The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
TowerOfTerror MGM.jpg
Attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Area Sunset Boulevard
Coordinates 28°21′31″N 81°33′52″W / 28.35861°N 81.56444°W / 28.35861; -81.56444
Status Operating
Opening date July 22, 1994
Disney California Adventure
Area Hollywood Land
Coordinates 33°48′24″N 117°55′03″W / 33.8065479°N 117.9174805°W / 33.8065479; -117.9174805
Status Operating
Opening date May 5, 2004
Closing date January 3, 2017[1][2][3]
Replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! (planned)
Tokyo DisneySea
Name Tower of Terror (Japanese: タワー・オブ・テラー Hepburn: Tawā Obu terā?)
Area American Waterfront
Coordinates 35°37′32″N 139°53′07″E / 35.6254767°N 139.8851705°E / 35.6254767; 139.8851705
Status Operating
Opening date September 22, 2006[4]
Walt Disney Studios Park
Name French: La Tour de la Terreur – Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension
Area Production Courtyard
Coordinates 48°52′00″N 2°46′37″E / 48.8666589°N 2.7768075°E / 48.8666589; 2.7768075
Status Operating
Opening date December 22, 2007[4]
General statistics
Attraction type Drop tower dark ride
Manufacturer Otis Elevator Company
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Theme The Twilight Zone
Music Richard Bellis
"The Twilight Zone Theme" by Marius Constant
Joel McNeely (Tokyo)
Height 199 ft (61 m)
Drop 130 ft (40 m)
G-force 1.3[5]
Vehicle type Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV)/Elevator
Vehicles WDW versions
Other versions
Rows 3
Riders per row 7
Duration 2-3 minutes
Height restriction 40 in (102 cm)
Hosted by Rod Serling (voice of Mark Silverman in English versions)[6]
Drop speed 39 miles per hour (63 km/h)
Fastpass available
FastPass+ available
Must transfer from wheelchair

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, commonly known as the Tower of Terror, is an accelerated drop tower dark ride located at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, and Walt Disney Studios Park. Exempting the Tokyo version, the attractions are inspired by Rod Serling's anthology television series, The Twilight Zone, and take place in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel in Hollywood, California. The Tokyo version, which features an original story line not related to The Twilight Zone, takes place in the fictional Hotel Hightower. All four versions place riders in a seemingly ordinary hotel elevator, and present riders with a fictional back story in which people mysteriously disappeared from the elevator under the influence of some supernatural element many years prior.

The original version of the attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in July 1994, and was the basis of the 1997 television film of the same name; where several scenes were shot at the attraction. A decade later, Disney began plans to add similar versions of the attraction to their newest parks at the Disneyland Resort in California, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, and Disneyland Resort Paris. In California and Paris, Disney sought to use the popular attraction to boost attendance at the respective resorts' struggling new theme parks. The California and Tokyo versions of Tower of Terror opened in 2004[7] and 2006,[8] respectively, while financial problems delayed the opening of the Paris version until 2008.[9] The California version is scheduled to close in January 2017.[3]

The Tower of Terror buildings are among the tallest structures found at their respective Disney resorts. At 199 feet (60.7 m), the Florida version is the second tallest attraction building at the Walt Disney World Resort, shorter only than Expedition Everest's 199.5 feet (60.8 m). At the Disneyland Resort, the 183-foot (55.8 m) structure is the tallest attraction at the resort, as well as one of the tallest buildings in Anaheim.[10] At Disneyland Paris, it is the second tallest attraction.

Queue and preshow[edit]

In the American and European versions of the attraction, guests make their way to the Hollywood Tower Hotel through the front gate. In most parks, the queue area plays 1930s jazz music. Guests then walk along a cracked, curved pathway that leads to the hotel. The pathway contains overgrown gardens, signs pointing to the stables, and passes by bowling green, tennis courts, swimming pools, and a vine-covered pavilion.

Entering the doors, the interior setting is composed to give the impression that the Hollywood Tower Hotel has been left untouched since the night of its closure. The lobby is draped in dust and cobwebs and throughout it are various examples of the hotel's abrupt closure: a table set with tea and stale pastries, abandoned luggage, a long-extinguished fireplace, an unfinished game of Mahjong accompanied by a few cocktails, and a yellowed copy of the Los Angeles Examiner dated October 31, 1939. In the California and Paris versions, the game of Mahjong was replaced with an unfinished game of cards. Behind the front desk are the main elevators in a dilapidated state; a sign in front of the elevator reads "Out of Order". Guests are informed by bellhops that their rooms are not ready yet and are then ushered into the hotel library, which is home to the hotel's collection of books, antiques, exotic curiosities, an old television set, and various pieces of Twilight Zone memorabilia scattered about the room. Through the window, guests may observe a severe thunderstorm raging outside.

With a crash of lightning, the power suddenly goes out, except for the television set which crackles into life and plays the opening sequence from the fourth and fifth season of The Twilight Zone, followed by a supposedly "lost episode" hosted by Rod Serling. The episode goes on to depict the events of the Halloween night in 1939 that lead to the closure of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. On that evening, while a severe thunderstorm was raging, five people boarded the hotel's elevator from the lobby. While inside, a lightning bolt struck the hotel, causing an entire wing and the guests themselves to vanish, resulting in the elevator rapidly dropping and crashing. Serling comments that the storm currently outside is similar to the one on the night the five people disappeared. He also explains that the only elevator in the hotel still in operation is the maintenance service elevator located in the basement boiler room. He invites the guests, "if they dare," to board the elevator and uncover the dark secret of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The television then turns off and the guests are directed through to the boiler room, where they await the service elevator's arrival.

Disney's Hollywood Studios version[edit]

The original Tower of Terror, at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The original attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios opened on July 22, 1994. The tower's interior and exterior design took inspiration from existing Southern California landmarks, including the Biltmore Hotel and Mission Inn.[6] The distinctive Spanish Colonial Revival architectural features on and around the attraction's roof were designed so that the rear facade, which is visible from Epcot, would blend seamlessly with the skyline of the Morocco Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon.[11] The ride's slogan, "Never the Same Fear Twice!," refers to the drop pattern being randomly selected by a computer before the ride begins. It reaches a top speed of 39 miles per hour.


In the late 1980s, a second phase of development was being designed for Disneyland Paris (then Euro Disney), including was a free fall type ride in Frontierland that was to be named Geyser Mountain. It would have been part roller coaster, part free fall ride that shot guests up a vertical drop shaft. The plan was scrapped, but was picked up by Disney's Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios) as part of a massive expansion to the park. Several attractions were proposed including "Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers," which would be later made into Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland. Still needing a major "E-ticket" attraction, the idea of a drop shaft ride came back and was chosen.[12]

There were several proposed ideas for haunted attractions, including a ride based on Stephen King's novels, a Vincent Price ghost tour, a Mel Brooks-narrated ride, a real hotel, and a whodunit murder mystery, but none were made.[13] They eventually settled on a 1930s Hollywood hotel with a Twilight Zone theme, but a new ride system had to be built. This would allow both more capacity inside the ride and allow the drop to be last. Otis Elevator Company and Eaton-Kenway both helped create both the vertical ride system and ride vehicle that could drive itself horizontally, respectively.[12] Disney licensed the rights to use The Twlight Zone intellectual property from CBS Inc..[14]

Site clearing and prep began early 1992. A sinkhole led to the site's being moved slightly. After construction ended, the ride was set to open on July 4, 1994. However, both Sunset Blvd. and the Tower of Terror opened on July 22, 1994.[12]

Technical details[edit]

The ride system of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios employs specialized technology developed by Walt Disney Imagineering, particularly the ability to move the vehicle in and out of the vertical motion shaft. The elevator cabs are self-propelled automated ride vehicles, also known as automated guided vehicles, which lock into separate vertical motion cabs. The cabs can move into and out of elevators horizontally, move through the "Fifth Dimension" scene, and on to the drop shaft.

In order to achieve the weightless effect the Imagineers desired, cables attached to the bottom of the elevator car pull it down at a speed slightly faster than what a free fall would provide. Two enormous motors are located at the top of the tower, measuring 12 feet (3.7 m) tall, 35 feet (11 m) long, and weighing 132,000 pounds (60,000 kg). They are able to accelerate 10 short tons (9.1 t) at 15 times the speed of normal elevators. They generate torque equal to that of 275 Corvette engines and reach top speeds in 1.5 seconds.

After the elevator cab has completed the ride, it propels itself to the unload dock and then back to the show shaft. The Florida ride runs on a unique loop system different from the versions used in California Paris and Tokyo.

Ride experience[edit]

Corridor scene[edit]

In this version of the attraction, Rod Serling's voice greets passengers the moment the elevator doors close, saying:

You are the passengers on a most uncommon elevator about to ascend into your very own episode of The Twilight Zone.

The elevator rises for a few seconds before coming to its first stop. The doors open to reveal a long, dimly lit hotel corridor, with overgrown plants and doors to guest rooms running the length, accompanied by morning newspapers and room service trays. A single window is at the opposite end of the corridor. A violent thunderstorm is raging and lightning flashes outside the window. The five missing passengers from 1939 appear for several moments, turning to face the elevator and beckoning the guests to join them. Then they disappear in a burst of electricity. The corridor fades away, but the window remains until it appears to be floating in a dark field of stars. The window morphs into the window from Season 5 opening and breaks, as in the opening sequence of the television series.

Fifth Dimension scene[edit]

The lobby of The Hollywood Tower Hotel at Disney's Hollywood Studios, May 2010

The elevator doors close and the car continues its ascent. Serling's narration goes on, saying:

One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, and this time, it's opening for you.

The elevator stops once more. The doors open to what at first looks like a maintenance room, but slowly transforms into a field of stars. The elevator car emerges horizontally from the lift shaft and enters a section of the ride called "The Fifth Dimension", which is a collection of sights and sounds and starfields, again in the style of the television show's opening sequence. A rendition of The Twilight Zone theme plays throughout. The scene ends as the elevator reaches another star field which splits and opens much like elevator doors. The elevator enters another vertical shaft, this one pitch black. Serling's voice is heard again, saying:

You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination, in the Tower of Terror.

Drop sequence[edit]

On the last word of Serling's narration, the elevator starts its drop sequence. Rather than a simple gravity-powered drop, however, the elevator is pulled downwards, causing most riders to rise off their seats, held down only by a seat belt. At least once during the drop sequence, wide elevator doors in front of the riders open to reveal a view of the park from a height of 157 ft (48 m), but only drops 130 feet, the same height of a 13 story building. The elevator drops at the top speed of 39 mph. In the Hollywood Studios version, the back of the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" sign partially obstructs the view (the on-ride camera is located here, recording the riders for purchase of a video and/or photograph later).

Randomized patterns of drops and lifts have been added, where the ride vehicle will drop or rise various distances at different intervals. Other effects were also added, including new projection images of the breaking window, wind effects, lightning flashes, and ominous bluelit figures of the five ghostly original riders. These changes were made so that each trip on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a slightly different experience. The ride was reprogrammed most recently in its fourth conversion so that the ride system allows for any number of randomized drops and lifts. When guests enter the drop shaft, a computer randomly chooses one of four drop profiles, one of which is a modified version of the ride's third incarnation.[15] Regardless of the number of randomized drops and lifts, each drop sequence always features one "faux drop" meant to startle the riders, and one complete drop through the entire tower at the speed of 39 mph.

After a series of these drops have been made, the elevator returns to the basement of the decrepit Hollywood Tower Hotel, past a curious array of abandoned items. A short clip plays, showing elements from the season five opening sequence, along with the 1939 elevator passengers and Rod Serling, falling into the "vortex" seen in the season three opening sequence. Serling's voice says:

A warm welcome back to those of you who made it, and a friendly word of warning, something you won't find in any guidebook. The next time you check into a deserted hotel on the dark side of Hollywood, make sure you know just what kind of vacancy you're filling. Or you may find yourself a permanent resident... of the Twilight Zone.

Guests then exit the elevator, leaving the hotel through the gift shop.

Ride exit and shop[edit]

On leaving the elevator, guests are led through a hotel corridor towards what would appear to be the old "Lost & Found" desk of the Hollywood Tower Hotel; however, it is now where photos taken on the ride may be purchased. After this desk, guests pass a cracked fountain to the left and on the right can be seen the Hollywood Tower Hotel's supposed dining room, previously called The Sunset Room (either a potential pun on its location on Sunset Boulevard or a reference to the actual time of twilight). The menu, placed outside the closed double-doors, is still dated October 31, 1939. Guests then enter the shop which is called Tower Merchandise, which keeps with the theme of the hotel, with cracked walls and dim lights. There, guests may purchase Twilight Zone merchandise and Hollywood Tower Hotel-themed souvenirs, including hotel bathrobes and slippers.

On August 13, 2014, the ride's on-ride camera began recording video of riders, so that riders could purchase a picture of their ride or a video. The video includes pre-recorded parts as well as the riders at the top, using the previous on-ride camera, as well as a new on-ride camera being placed at the end of the Fifth Dimension scene.[16] This was the first ride at Walt Disney World to offer on-ride videos. On September 18, 2014, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride at the Magic Kingdom began offering on-ride videos and pictures as well, making these the only two rides at Walt Disney World to offer videos and pictures.[17][18]

Summer Nightastic update[edit]

Disney announced in February 2010, that the Tower of Terror would receive "new lighting effects and a new addition" as part of a summer entertainment package called "Summer Nightastic!".[19] The Fifth Dimension scene is mostly covered by black tarps with fiber optic stars, and Serling's voice is removed from just before the drop profile. Replacing it is music played in the drop shaft, along with a projected picture of the riders just before they enter the drop shaft. Similar to the California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park versions of the ride, the riders disappear to show an empty elevator. A new drop profile was also created for "Summer Nightastic!", and replaces the other drop profiles on all rides. The profile mainly consisted of utilizing the entire tower for the drop sequences, as compared to the numerous faux and shortened drops in the randomized version. The changes were implemented on June 5, 2010, but were officially introduced the day after. All changes were temporary, and lasted until August 14, 2010.[20]

Disney California Adventure version[edit]

Attraction at Disney California Adventure in 2009

While similar in concept and theme to the original attraction in Florida, the attraction version at Disney California Adventure which opened in 2004 at the Disneyland Resort,[7] features some significant differences. The exterior of Disney California Adventure's tower has architectural features reminiscent of Pueblo Deco styles found through Southern California during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The California version also has a slightly different queue. The boiler room scene in the queue has two floors, instead of the original one in the Florida original. The two floors allow for one elevator in one shaft to have guests on ride, while the other elevator of the same shaft is loading guests. There are three elevator shafts in the Disney California Adventure version, with two elevators per shaft, for a total of six elevators operating at once.

New ride operation system[edit]

Imagineers redesigned the entire ride system for the attraction at Disney California Adventure and made some general changes to the show scenes. The attraction features three elevator shafts. Each shaft, in theory, is its own separate ride with its own separate operating system. This makes it easier to repair individual areas of the attraction without causing the entire attraction to go down. Each shaft has two vehicles and two load levels. It is designed so that the lower vehicle can be in its ride profile while the upper vehicle is loading, giving the attraction the ability to move its line faster. Since each vehicle loads and unloads from the same point, it saves space. Disney used this ride system again for Walt Disney Studios Park's version of the ride and for Tokyo DisneySea's Hotel Hightower.

Ride experience[edit]

Instead of the autonomous vehicle found in the original incarnation, the scaled down version uses only a single shaft for each car. As the elevator doors close, the lights of the service elevator flicker out. The redesigned, multilevel boarding ride system for the Californian version of the tower requires that one elevator loads while another is in the drop shaft progressing through the ride cycle. As such, the first movement guests experience is horizontal, as the elevator itself is pulled back from the doors as Rod Serling's voice is heard.

You are the passengers on a most uncommon elevator...

With a flash of lightning, the walls of the basement disappear altogether, leaving only a starfield around the service doors with a rotating purple spiral.

...about to take the strangest journey of your lives. Your destination? Unknown. But this much is clear: a reservation has been made in your name for an extended stay.

The elevator rises quickly to the fifth floor. Because the dark ride portion of California's tower takes place in the drop shaft, the physical vertical vehicle conveyance system can move much more quickly and nimbly than Florida's (in which the first tower functions only as a dark ride and is not built for the quick movements that the drop portion requires). As such, visitors feel a moment of weightlessness as the elevator quickly ascends and then stops on the fifth floor.

When the doors open, an ornate, wood-framed mirror stands in a brightly lit hallway of the hotel and riders see their reflection in its glass. Serling then says:

Wave goodbye to the real world.

Suddenly, lightning strikes the hotel and the lights of both the hallway and elevator flicker out. A ghostly wind blows through a window and the reflection of riders in the elevator becomes distorted. With another blast, the elevator rumbles and shakes and with a final blast of lightning the electrified reflection disappears, leaving only the image of the empty elevator in the mirror as the doors close.

For you have just entered the Twilight Zone.

The elevator descends and opens to reveal the "hallway" scene with an image of another elevator at the other end of the hallway, unlike Florida's version which shows a window. Serling delivers his next narration.

What happened here to dim the lights of Hollywood's brightest showplace is about to unfold once again.

The five missing guests appear in the hallway, crackling with electricity and beckon riders to follow them. They disappear, and the walls of the hotel become a starfield, leaving just the other elevator as Serling says:

One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare.

The other elevator doors open to reveal the lost passengers inside as both elevators appear to float through space.

That door is opening once again, but this time it's opening for you.

The distant guests fall, then the distant elevator, followed immediately by the ride elevator. California's version does not have a randomized drop sequence. The ride experience is identical in every drop shaft, regardless of which floor passengers board on. Two small drops occur in pitch-black darkness, followed by a rise to the top of the tower as in-cabin lights flicker. The doors then open out to reveal the view from the top floor before the ride drops briefly, pauses, and drops the remainder of the shaft. The elevator then rises and immediately drops without stopping in complete darkness. The elevator then rises to the top of the tower, shudders, and falls to the bottom of the shaft to the area in between the two loading floors (to assure each ride is identical) before the elevator returns to its load level and is horizontally pushed back into place at the boiler room service doors. The revealing height of the ride is 130 feet high and the elevator drops 124 feet total.

As the elevator is pushed back into place, Serling delivers his final narration:

The next time you check into a deserted hotel on the dark side of Hollywood, make sure you know just what kind of vacancy you're filling. Or you may find yourself a permanent resident... of the Twilight Zone.

After which, the service doors open and guests exit the hotel through the basement and the gift shop.

Scheduled closure[edit]

On July 23, 2016 at San Diego Comic-Con, Disney announced that the California attraction would be replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!. It is scheduled to open in summer 2017 and will utilize the same structure and ride system.[2] This will become the first American Disney attraction to be based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Marvel Entertainment having been wholly acquired by Disney in 2009).[21]

In August 2016, it was announced that the attraction's final day of operation would be January 2, 2017; the ride will then close on January 3.[3] In preparation for the closure, Disney began a "farewell" promotion of the ride on September 9, 2016, which features a "Late Check Out" option to experience the drop portion of the ride in total darkness. On the night of September 19 and early morning of September 20, the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" sign was removed to prepare for the new attraction.[22][23]

The other three Disney parks with versions of the Tower of Terror ride are unaffected, and Disney has stated that there are no plans to change the ride in its other locations.[24][22]

Tokyo DisneySea version[edit]

Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea

The Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea has no connection or tie-in whatsoever with The Twilight Zone, as the Oriental Land Company would have to pay licensing fees to both Disney and CBS for the attraction and a second, separate instance to CBS for royalty rights to The Twilight Zone. Instead, the attraction is themed as the fictional Hotel Hightower. The ride's facade is an example of Moorish Revival architecture, and the tower is located in the American Waterfront area of the park, close to the S.S. Columbia cruise liner. The ride system for this version is similar to that of the Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park versions.

The story of the attraction is more complex than its American and European counterparts. The story follows the adventures of the hotel's famous builder and owner, Harrison Hightower III (modeled after Walt Disney Imagineering executive Joe Rohde), who completed many expeditions around the world and has collected thousands of priceless artifacts. Most of these artifacts were stolen for personal gain and stored in his hotel. After one such expedition to Africa, he brings home an idol by the name of Shiriki Utundu.

Hightower claims that the natives were very angry to have their beloved god taken, and threatened that the idol would curse him. On New Year's Eve, 1899, Hightower holds a press conference about his expedition to Africa, followed by a huge party. Hightower boasts about how he acquired the idol and denies claims of it being cursed. Just when he leaves the party, he mocks the idol, using its head to put out his cigar. Around midnight, he enters the elevator to retire to his private apartments in the hotel penthouse. As the elevator nears the top, the idol comes to life.

The idol's immense rage and power causes the elevator to plummet and crash on the ground floor. When the doors were pried open, only Hightower's hat and the idol were recovered. The hotel was abruptly closed and condemned for more than a decade, rumored by locals to be haunted. In 1912, following pressure to demolish the hotel, a New York restoration company reopened it because of its historical significance. The company now offers paid tours of the building. It is on these "tours" that guests embark when they enter the hotel.

Queue and preshow[edit]

The line starts outside the Hotel Hightower, where guests can see the windows are almost completely shattered, and winds through the gardens filled with many statues from many different countries. Signs are posted all over the front advertising the tour. Guests then enter the lobby, a very elaborate and well-decorated room filled with lush furniture and beautiful art. Across each arch near the ceiling is a mural of Hightower on one of his adventures. If one looks closely, they will notice that he is actually escaping the native people in some way with a valuable artifact or item in his possession. At the end of the lobby are the elevator doors, left open in its destroyed state with only a single plank of wood holding it together. The broken cable is visible inside. Guests are then ushered into a room filled with many pictures of Hightower, his expeditions, and his hotel.

Guests enter one of two rooms, either his office or the library, and in each room a large stained glass window depicts a confident Hightower with Shiriki Utundu sitting on a pedestal nearby. A tour guide talks about Hightower a little, then winds up an old gramophone that plays a recording of Hightower's last interview. At this point, the lights dim. Suddenly, the stained glass window changes to show a now frightened Hightower holding the idol before showing him entering the elevator on that fateful night. It then shows the outside of the hotel as the elevator ascends. Suddenly, all the lights in the hotel turn off, and there is a big blast of green lightning. In an instant, the blast drops, shattering the bottom of the glass upon impact. At this point, Shiriki Utundu comes to life, looks around, laughs mischievously at the guests, and then it vanishes into a star-field, and a coal-colored fog covered the window, which remains the same when the fog is lifted. Guests are then ushered into an enormous storage room where Hightower kept his treasures. There are multiple loading rooms on the second floor, each themed to a different type of item. One has swords, another has tapestries, the third has stone tablets and other valuable artifacts.

Ride experience[edit]

The mechanics of the Tower are physically identical to the Californian and Parisian towers, with dual loading floors, a horizontal push away from the doors and into the drop tower, a hallway scene, and a mirror scene, but with thematic changes. The order of both mirror and hallway scenes is reversed compared to the American and European counterparts.

The lights of the elevator turn off as Hightower's voice explains the significance of the idol. The elevator is pulled backwards, away from the still-visible service elevator doors as the walls of the basement disappear and turn into a star-field. The glowing green eyes of the idol appear in the darkness as the elevator enters the drop shaft. The elevator begins its ascent, first stopping at the hallway scene.

The elevator doors open to reveal the private apartments of the Hotel Hightower, the idol sitting on a table to center. Hightower, under a ghostly form, glowing blue, appears beside it and reaches out to touch it. At once, the idol zaps him with a bolt of green electricity, blasting him backwards into an open elevator at the opposite end of the apartments, where he drops down the shaft while that these latter fade away into a star field. The idol turns toward the guests' elevator and laughs before the doors close.

The elevator ascends another level. The doors open, revealing a large, ornate mirror. Hightower tells the guests to "wave goodbye to the real world." As they do, the lighting of the hotel is replaced with an eerie green glow as a glowing effect turns the reflections of the guests ghostly, similar to the DCA and DLRP Towers, however it should be known that the lightning strike is absent. The ghostly reflection of the riders disappears and leaves the idol alone in the empty elevator. The idol laughs menacingly at the riders, and suddenly shoots forward at them. The elevator vibrates and shakes and begins the drop sequence. The sequence is identical to the US version except the first two drops are missing (the ascent comes first) and the final drop takes place from the bottom set of doors rather than the top of the shaft.

At the end of the drop sequence, the elevator returns to the loading level, where the idol's green eyes glare from a star-field. Both elements disappear and are again replaced by the service doors through which guests entered.

Walt Disney Studios Park version[edit]

La Tour de la Terreur – Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension (English: The Tower of Terror – A Jump into the Fourth Dimension) at Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris, is based on the same designs as the version at Disney California Adventure. However, these designs were originally imagineered for the Paris park at the same time as Tokyo DisneySea's tower, and planned to open just two years after the opening of the park itself.[25]

When financial troubles again hit Disney's Parisian resort, the attraction had to be put on hold. In the meantime, it was constructed at Disney's California Adventure as an additional crowd-puller.

The attraction was finally greenlit in 2005 and was under construction right in the center of the park, behind the La Terrasse seating area, in early 2006. Upon completion, it was joined by a new themed development producing an outdoor Hollywood Boulevard of faux movie sets.[26] Unlike its American cousins, the Paris Tower was constructed using concrete rather than steel due to French construction guidelines and standards, at a total cost exceeding 180 million.[27] The Paris version opened in 2007.[9]

The Paris and California versions were originally believed to become identical versions upon completion, but some differences remain, notably the height of the building, the location of some rooms backstage as well as other differences due to construction and work regulations being stricter in France.[28]

The default language for the pre-show library video and the ride is French, but can be changed to English by the Cast Member upon request. The library video is the same as the American version, but is dubbed in French and subtitled in English.

The Twilight Zone references and design information[edit]

In an effort to be true to the spirit of The Twilight Zone, Disney Imagineers reportedly watched every episode of the original television show at least twice.[29] The attraction buildings are littered with references to Twilight Zone episodes, including:

  • In the Hollywood Tower Hotel's lobby at California Adventure, there is a door with 22 in brass numbering. This is a reference to the episode "Twenty Two".
  • In the lobby of the hotel, at California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios (Paris), on a couch sits a dusty old doll. Some say the doll is supposed to be Talky Tina from the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll," but others say is Sally Shine, the little girl in the pre-show and ride experience, from the 1997 movie Tower of Terror. Others think the doll is simply a Shirley Temple doll. Those who think the doll is a Shirley Temple doll are correct. It is in fact a Shirley Temple doll, despite reasonable suspicion that it is a Twilight Zone reference. Talky Tina can be found in the library of Disney's Hollywood Studios version in Florida.
  • The archival footage of Rod Serling used in the queue preshow is taken from the episode, "It's a Good Life".[6] Following the Twilight Zone television opening sequence, Rod Serling's opening lines in the introduction video during the queue are as follows:

    "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..."

In the original episode, "It's a Good Life," Rod Serling says " a map of the United States." In the Tower of Terror opening lines, he says " a maintenance service elevator, still in operation, waiting for you..." Mark Silverman provided the entire voice impersonation of Serling for this particular dialogue sequence for both the Walt Disney World and California Adventure versions of the ride.[6]

  • At all rides besides Tokyo's, the preshow includes the little girl holding a Mickey Mouse plush toy, along with her still holding it on the hallway scene. At California Adventure's there is a picture behind the counter in the gift shop, that is said to be of Walt Disney at a Tip Top Club party holding a Mickey Mouse plush toy as well.
  • Outside the libraries at California Adventure, in the glass case adjacent to the doors there is a gold thimble accompanied by a card that reads, "Looking for a gift for Mother? Find it in our Gift Shop!" This is a reference to the Twilight Zone episode "The After Hours."
  • In the library, the Mystic Seer machine from the episode "Nick of Time" can be seen sitting on the high shelf.
  • In the Florida library, there is the book titled To Serve Man from the episode of the same name.
  • At California Adventure, envelopes with the names Rod Serling and Victoria West can be found in both libraries, near the sliding wall, a reference to the episode "A World of His Own." In Library 1, it sticks out of the top of the green books. In Library 2, it sits in front of the books. The green books contain titles of selected Twilight Zone episodes. Other books in the libraries are in various languages from around the world, including German and Danish.
  • The trumpet from "A Passage for Trumpet" can be seen in the display while exiting the libraries.
  • The queue at both the California Adventure and the Paris venues features a reference to the Twilight Zone episode "Little Girl Lost." Chalk marks on the walls are in the same style that they were in the episode when trying to find where the portal to find the girl was. This can be found in the upper level of the boiler room next to the attraction warning signage at each of the 2 venues. Periodically the girl's voice can be heard calling out for help from the wall and from the radios around the boiler room.
  • The elevator has a plaque that says the last time the elevator was checked. Its number is 10259, which is a nod to the date October 2, 1959, the date The Twilight Zone first aired. The plaque also states the elevator was checked by Mr. Cadwallader, the sinister deal maker from the episode "Escape Clause."
  • After guests are loaded on the elevator, the needle indicating which floor the elevator is on moves past the 12th floor. This is a reference to the 9th floor in the episode "The After Hours."
  • As the ride comes to a stop in Florida, the slot machine from the Twilight Zone episode "The Fever" can be seen.
  • Upon exiting the Disneyland Paris venue, the display cases on the ground floor contain advertisements for, among other things, a "Housemaid Wanted" (a reference to the Twilight Zone episode "I Sing The Body Electric") and for "A Pair of Reading Glasses Wanted" ("Time Enough At Last.") There are some 20 advertisements of this nature at the exit of the Paris venue.
  • As the ride comes to a stop the flying saucer from the Twilight Zone episode "The Invaders" is hanging from the ceiling. The eponymous characters of that same episode can be found on display in the libraries at the Florida, California and Paris attraction.
  • Both of the elevator exit areas of the Florida ride contain a display featuring, among other things, the ventriloquist dummy "Caesar" from the Twilight Zone episode "Caesar and Me."
  • There is a display case in the photo gallery of the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney's California Adventure that contains two items relating to the "A Thing about Machines" episode. One is a typewriter (with the GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY message); the card next to it reads "Almost Writes By Itself." There is also an electric razor; its card reads "Has A Long Cord - Can Follow You Everywhere." There is also a toy telephone from the episode "Long Distance Call" with a card saying "Perfect for the children's room and those late night calls from Grandma."
  • "Picture If You Will...", a phrase Rod Serling used in more than one Twilight Zone episode, appears in the gift shop where guests can buy their on-ride photo.
  • While exiting the Disney California Adventure ride, there is a display window for "Willoughby Travel," a nod to the episode "A Stop at Willoughby."
  • In the photo gallery of the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney's California Adventure, there is a poster advertising "Anthony Fremont's Orchestra." Anthony Fremont is the young boy with god-like powers from the episode "It's a Good Life."

The ride appeared on the Disney Channel's 1994 Halloween edition of Walt Disney World Inside Out with guest star Gilbert Gottfried. Scott Herriott was the host.

Following the ride's success, Disney produced the TV film, Tower of Terror, based on the attraction in 1997, starring Steven Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst. Many shots were filmed at the Orlando theme park, while others were filmed on Burbank movie sets. As of October 2015, a theatrical film based on the ride, with a script by John August, is in the works.[30]


In the queue for the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios, music from the 1930s is played.

The ride's theme was composed by Richard Bellis,[31] and incorporates the main Twilight Zone composed by Marius Constant. The attraction's theme and can be found on several theme park albums:

  • Disneyland/Walt Disney World Music Vacation (as part of a medley)
  • Walt Disney World Resort: The Official Album (1999 CD)
  • Walt Disney World Resort: Official Album (2000 CD)
  • Official Album: Walt Disney World Resort Celebrating 100 Years of Magic (2001 CD)
  • The Official Album of the Disneyland Resort (2005 CD)
  • Disneyland Resort: Official Album (2013 CD)
  • Walt Disney World: Official Album (2013 CD)
  • Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection–Disneyland (2015 CD)

The Tokyo DisneySea version of the attraction is scored by Joel McNeely, who has released the overture on his site.

See also[edit]


  • "Operating Guideline for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure"
  1. ^ Martin, Hugo (July 23, 2016). "Tower of Terror to get superhero makeover at Disney California Adventure Park". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Rohde, Joe (July 23, 2016). "Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Coming to Disney California Adventure Park Summer 2017". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Glover, Erin (August 30, 2016). "Check Into Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Before it Checks Out of Disney California Adventure Park on January 2, 2017". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved August 30, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, The". D23. 
  5. ^ "Fun Facts of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror". 
  6. ^ a b c d Fickley-Baker, Jennifer (July 22, 2014). "20 Facts For The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror's 20th Anniversary". Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved July 29, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Disney's California Adventure Tower of Terror Secrets". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Tokyo Disney Tower of Terror Secrets". Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Disneyland Paris To Build New Rides For Both Parks". Ultimate Rollercoaster. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Tallest Buildings in Orange County". 
  11. ^ "30 Hidden Secrets on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios". 17 March 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c Twilight Zone Tower of Terror WDW HD - Ultimate Tribute. Vimeo. 
  13. ^ Taylor, Drew (23 July 2015). "13 Stories Down: On the Anniversary of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror | Disney Insider". Disney. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "Headless Horseman Haunts Mickey's Halloween Party As Halloween Time Returns to the Disneyland Resort, Sept. 9 through Oct. 31". PR Newswire. July 13, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2016. The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and is used with permission pursuant to a license from CBS, Inc. 
  15. ^ "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror WDW HD – Ultimate Tribute - Martin's Videos". 
  16. ^ Glassburn, Kelly. "MyMagic+: Video Captures Your Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Drop at Walt Disney World Resort". Disney Parks. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Glassburn, Kelly. "Photos, Videos Capture Your Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride at Walt Disney World Resort". Disney Parks. Retrieved 7 February 2015. 
  18. ^ Wallace, Sandi. "Disney PhotoPass Service Simplifies Access to Walt Disney World Photos, Videos". Disney Parks. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "Main Street Electrical Parade Returns to Walt Disney World Resort This Summer". Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  20. ^ "UPDATED (2:41pm) Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Summer Nightastic drop profile details". 
  21. ^ "Tower of Terror to close for 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Ride". ABC 7 News, Chicago. September 12, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016. 
  22. ^ a b "Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride closing at Disneyland". ABC 5 News, Boston. Aug 31, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Disneyland removes sign to Tower of Terror, signaling switch to Guardians of the Galaxy". San Jose Mercury News. September 21, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016. 
  24. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (November 19, 2016). "Disney: 'Avatar' land to open next summer at Animal Kingdom". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 20, 2016. 
  25. ^ The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Around The World) - 15th Anniversary - Disneyland Resort Paris | DLRP Magic!
  26. ^ DLRP Today | Hollywood Boulevard
  27. ^ "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror". DLP Guide - Disneyland Paris at the click of a mouse!. 
  28. ^ "Spotting the details of a Twilight Zone redux". DLP Today. 
  29. ^ "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Hollywood Studios Attractions - Walt Disney World Resort". Walt Disney World. 
  30. ^ ‘Tower Of Terror’ Getting Movie Treatment; Venerable Disney Theme Park Fright Ride Deadline, Retrieved October 23, 2015
  31. ^ "Richard Bellis :: Filmography". 

External links[edit]