Saturday, January 1, 2022

What Were They Thinking? - Disney's 2004 Rose Parade Float

You can file this post under the heading of, "What Were They Thinking?"   Or maybe put it in a file marked, "Too Soon???"

California Adventure's Tower of Terror attraction opened in May of 2004.  Just four months earlier, Disney featured this very unattractive float, in the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade.

Even the author of this Los Angeles Times article, asked the question, "What was Disney thinking?"  She felt that Disney's decision to feature this float in the parade, less than 28 months after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, was a bit "too soon."

Here's a close-up shot of the float, by Eric Warren on Flickr:

As stated in the Los Angeles Times advertisement at the top of this post, the float was on display in the park, from January 2nd through January 19th.

The Tower of Terror attraction opened at the park, four months later.  The exterior design of the building was scaled back drastically, from the original version of the attraction at Walt Disney Studios, in Florida.  Personally, I have always thought this version looked very cheap and ugly (just like the float), especially when compared to Walt Disney World's, and Tokyo Disneyland's Tower of Terror attractions.  I was also not a fan of the color choice for the building's exterior.  It reminded me of Disneyland's ugly "brown and gold" Tomorrowland, of 1998.

This artwork of the building was located on a wall in the gift shop, at the exit of the ride.  It was removed in 2017, when the attraction was re-themed to Marvel Studio's Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

We will wrap up this post with footage of the Tower of Terror parade float, moving down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard, on New Year's Day.

Here's wishing a very happy New Year, to all!



"Lou and Sue" said...

I didn’t know that Disney made a Tower of Terror float. It looks rather silly, as a float, IMO. But interesting post nonetheless, thank you, TM!

I made this comment a short while ago (on your prior post), right before this new post I’ll re-add it, here:

Happy New Year, TokyoMagic! and everyone!

Looking forward to another year of your fun posts!

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, far as floats go, it does look pretty ridiculous. I'm guessing that Disney was bound and determined to have the tallest float in Rose Parade history, no matter what the thing ended up looking like.

Happy New Year to you, too!

K. Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

I can't really comment on the 9/11 comparison. With the stretched-out tower, I'm sure more people than just Pat Morrison made the connection in their minds.

I'm guessing the parts of the tower's top that overhang its sides had some practical function, but you're right, they do make the design look 'off.'

Thanks for your posts this year, TokyoMagic! Here's to a good 2022! (Maybe it will be the year I finally visit Disneyland.) ;-)

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew, the events of 9/11 were still pretty fresh in people's minds, even two years later. There were probably some people who did not make any kind of connection, even at that time. But for many others, there was still a "sensitivity" existing about what had happened. That sensitivity has greatly faded now, 20 years later, and that's to be expected, I suppose.

I have also wondered about the part of the tower that sticks out/overhangs. I have also assumed that they must play some part in the function of the ride mechanism, but I have never heard anything definitive about that.

Happy New Year, Andrew! I do hope that 2022 is a good year! Wow, I just realized that originally, your trip to California was planned for a year and a half ago. I do hope that you will be able to visit sometime soon.


The float was tacky and it was known that Disney was desperately trying to get people to come to DCA as it was floundering from its opening as more and more of the park’s sponsors were canceling their contracts and getting out of the park! Robert Mondavi was one of the bigger sponsors who terminated their contracts as Disney was unable to bring the amount of crowds guaranteed in the agreements. The events on 9-11 brought travel and the economy to a halt and made Disney’s problem with DCA even worse! The Tower of Terror was forced in and a greatly reduced budget. Part of the solution: simplify the exterior design and exterior area landscaping : so DCA got the bland - odd “ SOUTHWESTERN - DECO” was the term Tony Baxter used. This bland -bargain version of the design was replicated at another CRAP-SANDWICH Disney Park : The Disney Studios Paris. The weird part is that after BUENA VISTA Street was added to DCA and the streetcar line terminated at the Tower Hotel , I liked it - not the attraction really, but the tie in of the overall theming .... now compared to Guardians of the Galaxy tower - I kinda miss the old Hollywood Tower.....

I recall a good deal of people felt uncomfortable about the float regarding 9-11, but working with Disney many of us were embarrassed because it’s was such a blatant and desperate commercial by Disney for a park nobody really liked.

I worked on several DCA projects - some that never got the green light like GRIZZLY RIVER RAPIDS backdating .... Oswald’s Trolly Troubles ... and others that came and went like the 1918-1928 theming of Paradise Park & Paradise Pier , but I have no interests in ever visiting that park again.

Now let’s see what Disney does with Fantasyland and Tomorrowland: both project areas that were suspended or cut back because of the lackluster attendance of GALAXYS EDGE and Covid ......

If I could go back in time I’d burst into the 1977 Disney shareholders meeting and yell “ whatever you do; GET ANNABELLE ANDREWS AND GET HER GOOD!!!!”


HAPPY NEW 2022 everyone!!

Dean Finder said...

I'm more offended by that float being such a bulky and inelegent design and a blatant ad for an underbuilt Disney park than by any allusions to the WTC collapse.
That Times article reads like the outrage journalism that's more common today. She was clearly fishing for people to quote with offence, but it looks like she came up short.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, wasn't the Tower of Terror supposed to be an original opening day attraction for that "park"? And wasn't one of the many cutbacks for that "park," the decision to make it a "phase 2" attraction, instead? I remember when TOT was first announced for DCA, I saw artwork for it online, and it showed the exterior being white. I had saved that image, but now I can't find it in my files, or anywhere online. I did think the exterior looked slightly better in white....ONLY slightly! Once the thing was finished being built, I couldn't believe how cheap it looked, especially in comparison to Walt Disney World's TOT. And then when Tokyo DisneySea's TOT opened two years later, it REALLY put ours to shame.

Is Disney going forward with a remodel of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland? I know you have talked about it in the past on Gorillas Don't Blog, and said they they plan to get rid of Storybook Land. Is that still the plan? I hope not! But these days, nothing they do would really surprise me.

And who's Annabelle Andrews? Is she the one responsible for Wookie World, and the destruction of the north end of Tom Sawyer Island and the Rivers of America?

TokyoMagic! said...

Dean Finder, I agree! The float's "bulky and inelegant design" was definitely "a blatant ad for an under-built Disney park." And it was also very representative of the park, itself.


Lol!!! ANABELLE ANDREWS is Jodie Foster’s character in the 1977 Walt Disney Productions film “FREAKY FRIDAY”. It’s a quote by the high school’s opposing soccer teams coach , Coach played by Ruth Buzzie during the pre game pep talk .....( in a sweet nice tone : “ girls : Remember; be safe and play your best out there ..... ( then in a mean threatening tone ) .... and whatever you do: GET ANNABELLE ANDREWS AND GET HER GOOD!!!!!!!”

My friends and I are always jokingly and randomly saying quotes from that film!! Including “ ANNABELE: an electric typewriter NEEDS electricity!!!” And “well dog food or not , we’re gonna call it a ‘New Orleans Casserole “....” Lol ... and other quotes .

Disneyland’s New Tomorrowland project had been pushed back to be done after “starwars Land” .... then Disneyland decided a new Fantasyland was needed. That was one of the last big model projects I worked on at WDI : was several variations of a NEW FANTASYLAND. Currently almost everyone I worked with or knew at WDI has long since been laid off, fired , retired or quit because of cutbacks , lack of projects, the covid and bow the move of WDI to Florida. Most imagineers now are 22 year olds being hired directly outta design school! Lol!! The few imagineers I know still working are not on current projects or are getting ready to depart I’m afraid. That’s why I’m interested in what will now happen to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland ..... (there had also been some all new lands proposed to be added) post covid and WDI move.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, ha, ha! I should have recognized that name! I do love "Freaky Friday"....and those quotes. I guess when I quote a Disney movie, it usually from "The Parent Trap."

All new lands??? In Disneyland? Where would they put them? And what would they be themed to? I can just see it now....a second "Star Wars Land," twice as big as the current one and with only one "ride." The rest of the land will be all shops. And they will charge you extra to go into this new "land."

Major Pepperidge said...

I remember that Tower of Terror float, and while I was impressed with its complexity, it sure wasn’t pretty. Wasn’t the point of the Tournament of Roses Parade to display the beauty of California (and our flowers)? Here’s a brown building, partly destroyed by lightning, yay. Admittedly, the 9-11 tragedy didn’t even occur to me, though I can see why some people might be bothered. I quite enjoyed “Tower of Terror”, with its rich theming. but it bothers me that they left out the “fourth dimension” part that is in WDW. So unexpected to find your elevator moving FORWARD! Does the version in Tokyo have that as well?

I have not experienced the attraction since it was rethemed to “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but from what I have read (and seen on YouTube), they did a good job inside the attraction. I like all of the inside jokes inside The Collector’s room (like “Harold”, for instance). But the outside! YUCK. Sticking a bunch of random crap on the outside of the old building was lazy/cheap/ugly.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, for the complexity of the float, that was something that they were able to make it "lay down" for when it goes under the 210 freeway. Most people don't realize that all of the taller floats have to be able to "collapse" so that they can travel that part of the parade route, which they rarely ever show us on TV. As for the esthetics of that float, pee-yew!

Florida's TOT is the only version of the attraction to include that "fourth dimension" section. I agree with you, it is so unexpected, and I love that part of the ride. It really drags out the suspense of when exactly, you are going to drop. Tokyo's TOT attraction has a different theme and backstory, so the "Twilight Zone" connection was never used there. But they have a wonderful version of the ride, both inside and out.

I also agree with you about the "Guardians of the Galaxy" redo, at DCA. The ride itself is fun and I also like the new queue. But the buildings exterior.....ay yi yi!!! Who would have thought that they could make the existing building even uglier than it already was! But they did!

Stefano said...

I remember Pat Morrison's article, and also the reader responses; one for the Tower called out the "politically correct wimp factor".

Well, Michael Eisner was still in charge of the company, and no form of promotion was too low. The Tower float was a natural progression from the tacky State Fair days through the tackier Gummy Glen Motor Boat cruise and on and on. The smashed and scorched TOT has offspring, a trash heap at the top of the Matterhorn and the garbage and detritus of "civilization" strewn throughout the new, improved Jungle Cruise.

Recall that Disneyland had a float for the 1955 parade, 6 months before the park opened; self promotion (as Church Lady would say), but also charming and attractive.

Enough negativity; Happy New Year TokyoMagic!, with a belated thanks for your previous post on Little Golden Books. And your seasonal name changes have been very entertaining.

TokyoMagic! said...

Stefano, thank you! I'm glad to hear that you liked my "Little Golden Book" post......and also my seasonal names on GDB.

Funny, it took me just a couple seconds to "get" the reference to the trash heap at the top of the Matterhorn. Talk about a "what were they thinking" situation! That really IS a trash heap. You can't even really tell what it is, because you go by it so fast. The only reason I knew what the stuff was supposed to be, was because I saw a photo of it online. What was wrong with the "ice crystals" that were there before?

I haven't seen the "new and improved" Jungle Cruise in person, yet. From watching a video of it online, there does seem to be much more fake boat "wreckage" than necessary. "Okay, I get it! Boats are being wrecked. We could potentially be in danger!" Just don't get me started on the "Jingle Cruise" Christmas overlay. Talk about detritus strewn about! It's everywhere!

Happy New Year to you, too, Stefano!