Go back in time and visit the Hollywood Tower Hotel's top 13th floor before ending up “dropping” all the way into the Twilight Zone
The Hollywood Tower Hotel stands proud in the middle of the Walt Disney Studios Park showing off its wonderful Art-Deco style to all approaching guests, trying to lurk them inside to explore the remains of the once gorgeous busy hotel. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction can be seen from all over the park (and even from far outside) and will have you gaze at its impressive posture. Can you see the missing bricks and the blackened and charred Neon sign on the building? Let this be a warning that the Tower Hotel isn't what it used to be, a relaxing holiday resort from the past. Need some more warning signs? Then listen to the screams that you can hear loud and clear coming from the building. And there are more signs of warning, one that cannot be overlooked, and one that will transform right in front of your eyes from “Hollywood Tower Hotel” to the warning words “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”. Scared yet?
But let's be honest, scared or not, how can you not be wondering what goes on inside the Tower of Terror and before you know it you will be in the queue yourself to see what all the screaming is about.
The big doors of the hotel are open wide, inviting guest to come in and look at the beautiful interior of this amazing place. But once inside you will see that most of the beauty is hidden behind cobwebs and dust. Everything seems perfect in place, but covered with the webs of the newest inhabitants. It looks like time stood still since that fateful event back in 1939. An event that made everybody leave the hotel, leaving everything behind. An unfinished card game on the table, an open book left by one of the guests, coats and bags left behind. All has remained untouched since that Halloween night.
The hotel is not completely abounded as a hotel bell boy is waiting for you in the hotel's and accompanies you to the library where your nightmare will begin. Once you gathered on the library's carpet with the other guests, a television set pops on and an old black and white TV-series start to run. But this time you'll become the star of this series better known as... The Twilight Zone.
"Hollywood, 1939. Amid the glitz and the glitter of a bustling, young movie town at the height of its golden age, The Hollywood Tower Hotel was a star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite. Now, something is about to happen that will change all that." On the Television a storm is brewing and at its peak sends a lightning bolt straight towards the building and as a result made some of its guests disappear forever...
But the story continues "The time is now on an evening very much like the one we have just witnessed. Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction." an service elevator is shown on the television set "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."
Once the story is over the doors on the other side of the library opens and your invited to walk on into the boiler room of the hotel. Here the service elevator will be ready to take you straight up to the 13th floor for a short visit.
Once you taken a seat in the elevator you are ready for an adventure. It all starts slow with a first stop looking straight into a hotel corridor. A Hughes mirror shows a reflection of you and your fellow hotel visitors, but it doesn't take long before something spooky happens and your reflections turn into ghostly figures before disappearing completely. No time to wonder where you and your friends have gone as the elevator doors close again before opening at another corridor. On this second corridor you are greeted by the people that disappeared so many years ago. They want you to follow them to the eerie world they live in now, the twilight zone. But before you can join them you'll have a last chance to see the corridor change into a magnificent star field. This is the quiet before the storm and your last chance to gasp for air because once the doors close again you will be in for a scary trip.
You know it's coming, but you'll never be prepared as you shoot up to the top of the tower knowing the only way after that is down again. This time it is you they will hear scream as you go up and down the elevator shaft. Up on the top you will have second to enjoy the magnificent view, while second later you drop back into the darkness before propelling back up again. Once you're up there again, you know you'll have to go down again. Keep on screaming, everybody can hear you, but nobody will be able to help as the elevator has a mind of its own, toying with you until the final drop.
"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."
Remember those words when you exit the elevator. They are a warning that should keep you away from the haunted hotel. But do you really want to stay away? Or do you want to go again for another trip into the Twilight Zone.
If you want to avoid waiting in a long queue area of the Tower of Terror attraction, make sure to get yourself a FastPass. The FastPass machines are located on the right hand side of the building. The machines are well integrated into the theme of the hotel as they appear to be big over-sized travel trunks?
Are you a fearless thrill junkie? Ask for the end row middle seat where there is no seat in front of you. No place to hold on when you drop inside the elevator.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride vehicle secures guests using belts that you pull over your lap and buckle up on the other side. These belts get locked before the ride takes motion. Want to experience some extra airtime during the ride? Give some extra length when you buckle up and wait for the lock before releasing the belt. That will leave you some extra room to get “off” your seat during the drops.
Is the Tower of Terror attractions to scary for some members of your party but you don't want to wait outside or you would love to see the inside of the building? Then you can join and opt out just before your places are allocated in front of the elevator doors. There is some really nice stuff to see inside the hotel, even if you don't want to ride. After that you can make a quick gateway (with the help of a Cast Member), but you will have to endure some “chicken” sounds when other guests see you take that route. Or you could just wait into the gift shop, a great place to meet up with those that survived the Twilight Zone. But it can get crowded in here, especially when it rains.
Both narrations used during the attraction are available in French and English. Mostly the French versions are played but these can be changed by the Cast Members.
The French name of the Tower of Terror is La Tour de la Terreur - Un Saut dans la Quatrième Dimension. This translates as “The Tower of Terror - A Jump into the forth Dimension”. This might seem a strange choice as the series was always known as the Fifth Dimension in France.
The Tower of Terror Paris version opened on December 22, 2007.
The Walt Disney Studios Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction was the second one designed by the Imagineers but unfortunately didn't make it into the park as planned because of the financial situation of the Paris Parks. Instead an empty spot remained in the middle of the park with some indications of a Tower attraction to arrive in the future. At the end the Walt Disney Studios lost that second spot, as the next Tower was build in Disney California Adventure. There was no need to create a new concept or plans as the Imagineers could just use the ready Walt Disney Studios version and build it right in DCA. The second Tower opened on May 5th 2004 while Paris would have to wait a couple of extra years before it would get the its own tower. Paris got its green light for the project in 2005 and Imagineers could again start on planning the attraction. The Paris version did get some new designs by the Imagineers and a couple of more additions to both the interior as well as the exterior of the building. Especially the exterior could benefit from the extra years as more theme-ing was added to give the damage of the lightning a more realistic look with brick appearing from underneath the damaged plaster. One other big difference is that the DCA version is constructed around a steel frame while the Paris version is in fact a solid concrete building.
The Paris version of the Tower of Terror price tag exceeds €180 million.
The Paris Park didn't only loose out on being the second, but also lost the third spot as Tokyo DisneySea was able to not only get their Tower sooner, but also create a whole new concept. Tokyo's version opened back on September 4th, 2006. The Tokyo version has no Twilight Zone theme or storyline. This was done so the Oriental Land Company, the company that owns and operates the Disney Parks in Japan, could avoid paying for the license to both Disney and CBS for using the Twilight Zone name. Instead they created a whole new back story that involves the creation of a new character named Harrison Hightower, a hotel builder who traveled the world collecting thousands of artifacts whom he mostly stole for personal gain. You can imagine one of these treasures had to be cursed and Harrison Hightower would be the victim of that curse during his “last” elevator ride in his hotel. The story goes on with guest coming on a tour to the hotel to see the remains, but will get some haunted action instead. The ride is identical to the DCA and Paris version but has one distinct change. Riders will have restrains that are being fastened over the shoulder as well as the waist, just like in a car. This takes away a lot of the effect you will get in the other Towers where you will lift of your site multiple times during the drops.
The First Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened in the Disney Hollywood Studios (still MGM studios back then) on July 22nd, 1994. During its run more random drop sequences have been added so regular riders will never know what to expect first, going up or down. The drop sequences are controlled by computers and can be adapted at any time with little downtime for the attraction. With some small changes this same effect could be added to the Paris version. When the Tower of Terror in Paris opened, only one drop sequence was set.
There are some significant differences between the Walt Disney World version and the Paris version. The first notable difference is the queue area. The Hollywood Studios version has a big magnificent queue area that really takes advantage of the gardens build in front of the Tower. The path is filled with greenery, but also has statues and other decorative areas. The US version has a long path around the garden while the Paris version has a queue area that quickly turns into a switchback area where people walk side to side for well over 30 minutes on busy days. Although the Paris version does show of some nice garden features it cannot be compared to the beautiful queue area in the Hollywood Studios.
The Paris versions ride experience has also some big differences compared to the Walt Disney World version. The Hollywood Studios version at WDW has not one but two lift shafts. The first one will take riders up to some story sequences in anticipation of the actual drop attraction. Once the guests go up for the first time the doors open and a corridor is shown where you will see the guests that disappeared so many years ago in the elevator accident. They all fade away and the room turns into a star field showing a window at the back of that same room that shatters before the elevator doors close. Moving up another floor the doors open again and the elevator enters what is known as the 5th dimension. The elevator moves horizontally trough the attraction, something that is completely missing in the Paris version. Guests at WDW will move through the fifth dimension with scenes from the well known TV show projected on the sides. At the end of the fifth dimension a thin straight light that outlines the door to the second lift shaft appears. Once the doors open and you move into the lift shaft you'll know what to expect.
With the second lift shaft not available in the Paris version the loading had to be adapted too. In this case 2 ride vehicles are placed on two floors. While one is loading the other one will be pushed back into the lift. Therefore the loading needs to take place on two levels, dividing the boiler room basement in two sub levels so to say. Let's call them -1 and -2, however it does feel weird leaving the library and then go up the stairs into the basement.
Calling the Tower of Terror a free fall tower would be wrong as you don't really fall down but are really pulled down. This is done to get the feeling of flying freely of your seat, giving the experience that extra dimension. This pull force is larger than the G force and is needed to get the effect of “leaving” your seat.
Riders need to be at least 1.02 m tall and expected mothers should not ride.