This weekend, we celebrate the anniversary of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The attraction opened on this day, July 22, in 1994. Later, the Disneyland Resort version of the ride opened in Disney California Adventure on May 5, 2004. Today we discuss the ride’s history and trivia as so many guests enjoy this thrilling attraction on their Disney vacations.
The idea for the Tower of Terror came from the need to have a major “E-ticket” attraction at then MGM Studios (now named Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The idea of a drop-shaft ride came up and was chosen. There had been 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 progressed into development.
Imagineers ended up taking inspiration from Rod Serling’s anthology stories featured in The Twilight Zone. They mused that the attraction would be able to take guests into the Fifth Dimension that Serling always described as unlocking in every episode of the series. The team settled on a 1930s-era Hollywood hotel with a Twilight Zone theme and got to work.
- 1.) Walt Disney Imagineers viewed 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” for inspiration when creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
- 2.) The ride vehicle is an elevator car.
- 3.) The storyline of the attraction sets the date as Halloween night – October 31, 1939.
4.) The architecture of the tower was inspired by multiple Southern California landmarks, such as the Biltmore Hotel and the Mission Inn.
- 5.) The building features 27,000 roof tiles.
- 6.) The outdoor queue area features the songs “Inside” by Fats Waller and “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington.
- 7.) The grounds of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were inspired by the look of California’s Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
- 8.)The lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was outfitted with antiques and furniture purchased at Los Angeles-area auction houses.
- 9.) Some of the sculptures featured in the lobby are the work of 19th century sculptor Auguste Moreau.
- 10.) A copy of “Four Pages of Hilarious Star Caricatures by Walt Disney” is featured in Photoplay Magazine on the lobby’s concierge desk.
- 11.) The Library room features a hidden nod to Mickey Mouse in this sheet music, which is for the song “What! No Mickey Mouse?”
- 12.) The clip of film in which Rod Serling introduces the attraction was taken from a “Twilight Zone” episode called “It’s a Good Life.”
- 13.) While actor Rod Serling appears in the film in the Library room, the voice you hear is actually voice actor Mark Silverman.
- 14.) The young girl who disappears in the elevator carries a Mickey Mouse doll.
- 15.) The attraction’s “Fifth Dimension” scene inspired in part by the “Little Girl Lost” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
- 16.) The attraction offers a 13-story drop.
- 17.) The drop sequence for each elevator car is selected at random by the attraction’s computer system.
- 18.) Measuring 199 feet tall, Tower of Terror is one of the tallest attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.
- 19.) There are now three Tower of Terror attractions at Disney Parks: Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World Resort), Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris), and Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo) each have their own version. The version at Disney California Adventure was re-themed to Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout!
- 20.) Otis Elevators was involved in the ride’s creation. Disney called in the elevator experts to help create the attraction. Otis Elevators has been outfitting buildings across the world since 1853. Part of the ride is a self-driving car.
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