Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, has five thrilling rides great for kids, teenagers, and adults, and the scariest of these attractions is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
Many visitors to Hollywood Studios, especially those with children, wonder how scary The Tower of Terror really is and whether it’s worth the ride.
The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is moderately scary for many children under age 12 and a little scary for some teenagers and even a few adults. The spooky setting, old-time music, and mysterious story set the stage for a creepy and unpredictable free-fall ride. Passengers cannot see what’ll happen in advance, so they cannot anticipate the impending thrills.
The following article will help riders prepare themselves (and/or their children) for this frightening attraction at Walt Disney World.
It will dispel some of the mystery by explaining the history of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and will provide some fun facts to help guests take the edge off before riding.
What Is the History of The Tower of Terror?
The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a free-fall ride inspired by the TV series The Twilight Zone, which aired from 1959 to 1964.
Disney World opened this attraction in 1994, and it’s the oldest thrill ride at Hollywood Studios.
The Twilight Zone was a popular anthology series compiled of short, fictitious sci-fi stories with twisted, surprise endings that always kept their fans guessing.
Each episode was stand-alone and unrelated to others in the series.
The host of The Twilight Zone was Rod Serling, whose voice became one of the most recognizable on TV.
His deep, steady, serious, and unexcitable voice perfectly introduced and concluded each episode.
Serling appears as the host of The Tower of Terror, and riders can see him on the television screen within the attraction.
However, voice actor Mark Silverman is the actual voice behind the curtain because Rod Serling died in 1975, almost 20 years before The Tower of Terror opened, adding to the overall eeriness of the ride.
Because The Tower of Terror is one of the most popular attractions at Disney World, they later opened the same ride at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Paris.
Disney California Adventure later removed The Tower of Terror and replaced it with a newer ride.
What Are the Scariest Parts of The Tower of Terror?
The Tower of Terror is an incredibly creative ride that required Walt Disney Imagineers to watch 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone.
They developed ideas for a new story that follows the tradition of the original series and provides guests with the unsettled and nostalgic feeling they would get from watching the shows.
The setting for The Tower of Terror takes place on October 31, 1939, at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
The dilapidated and abandoned-looking hotel is 13 stories high or 199 feet (61 m) tall and is modeled after California landmarks like the Biltmore Hotel and the Mission Inn.
At the start of the line, the gardens are made to look similar to the Griffith and Elysian Parks in California.
As visitors wind their way through the line, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller play softly in the background, and they experience a real sense that they are no longer in the present.
All the props come from the late 1930s, including the furniture, telephone, and decor, lending authenticity to the ride.
There’s even a set of antique Renaissance chairs and other antiques purchased from a Los Angeles auction house in the lobby.
Some sculptures in the lobby are also actual works by Auguste Moreau, a famous 19th-century sculptor.
The story behind the Hollywood Tower Hotel is an eerie unsolved mystery.
On a dark and stormy Halloween night in 1939, guests of the Hollywood Tower mysteriously disappeared, causing the hotel to shut down and leaving it suspended in time.
Riders can see evidence of the hotel’s previous guests in some of the objects left behind in a hurry.
These vintage items include luggage, dried flowers, skeletal plants, a trumpet, sheet music, and a mahjong game in progress.
An abandoned ouija board also gives the impression that previous visitors may have tried to contact the missing hotel guests.
As hotel staff members guide current guests toward the elevators in The Tower of Terror, they behave as though they are drugged or subdued.
The Tower’s narrator suggests the unfortunate hotel guests landed in the 5th dimension, and this spine-tingling enigma leaves parkgoers wondering what might happen once they board this possibly haunted elevator.
The innocent characters who suffered misfortune in the original terrifying elevator ride include a little girl, her governess, a young couple, and a bellhop.
The narrator’s spooky, uninflected voice adds to the hair-raising ambiance of the ride, while Rod Serling’s face pops out at various times, asking more questions than he answers.
Every time Serling poses a query, riders feel like they might uncover explanations they did not want to find.
Once in the elevator, riders wear a seatbelt, preventing them from falling out of their seats.
The elevator goes up all 199 feet (61 m) to the top, where riders see a creepy scene before dropping one level and thrusting forward.
The second stop is when the elevator begins its terrifying falls.
The sound of cables breaking as the elevator car jerks up and plummets down in a random pattern is unnerving.
The computer that operates the elevator cars randomizes how each car falls and when it rises – even riders who visit often do not know when the falls will happen.
The biggest drop is 130 feet (40 m) at a speed of 39 mph (63 km/h), and the falling elevator car generates more speed and g-force than a free fall.
This dark ride keeps people from seeing outside until after the first drop, and because riders drop suddenly in the dark enclosed space of an elevator car, it can be quite scary.
What Age Is Appropriate For The Tower of Terror?
Guests must be at least 40 inches (102 cm) tall to ride The Tower of Terror, but there’s no minimum age.
Children, teens, and adults disturbed by the hotel setting while waiting in line may not enjoy this ride.
In addition, this dark drop ride may not appeal to everyone.
Guests who change their minds can exit the line right before they reach the elevator car.
Once guests are buckled in, they will enjoy an intense ride that lasts less than four minutes.
What if I Am Scared To Ride The Tower of Terror?
People who think they might be too scared to ride The Tower of Terror can prepare themselves in advance.
They can learn how the Disney Imagineers designed and built the hotel and filled it with props to create a certain look or watch clips or episodes of the old Twilight Zone TV show.
Another way to remove some mystery is by learning what will happen during the ride.
Guests can find YouTube videos of the experience to better understand what the attraction is like.
Visitors in line at The Tower of Terror can look for things in the hotel setting that help ground them in reality, such as trash cans and line ropes.
Seeing through the magic can help people feel less fearful.
Where Are the Hidden Mickeys at The Tower of Terror?
One of the best ways to help people forget their fears is to look for Hidden Mickeys.
These Hidden Mickeys are everywhere in the parks, sometimes in pretty crazy places.
At least five Hidden Mickeys have been found at The Tower of Terror so far.
One of the Hidden Mickeys is at the entrance in the design of the main balcony.
Another Hidden Mickey is in the video shown in the hotel library video, where the little girl in the elevator is holding a plush Mickey doll.
Another Hidden Mickey in the library is the sheet music under the trumpet titled “What! No Mickey Mouse?”
Right after the line splits in the Boiler Room, a water stain on the wall is shaped like Mickey.
The last Hidden Mickey is in the swirling stars before the ride drops.
The Tower of Terror is the scariest, most intense thrill ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
While the minimum height (40 in/102 cm) allows people of all ages to ride it, the Hollywood Tower Hotel setting and The Tower of Terror ride itself can be frightening to some.
Nervous guests can check out online videos so they know what to expect.
Alternatively, while in line for The Tower of Terror, guests can focus on looking for real-life objects (e.g., trash cans or exit signs) or the Hidden Mickeys to feel less afraid.
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