When we arrived at Disney California Adventure this last time, it was official: the Tower of Terror Hotel had gone from a pink, palm-tree framed landmark at the end of Buena Vista Street to a camouflaged monolith in dusty sand. At first sighting, there was a pang for the loss being real. There was nothing left of its former self, save its basic dimensions. And there it was. We’d said our final goodbyes, yet there was still one final one after that.
The long goodbye
When first we got wind of the impending demise of our beloved Hollywood Tower Hotel in DCA, we had to come to terms with our grief: On the one hand, its old-Hollywood presence was a perfect fit with its Hollywood-themed surroundings. And for those of us (like Amy) who grew up with Hollywood as home, the Hotel evoked all the sensations and memories of a bygone era as familiar as yesterday. Even the Twilight Zone element maintained strong ties to our childhood memories. On the other hand, authenticity and nostalgia aside, the ride just never lived up to its potential—at least, not the way its older sibling in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios has. That one is perfect, from its winding walkway past overrun palm fronds, creeping vines and creepy statues, to the journey through the fifth dimension, between light and shadow, substance and ideas. And that’s all before getting to the actual thrilling part of the ride! The WDW Hotel even got the randomizing element that our California version had been promised for years!
We therefore had to admit—and dolefully—that as an attraction, and particularly one that pales in comparison to its Florida counterpart, the DCA Tower had become more of a warm hug than an exciting thrill ride.
If Disney wasn’t going to bring it up to that level—and really, without the real estate to work with, there wasn’t much more that could be done (other than randomizing the experience, which would have at least gone a long way, but we’re past that. Really. We’re past that). So, okay, it was time to say goodbye.
But what about cohesiveness?
As we walked past the languishing Tower and meandered through A Bug’s Land, we questioned how Disney was going to integrate the new Marvel-themed attraction within the Hollywood-themed Hollywood Land. It had made such sense that the Red Car Trolley terminate at the Tower of Terror‘s entrance. Will it also make sense when it stops at Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission: BREAKOUT!?
Amy wanted answers, rationale, justification, explanation…. Mark was silently repeating the mantra, Disney will find a way, Disney will find a way….
Still, an attraction is an attraction!
Yes, it was going to be weird, but—and we both agreed—if it’s a better ride than Tower of Terror, we’ll likely be able to accept any inherent incongruities. For that matter, we reminded ourselves, it’s not as if the Tower integrated all that well with the view from Bugs Land or Car’s Land. All it needs to be is a whole lot better than its predecessor—and hopefully include that randomization element we’d anticipated for so long. If it’s thrilling and entertaining, we’ll smile when we see it from any vantage point, just as we do the Matterhorn.
Back to present day…
When we got to our 11th floor room at the Paradise Pier Hotel, overlooking DCA, there was the Tower of Terror monolith wrapped in a giant potato sack. At least the vacant pink building would no longer haunt our instinct to hold on, for it was gone, and that was that. There will always be uproar over change, but we were now ready to accept.
It was on Day Two of our little mid-week getaway—February 9th, to be precise—that we noticed the beginning of the reveal. “Hey! That wasn’t like that yesterday!” one of us—or both of us—exclaimed! And indeed, the upper portion of the “tower” was now exposed and in progress. And ya know what… it kinda looked okay. In fact, it kinda had a California palette, reminiscent of the original hub when DCA first opened. Maybe it won’t appear as out of place as the concept of Marvel comics still seems. Maybe it’s all going to come together, we were both nodding our heads with an air of ambivalence coupled with a determination to stay open-minded.
We took a few photos then moved on, the silent mantra playing in both our heads, Disney will find a way, Disney will find a way….