By Darlin’ Diva
If you’re looking for an example of Disney’s best attraction theming, look no further than The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Located at the end of Sunset Blvd. in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the excitement build-up for this popular experience begins long before guests ever reach the ride’s queue. Once you see the Hollywood Tower Hotel looming in the distance, you’ll begin to notice several things right away. First, the hotel’s exterior is perfectly aged; the angles, the color, even the hotel’s sign all combine to present an ominous appearance. Walk closer and you’ll clearly pick up on another important element of the ride’s build-up – the screams! Look up at the hotel’s face and you will glimpse, in a darkened window, what happens to visitors brave enough to enter. This is a brilliant component to this attraction – and it’s only the beginning.
Enter the queue and take a look around. Every aspect is perfect. Each element cleverly detailed and carefully crafted to immerse you in the ride’s theme and story line long before you board the ride vehicle (in this case a seemingly innocuous service elevator). From the winding, misty garden paths, through the overgrown greenery, past the hotel’s once grand outdoor courtyards to the perfectly dusty sinister-looking hotel lobby – guests paying careful attention will find wonderful surprises in the details. As you move forward, toward the ride’s entrance, past the gray-clad belhops – the stage is set. This is going to be scary!
The pre-show takes place in the hotel’s library. I won’t ruin the story for you, but true to the attraction’s name, The Twilight Zone TV show is what prepares guests for what will be seen, felt, and heard once they take their seats inside the elevator.
“Hollywood, 1939. Amidst the glitz and the glitter of a bustling young movie talent 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.” -Mark Silverman as the voice of Rod Sterling, Tower of Terror Introduction
Once you leave the pre-show, you’ll venture into the hotel’s basement to board a service elevator. This area, like everywhere else at the hotel, is extremely well-themed. As you move forward, soak up all the amazing details – once you board that elevator, there’s no turning back!
- Riders must be 40″ tall and there are health warnings posted. If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to skip this one.
- While it’s one of my personal favorites, this ride is not for everyone. The experience is very intense – many children (and adults) well-over the height requirement may be upset by the confined space in the elevator and unpredictable movements created by the ride’s random drop sequences.
- Secure your belongings well – this ride defies gravity!
- Hidden Mickey’s are everywhere! Check in the hotel’s lobby and basement for the most obvious – and watch the pre-show (on the TV) for an actual Mickey Mouse!
- Even though much of the queue is outdoors, this seems to be one of the coolest waits around on a hot day due to plenty of shade and “mist” in the air.
- The giftshop at the ride’s exit has some great Tower of Terror souvenirs and I believe anyone brave enough to ride this attraction for the first time deserves a momento of the occasion.
Until next time…Darlin’ Diva