It’s no secret that Disney parks around the world make a big deal out of “show”. It’s why height balloons are used to test sightlines for new projects, and why every Disney fan knows the now-legendary story about Walt Disney once seeing a Frontierland cowboy walking through Tomorrowland, and lamenting that the cowboy didn’t fit in with this area’s futuristic theme. And while Disney parks have historically done an excellent job of upholding show standards, something is happening at Disney California Adventure that is pretty much the opposite of “good show”.
Late Monday afternoon, a large crane appeared behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror before the park closed. And while fans assumed that the crane was doing something with this attraction, pretty much no one was prepared for what happened next. Just after the park closed Monday evening, fans outside the park and those looking on via the Anaheim Howard Johnson's always-on "MatterCam" watched with horror as the iconic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror signage was removed from this structure, letter by letter. And then fans who showed up to the park early yesterday morning were treated to this bizarre sight:
Obviously fans were upset about this overnight change, and rightly so. Not only is it very clearly "bad show" for an attraction to be torn apart while it is still operating, but it also seems a little disingenuous to pull down this iconic piece of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror during the "Late Night Check Out" special event, which is supposed to be celebrating the legacy of this attraction which includes, among other things, a photo op in front of the building. However, fans who take a picture in front of this building in its current state will now have a keepsake so they can remember that time Disney started tearing down a classic attraction before it was even closed.
While we’ve known that the closing of this attraction was coming in the near future, it is still very strange to see Disney pulling down the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror sign a full three months before its permanent shutdown in January. However, looking at the previously released information about the transformation of this attraction from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT, perhaps we should have seen this coming…
Tight deadlines means work starts sooner
When this new(ish) attraction was first confirmed earlier this year, we noted how a summer 2017 opening date for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT seemed really ambitious, especially since it took nearly two years for Epcot's Maelstrom to become Frozen Ever After, and this new project is a similar overlay-style addition. However, it looks like Disney has learned from their mistakes with Frozen, and doesn't want Disney California Adventure to be down an attraction for one moment longer than it has to be, which may explain why exterior demolition is going on in plain sight while the attraction is still operating.
However, there's also another factor likely at work here: the May 5, 2017 release date for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. The addition of this attraction is all about brand synergy, and if Disney can use this attraction to promote the new film (and vice versa) they are definitely going to try and get the thing ready for operation as close as possible to the new film's release date.
And while the pulling down of this sign is the most visible change to the Tower happening before its January closure, there are other ways that Disney is preparing for the summer 2017 opening of this Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT, including backstage changes that guests may not have even noticed. Read on...