Confirmed: DCA Tower of Terror to be re-skinned with Marvel theming

Don’t freak out – yet – it’s just a rumor, but it’s a widely reported one and it’s picking up steam.

Update Monday, July 25, 2016: Rumor confirmed.

The DCA Tower of Terror will be closed down within the year (some sources say late 2016, some say early 2017) to be re-themed as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It will reopen summer 2017. MiceChat has a very detailed article (and some speculation) on the re-skin.

If this change makes you unhappy, join the protest:

Numerous sources report a Guardians of the Galaxy or Marvel-themed “makeover” (or total ruining, depending how you look at it) in the works for the Disney California Adventure Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction, coming as soon as 2017.

tower_secrets_gotg_tower_of_terror_rumor

The rumor goes something like this…

Disney’s paying mad bucks to CBS to license the Twilight Zone for its Towers in Paris, Florida, and California. Meanwhile, Marvel (also owned by Disney) is printing money like its going out of style, and Marvel-themed attractions would undoubtedly draw some crowds (the same way Star Wars is packing people into Tomorrowland with Season of the Force).

Iron clad licensing agreements with Universal Orlando (hello, Islands of Adventure) don’t allow for anything from the Marvel universe to appear at Walt Disney World, so this revamp would be limited to parks outside of Florida, namely Disney California Adventure.

(This also might mean the Florida tower is safe… for now.)

Where’s the rumor coming from?

Specifically, a poster by the name of “WDW1974”, also known as “Spirit”, on the WDWMagic.com rumor forums shared (supposedly) insider knowledge that Disney is looking to remake the California Tower in time for 2017, to be the first of many major Marvel attractions coming to DCA and parks not located in Florida.

“If they have their way, the current Anaheim ToT will close around the first oft the year and reopen before summer with an entirely new GotG based show, still (somehow I am told) centered on a haunted hotel from the 1930s.” [source post]

From what I can tell, Spirit has historically been a reliable source of insider knowledge regarding Disney parks.

How likely is this rumor to be true?

Obviously, Disney’s no stranger to building drop towers without the Twilight Zone licensing. They already did it for Tokyo DisneySea, and avoided paying licensing and royalty fees to CBS. Disney’s also not afraid to inject new and popular IPs into classic attractions, such as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean and Frozen in the Maelstrom attraction at EPCOT.

The rest of this is my own speculation – take it with a grain of salt!

I think it’s fairly likely that Disney would permanently re-skin one or more of its Towers with a new theme. Whether that’s Guardians of the Galaxy, or something from the larger Marvel universe (Stark Tower?), or something else entirely is harder to say.

I thought GOTG was a fun film, but was it substantial enough to base one of the park’s strongest attractions on? I don’t know about that. If someone had asked me what theme I thought Disney might redo the Tower with, I’d have guessed Star Wars!

But I do know that The Twilight Zone license is old and was only vaguely familiar to me as a kid 20+ years ago, and I’m sure it hasn’t fared any better with kiddos born in the 90’s and 00’s.

Furthermore, the DCA Tower has forever lived in the shadow of the Florida Tower. Anyone who has ridden both is quick to compare the two and the Florida tower almost always comes out on top, if the comments this site gets are any indication. A unique theme in DCA could help the two towers stand on their own unique merits.

I also think Bug’s Land is ripe for bulldozing. A fully-realized Marvel-themed land could fit in that space, capitalizing on the record-breaking films’ collective popularity better than that glorified gift shop / museum over by Space Mountain ever could.

marvel_tower_of_terror

What’s the fan reaction?

Negative reactions abound on fan forums, but those are enthusiast forums, not the general public.

I trust Disney will do a good job with any makeover they might apply to the Tower, as they have with revamps in the past, but don’t take this as happiness on my part – I’ll be sad to see the Twilight Zone disappear from DCA. This Tower holds many special memories for me, and it saddens me to think I soon may not be able to “go back” to it, the same way I can’t go back to the Back to the Future attraction in Universal Orlando.

Anyway, that’s what I know about the Tower of Terror revamp rumor – I’ll post more when more is known! And if you know more than I do, please share in the comments!

 

Interview with a Real Life Tower of Terror Bellhop

I recently had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Bruno, a Croatian student studying in the Netherlands. He is a former Tower of Terror bellhop from the Disneyland Paris park, and he graciously agreed to be interviewed for TowerSecrets.

I hope you enjoy his bellhop stories as much as I do!

tower_bellhop_lineup

A lineup of Tower of Terror bellhop cast members welcome guests to the grand opening of the California Tower of Terror. Photo credit: disneyparks.disney.go.com

Tell us how you got the job as a Tower of Terror bellhop.

I was a bellhop for 3 months, 2 years in a row (so 6 months overall). That was my summer job and so far the best student job ever. I worked in Paris Tower of Terror in boiler room and on boarding the elevators. I requested any “fun” job in my student union and they gave me bellhop job and I was amazed.

What was your favorite part of being a Tower bellhop?

My favorite part of the bellhop job was that it’s like you are in a movie. You have your role and you must play it well and it was hard to stay “creepy” and “serious” in some cases, but roleplaying like that was thrilling.

Have you ever seen guests do something special on the tower (like a marriage proposal)?

There are always some people that are trying to do something “special”, but I haven’t seen anything even close to the famous proposals. There was one guy that removed his seatbelt as soon as the doors closed but all of our elevators are monitored so ride stopped immediately. That passenger was kindly asked to belt himself up over intercall system and he did. Later, I asked him why he did that and he said that he wanted to see if he would feel “zero gravity” while dropping.

Did you ever see the ride break down, and if so, what happened?

Breakdowns in Paris tower are very rare but I saw it once. The problem was that elevators were not synchronized. That means one elevator was leaving station while second one was still in the shaft. Luckily, whole tower went to emergency stop so everything was all right. We had to evacuate elevators to synchronize them again and in half an hour we were back on track.

Where do items lost on the Tower show up? Do they land at the bottom?

In the elevator’s cabin I’ve found 2 wallets, a cell phone, glasses, and 3 bags, but everything was returned to their owners same day. When something falls in the shaft we can’t collect it same day, but we collect stuff from the shaft once a month and we return everything that we find to its owners (if there is a name tag or something on it, of course).

Are the Tower bellhops the best cast members? I’m pretty sure they are 🙂

All of the bellhops are one big cast and we have to be in creepy mood all of the time. We have only few mins to rest from being serious in the hallway between boiler room and elevator when both of the doors are closed. We often look at each other and we just laugh 🙂

Before we go, do you have any funny stories you would like to share?

Once a granny was entering an elevator cabin and she asked me, “Son, are you really that disappointed with your job? Because I have been watching you for few minutes now and I haven’t see you smiling or talking to the riders.” I just said, “Ma’am, if I tell you that being serious is part of this job you wouldn’t believe me.”

Then there was one little boy that was so scared that he was shaking and he asked me if I can go in with him. Since that was our last ride of that day anyway I asked my colleague if he could start the show so I could ride with the boy. He was so happy that after ride, he gave me a hug and he said “thank you” to me at least 5 times. That was really a moment to remember inside the Tower.

Another interesting story is that every morning we have to check if sound and light effects are synchronized with the ride itself and only way to test that is to ride it so every morning at about 7:30 a.m. we rode the Tower and that was just amazing. When I first came to the Tower job they asked me if I had ever been on the Tower and I said no, so the first thing they did was, of course, give me opportunity to ride it! And believe me, riding the Tower in the bellhop uniform was just amazing. 🙂

Thank you, Bruno, for the fascinating interview and wonderful stories from your time as a Tower of Terror bellhop!

Recommended Photography Equipment for Great Disney Photos

I wasn’t much of a photographer back when I started this site: I just held up my phone and snapped a pic. 😀 Running this site inspired me to take better photos of the Tower – and by extension, my vacations in general: Disney or otherwise.

Since my equipment has served me so well (and survived so roller coaster twists and Tower drops), I’d like to dedicate a page to recommending the photography gear I use when I visit a Disney park!

My Disney Park Photography Equipment List

Joby GorillaPod

First up is this quirky tripod-thing that works with virtually any point and shoot camera. Disney isn’t fond of larger tripods and (as far as I know) doesn’t allow them in the park. Plus, most people don’t want to carry a large tripod around all day anyway.

This flexible Joby tripod has never drawn ire from Disney staff when I enter the parks, and it’s perfect for stabilizing my camera for long twilight and nighttime shots. It fits nicely in a cinch bag or small backpack, and it’s light enough to just carry around in my hand without it being a bother. It goes on every ride with me and it has survived half a dozen theme park trips since I got it.

Joby_GorillaPod_Hybrid_Tripod

Joby has bendy feet for standing anywhere. One of my favorite uses for it is to wrap its feet around the railing near the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles for lovely nighttime photos.

With this Joby tripod, I can:

  • Take group shots that include me using a timer on the camera
  • Take long exposure twilight shots
  • Take even longer exposure nighttime shots
  • Make videos that are completely stable
  • Get photos in awkward locations – wrap it around railings, bench backs, trash cans, etc to get shots from areas where normal tripods wouldn’t fit anyway

Night Photos

It’s pretty much impossible to get a decent photo in the parks after the sun sets. A camera has to be held perfectly still for a couple seconds or more to make a clear shot. A small tripod and a point and shoot camera can do that with ease.

Here’s a shot (taken with my iPhone) of my Canon PowerShot working on a long-exposure photo of the Epcot ball supported by the Joby tripod.

joby_epcot

Here’s how that photo turned out:

joby_epcot_ball

And here’s another 2-second exposure shot, this one of the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland. All those little details captured at night look so pretty!

sleeping_beauty_castle_night

These are pretty good by my amateur family vacation standards, and not bad for equipment that cost less than $200 total.

Get Everyone in the Picture

Another perk of bringing a Joby tripod along? I get to be in the picture, too!

I see lots of families at Disney taking photos with one member noticeably absent because that person was busy holding the camera. With a miniature tripod, you can get everyone in the shot together. Yay!

joby_family_pic

My husband and I pose for a photo at Epcot. The camera was on a 10 second timer and attached to my Joby tripod across the walkway.

There are lots of Joby models, the Joby GorillaPod is the specific one I use.

Canon PowerShot

Canon has been my favorite “point and shoot” camera for a long time (I’m on my third one in 10 years), and my whole family uses them because they’re rugged, well-priced, and easy to use.

canon_powershot

This Canon PowerShot is the camera I use in the parks and for the photos I take for this site.

I use a Canon PowerShot ELPH (in red!), but there are so many to pick from and Canon is always updating the line. My dad and sister both have slightly different PowerShots than I do, and they’re all great.

Check out the current selection of Canon PowerShot cameras on Amazon.com.

Shooting Modes for Night

I get a lot of use out of Handheld Night Scene and Long Exposure shooting modes on this camera. Switching to those modes is fast and easy. With the camera attached to my Joby tripod, taking great nighttime and twilight shots is not only possible, it’s pretty easy and fun, too.

This is one of my favorite park photos, and it was taken with the camera and tripod sitting on a trash can near the tower.

tower_of_terror_hollywood_studios_orlando_twilight

That’s it!

That’s all I bring.

I hate being bogged down with camera equipment when I’m having fun in the parks, so I keep it super lightweight and simple.

Note: The links in this article are Amazon.com affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I get a tiny % of the purchase price as a kickback from Amazon.com at no added cost to you. As always, shop around for the best deal!

And HAVE FUN! 🙂

Tower of Terror Ride Stats

Here are the basic ride stats about the Tower of Terror – attraction heights vary by Tower, but the rest is pretty much the same across all four. Click here for a detailed comparison of the four Towers.

Max Speed: 30 mph

Drop Total: 4 of varying length separated by a few changes in direction. Read more about the Tower’s drop profiles.

Drop Distance: 130 feet at the longest, but most drops are shorter (20-40 feet)

Airtime: 2½ seconds on the longest drop

Attraction Height: 199 feet

Door height from ground: 156-160 feet

Around the World: There are four Towers of Terror worldwide. They are located in California, Florida, Paris, and Tokyo.

4 Towers Comparison Chart: Towers Around the World

How do the Towers of Terror around the world stack up when compared to each other? This chart will tell you!

 
ParkDisney's Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida, USA)Disney California Adventure (Anaheim, California, USA)Walt Disney Studios (Paris, France)Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan)
Opening DateJuly 22nd, 1994May 5th, 2004Sept. 22, 2006Dec. 22, 2007
Construction Budget$140 million$70-90 million$160 million$230 million
Building height199 feet183 feet183 feet157 feet
Highest rider elevation170 feet157 feet157 feet157 feet
Seats per elevator car21212121
Vehicles8866
Boiler room floors (loading decks)1222
Transitional hallway (5th Dimension)YesNoNoNo
StorylineTwilight Zone "Lost Episode"Twilight Zone "Lost Episode"Twilight Zone "Lost Episode"Harrison Hightower's cursed idol
Architectural StyleNeo-Mediterranean Pueblo DecoPueblo DecoMoorish revival
Affectionate Nickname 🙂Pink and pointyBig yellow boxFrench yellow boxGingerbread house

How the 5th Dimension Scene Works – Tower of Terror (Florida)

5th_dimension_diagramThe Hollywood Studios (WDW, Florida) version of the Tower of Terror is the only version of the ride that contains the “5th Dimension” scene.  Essentially a hallway of stars and mirrors, the 5th Dimension is a horizontal connection between one of the four “lift shafts” at the back of the Tower building and one of the two “drop shafts” at the front.

Learning how the 5th Dimension scene works will spoil some of the mystery so proceed with caution!

The 5th Dimension Experience

After the ghosts in the corridor scene, Florida riders are treated to a unique experience known as the 5th Dimension.  The elevator lifts the passenger car and the doors open to reveal a dark star-field.  Suddenly, the passenger car drifts forward.  Bizarre sights and sounds pop up around the car – a door to nowhere, the apparitions from the hallway, an eyeball reflecting the passengers themselves.  The stars fade away and are replaced by glowing outlines on a set of elevator doors, which open wide and swallow the approaching passengers.

Everything goes dark as Rod Serling’s voice intones, “You are about to discover what lies beyond the fifth dimension. Beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination… in the Tower of Terror.”   Faster-than-gravity thrills ensue!

Now let’s take a look behind the scenes at how this all works.

5thdworklights_flash_photo

This photo from (now defunct) MouseTimes.com shows the 5th Dimension scene fairly well illuminated, likely with the help of a camera flash.

The Passenger Car

The transitions from “lift shaft” elevator to “drop shaft” elevator are so well hidden, most guests don’t realize that the passenger car is not the elevator itself.  The passenger car is in fact a separate vehicle, often termed an “autonomous guided vehicle” or AGV.  The AGV moves independently of the elevator cars.

Look behind you!

It’s not always possible, but if you’re seated in a particular position (for example, if you’re seated on the left side of an elevator car that just emerged from a right-side shaft) you can look backwards through the wire wall of your car and catch a glimpse of the other 5th dimension entrance – or possibly another AGV full of ride passengers. It’s rare, but whenever I’m seated on the side of the car I try to look back and see if anyone’s over there.

Self Steering Car

The car that takes you through the 5th Dimension is self-steering.  You’re not on a track! The car rides on its own wheels, steered by its own computer, following a buried wire underneath the floor.

Tower-of-Terror-Wire-Sensor

A peek at the underside of the Tower of Terror’s “autonomous guided vehicle”, ie: the car you ride in as you move forward through the 5th Dimension.

The system is highly sensitive – any abnormalities in the 5th Dimension’s floor, such as a dropped object, will cause any approaching AGVs to come to a stop.  (Because this system is so prone to delay-causing troubles, the 5th Dimension scene was not included in later versions of the Tower.  It also takes up a lot of horizontal space, which was at a premium in other parks.)

This 3-minute clip  from “Modern Marvels” demonstrates the entire process.

Ride Diagram

Coincidentally, the 5th Dimension is on the building’s 5th floor.

Passengers load into the AGV, which is already sitting inside of a larger elevator car (A, B, C, or D, depending on which loading dock was used). The elevator lifts the AGV first to the “ghosts in the hallway” scene, and then lifts the AGV again, this time to the fifth floor.  The passenger car moves forward and out of the elevator, traveling on its own through the mirrored hallway scene.  At the end of the 5th Dimension, a set of doors open and the passenger car moves forward into one of the two front (E, F) elevators.

In other words, the 5th Dimension is just an elaborate way of transferring the passenger car from one elevator to another.

tower of terror how the 5th dimension scene works diagram

5th Dimension Hallway Design

The Tower actually has two separate 5th Dimension hallways.  They’re basically identical as far as passengers can tell. Each one is Y-shaped and each accepts passenger cars from two of the four lift shafts (so A and B share one 5th Dimension while C and D share another). Each 5th Dimension hallway feeds cars into the final “drop elevators” located at the front of the Tower structure.

5th Dimension props and effects

There’s a ton of visual eye candy in the 5th Dimension – you could ride a dozen times before you’ve really seen it all! There’s flashing lightning, a startling breaking window, a door, an eyeball that sometimes shows a photo of your car, and a seemingly never-ending field of stars.

While these illusions are convincing, they’re very simply made – just plastic cutouts with an image shining on them from a projector. The twinkling stars are fiber optic lights. Mirrors and reflective surfaces add to the otherworldly experience.

Catch a glimpse of your vehicle

If you’re seated in an advantageous position (a front row seat, far right or far left depending which fork you’re entering from tends to be best), you can sometimes see the red lights on the underside of your vehicle reflected in the mirrors of the 5th Dimension. To Disney’s credit, their designers did a great job of making it hard to see anything you aren’t “supposed to” in the 5th Dimension.

Exit signs and doors

One of the easiest “secrets” to spot in the 5th Dimension are the exit doors. Look around, especially to the sides, and you can spot ’em. I find them comforting, personally!

Passengers who have had to disembark the ride at this point due to technical problems have described the floor as rather flimsy-feeling.   Near the entrance to the 5th Dimension hallway, a door to “backstage” areas of the attraction is hidden in the darkness.

The Tower Turns 20: Celebrating 20 Years of Terror with Tower of Terror Trivia

Happy birthday, Tower of Terror! Thank you for 20 years of ghosts, screams, and being my absolute first-stop every time I go to the parks.

Here are 20 factoids about the Florida tower you (some apply to all Towers of Terror) you can use to impress dates and co-workers.

20 Years of Thrills

tower_of_terror_20_year_birthdayThe Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror attraction opened its wire gates to the public on July 22nd, 1994 in what was then called Disney’s MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) in Orlando, Florida. Since its opening, the original attraction’s drop sequence has been modified a few times, but much else has stayed the same (aside from a completely new coat of low-VOC paint in 2010).

As a testament to the Tower’s enduring popularity, Disney has constructed three more Towers of Terror throughout the world, the first one opening in California in 2004. These new towers feature efficient but controversial updates to the original Tower’s design. The Orlando Tower remains unique among the four with its salmon pink facade, 5th Dimension hallway sequence, and two-shaft design.

20 Bits of Tower of Terror Trivia

1. Lightning has actually struck the Tower in real life (here’s a video!)

2. Smile – you’re on camera the whole time you ride. A night-vision camera feeds into a back room where cast members monitor your car for trouble (or shenanigans).

3. The Otis Elevator company, after 100 years of engineering elevators that don’t feel like free-falling, helped design the vertical ride system used in the Tower of Terror. Otis is the world’s oldest and largest elevator manufacturer and has installed elevators in the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, and Petronas Twin Towers – just to name a few.

4. The walkways leading into the Tower are tilted at 2-4 degree angles. This seemingly minor detail heightens the feelings of disorientation as you navigate the gardens towards the entrance.

tower_of_terror_orlando_walkway_queue

The Tower’s windy-wobbly tilty-wilty entrance path.

5. The Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror architecture and color palette were chosen to blend into Epcot’s Morocco exhibit, since the Tower is clearly visible from inside Epcot. This building design has not been re-used for any of Disney’s newer towers.

6. Loose objects on the Tower “hover” during the free-falls. This happens because you (strapped into the elevator seat) are being pulled down “faster” than gravity. The loose object, however, is only being pulled by gravity alone.

7. Each elevator shaft has its own very large, very heavy motor sitting at the top of the structure. These motors are each about the size of a single-car garage and weigh about 132,000 lbs each. (Read more about the Tower’s motors here.)

tower_of_terror_motor_close_up

Part of one of the Tower of Terror’s motors, as seen in a cool Disney-produced video about the construction of Paris’s own Tower of Terror.

8. Numerous safety features protect Tower riders in the (exceedingly rare) event of an actual free-fall.

9. It’s hard to see the left side and the back of the Tower from the park, but it is possible. The best way to see the left side of the Tower is from the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster queue. (Amusingly, the bottom 1/4 or so of the Tower’s right (your left, from inside the park) side is completely smooth and unfinished looking.) The best way to see the back side of the Tower from inside the park is from the Fantastmic! stadium. From outside the park, the back of the Tower can be seen (at a distance) from the Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

wdw_tower_of_terror_plain_side

A rare glimpse at the side of the Tower that’s not meant to be seen from inside the park.

10. Disney made a movie about the Tower of Terror! Sure, it’s not as well-known as other movies-inspired-by-Disney-rides (ie: Pirates of the Caribbean), but it’s a fun family film.

tower_of_terror_1997_movie

The Tower of Terror movie features American actress Kirsten Dunst in an early role.

11. Stare left, right, up, or down (basically, anywhere but straight in front of you) and you might catch a glimpse of some of the ride’s fascinating inner-workings such as maintenance bays, staircases, emergency exit doors, and wiring. This holds true on many Disney rides – look anywhere except where you’re supposed to be looking and you can find all sorts of interesting “behind the scenes” things to see!

orlando_tower_of_terror_dark_passageway

If you find this photo utterly fascinating, consider a career in engineering. 🙂

12. When it first opened, the Tower featured a padded lap bar shared by all the riders in each row. As a child riding in 1994, I can assure you the 8 inch space between my lap and the actual bar (thanks, adults) was the real source of terror on this ride.

13. Cast members are instructed not to smile, but it’s easy to crack them up if you play along with their serious-face act.

tower_of_terror_bellhop_fun

Me and the most adorable Tower bellhop ever!

14. There are no rails or tracks in the 5th Dimension hallway. Instead, the so-called “elevator” from which you experience the ride is actually a self-driving car that rides inside the actual elevator. The 5th Dimension disguises the transition of the autonomous car from the “back” elevator to the “front” elevator. (Read more about how the 5th Dimension works here.)

15. Rod Serling passed away 20 years before the ride was built, but his appearance in the pre-show video is really him! His voice, however, was done by a talented impersonator. (Read more about the Disney magic behind Rod Serling’s mysterious Tower of Terror appearance here.)

rod_serling_map_us

The footage of Rod Serling was taken from the intro to the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”.

16. All that wind you feel blowing as you free-fall? It’s from fans underneath the elevator!

17. A few “backstage”areas are visible from the top of the Tower. You only get a few seconds to look, but you can spot trucks, cars, loading docks, costuming areas, and roadways that sort of look like the park but aren’t accessible to guests.

orlando_tower_of_terror_view_from_top_see_backstage_area

Orlando’s own “cars land” is visible from the top of the Tower.

18. If you’re lucky enough to ride when the lights are on for some reason, you’ll see most of the lift shafts and interior walls are made of undecorated plywood and fire-retardant grey stuff. (I’ve seen it myself, albeit briefly. On a ride in 1997, the ride stopped lights were on for about 10 seconds. The ride faced a wall covered in grey fire-proofing material at the bottom of the final drop shaft. No reason for the pause was given, and the ride just continued when it went dark again.)

19. Disney’s Imagineers packed the Tower with Twilight Zone memorabilia and props. Even die-hard fans may have a tough time catching all of the obscure references.

tower_of_terror_ventriloquist_dummy_hollywood_studios

The ventriloquist dummy is one of the harder props to spot. He’s in the collection of stuff at the bottom of one of the drop shafts.

20. The Tower is modeled after real life Old Hollywood hotels, most notably the Mission Inn, the Biltmore Hotel, and the Hollywood Hotel. (Read more about Tower of Terror architecture here.)

hollywood_tower

The Hollywood Hotel is just one of the hotels that influenced the design of the Tower of Terror in Orlando, Florida.

There you have it – 20 Tower of Terror trivia bits. Here’s to another 20+ years! I can’t wait to ride when I’m 50!

Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror Collectible Sculpture

Sculptor Ray Day and Lilliput Lane teamed up to create this exquisitely detailed Tower of Terror collectible for the 2002 Disneyana convention. Ray Day is an acclaimed sculptor who has produced many other Disney designs, and Lilliput Lane is known worldwide for their miniature cottage collectibles. Only 400 individually-numbered Tower replicas were produced and sold at $325 each to individual collectors. This treasured Tower of Terror Disneyana collector’s item is rare and highly sought after.

Fellow tower fan Ryan R. kindly shares these gorgeous photos of his Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture #002.

There are eight “Hidden Mickeys” on the Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror sculpture – six of them are visible in these photos below. Can you find the six Hidden Mickeys? They look like the Sorcerer’s Hat + Mickey ears. (Answers at the bottom of this page.)

Front View

(Click any of these photos to see them larger)

TowerSecrets: Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture. Front view.

TowerSecrets: Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture. Front view.

Left SideTowerSecrets: Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture. Right side view.Back Side

The gold medallion/keyhole design reads: “Official Disneyana Mystery 2002 – Confidential – Limited Edition”.

TowerSecrets: Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture. Back side view.

Right Side

Look at all those tiny bricks in the courtyard! Also, if you look closely on the lower right side of this photo you’ll see the limited edition “002” numbering.

TowerSecrets: Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture. Left side view.

With so much detail packed into the sculpture, you might be  surprised to know that this Tower replica is actually very tiny! Here is Ray Day creating the original wax sculpture:

ray_day_tower_of_terror

Ray Day creating the original wax Tower of Terror Lilliput Lane sculpture.

In fact, Ray Day shares several photos of the Tower’s wax sculpting process here. If you’d like to see how it was made, check it out!

Hidden Mickey Locations

(Don’t peek down here unless you want help finding the Hidden Mickeys on the Tower of Terror Lilliput Lane sculpture!)

lilliput_lane_hidden_mickey_tower_of_terror

Ray Day hid 8 “Mickeys” in the sculpture!

  1. On the front, under the “hotel” sign
  2. On the front, near the entrance gate in the greenery
  3. On the left side, just above the trees on the building itself
  4. On the right side, near the bottom and to the right of the “HTH” logo
  5. On the right side, in the greenery just above the second flight of stairs on the left
  6. On the backside, near the top of the Tower on the right
  7. (Pictured below) On the back side, on the right under a tree and between two flowers
  8. (Not pictured) On the back side, on the left where the path leads into the shrubs
lilliput_lane_tower_of_terror_hidden_mickey_near_path

This Hidden Mickey isn’t visible in the photos above – here’s a closeup!

Huge thank you to reader Ryan R. for the beautiful photos of his Lilliput Lane Tower of Terror collectible sculpture!

Twilight Zone References in the Tower of Terror

Twilight Zone logo in white

Can you spot all the Twilight Zone references in the Tower of Terror?

Get ready for a scavenger hunt – Disney’s Imagineers packed the Tower of Terror with loads of Twilight Zone TV show references!

The Tower practically doubles as a museum dedicated to classic sci-fi show – replicas of show props, references to characters, and reminders of twist endings are found throughout the haunted hotel attractions.

Some Twilight Zone references in the Tower of Terror only found in the Hollywood Studios (HS) tower; others are unique to the tower in Disney California Adventure (DCA). The later towers, namely the Disney California Adventure version and the Paris version, have more props and references than the original in Orlando – the Imagineers doubled down on the Twilight Zone goodies the second and third time around!

Specific episodes are referenced, but I’ve done my best to omit spoilers in this article wherever possible. Be warned that links to Wikipedia and external sites may contain Twilight Zone episode spoilers. 🙂

Catch up on the Twilight Zone with a free week of CBS All Access – stream hundreds of episodes of The Twilight Zone, plus hundreds of other CBS shows. (affiliate link)

* Hotel Lobby *

It’s dim in here, but look closely and you’ll see a few Twilight Zone references in the hotel’s entrance.

Tip-Top Club poster (HS & DCA)

Episode: “It’s a Good Life” (Season 3, Episode 8)
Original air date: November 3, 1961

Six year old Anthony Fremont has an incredible superpower: using only his mind, he can make anything – or anyone – who annoys him disappear forever.  Time magazine and TV guide both regard”It’s a Good Life” as one of the best Twilight Zone episodes!

The Tip-Top club poster in the lobby features Anthony Fremont and his orchestra playing at the top of the Tower. The irony, of course, is that little Anthony hates it when people sing.

Tower of Terror Tip Top club poster featuring Anthony Freemont and his Orchestra

Anthony Freemont and his orchestra – a rather obscure reference to “It’s a Good Life”.

Gold Thimble (DCA)

Episode:The After Hours” (Season 1, Episode 34)
Original air date: June 10, 1960

Marsha is shopping for a gold thimble – and she finds it on the mysterious nonexistent ninth floor of a downtown department store. 

Located in the “waiting area” just before the libraries in the DCA version of the Tower are a couple of glass cases containing Twilight Zone prop replicas. One of them is a golden thimble accompanied by a small sign containing the phrase, “Looking for a gift for mother? It’s the very thing you need. Available in our gift shop.”

Tower of Terror Twilight Zone reference gold thimble from "After Hours" on a red velvety background

Gold thimble from “The After Hours”. Photo credit: MainStGazette.com

“After Hours” shares two more features with the Tower:

  • A nonexistent floor, much like the Tower’s mythical 13th floor
  • The elevator needle going past the top floor (in the episode, it’s past the 8th. In the Tower, it’s past the 12th.)

Broken Stopwatch (DCA)

Episode:A Kind of a Stopwatch” (Season 5, Episode 4)
Original air date: 10/18/1963

Patrick McNulty receives a stopwatch from a drunken man at a bar and thinks it a rather odd gift until he realizes the watch stops time for everyone but him. This is another very highly rated Twilight Zone episode.

In the DCA Tower, look in the glass case before the library for this stopwatch.

Twilight Zone references in the Tower of Terror a stopwatch from "A Kind of a Stopwatch" in a glass display case

Stopwatch from “A Kind of a Stopwatch”. Photo credit: MainStGazette.com

Door “22” (DCA)

Episode:Twenty Two” (Season 2, Episode 17)
Original air date: February 10, 1961

Hospital patient Miss Liz Powell has a recurring nightmare about taking an elevator down to the hospital’s morgue – room 22 – as the line between nightmare and reality begins to blur.  

A door in front of the out-of-order elevators in the lobby is numbered “22”.

Twilight Zone reference in the Tower of Terror door "22" from "Twenty Two" found in Disney California Adventure

“22” door in DCA’s Tower. Photo Credit: TowerOfTerror.org

* Hotel Library *

The library is jam-packed with Twilight Zone references.  Spotting all of them is a challenge because the library is usually very dark – good luck!

Introductory Video

The footage of Rod Serling in the Tower of Terror’s introduction video is from “It’s a Good Life”. His original line was, “This as you may recognize is a map of the United States.”

Rod Serling Tower of Terror It's a Good Life map footage

“This as you may recognize…”

Related: How Rod Serling “Hosts” the Tower of Terror Attraction

Row of Books

Near the door to the boiler room is a shelf with a row of tightly packed books (look low, maybe 3 feet above the ground near the door to the boiler room).  Each of these slender volumes contains a Twilight Zone episode script.

Twilight Zone references in the Tower of Terror row of episode script books in the library

Twilight Zone episode script books – each library contains its own unique set. Photo credit: TowerOfTerror.org

Pair of Glasses (HS, DCA)

Episode: “Time Enough at Last” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Original air date: November 20, 1959

Henry Bemis never had time to read – until an apocalyptic event wipes out all life on Earth.

Look for a pair of round-rim glasses on a stack of books.

burgess-meredith

Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis finally getting some time to read! Photo credit: CBS Twilight Zone

Envelopes labeled “Victoria West” and “Rod Serling” (HS & DCA)

Episode:A World of His Own” (Season 1, Episode 36)
Original air date: July 1, 1960

Gregory West writes reality by dictating his wish into his dictation machine – and un-writes it by burning up the tapes, which happen to be stuffed into labeled envelopes. 

These envelopes takes a bit of effort to find.  In Hollywood Studios, the right library room contains an envelope labeled “Rod Serling” tucked away behind a cage to the left of the television.  The left library room contains an envelope labeled “Victoria West”.  To fully understand these references, you’ll have to watch the episode ’til the end!

rod_serling_envelope

Photo Credit: FromScreenToTheme (warning – episode spoiler in link!)

victoria_west_HS_envelope

Photo credit: DisneyDreamer09 on forums.wdwmagic.com (warning – episode spoilers in link!)

They made these envelopes a bit easier to find in DCA – they’re laying face up on the bookshelves.

rod_serling_DCA_envelope

The named envelopes as they appear in the DCA Tower. Photo credit: TowerOfTerror.org (careful – link contains episode spoiler!)

Trumpet

Episode:A Passage for Trumpet” (Season 1, Episode 32)
Original air date: May 20, 1960

Joey Crown is a down-on-his-luck trumpet player who, after a suicide attempt, finds himself in a state of “limbo” where he cannot be seen or heard by others.

The trumpet is located just below waist-height.  It’s not a real trumpet, just a sturdy replica that’s been attached to the shelf it sits on. (Look at the title of the sheet music underneath the trumpet for one of the Tower’s “Hidden Mickeys”).

tower_of_terror_trumpet_replica

A trumpet replica sits on a shelf in the library. Photo credit: JSpence at AllEars.net (his post is excellent, but be warned it contains a few episode spoilers)

Miniature Space Man

Episode:The Invaders” (Season 2, Episode 15)
Original air date: January 27, 1961

An old woman uses a hatchet to battle two tiny space aliens!

Look to the top of the bookshelves – this little guy is pretty easy to spot.

Tower of Terror reference to The Invaders tiny space man

A tiny alien spaceman suit sits atop the library shelves.

The Mystic Seer

Episode:Nick of Time” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Original air date: November 18, 1960

Young couple Don and Pat Carter encounter a irresistible fortune-telling machine in a diner. 

The “Mystic Seer” is easy to spot in the Tower library – look on top of the bookshelves, near the ceiling. It’s a little red box with a devil’s head on top.

Mystic seer fortune telling box in the twilight zone tower of terror

The Mystic Seer atop a bookshelf in DCA’s Tower of Terror. Photo credit: maxthedog.com (who quite impressively built his very own Mystic Seer replica!)

“To Serve Man” Book

Episode: “To Serve Man” (Season 3, Episode 24)
Original air date: March 2, 1962

Friendly aliens from a paradise planet give Earth a few upgrades…

Look for a black book laying face up behind a table with a lamp and an upholstered chair. The book title’s translation, “To Serve Man”, is written on a card atop the book.

to_serve_man_book_on_shelf

Seem familiar? The source material has beenwidely spoofed in pop culture, including in the very first Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror“. Photo credit: Todd Hurley

* Boiler Room *

Chalk “Circle” on Wall & Radio Voice (DCA)

Episode: “Little Girl Lost” (Season 3, Episode 26)
Original air date: March 16, 1962

Six year old Tina disappears from her bed – but her parents can still hear her cries for help. Her parents and neighbor investigate, discovering an invisible portal to the fourth dimension next to her bed.

The DCA and Paris towers contain two references to “Little Girl Lost”. The first is a chalk line drawing on the wall in the upper floor of the boiler room near the attraction’s warning signs.  The second is the little girl’s voice calling out for help from the workbench’s radio.

Twilight Zone Little Girl Lost portal

Tina’s parents and neighbor outline the portal on her wall. Photo credit: CBS The Twilight Zone

Popular Mechanics magazines (DCA)

Episode:I Sing the Body Electric” (Season 3, Episode 35)
Original air date: May 18, 1962

Ray Bradbury wrote this episode in which a recent widower orders a mechanical grandmother for his three children.

Look on the workbench in the boiler room to catch this obscure reference.

* In the Elevator *

Elevator Inspection Certificate (HS & DCA)

While in the elevator, look on the wall to your left for the elevator’s inspection certificate.  The number on it is 10259, or October 2, 1959 – the date that Twilight Zone first aired. It is signed by Cadwallader – a reference to the deal-making devil from “Escape Clause” (Season 1, Episode 6; air date November 6, 1959).

permit_to_operate_elevator

Photo credit: FromScreenToTheme.com

Slot Machine (HS)

Episode: “The Fever” (Season 1, Episode 17)
Original air date: January 29, 1960

Franklin despises gambling, but a drunken man gives him a coin to gamble with while vacationing in Las Vegas. As he tries to walk away with his winnings, the slot machine taunts him back.

The slot machine is in the “landing room” at the bottom of the elevator shaft in Hollywood Studios.  Your only chance to catch this reference is when the elevator backs up and rotates into the unload position.

Ventriloquist Dummy (HS)

Episode:Caesar and Me” (Season 5, Episode 28)
Original air date: April 10, 1964

Jonathan West has a ventriloquist dummy with a mind of its own and a knack for dispensing poor advice.

Look quickly, this is another reference that can only be seen in the collection of memorabilia waiting at the bottom of the elevator shaft in Hollywood Studios.

tower_of_terror_ventriloquist_dummy_hollywood_studios

In case you didn’t get enough scares in the elevator, this spooky dummy is waiting for you at the bottom! Photo credit: Disneyana by Max

* On the Way Out *

Hanging in both Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure Towers is a dusty old sign with the words, “Picture if You Will”, near the photo purchase desks.

picture_if_you_will_tower_of_terror

One of Rod Serling’s episode-opening phrases gets appropriately applied to the ride photo area.

Red Toy Telephone (DCA)

Episode:Long Distance Call” (Season 2, Episode 22)
Original air date: March 31, 1961

Five-year-old Billy talks to his deceased grandmother via a plastic toy phone she gave him just before her death.

The toy telephone shares a display case with several other Twilight Zone references.

tower_of_terror_red_telephone_long_distance_call

The sign reads, “Perfect for the children’s room and those late night calls from grandma.” Photo credit: Regions Beyond at micechat.com forums

Box Camera (DCA)

Episode:A Most Unusual Camera” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Original air date: December 16, 1960

A camera that photographs the future falls into the hands of a trio of nitwits.

Look for a burgundy-colored camera in a display case accompanied by a few more antique cameras.

unusual_camera_box_camera

The future-seeing camera spits out photos of events that haven’t happened yet. Photo credit: CBS The Twilight Zone

Electric Razor & Typewriter (DCA)

Episode:A Thing About Machines” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Original air date: October 28, 1960

Bartlett Finchley hates the machines around his house – and for good reason. They all seem to be out to get him…

There are actually two items referencing “A Thing About Machines” in the DCA tower:

  1. An electric razor accompanied by a sign, “Has A Long Cord – Can Follow You Everywhere”
  2. A typewriter with the repeating phrase “GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY”
twilight_zone_thing_about_machines_typewriter

The accompanying card says “Practically writes by itself”. Photo credit: remainseatedplease.com

Willoughby Travel (DCA)

Episode: “A Stop At Willoughby” (Season 1, Episode 30)
Original air date: May 6, 1960

Stressed-out New York ad man Gart Williams finds comfort when his train stops at the small town of Willoughby.

This “Willoughby Travel” sign adorns a window near the Tower’s exit in Disney California Adventure.

willoughby_travel_DCA_sign

Willoughby Travel sign at DCA’s Tower of Terror. Photo credit: TowerOfTerror.org

Whew! Got all that? This concludes our tour of the Tower of Terror’s Twilight Zone references – unless, of course, we missed any. Let us know in the comments!

Buy the complete Twilight Zone series on Blu-Ray!
(Or on DVD if you prefer)

Twilight Zone blu ray box set

All 156 episodes of the classic sci-fi series, including pilot episodes, audio commentaries, interviews, radio dramas, music scores, and more!
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Links




This collection of Disney-dedicated websites from around the web lists just a few of my favorites:

TowerOfTerror.org

Matt from StudioCentrals.com runs this nearly ten-years-old tribute site to the Tower of Terror. This is the quintessential site on all things Tower – from the story of how the Tower was conceived and built to how the special effects work (among other secrets). Caution – obsessives have been known to get lost here for hours. 😉

DoomBuggies

A fiendishly fun tribute “dead-icated” to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, the other delightfully haunted Disney attraction! DoomBuggies.com “accompanied” me on a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom, where I explored the backstory and secrets of The Haunted Mansion via my mobile phone while waiting in line. SO many secrets packed into one ride, and this site explains ’em all!

Dejiki

If you can’t afford a trip to Japan right now, Dejiki’s Disney blog is virtually the next best thing! This site offers beautiful photos and well-written English descriptions of Disney’s Tokyo attractions. Don’t miss Dejiki’s tour of the Tokyo DisneySea Tower of Terror – mechanically, it’s the same as the other Towers, but the story and architecture are completely new!

HiddenMickeys

HiddenMickeys.org isn’t just Hidden Mickeys – it also offers the most complete list of Tower theories and confirmed reports on the web. If you love the mysteries of Disney, check it out!

Physics At Disney

A physicist brings an accelerometer onto the Tower of Terror and graphs the ascents and descents! Even non-physicists can enjoy this fascinating “inside” look at the Tower’s main feature.

Disney’s Tower of Terror Movie

A decades-old mystery centering on an abandoned hotel serves as the centerpiece for this 1997 Disney family film. Many scenes were filmed at the Orlando Tower of Terror! If you’re a Tower enthusiast, this movie’s for you! (Amazon affiliate link) 

StudiosCentral

StudiosCentral.com is a fan site dedicated to Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Orlando, with weekly updates on the park’s happenings.

AllEars

AllEars.net is a massive fan-run Disney site, covering both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. They keep it up-to-date on things like changes and new attraction construction, so it’s almost like visiting the parks even when your next trip is months (or years 🙁 ) away.

DisneyDrivenLife

This self-proclaimed community for nuerotic Disney People gets detailed – and personal. My favorite part of the site is the confessional, where anonymous posters tell funny (and poignant) stories.

RunningAtDisney

Some folks like to take the fast track through Disney! This fan-run blog covers official runDisney events that are held year-round in and around the Walt Disney World Resort area. These joggers see a side of Disney the rest of us usually miss, so even if you’re not into running, RunningAtDisney is another great way to explore Disney from your home!

DisneyFans

This might be the biggest archive of vintage Disney photos on the web. DisneyFans hosts thousands of old (and new) photos of the parks. My favorite thing to do here is explore how the parks looked circa 1993 and 1994 – these are the years of my first two childhood visits. It’s incredible how much things have changed!

Buzzfeed’s 30 Things…

Buzzfeed’s 33 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Disney Parks was full of surprises – even for a grizzled old Disney veteran like me! It’s a light, fun read. Enjoy!