“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone.”
It’s a quote I’m sure you’re all familiar with one way or another. This curious, eerie Rod Serling spiel was of course the iconic intro the The Twilight Zone, inviting guests of the late 50’s and early 60’s every week into a strange and puzzling story of true TV magic and and storytelling intrigue. Eventually, these famous lines made their way to Disney in the Tower of Terror, the Twilight Zone’s very own attraction based around a haunted Hollywood Tower Hotel, abandoned and forgotten after a tragic elevator “accident”.
As much a staple to black and white television was The Twlight Zone, the Tower of Terror has become its own staple to Disney parks throughout the world. After debuting 22 years ago in Orlando, multiple Towers soon began to appear in Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park; with Tokyo DisneySea getting their own “Phantom Manorised” version with a unique story and theme. For over two decades the Tower of Terror has been a much loved E-Ticket by guests and Disney fans alike. Even as time has went on and The Twlight Zone began to phase out of the public eye and it to obscurity, the Tower has lived on.
But this is were tonight’s story takes a twist… For those who don’t follow all the international Disney Park news, you may not be aware that it has recently been announced Disneyland Resort’s Tower of Terror will soon be closing for an extensive retheme into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! It’s fair to say that this news was not too well received by the Disney community with many people begging why such a loved, well themed and story driven attraction is being ripped up and changed into such a far out counterpart? It has also raised concerns for the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris attractions, both of which situated in parks severely lacking in Marvel properties. While nothing official has been said about this, I certainly wouldn’t rule out the thought of the Californian Tower being a test subject for the other two Towers down the line.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely in the camp of saving the Tower of Terror. It is one of my favourite, most loved attractions and will forever hold a very special place in my heart through the memories of watching its construction in WDS. That being said I can totally see why Disney are making this move and retheming it; brand awareness. As popular as the Tower may be, The Twilight Zone as a brand certainly isn’t anymore. The show appears only very rarely as repeats on TV (at least in the UK) which has lead to many guests believing the name is just a part of Tower of Terror; completely oblivious to the fact it’s an adaptation of a classic show. Additionally, Disney do not own the legal rights of Twilight Zone, they’re still firmly under the ownership of the original creators CBS. It’s not known how much The Walt Disney Company are forking out for the privilege of using the name in their parks, but I can be sure it’s a scenario management would rather not be in and instead have an existing, Disney owned IP installed.
As understanding as my opinion of this ponderous event is, I still thoroughly disprove of a future without Tower of Terror. This leaves me with two possibilities, I could either chain myself to the fast pass queue line in protest, or give my thoughts on what I believe Disney could do instead. Since I can’t afford a flight to America right now, it’ll have to be option 2.
What if, instead of entirely ditching The Twilight Zone brand and license to make way for Marvel, Disney dived into the great pool of risk and actually bought the IP from CBS? Of course, it wouldn’t come cheap to TWDC by any means, but with recent purchases such as the $4billion each acquisitions of Lucasfilm and Marvel, I bet Bob Iger still has some cash in that wallet of his. Not only would this completely clear that licensing headache the Disney accountants grumble over, it would also give the creatives at the company complete freedom to explore new ideas into the property without a third party telling them not to. But what do you do with an outdated, obscure TV series only older generations can remember? That’s a tough one… If only there was a sci-fi film series which made a recent major comeback we could take inspiration from.
Exactly like how Disney has brought Star Wars back into the public eye with The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy, now is the perfect time for The a Twilight Zone to see a comeback to the small screen. With paranormal and supernatural shows ever growing in popularity such as American Horror Story and Stranger Things, this is A fantastic opportunity for Disney to bring a family friendlier twist to the genre. The Twilight Zone has always been a family spookshow. Chat to anyone who remembers it and they’ll probably recall times of them watching it with their parents or their kids, getting creeped out at the weird and wonderful twists as a family. This is exactly the ethos Disney is known for in a genre they have rarely touched outside of low budget, low profit movies. As more TV shows struggle for ratings with unqiue approaches and gimmicks, TTZ could bring something a little different to this table by being filmed, edited and broadcast in black and white; a style that the TV show has always been most fondly remembered in. It might seem counter productive in this day and age of high definition, 3D and 4K TVs, but I believe a truly HD black and white show, stylised and shot in the same vain as the classics, would be a thing of beauty and certainly a fresh approach audiences would be curious about. After all that is what The Twilight Zone has been all about, curious scenarios for you to open your mind towards and not accept things for the norm. Seems like an art style perfect for that today, right? There’s even the potential of immortalising the late, great Rod Serling even more in the show’s intro with soundalikes akin to what we hear in the Tower and that digital technology Disney seems to have nailed (of course, all with the family’s permission and approval).
By broadcasting the show on the Disney owned abc, a decent marketing campaign and above all else, critical acclaim, The Twilight Zone would soon become a household name of the present; quickly making that overlaying theme to the haunted hotel that much more relevant. Hey, the shows pilot could even bring the attraction full circle by being based ON the Tower of Terror. If the rebooted series was to be taken really well by audiences – perhaps with a brand new movie or two to follow – we could even see more attractions expanding the property’s footprint of Disney parks. Imagine if you will an actual Twilight ZONE. It’s a land that imagineers itself!
Now, allow me to pass the baton on to you. Do you agree that Disney could benefit greatly by digging into their pockets and buying The Twilight Zone? Is the Mouse House right to change out theme to Starlord and his pals? Or should everything be left as it is and let things stay in a nice stasis of time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments and on Twitter before the article of… NI DLP Geek *duh duh duh duhhhh………… Duhduhduhduh!”