On May 27th, Disneyland in California will welcome a new ride to its California Adventure theme park.
Well, kind of.
Thi new ride, is actually a re-themed version of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which opened at Disneyland on May 5, 2004. It was the second Tower of Terror to open in a Disney park with the original being at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Two other Towers are located at Toyko DisneySea and Walt Disney Studios Park in France.
In January, the California ride closed to be re-themed as Gardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. The re-theming included a complete remodel of the building’s façade as well as the former hotel’s interior.
For those who never rode the ride, the concept is pretty simple. Guests are led through the lobby of the hotel and into the Library where Twlight Zone host Rod Serling gives the backstory before riders walk through the boiler room where they wait to board an elevator. Once seat belted in, riders are treated to a series of drops at a top speed of 39 mph.
The Walt Disney World version of the ride features random drop sequences so the rider gets to experience the ride a different way each time. The Disneyland version, did not feature computer chosen random sequences. However, the re-theming of the ride will add six different drop sequences each with their own soundtrack.
What I am here to do, is to take you on a little before and after photo tour of the Tower of Terror prior to the launch of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
First, let’s take a look at the original Tower of Terror located in Florida at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Here are some shots of the outside of the hotel, which is pretty imposing as you walk down Sunset Boulevard.
It’s especially stunning at night with its neon sign lit.
A fact about the building itself, since it could be seen from Epcot, Disney Imagineers designed it to fit seamlessly into the background of the country of Morocco, where you can view the back of it from a distance.
The interior of the old hotel is incredibly themed with specific instructions on how to clean around cobwebs to keep up the look of an abandoned hotel.
Of course, no ride on the Tower of Terror is complete without a ride photo!
When we were in Disneyland in September 2016, we arrived just after the Hollywood Tower Hotel sign was removed from the front of the building. Disney was in such a hurry to meet a May opening deadline for the re-themed ride, that work began on the exterior of the building while the ride was still in operation.
Here are some photos of the building minus the sign.
And some photos of the interior of the hotel, which was nearly identical to the Disney World version.
When we returned to Disneyland in November, work continued on the Tower of Terror, although what was going on was concealed by scrims that wrapped the building.
In an effort to let fans of the ride have an extra special experience before saying goodbye, Disney introduced “Late Check-out” where after sunset, riders got to experience the Tower of Terror in the dark, with all the lights and sound effects turned off except for the flash of the camera taking your picture.
We were able to experience “Late Check-out” and the experience was a bit different with the only sound you’re hearing the massive motors pushing and pulling the ride vehicle up and down the tower’s elevator shaft and the welcome and goodbye from Rod himself.
During certain times of “Late Check-out,” riders were entertained in the hotel’s lobby by the Silver Lake Sisters.
When the Tower of Terror officially closed on January 3, 2017, work began in earnest to both the interior and exterior.
During our visit just a few days ago, we got to see what the exterior of the old Hollywood Tower Hotel looks like now the scrims have come down. Here are some photos of it from various spots around the park.
My husband was quick to name the building “The Anaheim Eyesore.” As the sun sets on the park, you can’t help but see the glare reflecting off the various pipes and ornaments that adorn the structure – named the Collector’s Fortress. (Pardon my ignorance of many things Guardians of the Galaxy, as I have never seen any of the movies!)
In my opinion, the building sticks out like a sore thumb and makes for a very striking and odd addition to Hollywood Land, which will probably become home to more Marvel-related stuff as time goes on.
We managed to catch some test runs being done while we were there, signaling that the ride is pretty close to meeting its opening day on May 27th – the same day that Pandora – The World of AVATAR opens to much fanfare at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando.
So far, Disney has said that there are no plans to re-theme any of the other three Towers, and frankly… we can be thankful for that!