Tower of Terror (film)

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For the 1941 film, see Tower of Terror (1941 film). Also not to be confused with A Night in Terror Tower.
Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror VideoCover.png
Tower of terror video cover
Directed by D. J. MacHale
Produced by Iain Paterson
Written by D. J. MacHale
Based on Disney's The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Starring Steve Guttenberg
Kirsten Dunst
Alastair Duncan
Melora Hardin
John Franklin
Wendy Worthington
Amzie Strickland
Lindsay Ridgeway
Nia Peeples
Michael McShane
Music by Louis Febre
Cinematography Stephen McNutt
Edited by Barry Zetlin
Zaloom/Mayfield Productions
Walt Disney Television
Distributed by ABC
Release dates
  • October 26, 1997 (1997-10-26)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Tower of Terror is a 1997 made-for-TV supernatural thriller directed by D. J. MacHale. It is based on the theme park attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and was originally a presentation of The Wonderful World of Disney. It is also Disney's first film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks, though it's also the only adaptation to be made for television rather than being made as a theatrical film.

Unlike the theme park ride, the film has no connection to any incarnation of The Twilight Zone.

Much of the film was shot at the actual attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The rest was filmed on a closed stage in Hollywood, California.


The film begins on Halloween night 1939, revolving around the fate of five people - singer Carolyn Crosson, her boyfriend Gilbert London, child actress Sally Shine (who is modeled after child actress, Shirley Temple),[1] her nanny Emeline Partridge, and bellhop Dewey Todd. They were invited to be at the Tip Top Party located on the hotel's twelfth floor. The elevator suddenly got stuck at the eleventh floor, then at exactly 8:05 pm, lightning strikes the building which causes the elevator to collapse, and the five people mysteriously vanish.

The scene then travels to almost sixty years later, when newspaper reporter Buzzy Crocker and his niece Anna meet up with an old woman named Abigail Gregory. Abigail claims that Emeline Partridge, nanny of child actress Sally Shine, orchestrated the incident through an evil spell because she was annoyed over the girl's spoiled attitude. However, the spell backfired, trapping the guests as ghosts in the earthly realm inside the hotel. Abigail says she can reverse the spell if the elevator is repaired and the team finds something that belonged to each of the hotel guests, then repeat the guests' actions in the elevator on Halloween. This will free the ghosts from the hotel. They then enlist the help of Chris "Q" Todd, a car mechanic and Dewey's grandson, who, despite being initially reluctant, volunteers to help his deceased grandfather and the four other guests.

The team realize that Abigail was the one responsible for the disappearance of the hotel guests on the elevator, including her younger sister Sally, born Sally Gregory,[2] out of personal vendetta and jealousy against her sister's booming career. The final straw being the party, to which she wasn't invited, having been set on her birthday, which no one remembered. Buzzy then realizes that what they did actually gave Abigail the means to complete her spell. The team then rushes back to the hotel, but they are too late.

Meanwhile, the ghosts board the elevator. Anna rushes in as well, trying to keep them from boarding. Sally manages to run out of the elevator, joining the living, but Anna gets trapped as the passenger elevator moves up. They then confront Abigail, who then tearfully admits her wrongdoing.[3] Meanwhile, the elevator continues to move up, only to once again get stuck on the eleventh floor, with only minutes left before history repeats itself. Sally, wondering what the commotion was about, joins the group, and Abigail gets frightened. When asked by Buzzy what would she say to Abigail, Sally says that the whole party was meant to be a surprise birthday for her older sister, and apologizes for not being able to get to the party. Sally even kept the present she wanted to give to Abby, a bracelet with their names on it, but couldn't since she could not get to the party. Abby, Buzzy, Jill, Q and Sally then board the service elevator, catching up with the others on the eleventh floor. Anna manages to escape from an emergency escape hatch, rejoining Buzzy and the others in their elevator. At exactly 8:05pm, the lightning strikes the hotel again, and both elevators plummet downwards. Amidst the chaos, Sally forgives her sister, and as they hold hands, they both turn into a shower of gold dust, breaking the curse and stopping both elevators just as they were about to hit the ground floor.

The groups are saved, and they all go to the Tip-Top Club on the top floor, restored to its former glory. One by one, the ghosts then ascend to Heaven, along with the other partygoers. Abigail, young once more, appears, meeting up once more with her sister, and thanks her for the present. The Gregory sisters then join hands and vanish into the night, breaking the curse on the hotel. With the spell broken, the Tower is re-opened to the public, with Q taking charge.


See also[edit]


  • Dewey Todd appears in D.J. MacHale's 2003 novel, The Never War, book 3 of his series The Pendragon Adventure. The Manhattan Tower Hotel is also a major setting, the sister to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Additionally, in The Pilgrims of Rayne, Dewey Todd is reported missing as he was in an elevator in the Hollywood Tower Hotel the moment it was struck by lightning.
  1. ^ The way Sally dresses in the film and in the ride, as well as her hair style, suggests of an allusion to Shirley Temple. Also it is implied in one scene that Sally also had a line of dolls based on her likeness, a parallel to the real life Shirley having a doll line of her own.
  2. ^ Since Abigail had been in the sanitarium one year after her sister's disappearance, she has never been married to anyone, so it is indirectly revealed that the child star's real name is Sally Gregory.
  3. ^ Abigail Gregory: "I.... I couldn't sing. And I couldn't dance."

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