Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

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Current revision as of 05:20, 20 July 2009

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, more commonly known as Tower of Terror, is a simulated freefall ride originally from Disney's Hollywood Studios, whose version opened in 1994, and was later added at Disney's California Adventure Park, ten years later in 2004, and at Walt Disney Studios Park in 2008. It is based upon the television show The Twilight Zone, and is located at the end of Sunset Boulevard.

A similar attraction without a Twilight Zone theme opened at Tokyo Disney Sea in 2006. The decision not to include the theme was due to copyright restrictions of the Japanese Government, who partially own the park.

The attraction is themed to resemble the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel. The story of the hotel, adapted from elements of the television series, includes the hotel being struck by lightning on October 31, 1939, mysteriously transporting an elevator car full of passengers to the Twilight Zone. The exterior of the attraction resembles an old hotel with a blackened scorch mark across the front of the facade where the lightning destroyed part of the building.

[edit] Queue and pre-show Synopsis

Guests enter the hotel through the main entrance gate. The outdoor queue winds itself through the overgrown gardens of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, and then it enters the lobby. From this point, guests are assisted in entering the hotel's library. Through the window, guests can observe that there is a thunderstorm going on outside. Lightning strikes and the television comes on, apparently of its own accord. The opening sequence of Season 4 of "The Twilight Zone" plays, followed by an explanation of the events hosted by Rod Serling. He then invites guests, if they dare, to step aboard the service elevator. With that, the TV goes out and the sliding wall in the back of the library opens. The guests exit the library and enter the basement boiler room, where they wait until their elevator is ready.

[edit] Ride Synopsis

Rod Serling greets passengers the moment the elevator doors close, saying, "You are the passengers on a most uncommon elevator about to ascend directly into your very own episode of The Twilight Zone." The elevator rises for a few seconds before coming to a stop.

The doors open to reveal a corridor populated by the ghostly occupants from the Pre-show film, who beacon you to come and, then disappear. The corridor fades to a starlit night sky, except the window at the end of the corridor. The window then morphs into a more ghostly black-and-white version and shatters (like in the opening segment of each episode).

The elevator doors close and the car begins to rise again. Serling's voice continues: "One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, and this time, it's opening for you."

At the top, the doors again open and the car mysteriously moves forward out of the shaft, through a section of the ride called The Fifth Dimension: a surreal collection of objects and sights, once again in the style of the television show's opening sequence.

A field of stars appear and then opening sequence of the Twilight Zone. Then after the segment is done, the stars fade, forming a Hidden Mickey right before disappearing, then reveals a vertical line, which splits in half and opens like elevator doors. Serling's voice is heard again, saying, "You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination, in the Tower of Terror."

After the elevator moves in to the shaft, the randomly-selected drop sequence begins. At one point, doors in front of the riders will open to reveal a view the park from a height of 13 stories.

After a series of these drops have been made, the second corridor when returning to the basement is as the opening for the third season of the Twilight Zone. Then Rod Serling's voice says, "A warm welcome 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 darkside 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 ride vehicle returns to the basement of the decrepit Hollywood Tower Hotel.

[edit] Technical Aspects

In an effort to be true to the spirit of The Twilight Zone, Disney Imagineers reportedly watched every episode of the original television show at least twice. The attraction buildings are littered with references to Twilight Zone episodes, all of which can be seen in the List of Twilight Zone References in the Tower of Terror page.

The late Rod Serling is able to "host" the events of the pre-show via some reused footage and audio from one of the episodes, along with additional dialogue dubbed by a voice actor.

The attraction building, especially the back of it, is also designed to fit into the skyline of Morocco in Epcot, because standing directly adjacent to it in the World Showcase you can easily see the top of the Tower. The shape of the building actually resembles a building in the real Morocco.

At 199 feet, it is the second tallest attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort, shorter only than Expedition Everest's 199.5 feet. The Tower of Terror is 199 feet high at Walt Disney World because of FAA regulations that require a fixed red light beacon to be added to the top of any 200-foot or taller building. Imagineers thought that the beacon would take away from the hotel's 1939 theme.

At over one thousand dollars per uniform, the Cast Member Bellhop outfit is the most expensive costume in the various theme parks.

The ride system employs specialized technology developed specifically for the ride, particularly the ability to move the vehicle in and out of the vertical motion shaft. The elevator cabs are self-propelled, automated vehicles which lock into the vertical motion cabs. The cabs move into and out of elevators horizontally, move through the "Fifth Dimension" scene, and on to the drop shaft. After the vehicle has completed its profile, the vehicle propels itself to the unload dock and then back to the show shaft. The ride system runs on a loop. The self propulsion system used in the vehicles often causes some long and complicated downtimes which are, of course, frustrating to Cast Members and guests.

In the years since the attraction's initial opening, a randomized pattern of drops and lifts have been added, where the ride vehicle will drop or rise various distances at different intervals. Other effects were also added, including new projection images of the breaking window, wind effects, lightning flashes, and ominous blacklit figures of the five ghostly original riders. These changes were made to make every trip to the Twilight Zone a different experience.

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