As of Monday, Jan. 2, one of Disney California Adventure’s (DCA’s) oldest rides, the “Tower of Terror,” is now permanently retired. It’s set to be replaced with a ride based off the 2014 film, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The new ride is called “Mission: BREAKOUT!,” and will open around summer alongside the release of the film’s sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.” Like the Tower, the new ride is set to be an elevator-drop style attraction, and DCA aims to enhance the Tower’s “breathtaking free fall sensation” in their renovations for the new ride.
Some fans of the Tower of Terror were understandably upset at its closing. Not only had the Tower been around since 2004, it was also based on the classic TV series, “The Twilight Zone.” So, replacing it with a ride based on a couple of modern movies feels like a disrespect toward an old and beloved franchise. However, the Tower’s replacement is likely to work out in favor of the fans. This new ride has a lot of potential to improve on what the Tower did well. But, if the ride and the film it promotes aren’t very good, then there will inevitably be even more backlash against DCA for replacing the Tower. If there’s enough backlash to noticeably affect revenue, then DCA will think twice before uprooting popular attractions to promote new media.
I can’t say for sure, but DCA’s replacement of the Tower of Terror suggests that Disney is probably very confident in “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.” Renovating a theme park attraction is no small investment. But, the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film was wildly successful, grossing around $733 million worldwide. Likewise, the Tower of Terror was an extremely popular staple of the DCA experience. So, not only does Disney have good reason to believe that “Vol. 2” will be a successful film, they know that the Tower’s elevator-drop formula is popular as well. These factors give Disney a huge incentive to invest a lot of time and effort into making sure the new ride improves on what made the Tower a fun experience.
It’s sad to see the Tower go, but chances are, we’ll get a good new ride out of this replacement. But, for the sake of argument, what if “Mission: BREAKOUT!” fails to deliver a fun and memorable experience? What if “Vol. 2” just isn’t a good film, and the Tower was retired for nothing? Even if that’s the case, we’ll still see some good come of the Tower’s replacement.
Disney’s Parks and Resorts division rakes in billions in revenue each fiscal quarter, even when attendance is down at their parks. Disney became the multi-billion dollar corporation it is today in part by paying careful attention to what their audience likes and doesn’t like. If the Tower’s replacement ride isn’t an improvement over the Tower, or if “Vol. 2” is a bad film, there will be backlash against DCA, and fans of the Tower will be less likely to attend the park. Even if it only affects their quarterly revenue a tiny bit, Disney will still notice the fiscal impact of the backlash. Even a tiny dent in their revenue will discourage them from uprooting old attractions in the future, or at least encourage them to be more careful to deliver a quality replacement when they do.
Disney parks are famous for delivering top-notch rides and attractions. While it definitely stings to see the Tower of Terror get retired, we have plenty of reason to be optimistic for its replacement. DCA has all the tools and motivation they need to honor the Tower with a fun and memorable successor. Not only that, but we can take the new attraction’s presence as a good reason to get hyped for the upcoming, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.”