes, it completely fits the Twilight Zone theme but — on a basic story level — not that great.
I vastly prefer the Tokyo DisneySea version of the story. In it, Harrison Hightower is a world traveler and collector who doesn’t seem to always obtain his treasure in the most honest of fashions. Finally, his disrespect for a tiki idol he’s stolen from somewhere catches up with him as the tiki comes to life and sends him to his demise. See? Way more story than a thunderstorm.
The rumored proposal would find you visiting the home of The Collector played by Benicio Del Toro in Guardians. Presumably, he would send us into an elevator to show one of his latest prized possessions on another level when something goes wrong. That idea doesn’t sound that much unlike the Tokyo version that it’s not doable. I’m also sure any retheming needed to be done to the interior and exterior would make sense.
And so I ask you, what is there to be so mad about?
It’s not always easy to create an attraction based on a film (or TV show in this case). It’s all too easy to end up with something that just feels dated. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has already proven that that’s not the case here. It’s been nearly 60 years since The Twilight Zone debuted on TV, and I’d imagine the vast majority of Disney visitors are well aware of the property and the feeling it’s meant to evoke, even if they’ve never seen the show.
And that’s my biggest problem with this proposed change. The Twilight Zone works extremely well as the theme. I’m not confident The Collector will work nearly as well. No matter how well the Guardians of the Galaxy films do, I think we’re a long way from them — especially that one isolated part of them — having as visceral and long-lasting an emotional reaction as The Twilight Zone.
It’s not that the Guardians theme is bad. It’s that The Twilight Zone theme is so good. And the Tokyo version? Wasn’t the stolen tiki idol wreaking havoc story already done on The Brady Bunch?
Well, yeah — had to keep with the classic TV idea, clearly.
I somewhat agree about the longevity of the Twilight Zone intellectual property (henceforth referred to as "IP") but I think, as the Tokyo versions shows, the attraction doesn’t need an IP to succeed. So even if they do change it to Guardians and that film escapes the collective pop culture consciousness in 20 years or so, it’s not like the ride will fall off (no pun intended) as a result. It’s a lot different than a dark ride or something that just exclusively tells the story of the film — those are more susceptible to changing taste. As are entire lands based on a subpar Pixar franchises, but I digress.
I can’t speak for Florida’s version but I believe the idea for California would be to turn part of Hollywoodland into a Marvel area. Considering how lacking that part of park has been from the beginning (except Muppets, of course… and I do have a soft spot for Monsters), something like that is sorely needed. It is especially appropriate since Hollywood is currently inundated with superhero films.
You could say go ahead and make the Marvel section but leave Tower the same, but then this sure-draw section would most likely be without an E ticket. So why not turn over the keys to the Tower if it means making that area of the park a Marvel powerhouse?
If Disney decides to turn all of Hollywood into a Marvel area, then it probably makes sense to retheme Tower of Terror. But, short of that and in Florida where licensing issues may prevent an entire Marvel land, I stand by my opinion.
When an attraction is rethemed to go with a film, the result should be an improvement. Otherwise, it just comes off as a publicity gimmick. So yes — The Tower of Terror doesn’t have to have IP to succeed, but changing it to less appropriate IP will make it a lesser attraction. There have been a few examples recently where Disney has added a film aspect to an existing attraction and it’s usually for the betterL Johnny Depp and other film aspects to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Three Caballeros to El Rio Del Tiempo and Nemo to the Living Seas come to mind.
Even the upcoming Frozen Ever After, as sick as I may be of Frozen, I suspect will turn a rather boring attraction into a better one. The one recent time where many did feel it failed is in adding Disney characters to Small World. Certainly few would’ve complained had they been there all the time, but adding them in later resulted in what came across to many as a bad gimmick.
Before I give you the last word, let me raise this: Disney doesn’t own the rights to The Twilight Zone. Reports indicate that they lease them from CBS on a 10-year basis. So let’s say that agreement comes to an end and, for some reason, one of the two companies decides not to renew.
My question is this: would you rather see the Tower lose it’s theming and maybe adopt some work around to stay on the right side of the law or bring in the Guardians? I’d have to say I prefer the latter (the Tokyo story would be great but would take a lot of exterior work to make sense — although they could alter the story enough to get past that). And, just as it’s humorously disappointing that Disney is still building Avatarland when they now own much better properties, isn’t it silly that they keep leasing someone else’s IP when they have their own?
Well now you’re changing the ground rules. Obviously, if CBS doesn't want to renew Twilight Zone, this theme is better than no theme. If they can’t use the Twilight Zone name, I’m all for Guardians.
But, on your last point, I still disagree. Like you, I’d much rather see a land built around some exotic Star Wars planet than Avatar. But, for Tower of Terror, The Twilight Zone is a perfect theme. Does any attraction in all of Disney execute on its theme better than Tower of Terror executes on its Twilight Zone theme (especially in Florida with its 5th dimension room)? No — even though Disney does not own The Twilight Zone and there are properties they do own that might work well, I still argue none will work as well as this and a change would be a downgrade.
The Tower of Terror is my favorite attraction in all of Disney right now — probably my favorite of all time. If you’re going to mess with it, you better be sure you’re going to make it better. Not an easy task considering it’s just about perfect as it is.