Where's a place you can travel to that's bizarre, fascinating and creepy all at the same time? The Twilight Zone, of course! Part of our "The Secret History of Disney Rides" series, we're exploring the secret history of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. One of the most easily recognizable attractions at Disney parks across the globe, the tower is a ride I can experience over and over again! And the secret history of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror does not disappoint.
The Secret History of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
As you can guess from its name, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is inspired by the classic television series "The Twilight Zone." Imagineers thought of the attraction during the design process of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios). According to TowerSecrets.com, the new park needed something to really draw in heavy crowds. Unique ideas were thrown around, including an attraction based on "Frankenstein"! Soon enough, it was decided the ride would be a haunted hotel. Via TowerSecrets.com, Imagineer Bob Weiss wanted the haunted hotel to carry an "art-deco high end 1930's-style."
Imagineers didn't just want the attraction to consist of a free-falling elevator; it needed to drop at a rate faster than gravity! According to TowerSecrets.com, an Imagineer said, "If my tie doesn't fly up in my face, it's not good enough." The result of this idea was the elevator being pulled down at around 30 mph! To add more thrills and spooks, themes of "The Twilight Zone" were added to the design of the hotel. Via DisneyParks.com, Imagineers actually watched 156 episodes of the series to be as accurate as possible!
The plot of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror follows the tragic night of Oct. 31, 1939, when lightning struck the building. Five people were aboard an elevator as the building was struck, causing the elevator to free-fall. The Hollywood closed following these events, but has reopened, allowing new guests to experience these haunting events.
Opening at Disney-MGM Studios on July 22, 1994, the 199-foot tall attraction was instantly popular! Ten years later on May 5, a new version opened at Disney California Adventure Park, and another began haunting guests at Tokyo DisneySea on September 4, 2006, which has a completely different story. The newest version of The Tower of Terror opened at Walt Disney Studios Paris on December 22, 2007. Let's see what we can uncover with the fun facts of The Tower of Terror!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Fun Facts
- The tower only goes up to 199-feet tall because if it had been built up to 200 feet, airplane beacons would have had to been added!
- Take a look at the inspection certificate right before you enter the ride elevator. Via The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, the number is 10259 - the numeric version of October 2, 1959 (the date the first Twilight Zone episode aired).
- If you're familiar with The Twilight Zone, you might recognize props from some of the episodes, including the demonic popup device above the bookcase, the metal robot and an envelope with the name Mary.
- Think the old furniture throughout the hotel looks actually antique? That's because many of it is! According to DisneyParks.com, much of the furniture was purchased from the Los Angeles-area auction houses.
- Two additional drops were added to the elevator of Disney-MGM Studios Tower of Terror after it opened. The ride went through another refurbishment in 1999 to add even more drops! Finally, on December 31, 2002, Disney added advanced technology to the elevator, allowing completely random drops controlled by the attraction. You'll always get a different experience at the Hollywood Studios version, the only one to offer this!
- Try to talk to one of the bellhops with gold epaulets. According to The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney by Susan Veness, these are original Tower of Terror Cast Members. Think of the spooky stories they'll have to tell!
Did you enjoy traveling to the Twilight Zone? Let us know about your own journey into this strange dimension of time and space! Hop here for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror wait times, ride details and more! Be sure to check out our other Secret History posts.
Related: The Secret History of Space Mountain