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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is Being Demolished in Plain Sight

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:

Image: Screenshot from Howard Johnson MatterCam

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

Image: Disney

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...

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There are 10 comments.

Total shame.

What Disney is doing with its theme parks is DISGUSTING. Their management team shows absolutely NO concern for guest experience. Disney's standards have slipped even below the lowest bar they set for themselves during the Pressler era. This deconstruction of the Tower of Terror is remarkably bad "show" -- I seriously can't imagine even Six Flags or Cedar Fair trying to pull off something this despicable. Now I also hear the Stitch "encounter" at Tomorrowland at WDW is being operated seasonally and will be replaced with some Wreck-It Ralph attraction, proving that Disney is so brazen about selling its "brands" that it will continue to pick apart a concept like Tomorrowland or Epcot just to cram more branded content in there. I used to go to WDW every year and Disneyland four or five times a year (I live in L.A.). I have been to Disneyland ONCE in the past year and haven't been to WDW since 2012. I don't see that changing soon. I'm SICK of what Disney is doing to its theme park legacy. It's truly mind-boggling. And people still praise Iger? His network is in third place, people are leaving ESPN in droves, he is tearing apart the theme parks, and his movie studio can't come up with a single original idea. Disney is a sad, sad shell of its former self. But since it makes money, no one cares about creativity.

But Stitch's Great Escape is a terrible attraction. A terrible attraction that was park branding overtaking originality to begin with. If they must brand, I hope the Wreck it Ralph attraction is at least good.

I was there last week(18th September) and got my photos of front of building, so glad I wasn't a week later!

I feel that Disney needs to go back with original ideas such as ExtraTERRORestial and stop competing with Universal Studios. My theory is Disney is trying the 'Universal Way' which is remove classic, original rides and shove in IP's. I think rides that does this fail. Look at ExtraTERRORestial which became Stitch, it's the most hated ride, Look at Enchanted Tiki Room, which went 'Under New Management' it failed as well. I feel that Tower of Terror will return and people have already compared Bob Chapek to Paul Pressler, Cynthia Harris, and even Michael Eisner.

Except Tower wasn't an original ride. Also, Disneyland was built on IP. That was the whole point of the park. Even Tower is based on IP and not even Disney's IP.

I think it is great, Disney is minimizing the downtime of the ride. I think you people would complain no matter what. If they start early you complain about them tearing down parts of the ride while it is still operating. If they wait you will complain about it being down too long. If they don't do changes, you will complain about the parks being boring and stagnate. If they change things, you will complain about them taking away nostalgic rides. How about everyone just stop complaining and enjoy it for what it is. I for one thank Disney for keeping the ride up while they do work and minimizing downtime.

You're right.

Clearly this site is biased and running on generating, less than incredible fluff articles. Is it sad that ToT is leaving Disneyland? Sure, do we need to write a eulogy for the ride every week? No. I think the concept art for GoGM:B is incredible. Yes Disney has been a bit lacking in "perfect" show, but it is still loads better than other parks. Not to mention they have to do something or risk being left behind, nostalgia only runs for so long. Six flags and universal have virtual coasters. The most exciting ride disney has are the matterhorn, space mountain, and ToT. The ride isnt going away, it's getting a refresh. Totally necessary, maybe not, a smart business move to begin redesigning the completely useless Backlot area? You bet.

And before you say I don't have love for ToT, it was my first ride at CA, I have been first family 3 times, and i got engaged on the ride. I love the ride. But disney is a company and needs to make money, and I guarantee new rides bring in revenue.

So sad....I haven't been to California Adventure but am visiting it this November. I'm sad that I'm not going to see it in it's original form. It's my daughter's favorite ride too from Hollywood Studios. She may be disappointed now! As long as the ride is still operating I'll have to just look forward to that and be thankful that that is still open!

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