The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
TowerOfTerror MGM
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Land Sunset Boulevard
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Attraction type Drop tower
Theme The Twilight Zone
Opening date July 22, 1994
Hosted by Rod Serling (voice of Mark Silverman)
Music Richard Bellis (attraction)
Marius Constant and Bernard Hermann (original music)
Vehicle type Service elevator
Vehicle capacity 21
Ride duration 3:10 minutes
Total height 199 ft (60.7 m)
Number of lifts 4
Tagline(s) "Never the same fear twice, the tower is in control!"

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, more commonly known as Tower of Terror, is a drop tower thrill ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's California Adventure Park, and Walt Disney Studios Park. It is based upon the television show The Twilight Zone. The original version of the attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in July 1994, with the California Adventure version opening nearly ten years later, in May 2004. The Tokyo DisneySea version—named simply "Tower of Terror" and featuring a modified storyline—opened in September 2006, followed by the Walt Disney Studios Park version in April 2008.

The attraction takes place in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel (itself inspired by the Hollywood Tower, named a historic landmark by the US Department of the Interior). The story of the hotel, adapted from elements of the television series, includes the hotel being struck by lightning on October 31, 1939, mysteriously transporting an elevator cart full of passengers to the Twilight Zone and causing an entire wing of the building to disappear. The exterior of the attraction resembles an old hotel with a blackened scorch mark across the front of the façade where the lightning struck it. All of the cast members wear a costume that resembles that of a 1930s bellhop. At over USD$1000 per uniform, it is the most expensive costume in the various theme parks.[1]

At 199 feet, it is the second tallest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort, shorter only than Expedition Everest's 199.5 feet. The Tower of Terror is 199 feet high at Walt Disney World because of FAA regulations that require a fixed red light beacon to be added to the top of any 200-foot or taller building[2]. Imagineers thought that the beacon would take away from the hotel's 1939 theme. At the Disneyland Resort, the 183-foot attraction is the tallest attraction at the resort, as well as the tallest building in Anaheim[3]. In Disneyland Resort Paris it is the second tallest attraction, although when aloft, the Jules Verne-themed "Panoramagique" tethered balloon attraction climbs over 200 feet.

Queue and pre-show

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror--Hotel Lobby

In the Lobby

In the American and European versions of the attraction, guests enter the hotel through the main entrance gate. The outdoor queue winds itself through the overgrown gardens of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and leads to the lobby. Inside the lobby, it is dark and the whole place is covered in dust. There is a yellowing copy of the Los Angeles Examiner dated October 31, 1939, a table set with tea and stale pastries, several suitcases, and a cobwebbed owl sculpture surrounded by a circle of dead flowers that appears to be the centerpiece of the room. Behind the front desk is the broken elevator, its sliding doors having slid off their grooves. A sign still reads "Out of Order". Everything in the hotel has apparently been left undisturbed ever since it closed decades ago. Guests are informed that their rooms are not quite ready yet. For the time being, guests are asked to simply enjoy themselves in the hotel's library. The library is full of not only books, but exotic antiques, a television, and plenty of Twilight Zone memorabilia. Through the window, guests can observe that there is a thunderstorm going on outside. Lightning strikes and the television comes on, apparently of its own accord. The opening sequence of Season 4 of The Twilight Zone plays, followed by a supposedly "lost" episode hosted by Rod Serling. Serling explains the mysterious events that caused the hotel to close back in 1939: the elevator full of passengers have been transported to the Twilight Zone when the lightning struck the hotel. He also mentions that one elevator in the hotel is still in working condition: the service elevator in the basement boiler room. He invites the guests, if they dare, to board the elevator and discover the secret of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. With that, the television shuts off and a back exit from the library opens. The guests exit and go to the boiler room, where they wait until the elevator is ready for them. In order to achieve the weightless effect the Imagineers desired, cables attached to the bottom of the elevator car actually pull it down at a speed slightly faster than what a free-fall in gravity would provide. Two enormous motors are located at the top of the tower. The motors are 12 feet tall, 35 feet long, and weigh 132,000 pounds. They are able to accelerate 10 tons 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.

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.[4] The attraction buildings are littered with references to Twilight Zone episodes.

Following the ride's success, in 1997 Disney produced a film based on the attraction, starring Steven Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst. Very few shots were filmed at the Orlando theme park, most of them were shot on Burbank movie sets.

Disney's Hollywood Studios version

Technical details

The ride system of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios employs specialized technology developed specifically for Disney, particularly the ability to move the vehicle in and out of the vertical motion shaft. The elevator cabs are self-propelled automated ride 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 onto the drop shaft. After the elevator cab has completed its profile, it propels itself to the unload dock and then back to the show shaft. The Floridian ride system runs on a unique loop system, although this is not as efficient as the newer "franchise" version used in California, Paris, and Tokyo [citation needed].

Florida's version of the ride is the original version of the ride and opened July 22, 1994.

First ascent

In this version of the attraction, Rod Serling greets passengers the moment the elevator doors close, saying, "You are the passengers on a most uncommon elevator about to ascend directly into your very own episode of The Twilight Zone." The elevator rises for a few seconds before coming to its first stop.


Five people appeared as ghosts.

The doors open to reveal a long, dimly-lit hotel corridor with a single window at the opposite end. A violent thunderstorm is raging and lightning flashes outside the window. Ghostly images of the five doomed guests from 1939 appear for a moment, then vanish in a burst of electricity. (These ghostly images, while thought to be holograms, are actually a classic example of a Pepper's ghost effect. Other Pepper's ghost effects at the Walt Disney World Resort include ones inside the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom). The corridor disappears, but the window remains and morphs into a creepier black-and-white version and shatters (like in the opening segment of each episode).

Fifth Dimension scene

The elevator doors close and the car continues its ascent. Serling's voice continues 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 an endless 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 bizarre collection of sights and sounds and starfields, once again in the style of the television show's opening sequence. A rendition of The Twilight Zone opening sequence 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. 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

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 will open to reveal a view of the park from a height of about 170 feet. The back of the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" sign partially obstructs the view.

In the years since the attraction's initial opening, a randomized pattern 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 blacklit 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 differed experience. The ride was reprogrammed most recently in its fourth conversion. The result of the reprogramming is that the ride system allows for any number of randomized drops and lifts. Regardless of the number of randomized drops in lifts, each drop sequence always features one "faux drop" meant to startle the riders, and one complete drop through the entire tower. Since each trip results in a unique drop sequence, Florida's slogan for the ride is "Never the Same Fear Twice!" and "The Tower is in Control!"

After a series of these drops have been made, the second corridor when returning to the basement is the opening for the third season of the Twilight Zone. Then Rod 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." The ride vehicle returns to the basement of the decrepit Hollywood Tower Hotel and guests exit the elevator.

Twilight Zone references and design information

  • The opening lines and appearance in the introduction video during the queue
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, Rod Serling says " of the United States." In the Tower of Terror opening lines, the line instead is "...maintenance service elevator, still in operation, waiting for you. We invite you if you dare to step aboard because, in tonight's episode, you are the star. And this elevator travels directly to...the Twilight Zone." The opening line is a modified version of the introduction from the episode "It's a Good Life."

  • 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."
  • The queue at California Adventure features a reference to the Twilight Zone episode "Little Girl Lost." Chalk marks on the wall are in the same place 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. Periodically the girl's voice can be heard calling out for help from the wall and from the radios around the boiler room.
  • Outside the libraries at DCA, 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."
  • 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."
  • In the lobby of the hotel on a dusty couch sits Talky Tina from the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll," at California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios (Paris).
  • In the library, the Mystic Seer machine from the episode "Nick of Time" can be seen sitting on the high shelf.
  • At DCA, 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.
  • In the hotel Lobby at California Adventure, there is a door with 22 in brass numbering. This is a reference to the episode "Twenty Two".
  • The trumpet from "A Passage for Trumpet" can be seen in the display while exiting the libraries.
  • As the ride comes to a stop in Florida the slot machine from the Twilight Zone episode "The Fever" can also be seen.
  • As the ride comes to a stop the flying saucer from the Twilight Zone episode "The Invaders" is hanging from the ceiling.
  • At all rides beside Tokyo's, the preshow includes the little girl holding a Mickey Mouse plush toy, along with her still holding it in the hallway scene. At DCA's there is a picture of a man, who is said to be Walt Disney, behind the counter in the gift shop of him at a Tip Top Club party holding a Mickey Mouse plush toy as well.
  • 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, which is the date The Twilight Zone first aired and was checked by Mr. Cadwallader, the sinister deal maker from the episode "Escape Clause."
  • "Picture If You Will..." is at the Hotel Gift Shop where you can buy your on-ride photo, something Rod Serling would say in the Twilight Zone episodes.
  • In the Florida library, there is the book titled To Serve Man from the episode of the same name.
  • After guests are loaded on the elevator, the needle to indicate what floor the elevator is on moves past the 12th floor. This is a reference to the 9th floor and the episode "The After Hours".


In the queue for the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios, music from the 30s is played.

The ride's theme was conducted by Richard Bellis,[5] and can be found on several theme park albums:

See also


  • "Operating Guideline for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure"

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Disney Parks Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

DisneyWiki wordmark This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from the The Disney Wiki. The list of authors can be seen in the page revision history (view authors). As with the Disney Parks Wiki, the text of The Disney Wiki is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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