July 29, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy: Not in My (Tower) Backyard

When WDW1974 aka Spirit broke the story about this strange rumor of change happening before anyone else on the net, there were varied reactions to the news. Lovers of everything Marvel seemed to rejoice. Conversely, hard core fans of the absolutely amazing Twilight Zone Tower of Terror reacted as would be expected: disgust, anger, concern. Would the suits really bastardize a beloved Imagineering classic? At least at the beginning, that was the reaction.

Soon enough, camps became divided. Some folks said (and this writer agrees) that the California Adventure version of the iconic attraction is not nearly as good as the original one found at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Without the "5th Dimension" piece of the show and the more detailed exterior setting, something was definitely lost in translation.

When Imagineer Joe Rohde took the stage at Comic-Con via video, the rumors instantly became fact. Disney truly would force feed park guests Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy in a quickly planned re-imagining of the ride. The attraction would be squeezed into Disneyland's younger sibling, with the concept art above showing the intergalactic "warehouse" extreme makeover. Florida's original, however, would remain untouched. Fans of the California resort were not impressed, and Florida park fans were very relieved.

Pratt and company.

Perhaps in California, the reaction to such a bold move would be lessened if the massive Star Wars Land had not just recently been a very disturbing announcement. For the record, it wasn't that adding this themed land was bad- lovers of the iconic film series had been clamoring for it for years- it's just that the placement of the project uses the remaining available land while it also breaks the more inclusive, larger themes given to the park by Walt Disney himself.

Fast forward a few days from the Comic-Con announcement. Now, there appears to be a new acceptance and even excitement about the change. However, something clearly comes to the forefront. As long as their home Tower doesn't become Mission: Breakout!, folks are applauding the makeover. Among some fans, there's a smug "Not in My Backyard" mentality. It's similar to the folks who champion a center for the "poor (homeless/prisoners/fill-in-the-blank)" but also demand the complex is placed no where near where they happen to live. 

As unfortunate as the change to Tower is in so many ways, there could be a pot of gold at the end of it all. The new Marvel themed land could in fact be quite the game changer for California Adventure in much the same way that Cars Land and Buena Vista Street transformed the red-headed stepchild of a park into the new attractive younger sibling. Contractually, Disney is restricted in what they can build in Walt Disney World when it comes to the world of superheroes. Not so in California.

Should big budgets be unfurled, a well themed land filled with eye-popping new attractions could draw even greater guest numbers than is now seen. When both parks are bursting with guests year round, maybe, just maybe, plans will finally go forward for the third Anaheim theme park. Imagine three stunning parks in the Golden State. The Disneyland Resort would finally give the younger Walt Disney World a run for its money.

Whether or not the superhero theme fits in a park about California is another matter altogether. Fans can and should scream all they want, but the new Disney under Robert Iger simply views the parks as a tool to market the latest and hottest properties acquired by the Company. We fans better get used to that. It's coming for all the parks- and much like the Frozen takeover of Norway's Maelstrom, the Universe of Energy at Epcot is next to go under the knife. Brace yourselves.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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