Supervise children at all times.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a visually imposing attraction that features rich storytelling, impressive special effects, and a 13 story drop into another dimension.
While much of the story is explained in the Pre-show, the basic premise is that we are guests at the hotel and we are taking the elevator up to our rooms. It’s during this trip that we enter into the Twilight Zone. More specifically, we are attending the party that the disappearing guests were also attending, at the Tip Top Club at the top of the hotel. The attraction doesn’t take place on the night the hotel guests disappeared, but at some point thereafter. The bell hops have seemingly been frozen in time along with the hotel.
Once on board the elevator, the bellhop will usually indicate that our rooms are now ready, and depending on the bellhop there may be some not so subtle acknowledgements that things are about to go wrong.
The elevator ascends out of the loading area and the Twilight Zone music begins. A narrator is heard overhead:
You are the passengers on a most uncommon elevator about to ascend into your very own episode of… The Twilight Zone.
The elevator doors open to a lightening flash and a reveal of a long hallway with a single window at the very end. The hallway appears to feature guest rooms at the hotel. Suddenly, the group of five passengers seen in the Pre-Show video appear halfway down the hallway. The gesture for us to follow them and the little girl can be heard singing, “It’s raining, it’s pouring…” The five passengers disappear in a flash of lightening and the room goes dark except for the window. The window appears to float towards the elevator in a star field and different images appear on the window. Suddenly, the window shatters, the elevator doors close, the elevator continues to ascend and the narrator returns:
One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare.
The door opens to reveal what appears to be a maintenance area but special effects appear on the left and right hand side. The narrator continues:
That door is opening once again, and this time, it’s opening for you.
As the line is spoken, the elevator lurches forward into the “Fifth Dimension”. The room has a star field effect as well as imagery from The Twilight Zone appearing on the left and right of the elevator. Music from The Twilight Zone can be heard throughout the scene. The girl singing, “It’s raining, it’s pouring…” can also be heard. As the elevator continues, the star field becomes more concentrated in front of it. The star field then produces a straight vertical line along the edge of two doors. The doors open at an angle to allow the elevator to enter the vertical shaft. The shaft is pitch black and the narrator continues:
You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination, in the Tower of Terror.
At this point, a loud crash is heard and the elevator either descends or ascends rapidly. There are multiple drop sequences that are chosen randomly. The sequences all include significant air time and last around 40 seconds. They all include time at the top of the hotel where they can see the rest of the park. The view is partially obscured by the “Hollywood Tower Hotel” letters, and guests don’t experience the view for long before dropping again. Over the years additional lightening effects and props have been added to various hold points.
After the drop sequence, the elevator returns to the basement where it travels past many additional props from old Twilight Zone episodes. The narrator continues as the elevator approaches the unload area:
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 elevator doors open, often with a bell hop standing right at the edge to “welcome” us back.
The official story from the bellhop training manual can be found here.
Twilight Zone host Rod Serling passed away in 1975, but his likeness was used in the attraction’s Pre-show. The footage of Rod Serling was taken from the 1961 episode “It’s a Good Life” and put in front of the new backdrop. The voice was re-recorded by voice actor Mark Silverman. The video of Rod Serling is cut during this line:
This, as you may recognize is a maintenance service elevator.
The original line from the episode was:
This, as you may recognize is a map of the United States
Mark Silverman’s audio was synced with the mouth and facial movements of Rod Serling to achieve this effect.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror features high-speed drops into the dark mysterious realm of the Twilight Zone.
This attraction appeals to young adults, but is often too intense for children and grandparents.
TIMES GUIDE - OPENING/CLOSING
This attraction opens with the park.
Tower of Terror is one of the mid to high range demand Fastpass+ reservations in the park. Same day availability occasionally exists and guests will save time using Fastpass+ at this location.
It is a “Tier 2” Fastpass+ attraction.
The Tower of Terror queue is one of the more intricately themed queues in all of Walt Disney World. It begins with an aged sign that reads “Hollywood Tower Hotel”. This sign then transforms using LEDs to read, “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.” The exterior gardens are deliberately overgrown as they lead up to the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Period specific instrumental jazz music can be heard throughout the queue coming from a deliberately aged sound system. Tracks include “Inside” by Fats Waller and “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington. Aged signage indicates that the Rose Garden is on the right side of the queue and the Band Pavilion and Arboretum are on the left side of the queue. Some of the plant life features signage indicating the Latin name of the species. This includes the Olea Europaea (Olive), and others. The grounds were inspired by California’s Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
Before the outdoor queue leads into the intricately themed lobby, an outdoor chandelier hangs overhead and the lobby entrance is flanked by two large lamps. The lobby appears to have been abandoned decades ago with cobwebs and dust on all of the fixtures. An abandoned mahjong game, and other Twilight Zone related artifacts sit behind the velvet ropes that line the queue. From the lobby, guests go into the pre-show/Library into the boiler room before boarding their elevator.
In the lobby, guests can see the check in desk, statues, a mahjong game that has been abandoned and much more. A copy of the Los Angeles Examiner can be found dated October 31, 1939 and the fixtures appear to have been abandoned since that time. Many of the furnishing were purchased at Los Angeles area auction houses. Some of the more intricate sculptures in the lobby were created by 19th century sculptor Auguste Moreau.
A sign in the lobby outlines the locations of a variety of things in the hotel and several letters are intentionally missing. The sign reads:
|H_gh Socie_ty Suite||Penthouse|
|Sunset Room||Lo_er Lev_l|
|Be_erly Ro_m||Lo_er _evel|
|Fountain Ro_m||Lo_er Leve_|
|Steam Baths||Lower Level|
|Gift Shop||Low_r Level|
|Tip Top Club||Top of the Tower|
This sign is visible right before guests are directed into one of two Library Pre-show rooms. Between the doors to the Library there is a sign for an elevator that’s out of order. The Library rooms are loaded in large groups for the Pre-Show, and additional notes can be found in the “Pre-show Notes” section.
After the Pre-show, guests exit out into the boiler room where the queue continues. The boiler room is a detailed recreation of a 1930s era boiler room. Sound effects from the furnace and boilers can be heard as guests approach the loading area.
The cast members at the attraction are hotel bellhops, and many cast members will act in character to add to the ominous theming of the attraction. This occurs most often with the bellhops that load guests onto the attraction.
Guests are seated in 21 passenger elevators. They are arranged in rows of 4 and three rows of 3. The rows are separated by an aisle effectively making it three rows of 7 guests.
Previously, the elevators held 22 people. The elevators had the same configuration but instead of individual seatbelts there were lap bars for all but one guests who sat in the middle of the top row with a seatbelt.
The vehicles are known as Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV). They are cages with stadium seating and they move around the attraction through guide wires in the floor. In the elevator shaft the vehicles lock into place into an open air compartment, and it is that compartment that travels vertically with the elevator inside.
Guests enter one of two Pre-show rooms from the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The rooms are themed to look like a Library and they continue the story that this hotel was abandoned on October 31, 1939. Books line the wall, and other furniture is well within the reach of guests.
When the door from the lobby closes, there is a flash of lightening heard outside, the lights go out and a tube television set begins the Pre-show. The familiar Twilight Zone music plays and the traditional Twilight Zone introduction from season’s 4 and 5 begins.
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.
During this introduction, guests see a variety of images on the screen that will reappear later in the attraction. These include a window shattering, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and an eyeball. After the Twilight Zone title appears, the screen cuts to the Hollywood Tower Hotel during a thunderstorm. Cut to a statue of an owl in the lobby and it’s at this point, host Rod Serling begins the story of the attraction:
Hollywood – 1939
Amid the glitz and 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.
During this narration images of a young couple, an older woman with a young girl, and middle aged bellhop board an elevator. The young girl is seen holding a period specific Mickey Mouse doll. The image cuts to the exterior of the hotel as the elevator shafts are being struck by lightening, followed by the people in the elevator also being struck by lightening and disappearing. The narration continues, this time with Rod Serling appearing on screen (voice work done by Mark Silverman):
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. 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.
The last line of the above narration occurs in total darkness and in surround sound. At this point, doors on the opposite side of the library open and guests are ushered through the boiler room to board their Maintenance Service elevators.
There are no other free fall attractions on property, however the theming is most closely linked to The Haunted Mansion.
Executive Designer: Eric Jacobson
Producer: Laine Akiyama
Writer: Michael Sprout
Concept Designer: Tim Kirk
Production Designer: Cory Sewelson
Voice of Rod Serling: Mark Silverman
Tower of Terror 4 Lead Imagineers: Theron Skees and Michael Tschanz
The below video is used with permission from the YouTube channel Virtual Disney World. These videos allow users to manipulate the camera a full 360 degrees using their cursor or directional arrows on their computer. Users on a smartphone or tablet can also manipulate the camera by moving their device in the direction they wish to look.
The below video is used with permission from the YouTube channel SoCal Attractions 360. These videos are in 4K or 1080p resolution for peak quality.
The full track list courtesy of ParkTunes.com:
Alabamy Home – Duke Ellington/Gotham Stompers
Can’t Get Started – Bunny Berigan
Dear Old Southland – Noble Sissle
Deep Purple – Artist Unknown
Delta Mood – Cootie Williams
I’m In Another World – Johnny Hodges
Inside – Fats Waller
Jeep’s Blues – Johnny Hodges
Jitterbug’s Lullaby – Johnny Hodges
Jungle Drums – Sidney Bechet
Mood Indigo – Duke Ellington
Moonlight Serenade – Glenn Miller Orchestra
Pyramid – Johnny Hodges
Remember – Red Norvo
Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman
Sleepy Time Gal – Glenn Miller
Stompin‘ at the Savoy – Benny Goodman
There’s A House in Harlem – Henry Allen and His Orchestra
There’s No Two Ways About It – Frankie Newton
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Theme – Marius Constant
Uptown Blues – Jimmy Lunceford and His Orchestra
We’ll Meet Again – Vera Lynn
When the Sun Sets Down South – Sidney Bechet
Wishing (Will Make it So) – Vera Lynn