Magic Behind the Music: MGM – Tower of Terror – The Twilight Zone Ridethrough
You unlocked this D-COT track on August 21, 2009 with the key to imagination (and Steve’s help!). Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance; of things and ideas. You just crossed into…The Twilight Zone!
The scene is July 22, 1994. Amid the glitz and the glitter of Hollywood’s golden age as portrayed at the, then, MGM Studios theme park, guests first encountered a gloomy, behemoth structure at the end of Sunset Boulevard. “The Hollywood Tower Hotel,” as it is externally branded, makes itself prominently known in the park. It is unignorable. During the day it mismatches its surroundings by its apparent lack of external care and the fact that it stands 199 feet tall. At the time of its construction it was the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World. Today its height is only second to one other attraction: Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is 199.5 feet tall. At night the attraction is only illuminated by its flickering neon sign; always with a letter burned out. If that wasn’t enough to grab attention, there’s always…the screams!
When guests check-in, bellhop cast members direct them to a library preshow with Rod Sterling, the original host of The Twilight Zone TV show. They are then, sometimes too eagerly, encouraged to board an elevator. The elevator goes up as one would expect from the basement of the hotel, but then it does something many first-timers don’t expect: it moves forward out of one shaft and into another! It’s in the second dark shaft that it accelerates up and down for several blood-chilling drops! The elevator is capable of dropping up to 130 feet, so when they tell you it’s 13 stories, it’s not just a story. In fact the elevator doesn’t drop at all…it pulls guests down at 1.3 times the acceleration of gravity!
The technology behind the ride is rather simple and in later years this allowed Imagineers to simply reprogram the attraction. Instead of having the same drop sequence for every ride, they made it able to randomize the drop sequence. The Tower is in control! Guests never have the same experience twice. The attraction became so popular that copies of it were built in California, Tokyo, and Paris. Disney even made a TV movie, Tower of Terror (1997), based on the attraction and partly filmed at the Florida and California locations.
Somehow many guests aren’t deterred by what they see and hear at the park, but become eager to check-in to this place with no stated guarantee they will check-out. Indeed this has become a staple attraction for many Disney fans – D-COT members especially, who have played it 13,065 times, and 108 of whom have the ridethrough audio as a favorite. D-COT Supporters have added it to 12 custom playlists. Over the years the track has gained a 4.7/5 average rating with 43 votes.
Next time you drop in at the D-COT Jukebox, be sure to give this track, and the other Tower of Terror tracks a listen. It’s one of the best times of the year for it!