Disneyland Resort ditching Twilight Zone for Marvel superhero ride

SAN DIEGO – Disney California Adventure’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is disappearing into the fifth dimension – forever.

A new attraction will move into the building that the Anaheim theme park calls the Hollywood Tower Hotel: Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!

Riders on the Marvel Comics-themed attraction will join forces with superhero Rocket Raccoon as they navigate through a fortress with creatures from the universe and try to free the other guardian heroes from the Collector.

Disney said in a statement that the new adventure will enhance the “free-fall sensation with new visual and audio effects to create a variety of ride experiences.”

Marvel and Disney announced the switch Saturday evening at San Diego Comic-Con International, the massive gathering for fans of popular culture.

Visitors have until January to ride Twilight Zone Tower, then work will begin to inhabit Guardians of the Galaxy, a newer-age group of superheroes, into the high-rise building.

The Marvel ride is expected to open next summer, about the time the next movie in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise hits theaters nationwide.

“The incredibly talented Disney Imagineering team has found a way to harness the spirit, which drove ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s’ success to create this immersive experience,” Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, said in a statement.

The new attraction is another step for Disney in tightening its relationship with Marvel and comes nearly a year after Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the company would build a 14-acre “Star Wars” land at Disneyland.

Disney purchased Marvel and Lucasfilm, the company that owns “Star Wars,” for $4 billion each in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

Disney California Adventure houses a meet-and-greet with Spider-Man and Captain America.

Perhaps telegraphing that a Marvel land is on its way, Disney officials said the new attraction will “anchor a broader universe of superheroes that will grow over time in Disney California Adventure.”

The Twilight Zone Tower opened in 2004. Visitors enter an elevator car that shoots riders up before dropping them as much as 13 stories, multiple times.

“Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! is going to be an out-of-this-world experience,” Joe Quesada, chief creative officer at Marvel, said in a statement. “We’re just getting warmed up.”

Several attendees at Comic-Con reacted positively to the news.

“What an amazing overlay for it,” said Gregg Ziak of Mission Viejo. “I’m for the change and glad to see it go in.”

Natasha Olenick of Long Island, N.Y., liked that the superheroes are coming.

“Disney needs to do something to bring Marvel into the theme parks,” she said.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2443 or jpimentel@ocregister.com or follow on Twitter @OCDisney

Thick crowds – and fog – show up on first day of U.S. Open of Surfing

HUNTINGTON BEACH – A thick fog that lingered into Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Open of Surfing didn’t stop the crowds from gathering on Day 1 of the event.

The action in the water got off to a slow start, with the surfing competition put on hold through the morning.

But that didn’t keep Mark Eynon from his post in a chair set up on the sand as he waited for the contest to get underway.

“It’s a little frustrating, but a good fan always sticks around,” said the Huntington Beach resident before the contest started at noon, then was put on hold again when the fog rolled back in.

“It will be well worth the wait,” Eynon said. “The waves are big.”

Despite the lackluster start to the competition for the nine-day event, the festival area where booths and a massive skate bowl were set up on the sand was busy with beachgoers.

“I thought it would be less crowded and less hot,” said Heather Alcaraz, of Huntington Beach, who brought her 3-year-old twins Owen and Gavin down to the sand early in the morning. “We wanted the boys to get to see all this stuff and hang out.”

Alcaraz liked the family-friendly vibe of the event, which in the past had a rowdy reputation.

“I think it’s gotten a lot better lately,” she said. “I know there was a period it got crazy.”

There was more than just surf to draw people to the action-sports festival, considered one of the largest in the world.

Adar Ginsberg, 29, of Huntington Beach, spent the morning gathering Pokemon in the area. She nabbed about 20.

“They said they would be around big places, so I was expecting it,” she said.

Based on last year’s attendance, an estimated 60,000 people were expected to show up through the day – maybe more with the Pokemon craze – and by the final weekend those crowds will swell to 100,000 each day.

Steve Van Doren, son of Vans founder Paul Van Doren, was getting ready to grill about 1,300 free hot dogs and 500 free sliders on Saturday, which he does each day of the event.Van Doren said his father moved from Boston in 1964, and he attended the surf event in those days, meeting surf legend Duke Kahanamoku.

Shortly after, Paul Van Doren made shoes for Kahanamoku and launched his own shoe business in Costa Mesa, what today is known as Vans.

It’s the fourth year Vans has been involved in the event.

“The first year, we gave everything out from the back of the van,” Van Doren said. “It was like a mosh pit.”

To make it less chaotic, Vans set out areas around the festival where people could line up and play games to win prizes like backpacks, wallets and key chains.

One of the busiest areas was a retail store set up on the sand selling gear including U.S. Open shirts, umbrellas and towels.

Friends Melita Varga and Jordana Hannigan, in town from Toronto, were stoked when they found out the big event coincided with a work trip. They searched the store for souvenirs.

“You can see there’s a lot of energy here, a lot of excitement,” Varga said. They didn’t know the pros, but it didn’t matter.

“We like surfing.”

Clinton chooses Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate

WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton has chosen Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (Virginia) as her vice presidential running mate, completing a Democratic ticket that prizes experience and traditional notions of public service in a political year dominated by Republican rival Donald Trump’s unorthodox, highly personal brand of leadership.

Kaine, 58, a former Virginia governor, Richmond mayor and Democratic National Committee chairman, was chosen after a search that included riskier and more unconventional candidates who offered greater appeal to the party’s liberal base.

He was a longtime favorite to become Clinton’s running mate, however, in part because of the political and personal attributes she considers well-suited to the governing partnership she seeks – and in part because of the calculation that the experience of a Clinton-Kaine ticket would outgun Trump’s outsider bombast.

Kaine is not known for his charisma on the campaign trail; he has called himself the “happy senator” and even “boring” – and Clinton laughingly agreed in a PBS interview earlier this week.

“I love that about him,” she said Monday.

“He’s never lost an election. He was a world-class mayor, governor and senator, and is one of the most highly respected senators I know,” she said.

Along with his image as a low-key workhorse, Kaine brings legislative experience in the Senate and executive experience as a popular if unremarkable governor. He comes from a battleground state, albeit one widely considered winnable for Clinton whether Kaine is on the ticket or not.

Clinton has said that her most important criterion was the ability to step into the presidency at any moment. She also sought a running mate who would be able to work with Republicans to advance an ambitious legislative agenda that includes immigration reform and new gun control measures, her campaign said.

Kaine’s affable, regular-guy presence may also help Clinton balance the perception of Clinton as remote, chilly and privileged. She is among the least-liked major party candidates in decades, according to public opinion polls, behind only Trump.

Clinton’s choice comes as she and the Democratic Party prepare for a four-day convention that will showcase her resume and experience. It’s a counterpoint to what Democrats say are Trump’s lack of credentials.

With Kaine, Clinton hopes to focus the election even more squarely on the question of preparation and ability. Kaine comes from the same moderate wing of the party and shares Clinton’s governing philosophy. They share a basic ideology that government can do good and that the United States should be both a moral actor and an engaged diplomatic and military presence overseas.

She is also counting on him to be a partisan attack dog somewhat in the model of Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump focused intensely on Clinton during his speech Thursday accepting the Republican nomination, calling her corrupt and incompetent and accusing her of making the country less safe as secretary of state.

Even before it was announced, Kaine’s pick was panned by several liberal groups, including some with ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, the runner-up in the Democratic primaries.

In recent television interviews, Sanders has praised Kaine, but some of his supporters have sharply questioned his progressive bona fides, pointing to Kaine’s support of trade deals and regulations favorable to big banks.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the activist network Democracy for America, which backed Sanders in the primaries, said Thursday that it should be “disqualifying” for any potential Democratic vice-presidential nominee to “help banks dodge consumer protection standards.”

And on Friday, Norman Solomon, the coordinator of a group billing itself as the Bernie Delegates Network, called Kaine “a loyal servant of oligarchy.”

“If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes,” said Solomon, whose organization claims to represent hundreds of Sanders delegates attending the convention in Philadelphia but is not coordinating with the campaign.

Kaine was in New England Friday afternoon attending a pair of fundraisers, one in Boston to benefit his Senate campaign account and another in Rhode Island on behalf of Sen. Jack Reed, a fellow Democrat.

Kaine did not share anything about the status of the search Friday with reporters who staked out his home in Richmond, Virginia, or caught up with him at Logan Airport in Boston.

Clinton, meanwhile, was making several campaign stops in Florida on Friday. She began in Orlando, a city which is still reeling from a terror attack at a gay nightclub that left 49 people dead.

She was held a rally in Tampa later in the day. On Saturday, she is expected to appear at another rally at Florida International University in Miami. For now, her public schedule is clear after that until a Monday appearance in Charlotte.

Clinton told Democrats that she wanted to choose someone who would work to elect other Democrats and raise money for Democrats nationally. Kaine has a track record of doing both, and is a solid speaker who will perform well in debates and interviews, said Daniel Palazzolo, chairman of the University of Richmond’s Political Science Department.

“He has a broad range of governing experience, most importantly. I don’t think that should be understated, especially this year,” against Trump, who has never held elective office and promises to bring a businessman’s perspective to the White House.

Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, a choice that added to the Republican ticket someone with experience and a résumé with parallels to Kaine’s.

Representing a state with a large military presence and defense industry has burnished Kaine’s national security experience, and he serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as the Foreign Relations Committee. He won admiration within the military and jolted Democrats when he pushed for congressional consideration of a new war authorization for the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, he joined Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, to seek a new three-year authorization for military force. The effort stalled, but it raised Kaine’s stature.

Kaine speaks Spanish, but his selection represents a disappointment for Hispanics and others who had hoped that Clinton, the first woman to head a major-party ticket, would choose the first major-party Latino running mate. Hispanics are a key constituency for Democrats this year, and Clinton’s election strategy has long been built around engaging women and Hispanics.

Two Latinos who were passed over serve in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet – Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and Housing Secretary Julián Castro. Obama had discussed those candidates with Clinton as she made her choice, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. Earnest also volunteered that Obama thinks highly of Kaine.

The president considers Kaine “one of his as well,” even though he did not serve in the Cabinet.

“Senator Kaine is one of the first public officials to announce a public endorsement of Senator Obama. Senator Kaine served as the chair of the DNC during President Obama’s first year in office. And Senator Kaine is somebody that the president deeply respects, and – I think it’s been publicly reported – was even considered himself as a running mate back in 2008,” Earnest said.

Kaine is Roman Catholic and took a break from Harvard Law School to serve as a missionary in Honduras in the early 1980s. He said he holds “traditional Catholic” views on abortion, but he maintains that he strongly supports abortion rights. He has taken a similar stand on the death penalty, saying he opposes it for personal and religious reasons – but promising as governor to uphold the law of Virginia, where capital punishment is legal.

Kaine’s emphasis on faith in his personal life appealed to Clinton, a Methodist, and was discussed during conversations the two held leading up to his selection, a Democrat with ties to both of them said.

“I do what I do for spiritual reasons,” Kaine said in a recent C-SPAN interview.

Republicans are likely to seize on Kaine’s somewhat mixed message on abortion as well as his unsuccessful attempt as governor to raise transportation taxes.

But he has few other known personal or political liabilities, a safe and steady choice whose departure from the Senate would not cause an immediate loss for Democrats. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) would name a replacement ahead of a special election in 2017. The winner would have to run again for a full six-year term the following year.

Kaine was given an audition of sorts on the trail last week, when he joined Clinton at a campaign stop in a gymnasium at a community college in Northern Virginia.

The two were warmly received by the crowd and had an easy rapport, though the atmosphere was not nearly as electric it had been the month before when Clinton was joined at a rally in Ohio by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, a darling of the party’s left wing.

Early in his remarks, Kaine broke into Spanish, explaining how the meaning of the slogan “Ready for Hillary” takes on even more significance in that language than in English.

Kaine later asked the crowd three questions about the choice voters face in the election against Trump: whether they want a “you’re hired” president or a “you’re fired” president; whether they want a “trash-talk” president or a “bridge-building” president; and whether they want a “me-first” or a “kids-and-families-first” president.

Clinton, who was perched on a stool nearby, broke into a big smile as Kaine ticked off hat he described as crucial differences between Clinton and Trump.

“I really love what Tim said,” Clinton told the crowd when she took the microphone. “I like the three questions he posed. . . . What Tim said is really worth considering.”

Clinton also praised the work of Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, the state education secretary in Virginia.

The Washington Post’s Abby Phillip in Orlando contributed to this report.