The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of the most beloved rides in all of Disney Parks and Resorts’s 61-year history; since the original version’s opening in 1994 at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort, it’s been exported to nearly every other Disney location, starting with Anaheim’s Disneyland Resort in 2004. A combination rise- and drop-tower, it puts riders in a “lost” episode of the classic Twilight Zone, having them board an elevator in an old Hollywood hotel that has the occasional tendency to displace its guests beyond the fifth dimension, and then dropping them some 130 feet back to ground level.
Now, however, following months of rumors and speculation, Disney and Marvel have made it official: the attraction will be getting a thematic makeover. The Tower of Terror will instead be revamped as a themed ride for a popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, no less.
At the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con Marvel panel, the company unveiled Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – BREAKOUT!, a facelift to Tower of Terror at California Adventure (that’s the second park at Disneyland Resort, for all you playing along at home) that will see the Twilight Zone theme dropped for the popular Guardians of the Galaxy IP. The new premise sees the legendary Hollywood Tower Hotel be redesigned as Taneleer Tivan’s (better known as the Collector, and portrayed by Benicio del Toro) private museum, where his collection of various specimens, items, and Infinity Stones is stored. Tivan has invited you to come inspect his newest find, the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves, but what he doesn’t realize is that Rocket Raccoon has escaped from his “display case” and has co-opted you to help break his team of misfits out.
Other than the change in tone from the somber and mysterious Rod Serling television series to the “comically high-energy” shenanigans of the Guardians film franchise – and, of course, the injection of the first movie’s now-iconic soundtrack – the basic mechanics remain the same: the elevator-turned-gantry will feature a randomized collection of lifts and drops meant to make each experience different. You can check out official artwork for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – BREAKOUT! below.
This move has received a fair amount of criticism from the dedicated and passionate Disney theme park community since it was first rumored several months ago; that’s not all that surprising though, as Disneyland has an annual attendance that is largely comprised of local Californians (as opposed to Disney World, which sees the bulk of its foot traffic come from out-of-staters – particularly of the international variety) who are hesitant to see anything change in Walt’s Park. When combined with the classic Twilight Zone theming, it’s a double-whammy of nostalgia – even though the ride originally debut some three decades after Walt’s death – that is hard to overcome.
Then again, it’s precisely the dated nature of the Tower of Terror IP (along with the unparalleled popularity of the MCU) that has prompted Disney to do the switcheroo – and if the case of more guests arriving at the Anaheim parks, thereby increasing Disney’s coffers and ability to make future brand-new rides, isn’t enough to win them over, then there’s something else that might: contained in Marvel’s presentation was the little nugget that this first permanent presence at California Adventure will eventually become the anchor of a giant Marvel Land. When combined with the incoming Star Wars Land and the already-opened Cars Land, it should make for a one-two-three punch that will position the park as one of the very best in the entire theme-park world.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror closes spring 2017 at Disneyland Resort’s California Adventure; Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – BREAKOUT! opens in summer 2017.