Rumor: Guardians of the Galaxy is Coming to Epcot
A few months ago, there was a crazy rumor that the brain trust at Disney had decided to retheme one of its signature theme park attractions, The Tower of Terror. Since its debut in 1994, the ride has tied in to the classic TV show, The Twilight Zone. But in an effort to save a few bucks on an intellectual property Disney doesn’t own as well as promoting a property it does, management was seriously considering ditching the existing theme for Guardians of the Galaxy – the popular Marvel franchise which has nothing whatsoever to do with a haunted hotel.
WDW1974, the insider who posted the original rumor, has provided an update. According to him, Orlando’s tower has been spared. The one in Anaheim may still become the home of a talking tree and gun-totting raccoon. But that’s a West Coast problem. Sorry, Disneylanders. That doesn’t mean Disney has given up on putting Star-Lord and Gamora in Orlando either.
Orlando management was never onboard with the idea of putting the Guardians in the Tower. Is it because they get that Tower of Terror is a near-perfect work of theme park design? Don’t kid yourself. They didn’t want to spend the money on it. It seems they eventually won the argument with the guys in Burbank due to capacity issues.
Hollywood Studios, the park that houses the Tower, is currently undergoing a massive overhaul with a great number of attractions shut down. Despite what Disney marketing would like you to believe, those new Star Wars rides are still years from completion. With its well-deserved reputation as a half-day park and many attractions closed due to construction, Hollywood Studios can’t have another attraction down.
When the initial rumor broke, a lot of fans suggested giving the nearby Rock’n’Rollercoaster a Guardians overlay. The coaster – with its high speed launch and indoor track – seemed like a perfect fit for a space adventure. And the current inhabitants, Aerosmith, are going to have to be replaced sooner or later. So if you are looking for an existing attraction to put the Guardians in, Rock’n’Rollercoaster makes perfect sense.
But there’s still that capacity issue. Hollywood Studios can’t afford to close anything else. Since Disney is in a hurry to get the Guardians into their parks, they can’t or won’t wait for construction to be completed on the park where the characters would be the best fit. And we all know that Disney doesn’t fast track projects because that costs more money and it looks better on spreadsheets when you spread out investments over multiple fiscal years.
With Hollywood Studios off the table, Disney is reportedly looking at Epcot. Here’s what WDW1974 had to say: “I’ve heard two FW [Future World] locations (one that basically is not being utilized currently, the other a pavilion that is limping along and only open because Disney can’t close anything else).”
The location that isn’t currently being utilized is almost certainly the vacant Wonders of Life pavilion. The one that is “limping along” could be Universe of Energy or Imagination. It’s hard to say because really Future World itself is kind of limping along.
If the updated rumor is true, I’m torn. On the one hand, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a bad fit for Epcot and Future World. The movie takes place in the present albeit in outer space. More importantly, it has nothing at all to do with the park’s mission statement. But with the Frozen takeover of the Norway pavilion, that may be a lost cause.
On the upside, I am in favor of just about anything that reopens the Wonders of Life pavilion. That prime real estate has sat empty for far too long. Disney could open it up as the Bob Iger Pavilion and it would be better than nothing. The Imagination Pavilion is in a sorry state. The Magic Eye theater currently runs Pixar shorts. A Guardians of the Galaxy 3-D movie would make as much sense as Captain Eo did. I don’t know how you fit the Guardians into the Universe of Energy, but almost anything is an improvement over the dated “Ellen plays Jeopardy” story that currently plays out.
Let me be clear: I like Guardians of the Galaxy. The first movie was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the sequel. I’m all for Disney finding a way to add them to the Orlando theme parks. But they should do it in a way that makes sense. Hollywood Studios is the best fit for the franchise. That’s really where it belongs. In an ideal world, they would design a new attraction and fit it into the current restructuring of the park.
But that’s not how modern Disney works. Modern Disney sees that Frozen is popular and years after the movie becomes the highest-grossing animated feature of all times, squeezes Elsa and Olaf into an existing ride with low capacity in a park where cartoon characters make little sense. Disney’s going to favor whatever plan is cheapest over the one that fits thematically.
With that in mind, I don’t hate the idea of putting Guardians in Future world. I don’t love it, but I can live with the idea if the execution is good (the audio-animatronics in the Frozen ride are pretty amazing). And let’s face facts, Epcot and Future World in particular need whatever they can get.
UPDATE: This rumor has been confirmed by another reliable insider. marni1971 posted the following:
Now it’s out I can speak a bit more freely about it.
Say your goodbyes to Ellen. And the travelling theatre I’m afraid.
IF phase two is approved the whole corner will become a GotG based area.
So potentially, Guardians of the Galaxy could be taking up a sizable chunk of real estate in Future World.
UPDATE 2: More dribbles of info coming through. These rumors all come from very reliable sources, but remember that they reflect Disney’s current plans and plans can change. Here is the status of all the updates planned for Future World:
Energy is getting a GotG overhaul, green lit.
Wonders might get a GotG phase 2, not yet green lit..
Communicore (outside of Mouse Gear and Starbucks, possibly Club Cool) will be updated/overhauled, green lit.
Mission Space will get a refurb/update, green lit.
There are plans for Imagination, but not green lit.
According to marni, the plans for GotG include a ride and a show in Phase One. If Phase Two happens, it would mean the demolition of the empty Wonders of Life pavilion and the addition of a second ride.