The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Walt Disney World. It’s one of the oldest attractions in the park, and it’s a thrill ride.
Below, learn everything you need to know about this ride before you travel to central Florida to ride it. Read about who should ride it, the story behind it, and even things to look for in line.
What Is the Tower of Terror?
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a thrill ride primarily consisting of dramatic, rapid drops. Like all attractions in Disney Parks, it has a distinct story; this one is inspired by the classic television series The Twilight Zone.
Where Is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Located?
Inside the park, you’ll find the Tower of Terror on Sunset Boulevard. Once you enter the main gate, take your first right. You’ll see the Tower Hotel rise on the horizon in front of you as you make your way down the thoroughfare.
How Does the Attraction Fit the Park’s Theme?
Hollywood Studios showcases all things movies. Disney’s “Imagineers” designed the section of the park where you’ll find the Tower of Terror as an homage to the glory days of old Hollywood. Imagine black and white films, glamorous starlets with tuxedoed partners, and clamoring journalists.
The Tower of Terror is located in the Tower Hotel. It was never real, although there were undoubtedly hotels like it during this era. In addition, The Twilight Zone aired during the earliest days of television.
Who Should (and Should Not) Ride the Tower of Terror?
We’d love to say that everyone can enjoy the Tower of Terror, but that’s not the case. As a thrill ride, it isn’t appropriate for everyone. But people who like that level of excitement and are comfortable with drops will have a blast riding it.
On the other hand, thrill rides aren’t for everyone. The official warning from the Disney company states that anyone with the following conditions should not ride the Tower of Terror:
- High blood pressure and heart conditions
- Back and neck problems
- Motion sickness issues
- Other health conditions.
Guests must also be at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) to ride. There will be a height bar at the entrance to the ride, as well as before you board.
Guests should also be aware that the ride includes sitting in a dark space for some time. There are also bright lights and loud sounds, so if you have sensitive family members, be aware.
Service animals cannot ride, and passengers in mobile chairs and wheelchairs will need to transfer.
The Story Behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
As we said, every attraction in Disney World has a backstory. According to Disney lore, the Tower Hotel was one of the most popular spots for Hollywood royalty throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
Then, on Halloween night, 1939, lightning struck the hotel. At the time, five passengers were inside the elevator, which plummeted in a tragic free-fall. Now, the hotel is haunted, though it has reopened its doors.
You may uncover exactly what happened to those five souls on that stormy night.
Riding the Tower of Terror
Now that you know the essential information and backstory for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror let’s take a step-by-step peak inside the ride itself.
Waiting in the Queue
In true Disney fashion, your Tower of Terror adventure begins as soon as you step foot in line for the ride. Especially if you wait in the standby queue, the line weaves its way through the old, overgrown hotel grounds, gardens, and courtyards before making your way to the entrance.
Walt Disney World is so enjoyable because it put detail into everything. Even when you’re waiting in queues for rides, look around. On Tower of Terror, you’ll see everything looks old and uncared-for. The grounds are overgrown, the concrete and stone have cracks, and no carefully manicured flowers grow.
Once past the grounds, you’ll catch a glimpse of the hotel lobby. Since it’s been closed for so long, cobwebs and dust have overtaken the once-opulent reception area.
From the lobby, cast members will show you into another room, where you’ll watch the pre-show. Many Disney rides have pre-shows, which are critical to immersive storytelling.
In this case, you’ll watch a short episode of The Twilight Zone that explains the events of the night of October 31, 1939. Get ready to be spooked!
The Loading Area
After the pre-show, you’ll have another short line in the loading area, which is supposed to be the hotel’s boiler room. It’s significantly creepier; Disney wants to preserve the eerie feeling the film gave you.
When you get to the front of the queue, you and your party will almost certainly be seated together. Unlike some other attractions, your experience doesn’t change depending on where you sit, so there is no need to worry about requesting a particular row.
On the Ride
We don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but the ride isn’t just the drop. You’ll hear more about the backstory before your heart-racing, gravity-defying falls.
And that’s one of the most exciting things about the Tower of Terror: no two rides are ever the same. When Imagineers programmed the ride, they designed software that would change the sequence every time.
You’ll ride and fall, over and over, a different number of times and at different heights every time.
You’ll exit through a somewhat windy hallway into the gift shop. There, you can shop for Tower Hotel souvenirs and other attraction-themed items. You can also check out your ride photo for some laughs.
Tower of Terror Easter Eggs and Fun Facts
Here are some interesting things to note when you’re waiting and riding:
- The Twilight Zone host, Rod Serling, “hosted” the brief episode you watch in the pre-show. Disney animated him from clips of the show, and his wife helped pick a voice actor who sounded like him to narrate.
- There are a pair of broken glasses in the library. These are authentic props from the episode “Time Enough to Last.” Look for an old trumpet, too. It’s from “Passage for Trumpet.” There are several others.
- The little girl who rode the elevator on the fateful night holds a Mickey Mouse doll.
- Remember that trumpet? It’s sitting on sheet music for a sign called “No Mickey Mouse? What Kind of Party Is This?”
Using Genie+ to Ride Tower of Terror
If you decide to pay for Genie+ services for your trip to Hollywood Studios, Tower of Terror is an excellent ride to book. Along with Rock ‘N Roller Coaster and Smuggler’s Run, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the park.
You don’t necessarily need to use your first Lightning Lane pass on Tower of Terror, as they don’t run out that early in the day. Keep an eye on it to make sure, though.
In addition, if you don’t plan to spend the whole day in the park, make sure you get a Lightning Lane reservation before your intended time of departure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some of your remaining questions about the Tower of Terror.
What’s the best time of day to ride the Tower of Terror?
As with most attractions in the theme parks in Walt Disney World, if the Tower of Terror is your top priority, the time to ride is first thing in the morning.
Typically, wait times rise throughout the morning, peak in the early afternoon, and then start to fall. However, cast members will close the line so that there aren’t too many guests waiting past the park’s close time.
If you want to avoid waiting in line, use Genie+.
Is the line long for this attraction?
The wait times for the Tower of Terror can get lengthy. However, it depends on the time of year that you visit. You may be able to wait less than 30 minutes or more than 90.
How tall is the Tower of Terror?
It’s 199 feet tall. Fun fact: Florida law stipulates that all buildings 200 feet tall must have an aircraft beacon. Fearing that would ruin the effect, Disney opted to come in short.
Is there a Tower of Terror in Disneyland?
There used to be a Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s California Adventure theme park in southern California. However, the company refurbished it into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout in 2017.
Was this an actual episode of The Twilight Zone?
No. Disney Imagineers helped create the brief episode shown in the pre-show in the queue. Still, even die-hard Twilight Zone fans attest to the clip’s similarities to real episodes that aired in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Get Your Thrill on the Tower of Terror
As you can see, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of the most exciting thrill rights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Walt Disney World. Make it part of your family’s next Disney vacation!