Saturday, October 18, 2014

What's So Great About the Tower of Terror in Walt Disney World?

By Lisa Green


“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 Serling, Tower of Terror Introduction


Disney World‘s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror…The ride that divides The Fam like no other.  Raymond and Megan really don’t care for it and will ride it one time (and one time only) during each trip to Disney World – just to be polite.  Joseph and I love it (Joseph’s all time favorite ride) – we can and will ride it again and again.  Once we even scored a surprise fast pass when we got off, so we got right back in line!


Like Rock’n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror is located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the end of Sunset Blvd.  The queue for this ride is, as Disney tends to do with newer attractions, 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 garden paths through the overgrown greenery, past the once grand outdoor courtyards of the Hollywood Tower Hotel to the perfectly dusty and slightly sinister-looking hotel lobby, guests paying careful attention will find wonderful gems in the details.  Hidden Mickeys abound along with several nods to the Twilight Zone television series.  Even the sullen, grey- uniform-clad bellhops add to the depth of theming for this attraction.  If the day is not too warm, I find the stand-by line for this ride actually quite enjoyable, but that’s not why Joseph loves it.  The constant screaming coming from the hotel “guests” is a good clue about the real reason this ride’s a big hit with thrill-seekers like Joseph.


As you draw closer to the pre-ride intro show, you begin to feel a sense of dread.  As if the hotel lobby is emitting a warning to you.  The bellhops will guide you into the library.  Joseph describes it this way – “The feeling of impending doom is created by the cast members working at the tower and the abandoned, worn-down look of the hotel – inside and out.  Like somewhere you don’t want to be.”


The pre-ride show provides the backstory (I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s great!) after which you are led into the hotel’s basement to the service elevators.  The theming and mood-setting details continue - watch for another Hidden Mickey on the wall.  TIP: Going to the left instead of right in line is generally faster.  Once you board the elevator (you must be 40″ tall to ride and health warnings exist), fasten that seatbelt – you’re gonna need it!  The best part of this attraction is the layers of build-up to the finale.  Everything, from the first step in line, leads up to what happens in that elevator!


Continuing with the story introduced in the library, the elevator travels through several scenes before you hit the real action.  The elevator drops, shoots up, drops, and so on – riders are constantly surprised.  Random drop sequences are what keep people coming back for more.  There’s no way to predict the exact pattern of elevator movement.  When the elevator is “falling” it is actually being pushed downward – gravity alone would not be this fast.  This is VERY scary for many people – as evidenced by the screaming!!!  Joseph and I both LOVE this part – we don’t find it frightening, just incredibly fun.  The sense of weightlessness is what makes this ride so great!

Tower of Terror Collage

Have you visited the Hollywood Tower Hotel?  What did you think?

This article was originally posted by Lisa on her Living a Disney Life-Empty Nesting with Pixie Dust Blog.


  1. My last couple of trips to WDW have been solo and as much as I love ToT, I can't go on it by myself . . . Yes, I know the elevator will be full of other people but I don't think some stranger wants me grabbing their hand and screaming in their ear, that is a privilege for friends only!!!

    1. If we ever go with you, I hope you'll ride with us!

  2. Hey it's a nice article but it would be great if there was ONE Tower of Terror story that got Rod Serling's name right.

    1. Wow, thank you for the catch Mark! I read that through twice and missed it! It has been corrected here, and I will certainly let the author know to correct it on her blog as well. Have a great weekend!


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