Thursday, May 26, 2016

Terror or Terrible Ideas?

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination, behind it is another dimension. A dimension of commercialism. A dimension of carelessness. A dimension of disappointment. You are moving into a land that lacks taste and substance of things and ideas, you've just crossed over into the Disneyland Resort!"

    Recently, many rumors have circulated regarding the ever-popular Tower of Terror at Disneyland. Apparently, being a renowned attraction (one with plenty of thought and taste put into it, not to mention its major following) isn't enough anymore as Disney supposedly plans to change the attraction into a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed ride. I'd read several articles on this proposed plan before visiting Disneyland last week where I bought this little goody, in honor of the potential end of the Tower. Another rumor circulating is that Disney will be filming another Tower of Terror movie soon too (What? Steven Guttenburg isn't good enough for you?), so I don't know what would make them think it's a good idea to get rid of it now, of all times!

    While there however, I was disappointed once more with another change: the entire Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, Big Thunder Ranch Petting Zoo, Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue, and (as far as I could tell) Miss Chris' Cabin as well - that whole end of what was Frontierland - is dust. Pure dust. All for the upcoming Star Wars land. 

   Although I knew this was happening, this one hit close to home. As I was once as Disneyland cast member (not to mention one who spent most of her time at the Jamboree), I'm well aware that things change and change often at the resort. However, it's what is changing lately that really breaks my heart. I can't help but feel concerned for all the other parts of Disneyland that are iconic and loved by all, because if the decision makers behind these plans are in charge (and they are) let's not be surprised if they just decide to demolish the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, or even the castle itself. After all why wouldn't they? Can't you just see them making Pirates into something Captain America-themed? Or the Mansion into a Thor ride, or how about the Castle as Tony Stark's lab? (They couldn't just turn ToonTown into dust? No one likes ToonTown!) What I'm getting at here, is that I'm simply tired of a trend that doesn't seem to want to die - and this is because it more than a trend now, it is a change in the entire film industry, a change that is worsening things all together, in my opinion. 

   Honestly, there's nothing wrong with making a superhero movie. Comics have been around for ages and we are a culture that loves them. As a film student, one of my favorite courses was adaptation screenwriting, so I do have a strong appreciation for it. That being said, there is a level of integrity that shouldn't be forgotten when it comes to story-telling, film making, and screenwriting. That integrity comes with originality, whether it be from original pieces of work (something we rarely see in theaters these days) or just original ways of re-telling an existing story/entity that becomes a film adaptation. Unfortunately, the mass trend of these on-going superhero movies (Marvel, DC, etc.), even the mass commercialism and expansion of Star Wars, is constantly diminishing this integrity, and Disney, along with other studios, is also at fault for making them into what they are: essentially piles of CGI.

   Think about it, when you go to the movies today, you're not watching films. In fact, you haven't been watching "film" for years as digital has become the standard, but now more than ever, you're not watching a movie. You're kind of watching a video game, because these mass produced "movies" - and I use quotations because we're dealing with projects that are all-form-and-no-content, highly lacking originality - are so packed with CGI that the CGI isn't even for special effects, it is literally for everything you see on screen. It's a wonder there are make up artists and prop artists still. Again, I want to reiterate that I'm not against comic book movies, and not against CGI as a whole - I just think too much of anything is a terrible thing. Just like too much sugar and junk food will make you fat - superheroes and CGI are making a film industry with no opportunity for anything but movies like these.  

   Take the newer Alice and Wonderland films, for example. Alice in Wonderland is one of those insane stories that can be adapted in so many terrible ways or so many great ways. When Tim Burton took on the iconic tale, we were genuinely excited, expecting him to leave his great stamp of original style on this story, as he has with many adaptations before. What we got instead was another CGI filled mash-up of wackiness. I like to think Disney took most of the control of these films and just used his name on the poster. I also like to think of what he could have done: imagine a real and true Tim Burton style Alice in Wonderland, imagine if he used stop-animation like he used to, imagine it being similar to Jan Svankmajer's Alice, but with the old-school, dark Tim Burton twist. I notice that I now like to imagine many poorly done adaptations done well, with just the right amount of CGI. 

   So what does all this CGI/superhero trend talk have to do with the Tower of Terror? It has to do with the fact that we are most likely saying goodbye an incredibly designed, well-thought out ride with a story and theme all its own, and welcoming another Marvel movie attraction. For whatever reason, it cannot seem to just stand alongside Guardians of the Galaxy (but Bugsland can?!) instead Marvel wins again - as they, and others like them, always do, even if it's over an iconic ride/story/film, apparently anything at Disney is replaceable. The same, of course, can be said about the loss of Big Thunder Ranch as a whole - again, Star Wars wins. 

   Generally, it'd be great if filmmakers and studio heads could appreciate the integrity that comes with originality and explore that. But it seems they won't. It's cheaper to make movies out of comic books people already like than it is to be risky and write something new. It's apparently cheaper to make the same movie just over and over again like Spider Man... All in all, now that I have vented, it is time to put these thoughts to rest. I shall stop complaining - and start writing (since no one else seems to be)!

Here are a few shots of some characters and me at the ever-fun Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree:


  1. Very sad and weird to read. Like I half don't believe a permanent decision would be made on such a "trendy" thing like Guardians of the Galaxy. Makes you wonder if something like The Haunted Mansion will always be there. I just assumed it would.

  2. Wow, what a great post! I completely agree with you on every point. I miss originality in the mainstream entertainment industry. It's not about the art and passion anymore.

  3. What I fail to understand is why Disney feels the need to REPLACE these attractions. Why not make new ones? I understand that space is limited (especially in the California park)...but this is Disney. They have more money than God, and could easily build a whole new park somewhere with Guardians of the Galaxy & Star Wars themed rides. In fact, it would probably be in their best interest to do so, as ditching beloved rides like Tower of Terror is just plain dumb!

    Walt Disney World already is multiple parks with different themes, so why not continue this trend? Why not build a whole new park dedicated to Star Wars itself? just doesn't make sense to me why older attractions have to be ditched in favor of the new. Seems to me that both could be done

  4. So grateful for your comments, glad I'm not alone in thinking this is all idiotic on Disney's part. And yes Rot, I really worry about old school rides and attractions, as well as the integrity of Disney as a whole being fully gone sooner or later. And Gill-Man, you bring up the best point - they really should just expand instead of replace, must come down to real estate prices here in OC. Although Disney has tons of money, they are still mega cheapskates when it comes to certain things :/ (like paying their employees, ha!) And thank you Odd FallWeather, it really should be about art and passion - how can we make things better?! I guess all we can do is produce good art!