I was with you until you said, "People feel a deeper connection to Disney's rides than to Universal's, and – admittedly – expect more from Disney."

Wrong wrong wrong. I have a deeper connection with Universal's rides way more than the old, tired, boring "classics" at WDW.

I know this might be a controversial opinion,but I honestly think that Mission Breakout is better than Californiaś TOT. To me the California Tower, while good, always felt like a lesser version of the Florida Tower. Sort of like how the Florida Pirates of the Caribbean compares to the California Pirates of the Caribbean. But the addition of randomized drops, an awesome soundtrack, an extremely diverse and lovable cast of characters,a fun and brilliant story, and some amazing special effects makes Mission Breakout IMO the best ride ever to be featured in California Adventure. It especially boggles my mind that this ride is so hated by the Disney fanbase when the queue line contains a multitude of references to Disneylandś past, including TOT!

On a somewhat related note, I kinda get a little mad whenever people question the staying power of the Marvel characters. I feel that most Disney fans have forgotten that the Marvel Universe wasn´t created along with the MCU, but has been around since the 1960s. Many of its characters have been household names and staples of American popular culture for decades. I mean, the Spider-Man ride at Universal is very much a product of the late 90s, yet it still has long lines and still receives praise as one of the greatest theme park attractions of all time.So if that does not prove that Mission Breakout could potentially last for a long time, then I don´t know what will.

I would like to conclude this rant by reminding everyone that Uncle Walt was not above cashing in on recent movie hits. Disneyś Peter Pan had only debuted 2 years before the opening of Disneyland, yet had itś own attraction there on Opening Day. Alice in Wonderland had 2 of its own attractions despite that film not even being a decade old yet, and the Swiss Family Robinson even got its own Disneyland attraction 2 years after the filmś release. Heck, even Disneyś first film, Snow White, was less than 20 years old when Disneyland first opened and could thus arguably be considered a ¨recent¨ hit at the time. Walt had no way of knowing at the time if these movies would stand the test of time. And while Snow White, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland are still remembered by most people, I doubt anyone remembers Swiss Family Robinson. So though we may not like to admit it, cashing in on recent blockbuster hits has been an integral part of the Disney Park DNA since the very beginning. So for those of you who don´t like having Frozen in EPCOT, Avatar in Animal Kingdom, or GOTG in California Adventure, don´t blame Eisner or Iger. Blame Walt.

This is a few years too late but this has to be the best article written about Tower and I hate to see the continued effects of this. Tower's change to Guardians ended up paving the way for the destruction of California Adventure, seeing it returning to the irreverent jokes and modern music of DCA 1.0. The constant influx of modern money making IPs being forced into and shoehorned into the parks is destroying the historical innovation of Disney and mirroring Universal. The recent (as of this comment) fight with Bob Iger and the comments on IPs shows a rising and terrifying issue that was evident to few earlier with Maelstrom and Tower, but now is becoming blantent.

In reply to by Nick Esposito (not verified)

Good info. Lucky me I found your website by chance
(stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!

100% agree with you on the "Guardians of the Galaxy" makeover. CA now has it's own "Journey Into YOUR Imagination," albeit one whose visual pollution can be seen throughout the park. Let's hope it's more temporary than Disney lets on.

As for Ellen's Energy Adventure: as long as they've hobbled the original theming of Future world, the space available (between EEA and the criminally underused Wonders of Life pavilion) would be sufficient to duplicate Shanghai's TRON coaster in full, rather than a truncated version rumored for Tomorrowland. Then put the "Inside Out" attraction in Imagination.

In reply to by Brian Pacifico

SHHHHHHHHHHHH.......They'll HEAR you......

I am from Europe and visited the California-parcs in 2016. I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the Disneyland-parc. California Adventure had also some atmosphere, but it wasn't fully convincing to me (e.g. shops were still decorated too modern/standard, although lukily with a touch from the past). Particularly, I liked the Vineyard, Grizzly River Run landscaping (unfortunately not open), the bakery, Carthay Circle, Cars land landscaping... and of course the Tower of Terror. These design elements were highly important for my satisfaction and memories.
The Studios-parc in Paris is clearly too industrial (although slowly improving via investments in new 'lands'). Disney knows that reparing such design mistakesis is difficult and costly. Therefore, I don't understand how the new industrial design of Guardians of the Galaxy will bring any value to California Adventure parc. The new attraction might be good inside, but for me the parc will loose much of its atmosphere with this building design.
Disney appeared to have learned from mistakes in the past and now Disney seems to make the same mistake again... I don't understand this, particularly, as Disney management can see the overwhelming atmospheric investments of its competitor nearby...

In reply to by Nicholas Beck (not verified)

I don't at all mind each resort having its own attractions! I didn't mean to argue that at all. I was trying to pre-empt the many arguments I expected from people saying, "Who cares if California loses its ride? Florida's is better anyway." I'm sure you'd agree, that's a callous and small-minded way of putting down the generation of Disneyland guests who grew up with and adored the Tower of Terror.

The harsh and sad reality is that most Disneyland visitors (and I mean MOST) will never get to visit Disney World, which means they've taken their last ride on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Conversely, the harsh and sad reality is that most Walt Disney World visitors (and I mean MOST) don't know a ride called Indiana Jones Adventure exists and will never see it in their lifetime. You and I know that that's a shame. But what would be worse is if Disney World HAD an Indiana Jones Adventure and had it replaced by a permanent, hasty overlay based on a flavor-of-the-week action film that foundationally uprooted the narrative of the land – and indeed, the entire park – that it was in. Imagine an Indiana Jones Adventure in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland becoming a Captain America ride. That may sound silly, but that's literally analogous to what's happened here.

While I dislike this idea of the Guardians of the Galaxy taking over the Tower of Terror, I disagree with the argument about Disney World visitors not being able to visit California. If people from Disney World have to go out to Disneyland to experience the Indiana Jones Adventure and Cars Land, then why can't people from Disneyland come to visit Tower of Terror in Florida?

Thank you for this article; it was extraordinarily well written -- so much I could see myself telling almost a similar story and narrative. My feelings towards DL and the Walt Disney Company are very mixed this year. As the cost of our passes continually rise, things are cheapened by overpromotion (Epcot's all year festivals now) and the rushed feeling of new rides and attractions, I worry about the Disney brand. The brand represented to me a feeling of doing things right and being original and forward thinking -- some of these newer projects don't feel that way at all. All the excitement not withstanding about the Star Wars project and Toy Story Land at DHS, we did lose a great many things as well. The Osborne lights will be greatly missed; and DHS will be the newest half day park for awhile. Thank you for this well written tribute to the HTH (to which I'm a gigantic fan, just look at my collection around me in this very room I'm typing to you in) and for mimicking my feelings about the great loss of an icon. I'm also disappointed in Joe, as I thought he was better than cheap overlays and hasty remodels - DAK is a gorgeous park with great attractions, but this felt entirely beneath both his abilities and his talent.

I feel that the Tower of Terror will return in the future. With the backlash, and from I know about life, karma has a way of bitting back. In other words, the decision to change ToT will come back to haunt Disney and they'll bring back Tower of Terror.

I really don't understand where Disney execs are helming the parks. It really started with Frozen in terms of changing the narrative and mission statement of an entire park. IMHO that overlay was done very well and at least it is a worthy attraction successor to the original. Then there is this Guardians of the Galaxy overlay which is incredibly stupid and vapid. But Bob Iger's recent comments about the direction that the reboot of Epcot seems encouraging that they will be true to the original vision of Epcot. I don't know it really is hard to tell which way Disney is going.

Also I doubt it if us East Coasters are happy with the demise of the West coast version of the TT but at least we do still have a version of it that exists over here. Like the example in the article I would be upset if they removed Pirates but it would be at least somewhat of a consolation if it existed in Disneyland.

Bob Chapek told everyone at the recent D23 event that the Tower in Florida wouldn't change and frankly I don't see it changing there, either. It's too much of a draw for that park - especially for the next 4-5 years. Plus it's become an icon both in the themed entertainment business and at Walt Disney World, whereas the one in California was always the cheap little brother of Florida's version.

Also while I understand your point about the benefits of the altered ride system in Florida, the new ride system was vastly inferior. Not only removing the uniqueness of the horizontal movement but also adding that dumb hallway between the elevator doors and the actual lift. It takes you entirely out of the moment and experience.

In reply to by Bob Connor (not verified)

That's the rumor, but tbh if they're going to replace any ride in Disney World with the only Marvel movie that they can use (at this point), they should gut and retheme the Rockin' Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios: in all blunt honesty, Aerosmith is pretty much irrelevant these days (they're pretty much a quintessential example of what us millennials call "dadrock") and on top of that, they can theme it to the Awesome Mix (both Vol. 1 and a couple tracks from Vol. 2).

IMHO, that would be a fair compromise insofar as Orlando getting a Marvel attraction and the Tower of Terror there is safe. I could even go so far as to say they could potentially truncate the Mission: Breakout material and adapt it for a roller coaster, but that might be more work and money than what Disney is willing to spend on such a thing.

As for Ellen's Energy Adventure, they could replace that with an Inside Out-themed ride. I know people will gripe about "muh originality", but given Disney is trying to implement their properties more into the parks these days, that's probably a better choice and fit for Epcot over GOTG.

In reply to by Paul Douglas (not verified)

Thank you for your well written comments! I'm in the minority who's excited for the retheme and I agree, Space Mountain: Mission Space 2 was a terrible version. Hopefully if Disneyland Paris' 25th anniversary is a success, maybe after Hyperspace Mountain they can bring the original version back.

While I loved the Twilight Zone theme, I do understand Disney wanting to bring Marvel in to the park. What I can't understand, is why Disney didn't keep the hotel theme and change it to Captain America? It certainly would have worked better for the era that section of the park represents. That power plant/ prison thing is going to look as out of place as Jacqueline Kennedy at a monster truck rally!

While I agree that removing the Hollywood Tower Hotel from DCA is a major ding to the narrative, that wing of the park is ripe for rejig anyway. The Hollywood Land area - despite the HTH lending some narrative backbone to the park at large - definitely got the short end of the stick in terms of place-making in the Enhancement Project. It's attractive enough - certainly more than it was originally - but it remains relatively shallow, lacks narrative cohesion and the unceremonious way sections of it were essentially lopped off to save operating costs during the dark old days has never fully been resolved, meaning there are spots where it just sort of...Stops.

Those kind of unnatural boundaries, though slightly better themed now than before the enhancements, ding the narrative and diminish the sense of place. And if we're talking buildings not fitting the theme of the area, have you SEEN the Hyperion Theatre building? It's a fantastic theatre inside, but the outside is utterly graceless - barring the left over backdrops at the entrance. The "painted on sky" motif that is also a holdover from the dark old days looks positively goofy, especially given how elaborately themed other areas of DCA are.

The whole area needs to be re-done, and if it's going to be Marvel-themed (Spider-Man & Captain America already live there so that does appear to be the long term plan) then the existing HTH wouldn't necessarily fit. While I agree it will be sorely missed, I'm willing to see how the whole plan looks before writing off the idea of the replacement out of hand.

And I get where you're coming from on the fact it wasn't unique not necessarily mattering because of how well integrated its story was, but I feel like the above issue of the new narrative not being completed or even revealed yet blunts that somewhat. And regardless, with the ride experience largely unchanged and an identical ride in Walt Disney Studios which is currently not planned to change in anyway, it really is hard to see this change as the massive betrayal it is being painted as. Frankly, Space Mountain: Mission 2 was - for my money - a more regrettable permanent re-theme, despite it being a much more limited one.

In fairness, I recall James Gunn (the director of the movie) saying at one point that he wasn't terribly thrilled with the idea at first (and that he's also a fan of the Tower of Terror as well), but someone, somehow, made a convincing enough elevator pitch to him about this that not only changed his mind, but managed to get him to film stuff with the movie actors while they were filming Vol. 2. So who knows, maybe there might be something redeemable about this after all, if only for the authenticity in the ride's show itself. :T

Honestly, I get that GOTG is pretty much the only Marvel property they can have in WDW (Doctor Strange is... debatable),and I'm a huuuuuuuge fan of the movie (I saw it 12 times in the theater, albeit most were $5 Tuesday nights, lmao) but if they put both Mission: Breakout in Hollywood Studios _and_ that rumored replacement to Universe of Energy in Epcot, that's going to be overkill for just one property IMHO.

I must say, this was an incredibly well-written article, and I could not agree more; the loss of Tower of Terror is a huge loss here. I remember California Adventure at the very beginning. My family and I used a park hopper for it, and we didn't even stay an hour; we were surprised that it had ever been built, and never planned to return to it again.
The Hollywood Tower Hotel is the only thing that brought me back to it. After a decade had passed, I was surprised with how much I loved the new and improved California Adventure. It created instant nostalgia, and the pinnacle of it all was, of course, the Tower of Terror itself. It was the gateway into the park, and I loved it.
Loosing that ride now, especially considering the disastrous results that came from when the park was initially opened, I would say put a nail in the coffin for this park. It may not die right away, but even still it will only limp, if even that. If I were them, I'd promise a return to the original Tower within the next year or so; as so eloquently written here, it would be the best thing to do at this point to salvage this mess.

First, just a minor correction - Guardians used primarily a 1970's soundtrack, not a 1980's one. Second, I agree that the conversion of this great ride instead of the building of a complete new ride based on Guardians shows Disney at its cheapest yet again. And apparently even the detailed redesign of the outside has been downsized, so it's less about pipes and more about colors (and cheaper to make).

I thought that in Florida, "Ellen's Energy Adventure" is supposed to be replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy and that the Tower of Terror there is "safe." Hope so, EEA is sooooo dated. Maybe do a story about the Universe of Energy.

I am unbelievably saddened to see this ride go. Really a bizarre move on Disney's part.

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