- “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 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.”
- ―Rod Serling
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (or simply, just The Tower of Terror) is a simulated freefall drop tower thrill ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California and at Walt Disney Studios Park inParis, France. It is based on the classic anthology television seriesThe Twilight Zone and is hosted by the series' creator and host, Rod Serling.
The original incarnation of the attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 1994, with the California version opening ten years later and the Paris version in 2007. A similar attraction that dropped the Twilight Zone theme opened at Tokyo DisneySea in Japan in 2006. Opening to rave reviews and hailed as an instant classic upon release, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has become one of the most popular Disney attractions of all-time. Its popularity even spawned a 1997 TV film, becoming the first theme park ride to have a film adaptation.
In the attraction's premise, inspired by themes of the television series, guests visit the legendary Hollywood Tower Hotel. Once a lively resort for the Hollywood elite, it closed after a disastrous accident where lightning had struck the building, causing several wings of the hotel to vanish and kill five people in an elevator that plummeted on October 31st, 1939. The hotel, now dilapidated and haunted, has mysteriously "reopened" having guests experience the events of that fateful night aboard one of the basement freight elevators as they go on a bizarre, frightening journey through the Twilight Zone.
The hotel's exterior features a big, blackened scorch mark across the front of the facade where lightning had struck that eerily glows purple at night. Elevator doors leading to the missing floors of the building are exposed, opening and closing upon the arrival of screaming riders. All of the cast members wear a costume that resembles a 1930's bellhop. At over one thousand (US) dollars per uniform, it is the most expensive costume in the entire chain.
At 199 feet, it is the second tallest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort, shorter only than Expedition: Everest's 199.5 feet. (From 1999 to 2007, the Tower of Terror was third tallest, as the wand decorating Spaceship Earth temporarily added 41 feet to that 180-foot tall attraction.) 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.Imagineers thought that the beacon would take away from the hotel's 1939 theme, but still wanted to make the tower as tall as possible. At the Disneyland Resort, the 183-foot attraction is the tallest attraction at the resort, as well as the tallest building in Anaheim.
With the demolition of the Sorcerer's Hat, the Florida version of the attraction appears has been promoted to park icon status in promotional material and the My Magic Plus app, though other materials and merchandise suggest this status is being shared with the Earful Tower.
CBS licenses the rights to The Twilight Zone™ to the Disney Theme Parks.
While retaining the same exact concept and theme of the original attraction in Florida, the version at Disney California Adventure Park does have some differences.
In order to conserve space and money, Imagineers redesigned the entire ride system for the west coast incarnation of the attraction 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. Doing this made it easier to repair individual areas of the attraction without causing the entire attraction to go down.
Each shaft has two vehicles and two loading levels. It is designed so that the lower vehicle can be in profile while the upper vehicle is loading, making the attraction much more efficient. Since each vehicle loads and unloads from the same point, it also saves space. Since this system works so much more efficiently, it is the system used in both the Paris and Tokyo versions of the ride as well.
When the show cycle starts, the vehicle pushes backwards away from the elevator door while a starfield appears around it and a purple spiral appears on the doors. The voice of Rod Serling says "You are the passengers of a most uncommon elevator, 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". A door closes, placing riders in darkness as the elevator rises.
The first stop for the elevator is a hallway with a large mirror. Rod Serling tells the riders to "wave goodbye to the real world". As they do, lightning strikes and electricity begins to arc around the mirror and the reflection of the riders is replaced by a ghostly silhouette of themselves. The passengers' reflection then disappears as Serling says "For you have just entered...The Twilight Zone!" This is actually a thermal-mirror, which shuts off to reveal the dummy vehicle behind it. The elevator door closes as it moves to the next show scene.
As the door reopens, it reveals a corridor of the hotel, with an elevator door located on the far end of it. Here, Serling says "What happened here to dim the lights of Hollywood's brightest showplace is about to unfold once again", which is followed by an appearance of the ghosts of the 5 passengers. Electricity courses through the hallway after their disappearance as Serling says "One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare." The hallway slowly fades away into a starfield with the lost passengers standing in the now-open elevator that was at the end of the hallway. Serling then says "That door is opening once again, but this time, it's opening for you." The haunted elevator then drops.
A second later, the guests' elevator begins its drop sequence: a drop from the show scene to the first floor, then a rise to the "13th" floor. After flashing strobe lights and the photo opportunity, the elevator has a short drop, followed by a longer one, then a rise that goes 2/3 of the way up to the top and an immediate fall down to "B3." The lights flicker as the elevator goes all the way back up to the top. It is then that the top floor doors open and you are treated to a sky-high overview of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.
It pauses there for a moment and falls into place between the load levels (so that both load levels give the same ride) and a door opens again and you see an elevator door. The vehicle begins moving toward the door. The Twilight Zone theme begins to play again as Rod Serling says "The next time you check into a deserted hotel on the dark side of Hollywood, be sure you know just what kind of vacancy you're filling or you may find yourself a permanent resident...of The Twilight Zone."
The door opens and the guests disembark from the ride vehicle, making their way to the Tower Hotel Gifts shop.
For the Disneyland Resort's HalloweenTime events, the exterior of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure receives special sound and lighting effects.
Saturday, July 23, 2016, The Walt Disney Company officially announced via YouTube video that the attraction would be closed and replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Break-Out! The announcement video was hosted by Disney Imagineer, Joe Rohde.
- ↑ http://wdwnt.com/blog/2016/07/editorial-why-tower-of-terror-closing-at-california-adventure-really-doesnt-matter/
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDOz8JzUCPI
- ↑ http://thedisneyblog.com/2016/09/20/tower-terror-signed-removed-disney-california-adventure/
- ↑ http://www.insidethemagic.net/2016/09/video-hollywood-tower-hotel-sign-has-been-removed-from-the-twilight-zone-tower-of-terror-at-disney-california-adventure/
- ↑ http://www.insidethemagic.net/2017/01/a-brief-history-of-the-hollywood-tower-hotel-aka-the-twilight-zone-tower-of-terror-on-its-final-day-at-disney-california-adventure/