By Robert Johnson | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted November 4, 2002
The latest upgrade of the fear level at Disney World's Twilight Tower of Terror is aimed at re-creating the ride with surprises that will encourage guests to line up repeatedly.
"We hope it will be another reason to return to Disney World," spokesman Craig Dezern said.
Called "Tower4," the new version of the ride will be unveiled for visiting international travel journalists on Tuesday night. The new ride will be ready for guests in January.
On the outside, nothing about the attraction will change. It will still be appear to be a once-grand hotel built in the revival style popular in Southern California in the early 20th century.
The ride opened in 1994 as a gut-grabbing plummet of more than 100 feet. That drop is nearly twice as long as the plunge at Splash Mountain.
But the original thrills haven't been enough for Disney World management over the years. The ride has had three versions. In the original sequence, riders were taken up to the top floor slowly in an elevator and dropped -- actually the elevator car is pushed down by a motor and doesn't fall -- to the lobby level.
In 1996 the Tower got a new sequence: Riders were "dropped" three times. The third version was installed in 1998, when the ride was changed to feature seven minor and major drops and add a few seconds in the drop chamber.
Before the new 1998 version, riders were given one scary look out the elevator through an open window to see how high above MGM Studios they really were, and how far down they would momentarily go. But the third version in 1998 gave them glimpses out the window before several drops to reinforce the fear.
"Tower4" will have "a number of new drop sequences and you won't ever know which one you're going to experience," Dezern said. There will also be some new special effects, but he wouldn't reveal them. He also would not elaborate on the new ride sequences, even how many there are, but he said that a Disney staff mathematician had planned the new versions.
"The idea is that the tower is taking control. And the ride you will get is entirely random," Dezern said.
Robert Johnson can be reached at 407-420-5664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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