The following words might send a chill down your spine…
“On Halloween night in 1939, a thundering storm descended on Hollywood hills, trapping several guests in the lobby of the star-studded Hollywood Tower Hotel. A party of five entered the elevator — a couple, a bellman, a child actress and her governess — and with one crack of lightning, each of them vanished. Now, on a night ‘much like this,’ guests are welcome to follow in their footsteps and take a ride in a service elevator that leads ‘directly to … The Twilight Zone.’”
These are the words that you hear as you enter the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
For over 25 years, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has been giving guests a not so nice elevator ride. This ride is based on the television series The Twilight Zone, hosted by Rod Serling. This attraction has a bit of a complex storyline as you make your way through the hotel but it doesn’t matter if you don’t follow along!
The fun really begins when the elevator car doors open, you move in, and the car takes you on a journey. Then the car stops, the door closes and your heart starts beating a bit quicker.
All of a sudden – Boom – you take a 13-story drop which feels like you are in a free fall and before you know it, you are heading up to do it again.
The Tower of Terror debuted on July 22, 1994 in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (which at that time was Called Disney-MGM Studios). Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, It quickly became an extremely popular ride and has never looked back.
Guests are sitting in a ride vehicle which contains 21 seats with 7 guests per row as a Cast Member will help with seat belts and instructions on keeping bags and other belongings in close proximity and then you are off.
Fun Facts about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:
1. The Inspection Certificate
An inspection certificate with the number 10259 is on the wall as you board the elevator. This is a nod to the airing of the first Twilight Zone episode on October 2, 1959.
You will also notice that it is signed by Cadwallader. This was revealed to be the devil in the Twilight Zone episode, Escape Clause. Disney thinks of everything!
2. Props from the show
There are many props that are from different episodes of the television show including the fortune-teller machine from “Nick of Time”, broken glasses from “Time Enough at Last” and a trumpet from “Passage For Trumpet”.
In the pre-show you are greeted by Rod Serling with the first lines, “Tonight’s story on the Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This as you may recognize is a…”
This narration is taken from a real Twilight Zone episode and the rest was carefully voiced by an impersonator named Mark Silverman. The Disney Imagineers took footage from Serling from various episodes and matched his voice to Silverman’s narration.
4. Tower of Terror Elevator Drop Speed
The top speed of your dropping elevator is 39 miles per hour but you are actually not free falling. The elevator is being pulled down (and up) by mechanics in the elevator shaft. We have a love-hate relationship with this part of the ride!
5. Tower of Terror Height
The Tower of Terror ride is tall at 199 feet high but one ride is just a bit taller at 199.5 feet high. Can you guess it? The answer is…Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The reason no Disney attraction is higher than 199 feet is because at 200 feet they would be required to add a little blinking light for planes and that would ruin the Disney effect.
6. Twilight Zone episodes
When the Imagineers were making the ride they were required to watch 156 episodes of the Twilight Zone. They really wanted to get everything authentically right.
7. The Tower of Terror was almost a real hotel
Disney toyed with the idea of making the Tower Of Terror hotel, a REAL hotel! Can you imagine how cool that would have been!
Finances led to its demise, but now that we think about it, you would have elevator issues every day, not to mention people screaming throughout the day. Maybe it was a good idea not to have it a hotel after all.
8. Tower of Terror Hidden Mickeys
Just like other rides, there are hidden Mickeys in the Tower of Terror. One in particular is found right before you get to the elevator. A star field will appear before you and you will see the three circle familiar shape at the end.
Another one is found in the boiler room. Look at the first boiler’s grating and you will see the three circles forming a Mickey head shape.
9. The Tower of Terror Random Drop Sequence
When the Tower of Terror first opened the drops were always identical. After 10 years Disney started a random drop sequence that made it so no two times you go on the ride will be the same. The slogan became, “Never the same fear twice”.
10. Corridor Tricks
The corridor scene employs the same trick found in the Haunted mansion‘s ballroom scene called the “Pepper’s Ghost Trick”. The images are projected with a mirror onto a pane of glass which gives the impression that there are ghosts right in front of you.
Furthermore, the corridor is much smaller than it appears because of another Disney trick called “Forced Perspective Technique”. The elements at the far end of the corridor are much smaller than those which are close to the riders.
11. Tower of Terror Music
The musical soundtrack is music taken from different episodes of the Twilight Zone.
12. Tower of Terror…Guardians of the Galaxy
The Tower of Terror at Disneyland has been turned into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! If you look at the structure of this ride you will notice it’s identical to the structure of the Tower of Terror.
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
13. Tower of Terror Alternate Versions
There are 2 other versions of the Tower of Terror. One in Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris and another in Tokyo called Tokyo DisneySea.
14. The doll
In the pre show video there is a little girl holding a doll. Can you figure out what the doll is?
15. A Real Elevator Company
Disney Imagineers worked with a real elevator company to make the Tower of Terror. Otis Elevator Company and the Eaton-Kenway Power management company, along with the Imagineers put their heads together to create this marvel.
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
16. California Inspirations
The Tower of Terror structure was inspired by California landmarks such as the Mission Inn, Biltmore Hotel and Griffith Park.
17. Four Elevators, Two Drop Shafts
There are two drop shafts on the Tower of Terror, however there are four elevators that lift the vehicles up to the Fifth Dimension scene- two of these merge into a single corridor scene.
18. Tower of Terror Lobby
The lobby is decorated with items bought from Los Angeles area auction houses. These pieces are authentic and really help “sell” the realism for the ride.
photo credit Alexis Lariscy
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Attraction Information
Important information concerning the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror experience:
- Height Requirement. There is a height requirement of at least 40 inches or taller to go on the Tower of Terror.
- Scary factor (especially for children). Tower of Terror is one of Disney’s more scary rides because of the eeriness (paranormal activity) as well as the drop(s). Of course, it is Disney so they mix in humor and silliness and downplay the scary – a la Haunted Mansion. We feel the first part of the ride will not frighten most children. The giant drop being in a dark ride is the question parent will need to wrestle with. The official Disney World statement is that children under 7 years of age must be accompanied by someone over 14 years of age. One other interesting thing to know is there is a “Chicken Exit” just before boarding the ride vehicle for those who chose not to ride.
- Accessibility. Those guests in ECVs must transfer to a wheelchair and then to the ride vehicle. Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted.
- Motion Sickness. Many people that get motion sickness on rides have issues with spinning rides or simulators and this one is neither, but it does have a few fast drops that can play havoc on your stomach.
- Other Medical Concerns. Disney’s official statement is you should be in good health, free from high blood pressure, heart, back and neck problems and expectant mothers should not ride.
- Genie+. Tower of Terror is available with Genie+ and you can use Rider Switch, however there is not a Single Rider Line.
- Time. The entire ride for the Tower of Terror is approximately 15 minutes.
On a personal note, this ride is Dave’s wife’s favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World! We make this one a priority and ride it no matter what. We try to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for rope drop and then book it down to this attraction.
We often will rope drop this one and then head to the Rockin’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith as it is right next door!