The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a drop tower dark ride manufactured by Otis Elevator Company with a major creative help from Walt Disney Imagineering. The ride is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, and Tokyo DisneySea. For this review I will be breaking down the Hollywood Studios version as that is currently the only version I have ridden at the moment. Tower of Terror opened in 1994 and is located in the Sunset Boulevard area of the park. In this review, I will be breaking down the ride experience as well as giving my thoughts on it!
The Tower of Terror is located at the very far end of Sunset Boulevard. It’s impossible to miss this giant tower looming over the rest of the land. You can see this thing from outside the park and in other areas around the resort, but it has such a dominating presence on Sunset Boulevard. When you’re at the far end of the land, the first signage you’ll see is the wait time sign. The entrance to the attraction is to the right side of the fork at the far end of Sunset Blvd. If you are waiting stand-by you will enter on the left side, and if you have a Fastpass+ reservation, you will enter on the right.
If you are entering the queue in stand-by, you will first walk up an elevated pathway up to the tower. The main outdoor queue area consists of switchbacks around the gardens and the outskirts of the abandoned hotel. Their is a lot of run down plant life and cracked columns and supports. Soft 30’s era jazz music will also be played over speakers in the queue. After you make your way through the outdoor queue, you will make your way inside the hotel lobby. This lobby really does look like it has been abandoned for years with it’s cobwebs and extremely outdated decor. It is easily one of the coolest queue areas anywhere at WDW. After seeing the lobby, a bellhop cast member will put you behind a preshow door with a larger group.
When the doors open to the preshow open, the group will file in filling all available space. The doors will then close and the preshow will begin. The preshow consists of the narrator of the Twilight Zone, Rod Sterling, telling the guests that they have just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Sterling also tells riders the backstory on how the hotel became abandoned back in 1939. He then says that the riders play the star in this episode of the Twilight Zone. The TV’s that are playing the preshow than turn off and the elevators than open up to the boiler room, the loading area to the ride
Once in the boiler room, you will wait for a little bit to board your elevator. A cast member will put your party on a number and you will wait for your elevator door to open. Once the elevator door opens, you will sit in your seat and buckle your seat belt.
After a eerie spiel from the bell hop, the elevator doors will shut and the Twilight Zone theme will begin playing. The elevator will then begin move up a few floors and the doors will open to a long corridor, where the five passengers missing that were referenced in the preshow appear in the same corridor. The room then goes dark as you can see glass shatter at the far end of the room and the door closes. The elevator than ascends up a couple more floors to the Fifth Dimension scene. This is where the elevator will stop and move forward through a maintenance room that turns into a field of stars. The stars will then start disappearing into two white lines that open. These represent the scariness of the doors to the actual ride open. Once the elevator opens, you will lock into the drop shaft and the ride will begin. With this ride, each drop sequence is completely randomized, so there is no telling how the ride is exactly going to go. You will be guaranteed drops with an abundance of nice floater airtime and the windows opening at some point in your drop sequence, giving a great view of the park. Once your drop sequence is over, you will make your way to the unloading area where you will disembark your elevator
Once you unload, you will make your way to the gift shop, first passing by the on-ride photo area. This is where on-ride photos can be purchased. You will then make your way into the “Tower Gifts” gift shop, where ride related merchandise is sold.
My Thoughts: This is an extremely fun ride with world class theming. The ride itself is so cool it’s indescribable. The dark ride portion along with the queue is themed so well you would swear you’re actually in an abandoned hotel from the 30’s and in a sketchy elevator. The drop sequence itself is a complete blast, giving loads of floater airtime while dropping you up and down this extensively themed tower. The view from the top of the tower, although very brief, gives an outstanding view of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is one of the best rides in a theme park I have been on just due to it’s fun ride and great theming. I have been on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout at Disney’s California Adventure and I do have to say I do like that version better just because it is that much more fun. Nevertheless, this is still an absolutely amazing attraction in it’s own right!
Tips: Due to it’s headlining status and dominating presence, this ride does draw crowds, but waits aren’t too bad if you time it out right. The ride sees around 40-60 minutes on a day with average crowd day and around 60-90 minutes on a busy day. If you are not willing to wait that long, you should try to ride within the first or last two hours of park operation or use Fastpass+. This attraction is a Tier 2 selection at Hollywood Studios, which means it’s a pretty easy selection. This is one of the only attractions that is worth using a Fastpass for in Tier 2 along with Rock n Roller Coaster and Star Tours. If you are insistent on riding, then defiantly make Tower of Terror a selection.
Final Thoughts: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was a marvel in theme park design and engineering and still is today. This ride has theming that is truly out of this world and a drop sequence that brings the thrills to a Disney park. Absolutely ride it if you’re at Hollywood Studios and it has a short wait or you have a Fastpass.