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Behind the Tower of Terror

In the haunting setting of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, five unsuspecting guests find themselves walking straight into the Twilight Zone. Their story begins with a walk into what appears to be a normal elevator. On the travel to the preset floor, lightning unexpectedly struck the elevator tower. It is believed that their souls occupy the hotel to this day, but none have survived to prove this myth.

Your story begins as an invited guest at the reopening of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The hotel staff starts your stay with a beautiful tour of the newly rebuilt garden located directly in front of the hotel. As you enter, you are indulged with the history of the hotel in the lobby followed by a brief presentation in the library. Since the mysterious disappearance of the elevator towers, the hotel staff is forced to use the service elevators. Unfortunately, you are redirected to the boiler room where the service elevators are located which then take you to your suites.

Now, if you’re wondering “Is this a real hotel?”, it’s not. It was created by the wonderful imagineers at Walt Disney World for your enjoyment. It opened to the public in July of 1994, standing at 199 ft. Some little known fact about the tower is that Florida state law requires that a building that reaches or surpasses 200 ft must have an aircraft beacon be placed on top. The imagineers built the building at 199 ft to avoid putting a beacon on, which they felt would detach guests from the illusion of the hotel.

The attraction begins by walking into the library located in the hotel lobby. You watch a quick video that sets the mood of the ride. After the pre-show, a bellhop prompts you to enter the boiler room which leads you to the service elevators. After you are seated in the vehicle and the elevator doors close you journey into the Twilight Zone begins.

As you are lifted, you get a wonderful tour of the resort. Don’t be surprised if you see some unexpected guests. Once you’ve reached the mysterious 13th floor, you are automatically drawn into the 5th Dimension, which takes you to the elevator towers that were thought to be destroyed in the late 1930’s. After settling into the tower, you are immediately dropped from the 13th story.

Since the attraction opening in 1994, there has been much advancement in technology. When the ride first opened, the drop was only done once. Today, the drops happen numerous times. Not only are there more drops, the imagineers have created a new and exciting way to enjoy the attraction. They have created four different sequences that are randomly selected electronically. So, your experience may differ from other families or from different times you ride.

The attraction exits at the Tower Terror gift shop, which has many wonderful souvenirs, such as hotel towels, bathrobes, and hotel keys. In addition, the attraction takes a picture of your terrifying stay at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

Some more unknown facts about the attraction are that there are a few Hidden Mickeys. One is during the preshow in the library, where the little girl is holding a Mickey doll. Later, on the ride, that same girl is shown in the hallway in which she is still holding onto that same Mickey doll. There is also an unofficial hidden Mickey located on what is called the ‘Star Field’ which can be seen just as the elevator shaft opens up readying you for your drop. This is not an official hidden Mickey because of copy rights the show Twilight Zone has on the title ‘Star Field’. Make sure you ask a Disney Cast Member about this unofficial hidden Mickey to find which elevator to take to see this interesting but “non-existent” Mickey.

Want some Twilight Zone knowledge? The imagineers who worked on the attraction watched each episode of Twilight Zone twice before developing this attraction. And if you are wondering if those antiques all over the hotel were created by the imagineers, they were actually props used in the original television series. The final touch of the attraction is your host throughout the ride, Rob Serling who was the creator or the original television series.

Because the ride drops you 13 stories, Disney has required that a child be at least 40 inches tall to ride. Also, some of the scenes’ during and after the preshow are too scary and loud for small children. In addition, adults with heart conditions, back pains, or pregnant women should not ride. This particular ride is in complete darkness, so if you’re afraid of the dark or suffer from claustrophobia, you should bypass this attraction.

If you do decide you would not like to experience the ride but walk through the attraction, there is a separate elevator that takes you directly to the exit. This is great for those last minute chickens who fear they cannot handle the ride. This can also be used for children who decided they do not want to ride.

All things considered, the Tower of Terror at the Disney-MGM Studios is easily one of the most detailed and exciting attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. With your newfound knowledge of the inner workings of the attraction, you and your family will be able to enjoy it that much more!