Get ready for a heroic summer at Disney California Adventure as Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT! opens May 27, 2017, kicking of a Summer of Heroes through Sept. 10. [Read more…]
By Fowl Owlerson
Disclaimer: Unless where otherwise noted, the following is rumor and speculation, and should not be regarded as fact unless confirmed by the companies mentioned.
This is a rumor that I’m incredulous about and it’s why I haven’t covered it until now. MiceChat wrote the story after murmurings were heard around the Internet in April about Disney California Adventure’s The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror being overhauled with a Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” theme. Two sources are said to have confirmed Shanghai Disney Resort — which debuts on June 16 — is over budget and has resulted in cutbacks across all of the Disney Parks divisions. The MiceChat piece affirms this information and states that Disney Parks Chairman Bob Chapek sent a missive this past winter that “$500 million” must be cut from the operating budget of the company’s American parks for the third fiscal quarter (July, August and September) to mitigate the excessive cost of the Shanghai resort. The Star Wars expansions in California and Orlando, as well as Toy Story Land and Avatar Land in Orlando will stretch the budget of the American parks for a great deal of time, which has left Disneyland Resort with a conundrum.
According to MiceChat, Chapek was shocked to learn that after five years of owning Marvel, a proper attraction had yet to be built in Disneyland Resort. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is rumored to close this fall and open in time for the “premiere“ of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 next summer, per MiceChat. The website claims Disney cast members have seen Disney Imagineering conducting tests in the elevator shaft and surveying parts of the Tower of Terror attraction – which portends the closure of a ride in the theme park industry. MiceChat goes on to say that this would allow Chapek to get a Marvel attraction in Disneyland Resort, which will then lead to a “Marvel mega-coaster” where Stage 17, Monsters, Inc., and Stage 12 reside, all of which are within the vicinity of Tower of Terror. Removing “The Twilight Zone” from Disneyland Resort would save Disney the cost of licensing “The Twilight Zone” property for California, as well as be a cost-effective solution for replacing the ride without constructing an entirely new attraction in its place.
There are two concepts out there for what Disney Imagineering is rumored to be doing with Tower of Terror. The first would be modeling the experience to visit the Collector’s museum on “Knowhere” in the first Guardians film with a new queue, preshow and altered ride experience (albeit with the drop mechanism intact). The second is modeling the ride after the “Kyln” prison run by the Nova Corps in the first Guardians with an “escape” sequence that’d presumably happen in the drop element of the attraction.
I have my doubts of this change and here’s why: theming. Disney Imagineering is renowned for its impeccable theming and attention to detail. The first Tower of Terror was opened in Disney’s Hollywood Studios — then known as Disney-MGM Studios — in Orlando on July 22, 1994. Every facet of the experience was modeled after a 1930s hotel; something to encapsulate the peak of the glitz and glamor age of Hollywood. According to an insightful article written by Tower Secrets, the architecture style for Orlando’s ride was based on Neo-Mediterranean architecture which was popular in Florida and California around the time period the attraction was set in. According to former Imagineers, the bulk of the ride’s inspiration came from the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa located in Riverside, Cali.
For the California version of the ride — which opened May 5, 2004 — Imagineering changed the architecture of the tower to an American Pueblo Deco style. According to Tower Secrets, the motivation was to have this version be a dedication to Los Angeles instead of Orlando’s architecture style which was intended to be a dedication to Old Hollywood. I’d argue there is a distinct difference as I’ve flown around both, much to Disney’s chagrin. The Collector’s Museum in “Knowhere” doesn’t match the architecture of Tower of Terror. I’m not sure if Imagineering could take a structure that was built with pain-staking precision to resemble a California hotel and make a convincing transition to something from the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Cosmos the Guardians films are set in.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of my favorite Marvel films, but this doesn’t feel like the best way to go about bringing the characters to life in the parks. My love for The Twilight Zone makes me feel sad that the West Coast may be losing an iconic ride for a retrofitting of a property that wasn’t meant for the space; the Walt Disney World version is said to not be in consideration for this rumored overhaul. Perhaps Disney Imagineering will prove me wrong, although I remain skeptical of the rumor’s veracity until the company offers an official word on it.
• Fowl Owlerson has been attending theme parks since he was a little owlet. When he’s not filtering through the latest murmurings around the industry, he can be found writing, reading, and snacking on the occasional rodent. Follow him on Twitter @fowlowlerson for the latest rumors, and drop an anonymous letter to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Direct Message on Twitter.
Photo by Banks Lee.
With the debut of the Hollywood Tower Hotel Authentic merchandise line on Friday the 13th, came some minor enhancements to the Tower Hotel Gifts shop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. [Read more…]
Guests riding The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have a new way of taking home a memento from their ride aboard a runaway elevator. [Read more…]
Hosts Banks Lee and JeniLynn Knopp bring you this week’s theme park and attraction news. On this week’s episode: [Read more…]
Join hosts Banks Lee and J.L. Knopp as they present this week’s theme parks and attractions news and much more. [Read more…]
Column by Audrey Brown
Movies are king when it comes to theme park merchandising, ticket sales and advertising. As early as Aladdin, the Genie was off to Disney World after being freed. Stop for a second and just try to imagine Disney World or Universal Studios without movie tie-ins – it’s impossible. But not so long ago, television was the best way for theme parks to get the word out about a new parade, ride or special event. [Read more…]
The “Main Street Electrical Parade” will light up the streets of the Magic Kingdom and will headline new after-dark excitement at Walt Disney World. “After the sun goes down, our Walt Disney World parks will light up the night with ‘Summer Nightastic!’, ” announced Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort, at a media event Wednesday.
Although there will be summer celebrations all around the resort, three main events highlight Summer Nightastic!:
Main Street Electrical Parade
Disney’s “Main Street Electrical Parade” will return to the Magic Kingdom. Direct from the Disneyland Resort in California, and marking its first engagement in Florida since 2001, the fan favorite parade will be led by Tinker Bell waving from the basket of a magical balloon aboard a new float. Pinocchio and Snow White also join the parade aboard bright new floats. The parade’s beloved music and floats will feature more electrifying audio, plus new lighting technologies that create a pixie-dust effect on all the floats.
New effects for Tower of Terror
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror welcomes “drop-ins” this summer with new glow-in-the-dark lighting effects and the addition of a new drop sequence created especially for Summer Nightastic!.
New fireworks show
The Magic Kingdom will treat guests to a special summer fireworks spectacular. The night sky will explode in vivid colors and brilliant visual effects as whimsical music fills the air. The fireworks show, which hasn’t been named yet, is a brand new, never before seen show.
This summer will also mark the return of the Sounds Like Summer concert series at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have extended evening hours several times a week.
Summer Nightastic will start in early June. No ending date has been decided on yet.
(Update: Disney’s Summer Nightastic will begin June 6 and end on Aug. 14.)
By Andy Guinigundo
Cedar Fair has announced that after a 26-year run at Cedar Point, The Demon Drop will be dismantled and reassembled at sister park Knotts Berry Farm near Los Angeles. First opened in 1983, the Demon Drop is an elevator-style drop ride that simulates a free-fall drop from a 10-story building.
In the summer of 1983, I was 10 years old. Being a 10-year-old in Cincinnati, Ohio I, like many of my friends, was already coaster enthusiast. Kings Island amusement park was just a short drive from my house. It was an easy drop off for mom to make. I had braved the longest wooden coaster in the world, The Beast, on many occasions. I had also ridden the classic out-and-back Racer forward and backwards many times.
I had heard about the “Roller Coast” up on Lake Erie in Northern Ohio in a city called Sandusky. I don’t really remember how I found out about the Demon Drop, but I remember hearing about it and “needing” to ride it. Somehow we convinced dad to take us. I remember riding Magnum Force for the first time. It’s still one of my favorites. I remember falling in love with looping coasters for the first time, having ridden the Corkscrew over and over with minimal wait. But we did wait, and wait and finally rode what we had come to ride: The Demon Drop.
Before Disney’s Tower of Terror or other lift and drop thrill rides like Kings Island’s Drop Tower, there was Demon Drop. Let’s take a look at some of its stats:
Height of Tower: 131 feet
Length of Drop: 99 feet
Drop Time: 2.5 seconds
Lift Speed: 18 feet/second (six seconds to get to the top)
Speed of drop: 80 feet/second, 55 miles/hour
Restraint system: Over the shoulder harness
Ride Vehicle: six, four-passenger cars
Total rides: 18,528,610
Manufacturer: Intamin AG of Switzerland (Millenium Force, California Screamin’, Colossus, Fahrenheit, El Toro, and others)
A ride move for Cedar Fair is not completely foreign. X-Flight was formerly at Geauga Lake in Northern Ohio before being moved and re-opened as The Fire Hawk at Kings Island in 2007. Demon Drop should make an excellent addition to the line-up of coasters and other thrill rides at Knotts Berry Farm. Cedar Point Demon Drop fans have a few last chances to ride. The last day of Cedar Point’s season is Nov. 1 and it will remain open until then. The Demon Drop is set to re-open at Knotts Berry Farm in 2010.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.