Secrets of the Tower of Terror

Facts

Opening Date July 22, 1994

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ (second show enhancement- double drop) May, 1996.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™: Fear Every Drop! (third show enhancement) March 1, 1999.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (fourth show enhancement - new drop sequence places the computers in control of the ride experience, making each ride sequence random) December 31, 2002.

The entrance to the ride is on the first floor and the exit is in the basement.

Guests embark upon an eerie journey through a deserted Hollywood Hotel where they visit the lobby, the library (to view Rod Serling on television), and the boiler room. The adventure culminates with a 13-story drop in a runaway 1917 caged service elevator in which guests take a death-defying, high-speed plunge.

Minimum height requirement of 40" (102 cm); For safety, you should be in good health & free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

Ride System: Elevator car (The capacity per elevator is twenty two passengers.)

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.

Statistics:

  • Building materials:
    1,500 tons of steel
    145,800 cubic feet of concrete
    27,000 roof tiles
  • Height: At 199 feet tall, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™is one of the tallest theme park attraction at the WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort. (One foot under restrictions that would have placed a flashing red light on top of the Tower for Air Traffic reasons).
  • Show Time: 5 minutes
  • Speed:The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ is one of the most unique thrill attractions at any of the Disney theme parks. This is because the rate at which your speed increases is literally faster than the acceleration due to gravity. The top speed is 39MPH.
  • Budgets of the Tower of Terrors:
    • Tower of Terror (Disneyland Paris): $180 Million
    • Tower of Terror (Disney-MGM Studios): $140 million
    • Tower of Terror (Disneyland): $ 70-90 million
    • Tower of Terror (Tokyo Disney): $ 160 million

Hidden Mickeys

Images of MICKEY MOUSE have been hidden throughout the attraction by mischievous Imagineers. During the entire show, for example, the little girl is holding a MICKEY MOUSE doll.

Also, look for the famous silhouette of three circles along the balcony railing just before you enter the building and as a water stain on the wall in the boiler room.

Although probably not intentional, the bell for the elevator above Rod Serling's head in the Library film also bears a resemblance to those famous mouse ears.

A reference to Mickey Mouse can also be seen in sheet music in the Echo Library which is a copy of actual music written in the 1930s (titled, "no mickey mouse? what kind of party is this?").

In the Fifth Dimension scene on the Foxtrot side, the swirling stars form a Hidden Mickey just before they disappear.

Secrets

Walt Disney Imagineers screened each of the 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone at least twice to capture the mood of the television series. Many episodes were screened three or four times and studied in regard to props, guest stars, settings, and music for inspiration, as well as to find the most representative quotes and characteristic phrases used by Serling in his role as host of the show.

In the load area out side of the elevator there is an inspection certificate that is dated October 31, 1939. It is also signed by "Cadwallader", who is a character is the Twilght Zone's "Escape Clause". It turns out that he is the devil. Also the certificate number is 10259, which stands for October 2, 1959. The date the first Twilight Zone episode premiered.

On the directory in The Hollywood Tower Hotel lobby, some of the letters that have fallen off spell "evil Tower U R doomed".

The motors that are used in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are three times more powerful than those that were used in the World Trade Center.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was struck by lightning during construction.

By the concierge desk in the hotel lobby, there is a 13-diamond award from AAA. In reality, the real AAA award system only goes up to 5 diamonds.

The room numbers in the Corridor Scene are 414-426.

The footage in the library video in which Rod Serling appears was taken from the episode "It's a Good Life." In the episode, Rod says, "This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States."

The Hollywood Tower Hotel has a plaque on the outside that indicates it was established in 1917.

The luggage in the lobby is a complete set made from genuine alligator skin.

While looking through a 1930s furniture catalog, Imagineers decided to call the company to see if they were still in business. They were, and Walt Disney Imagineering had them reproduce two settees for the lobby.

Ride engineers tested 33 versions of the Tower of Terror before coming up with what they felt was the best and most thrilling attraction.

It is said that Imagineers had mahjongg players set up the game in the lobby so guests who know how to play the game can see that it is authentic.

The corridor scene uses an old theater trick called "Pepper's Ghost" where an image is projected using a mirror onto glass (a variation of Pepper's Ghost as in the past, the images are projected onto a scrim(a thin, translucent screen)) to make the image look as though it's right in front of you when it's actually off to the side. This is the same effect that had been used in the Haunted Mansion attraction for years before this.

Disney Imagineers have calculated that if both towers were to drop at the same time that Rock'n Roller Coaster launched it would bring down the Studio's power grid. This is prevented because the Imagineering department decided to build a power sub-station that services just this section of the park.

There is a dummy room near the top of the hotel. At night you can see a light in the window where there looks like there is a room. It's really just a light but no real room.

Room 259 in the Tower of Terror is the motor room. It is room 259 because it is 259 feet above water level.

There is a sign advertising the musical entertainment at the Tip Top Club; Anthony Fremont. Anthony Fremont is the name of the little boy from the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", in which he has the power to change people, and make them disappear into the cornfield. This episode is the same one which the opening narration "Tonight's episode on the Twilight Zone is somewhat unique, and calls for a different kind of introduction." In the library was taken from. (Thanks to David for sending in that secret)

If you look below the screens that show your photos at the end of the ride, there is a bunch of memorabilia from Twilight Zone episodes, like the little toy telephone from an episode called "Long Distance."

Once you are done dropping, and are waiting for the elevator to turn so you can exit the elevator, if you look to the left (again, before the elevator turns), there is a ventriloquist dummy sitting there. It is from a TZ episode, "The Dummy." It's hard to see, you have to be sitting on the left side, and in the back. If you are in the front row, you will need to turn backward to see it. (Thanks Mary for sending in that secret)

The drop profile you're going to get really is unknown until the ride vehicle clicks into place in the drop shaft. However, the computer is programmed to give an equal number of each profile, each hour.

The exterior of the Tower of Terror was designed to match the buildings in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot because Tower of Terror is visible from a certain angle in World Showcase and Imagineers wanted to make it look like Tower "fit in" with the landscape of Morrocco.

Inspiration

Fifth Dimension Scene: The "fifth dimension" scene of the attraction was inspired in part by the "Little Girl Lost" episode of The Twilight Zone®. In the episode, a little girl rolls under her bed and disappears into another dimension.

Hotel Props and Antiques: The rooms and corridors of The Hollywood Tower Hotel are full of items from Hollywood auction houses. Some items are particularly valuable: One set of leather chairs is an authentic Renaissance antique. (Similar sets of these 17th century Portuguese renaissance chairs are in New York's Metropolitan Museum and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.) Other chairs were from the exclusive Jonathan Club, a well-known Los Angeles landmark built in the 1920s. Numerous French bronzes are found throughout the hotel, some by the famous 19th century artist Moreau, whose work graced many of the best hotels of the period. Even some recreations of a famous American's own work can be found in the lobby. "Four Pages of Hilarious Star Caricatures by Walt Disney" is featured in the Photoplay Magazine on the concierge desk.

Library Film: Rod Serling's introduction to the attraction, as viewed on film in the Library, was taken in part from an episode of the series titled, "It's a Good Life." This episode told the story of a little boy who could use his mind to change things. Serling began the episode with the words, "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 . . ." Imagineers completed that introduction with new dialogue customized for the attraction. For continuity, Serling's own voice was overdubbed by asound-alike actor to blend with the newly-added narration.

Music: The music is a compilation of music from episodes ofThe Twilight Zone™television series with arrangement by Richard Bellis.

Television Series: Walt Disney Imagineers screened each of the 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone® at least twice to capture the mood of the television series. Many episodes were screened three or four times and studied in regard to props, guest stars, settings, and music for inspiration, as well as to find the most representative quotes and characteristic phrases used by Serling in his role as host of the show.

Theming:

  • Architecture: The architecture of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was inspired by the revival styles that swept California in the early 20th century. The hotel is modeled after the style of such landmarks as the Mission Inn (Riverside, CA), the Château Marmont (Hollywood, CA) (odd side story you may or may not want to add - John Belushi died of a drug overdose in one of the rooms here), and the Biltmore Hotel (Downtown Los Angeles, CA).
  • Background Story: It was Halloween night, October 31, 1939, when a freakish thunder and lightning storm descended on the Hollywood hills while the elite of the film community found sanctuary in the Hollywood Tower Hotel's elegant lobby. Among those checking in that night were a handsome young couple accompanied by an older, over-worked bellman; and a child actress in blond curls and frilly dress with her stern governess. They were all last seen heading for the elevator. They stepped in, the doors closed, and seconds later the elevator, its passengers, and several sections of the upper stories of the hotel vanished.
  • Landscaping: The landscaping is meant to remind people of the chaparral-covered hills of Griffith and Elysian Parks located in Los Angeles, California.

Cast Credits for Library Film in Lobby Show:

  • Rod Serling: himself
  • Rod Serling sound-alike: Mark Silverman. (Hundreds of folks auditioned for the part but Mark was chosen for the role by Rod Serling's widow who made the final selection after listening to him on audio tape.)
  • Bellhop: Parviz Perry Vessali
  • Child Star: Lindsay Ridgeway
  • Nanny: Charlotte Helms