Tower of Terror Paper Model – Hollywood Studios Version

Many talented Tower of Terror fans have constructed paper models of the Tower.   This page showcases the work of artists who have built the Hollywood Studios version of the Tower.   (The showcase of DCA paper models can be found right here.)

This amazing, original design paper model of the Hollywood Studios version of the Tower of Terror from YouTube user papermodels93, who is a modern Michaelangelo of paper model-making.

Papermodel93’s tower finds a perfect blend of precise architectural detail (look at those roof tiles!) while retaining a handmade quality.  Great work, papermodels93!

Tower of Terror Safety Features

While the Tower of Terror simulates one of many people’s fear of a free-falling elevator, naming it “Tower of Terror” is just for show – the simulated free-fall is actually a highly controlled, very safe experience.  Disney takes rider safety very seriously – after all, Disney has a worldwide, multi-billion dollar brand to protect.  Read on to learn more about the Tower of Terror safety features.


If you rode the Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror in its early years, you might remember the shared lap bar that inevitably stopped far too high for small riders.  The shared lap bar was replaced in the early 2000s by individual seat belts, which allowed for personalized restraint and for a greater feeling of freedom while on the ride.

DCA and later versions have always featured individual seatbelts.

Smile, You’re on Camera!

The Tower’s ride operators can see and hear the car passengers the entire ride. Yup, even as you’re posing for the camera or making a silly face during the descent…

It’s someone’s job to watch the live video stream of the car’s passengers in a hidden monitor room. In the event of an unintended stop, a cast member makes an announcement over the PA that they can see and hear the passengers and emergency assistance is just a shout away.

Your Seat Belt is Monitored

Riders who don’t connect (or somehow disconnect) their safety belts cause the ride to stop and a cast member to ask them (over the PA) to re-buckle. As you board the elevator car, look low and to the right and you should see a panel of green lights. These lights are used to indicate which belts are buckled and the bellhop cast member who loads your elevator car checks it before you depart. Belt buckle status  is monitored throughout the ride, too.

Lightning Rods

tower of terror safety features lightning rods

Photo credit: TheStuartcarrol

Yup, lightning really does strike the Tower! But unlike in the pre-show video, the present-day Tower of Terror is equipped with lightning rods to redirect lightning away from the structure.

Multiple Cables

Traction elevators (the kind suspended by a cable) are suspended by anywhere from two to eight woven steel cables, any of which can support the loaded elevator on its own.

Safety Brakes

Like many theme park attractions (and real life elevators), the Tower is equipped with several different kinds of emergency breaks.  Some sources say the TOT has 8 different braking mechanisms.

The first set of brakes is sometimes referred to as “Otis Brakes”  which were designed and popularized by the Otis Elevator Company.  These brakes serve to lock the car in place should the hoisting cables fail for whatever reason.  Typically, the brakes are a set of heavy duty rods under tension by the cable.  If the cable’s tension were to slacken, the rods would slam down against the roof of the elevator and catch the cabin.  In other designs, the elevator jams a wedge into the rail that the elevator normally moves along.

The Otis Elevator Company is still around today and in fact contributed to the design of the Tower’s lift system.

Shock Absorbers

Tower of Terror safety features shock absorbtion spring system

Shock absorbers at the bottom of the Tower of Terror elevator shaft as pictured in a Disney Filmparade video. Large springs pressurized by oil act to slow the car’s descent.

These green boxes (pictured at right) contain springs highly pressurized by oil, ready to cushion the landing of an elevator car that reaches the bottom of the elevator shaft.  The shock absorbers aren’t for long-distance falls, but they do help in situations where the computer “misses” the ground floor by a few centimeters (a meter at most) to make the landing softer.

Codes & Inspections

The states of Florida and California have numerous laws aimed at keeping park riders safe.  Disney employs a large workforce of saftey technicians, mechanics, engineers, and maintenance workers. Daily, monthly, and annual inspections are routine in all amusement parks.  Hours before guests arrive, technicians are running the attraction through its paces, testing every seat belt, every car, and every inch of track.

Compressed Air Cushion

In the extremely unlikely event of a complete free-fall, a massive buildup of compressed air below the elevator would slow the descent.  This is true even of conventional elevators. In one well-known case of a free falling elevator, the “air cushion” is believed to be one of the reasons Betty Lou Oliver survived a 75-story plummet in a free-falling elevator in 1945.

Good Ol’ Statistics

Elevators are the safest form of mechanized travel when measured by number of trips.  Annually speaking, about 18 billion trips are made in 900,000 elevators in the USA.  Injuries to passengers are exceedingly rare.

Tower of Terror Aerial Photos

Aerial photos offer a rare and unusual glimpse of the Disney’s parks and attractions.  This is a collection of my favorite Tower of Terror aerial photos. Obviously, these are not my photos. 🙂   If they are yours, please contact me for credit or removal.

Hollywood Studios, Florida

A couple of these aerial photos are quite old, especially the first two in this sequence which appear to predate digital photography. These photos are quite possibly from the attraction’s early years (the Florida Tower of Terror opened in 1994).

tower of terror aerial photos hollywood studios florida WDW

I think this shot is great because it shows a rather plain portion of the Tower that wasn’t meant to be seen by guests. Since the addition of Rockin’ Roller Coaster, it’s sometimes possible to see this plain wall part from the line queue to that ride, although the view-blocking trees grow taller every year, it seems. 🙂

tower of terror aerial photos hollywood studios HS WDW front

Below is a rare left-side view of the tower, showing off all the attention to detail that Disney put into this beautiful structure.  Most guests will never see 90% of this – and the details are pretty hard to see and appreciate from within the park, where you can only really stand at the base of the building.

tower of terror aerial photos MGM Hollywood Studios side view

Photo credit:

tower of terror aerial photos google maps hollywood studios mgm front side

Photo credit: Google Maps

Disney California Adventure

Google Maps has some great aerial views of the Tower of Terror in Anaheim, showing off the back and the front of the structure. The Tower is all party in the front, business in the back.

I think it’s cool to see all the “normal building” stuff on top of the roof and behind the building. Some people might think this spoils “the magic”, but I’ve always loved peeking behind the curtain. In some of these shots, you can see parades getting ready to go “on stage”, as well as cars, trucks, and utility buildings that no doubt contribute to the smooth operations of the park.

The mysterious conga line of blue boxes in its back lot (which I’ve been told just contain parade costumes).


Photo credit: Google Maps

Rotate the view on Google maps to see the front, along with a clearer view of the roof and backstage area.

Photo credit:Google Maps

Photo credit: Google Maps

Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris

I’ve never been to Paris, but their Tower is a near identical twin to the California Tower of Terror…. except for the roof tops.  The roof tops in the Paris version are red. Most park guests will never know this, but now you do!

Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo

One more set of aerials: this series depicts the Tokyo DisneySea Tower of Terror. Remember, this Tower doesn’t use the Twilight Zone branding, so Disney pursued an entirely different look and feel for it! This Tower is very similar to the DCA and Paris Towers in terms of layout and structure, so you’ll probably notice that this version has basically the same “bones” as the two yellow towers.


Aerial Tower of Terror photo by Google Maps

The brickwork is considerably less elaborate on the back side, and the backstage area is much more compacted than the luxuriously large landscapes that fill in behind the Florida and California towers. 😉


Another Google Maps aerial.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of the Towers from above!

→ Return to the Main Photo Gallery.

How to See the Tower of Terror from Inside EPCOT

Did you know the Tower of Terror is quite visible from within Epcot?

Head on over to the Mexico Pavilion, walk up the steps, and look across the water towards Morocco. It blends in quite well, doesn’t it?

See the Tower of Terror from inside EPCOT Mexico Pavilion

The Tower’s designers knew the tall attraction would inadvertently become a part of the Moroccan exhibit’s skyline.  Rather than let it dominate the view, the Imagineers instead carried Morocco’s color palette and architectural elements into the Tower of Terror’s design.  Considering how few Disney guests have even noticed this, the effort to hide the Tower in plain sight has been a success!

Photo credit:

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris)

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Walt Disney Studios Park is the fourth (and most recent) Tower of Terror.  It opened its gates to the public in 2007 with a dazzling inauguration ceremony.

The Paris Tower of Terror is an (almost!) identical twin to the version in Disney California Adventure.

About Walt Disney Studios Park

Walt Disney Studios Park is the second Disney park in Paris.  It opened in 2002, though its history goes much further back to early 1990s plans for what was then called “Euro Disney”.  Financial difficulties delayed development of the European park, but the park has since come into its own as a result of Disney’s continued efforts to build up the park.

Like Hollywood Studios, Florida, Walt Disney Studios Park is an entire park dedicated to movie-making and show business.  The Tower of Terror is located in the Production Courtyard, whose theme is movie production and the legends and mythos of moviemaking.

Walt Disney Studios Park is the second-most attended amusement park in Europe, though out of Disney’s 11 theme parks worldwide it has the fewest number of guests annually.


Coming soon!


Inauguration Party

Disney threw an epic party to celebrate the grand opening of the Paris Tower of Terror!

Tower of Terror in Walt Disney Studios Park Paris

The Paris Tower is gift-wrapped and ready for opening in its inauguration ceremony! Photo credit: Photomagiques

The Imagineers completely outdid themselves with this one: the show features a massive multi-dimension video projection that uses the Tower as a screen, a parade of costumed actors, and an explosive fireworks show – they even played a dance remix of the Twilight Zone theme.

Watch the whole show on Youtube:

Twilight Zone theme dance remix by DJ Bass:


Tower of Terror in Tokyo DisneySea (Japan)

The Tower of Terror in Tokyo DisneySea features an original storyline and a new exterior design. Mechanically, the Tokyo Tower of Terror is identical to the California and Paris towers with the backwards push at the start of the ride, the “Wave Goodbye” screen, double-decker loading floors and the single-shaft design.


In this Tower, the lighting strike came from within. Photo credit: Tokyo DisneySea Resort official site


What happened to Harrison Hightower III?  The New York Preservation Society has restored his glorious hotel of stolen artifacts and guests retrace his last steps on a tour of the tower – what they encounter instead is a recreation of Hightower’s last moments!

Ride Experience

Seated guests are pulled backwards as Hightower’s voice explains the importance of his stolen idol treasure. The elevator shaft darkens, revealing stars and Shiriki Utundu’s glowing green eyes. The elevator begins its ascent.

The elevator doors open, revealing a dusty hallway and a ghostly figure Hightower figure.  He approaches the idol on a table, but the idol glows green and sends him screaming and spinning down an elevator shaft at the far end of the hallway.  As he plummets, the idol turns its attention towards the elevator passengers and laughs menacingly as the doors shut and the elevator continues its ascent.

When the doors open for the second time, it’s to a very wide mirror reflecting the elevator’s guests. Similar to the DCA and Paris Towers, the reflection is replaced with a glowing green effect as Hightower’s voice tells riders to wave goodbye to the real world. The haunting image fades, and the idol appears in the glass – and suddenly, it strikes!  The elevator drops, and the grand finale drop sequence continues from here.  Riders are lifted to the top of the shaft for a view of the park through the tower’s broken glass windows, and then the free-falling mania ensues.

As the elevator car returns to the loading/unloading position, Shiriki Utundu glowing green eyes appear again, glaring at guests as they fade away and the service door is illuminated. Guests exit the ride.

Where’s the Twilight Zone?

TV show licensing is a tricky thing – contracts must be agreed upon, payments must be made to the property’s owners.  To license the show for Tokyo DisneySea would have required the park’s owners and operators, Oriental Land Company, to pay fees to both Disney and CBS  in addition to royalties to CBS.  So instead, Disney’s Imagineering team invented a completely new storyline.


The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure (California)

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure opened its gates to the public on May 5th, 2004.  This Tower came 10 years after the original, located in Florida, and includes many design changes. Disney’s Imagineers reworked the Tower’s design to compact it and reduce the frequency of mechanical breakdowns.  The ride offers three drop shafts and guests move more briskly through the attraction.  The DCA Tower has two mechanically identical siblings in Tokyo and Paris.


Read on to learn more about the history, design, and construction of the Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure!

The DCA Tower’s Early Development

Tower of Terror Disney California Adventure promotional poster

The first Tower of Terror (in Hollywood Studios, Florida) proved so popular that when Disney started looking for ways to punch up their newly-opened and poorly-reviewed Disney California Adventure, building another one must have seemed obvious.

Disney rarely builds the same attraction twice.  Usually they make improvements (which are sometimes controversial) and oftentimes they aim to reduce the cost of building the attraction.

Sometimes they have to adapt the design to the park’s unique geography or layout. If you look at an aerial of the Anaheim parks, you’ll see Disney’s got nowhere left to build.  The recent Cars Land expansion to DCA chewed up what was formerly a parking lot.  To save space, the new Tower needed a smaller footprint.  The decision to abandon the Florida version’s outdoor garden area and compact the experience into one drop shaft was surely driven by a need to conserve space.

Disney’s done this before – the Haunted Mansion is a classic example.  In Disneyland, California, the Haunted Mansion’s architecture fits the antebellum New Orleans area and the “stretch room” is actually a large elevator lowering passengers down to the attraction’s track, which runs underneath the Disneyland Railroad train tracks. Over at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the Mansion’s Dutch Gothic Revival architecture fits the Colonial era inspired Liberty Square and the ceiling rises instead of the floor lowering.

DCA Tower Construction

The new Tower’s Pueblo Deco architectural style was likely chosen to fit the new Tower into its new California home.  The DCA Tower even got its own fake construction date: 1929.

Tower of Terror Disney California Adventurec onstruction scaffolding

Changes From the Florida version

Redesigns to beloved Disney attractions are almost always controversial among fans. The Tower is no exception. Almost as soon as the scaffolding went up, fans started squawking about the DCA’s Tower’s reduced budget, smaller footprint, stouter appearance, and Pueblo Deco architecture. But the designers were trying to be smart – they knew the ride would be popular, and the sacrifices they made served to enhance efficiency and reduce downtime.

Tower of Terror Disney California Adventure

The Twilight Zone theming is intact, and the pre-show is virtually identical. The video was changed to show the California version in the shot where the lightning strikes.

The ride experience still climaxes in a series of thrilling drops and a startling view of the park, but everything before and after the drops was compacted. In the DCA Tower, all the action takes place in just one elevator shaft.  The 5th Dimension scene from the Florida version was removed completely.  In its place is a fantastic visual effect of a mirror reflecting the riders. The riders fade from the car in a ghostly, ethereal effect that can be actively smeared around the canvas by waving your arms about.

A third drop shaft was added (a 50% increase in capacity right there!) and the boiler room (loading area) was given two vertically stacked loading decks. These design changes greatly reduced the frequency of breakdowns and substantially increased the Tower’s rider throughput, but some fans were unhappy with the compromises on theme and appearance.

Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure DCA

The DCA Tower of Terror at sunset. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Curious to learn more about the differences between this tower and its Florida predecessor? Read my detailed comparison of the Florida and California Towers of Terror here!

Designing the first Tower of Terror

The story of Disney’s The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror attraction starts around 1985. A small team of Imagineers had been tasked with creating two new pavilions for EPCOT. Those plans included something called The Great Movie Ride. Newly appointed Disney CEO Michael Eisner liked the plans so much he decided that this new ride shouldn’t be in EPCOT, it should be part of a completely new park!

This new park would be a “studio back lot” themed park dedicated to Hollywood and entertainment.  And it wouldn’t just celebrate show business – it would help create it with real movie and TV production facilities on site.

Disney entered into a licensing agreement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and branded the park Disney-MGM Studios. (This would later become a point of contention, and modern-day readers will note that the park is now named Hollywood Studios.)

Disney-MGM Studios opened in 1989.


But the park was pretty small, and some say it was rushed to open in order to compete with the brand new Universal Studios, Orlando, which opened almost a year later in 1990. To really stand on its own, MGM-Studios would need an E-ticket attraction – something amazing to draw the crowds. In 1989, movie director Mel Brooks, Disney CEO Michael Eisner, park designer Marty Skylar, Imagineer C. McNair Wilson and a group of Imagineers met to discuss plans for the park’s first expansion and first thrill ride.

Early Ideas and Designs

Numerous ideas were kicked around for the new park section. One early and prominent idea was a “Castle Young Frankenstein” attraction, complete with Bavarian village and drawbridge leading to the castle. This idea morphed into “Mel Brooks’ Hollywood Horror Hotel”. Early in the park’s development, Imagineer Bob Weiss had pursued the idea of an art-deco high end 1930’s-style hotel near the park’s entrance.

Mel Brooks left the project, but the idea of a spooky hotel had stuck. Disney’s team looked at available movie and TV licenses and found a perfect match: The Twilight Zone.


Early drawing of Sunset Blvd. and the Tower of Terror waiting at the end. Image credit:


A whimsical conceptual drawing actually comes pretty close to the spirit of the attraction’s final design.

Technological Innovations

With Sunset Boulevard and the The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror attraction idea in hand, Disney’s Imagineering team was ready for the next challenge: finding the technologies that would bring the attraction to life.

AGV Technology

Transitioning the elevator cars horizontally, from the back of the attraction to the front, via a corridor scene known as “The Fifth Dimension” was one engineering challenge. The elevator car would need to separate from its lift elevator and safely transition from one elevator “harness” to another. This tricky design challenge necessitated the refinement of a technology Disney had used before: the Autonomous Guided Vehicle.

The AGV is a self-guided passenger car capable of moving from one elevator (at the attraction’s back), through the 5th Dimension, and into the grand finale drop sequence elevator (at the attraction’s front), all on its own without any rails or tracks. The vehicle follows a pre-programmed path and communicates with the ride control system.

It’s an impressive technology, though not immune to breakdown as the occasional hat or park map dropped in the 5th Dimension has shown.


A glimpse at the underside of the Autonomous Guided Vehicles in the Tower of Terror.

Elevator Technology

The world’s oldest and most famous elevator manufacturer, Otis Elevators, contributed to the design of the “free-falling” elevator.  Otis had spent over a century refining and downplaying the sensation of riding in an elevator, but Disney was asking it to play it up – and play into people’s worst fears about elevators. Fortunately, Otis signed on anyway and lent its expertise to the project.

Continue reading: Building the world’s first Tower of Terror

Inside the Tower of Terror Construction: Motors, Brakes, and More!

Back in 2008, a German TV promo entitled “Disney Filmparade” presented an incredible 8-minute long behind-the-scenes tour of the final stages of the Tower of Terror’s construction.  The video is a treasure trove of Tower of Terror construction secrets, but there’s just one problem: it’s entirely in German and an English version is nowhere to be found… until now!

TowerSecrets is proud to present the translation of this behind the scenes look at the year-long+ construction of the Tower of Terror in Paris, France.

Get ready to geek out: this video shows us how they installed the elevator cars, what the engine room looks like, how the braking system works, the computer control room, and how the Tower was tested for safety before opening to the public in 2007.

Original German Video


Constructing the Tower’s Shell


In front of Hollywood Tower façade, Narrator Steven Gätjen speaks:

0:18  Welcome to the Disney Movie Parade, today with another report from Europe’s largest ghost hotel construction site in Disneyland Paris!  This is where the Hollywood Tower Hotel is being built, in which very strange things happen.

(switch to TV screen, Gätjen continues:)


0:32  And this has already happened. In one of the most exciting episodes of the cult TV show “The Twilight Zone”, a whole family disappears in a hotel elevator.

(scene switches to Walt Disney Studios Park, Gätjen continues:)

0:44  The guests of the Walt Disney Studio Park will soon be able to experience that for themselves.

(time lapse of tower construction as Gätjen continues:)


0:48  The shell  construction of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was built in one week in 2006.

(interior shot, Gätjen continues:)


0:53  The rest of it will take a little longer.

(prop shots, Gätjen continues:)

0:55  These ceilings and floors were built in grueling manual labor.

0:58  More than 5,000 props were purchased from all over the world to make the rooms of the legendary hotel look like in 1939, the year of the disaster.


(switch to bare boiler room, Gätjen continues:)


1:08  This bare room was changed into an old boiler room from which the visitors will start their trip into the Fifth Dimension. (note: Gätjen actually says “Fourth Dimension”, but the Twilight Zone series traditionally refers to the Fifth Dimension)

(Scene change to outside construction, Gätjen continues:)

1:18  But first, there is still a lot to do.

The Elevator Cabins Arrive

1:27  Today, the elevator cabins are arriving.


1:30  They have a long trip behind them because they were produced abroad. That’s why they are so well-packaged.

1:39  Then they are transported to the loading ramp from which the are transported directly to the basement of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.




(Scene change to elevator cabin interior, Gätjen continues:)

1:50  So this is the ride of horror.

(Scene change to bottom of shaft, Gätjen continues:)


At the Bottom of the Elevator Shaft

1:54  And this is the bottom of the elevator shaft with its enormous shock absorbers in case anything really does go wrong.



2:03  Tom is showing us the shaft from below.



2:06  Now we understand why the hotel is also called “Tower of Terror”.

(Shot up the shaft with Tom in foreground. Tom:)


2:16  You actually drop faster than free fall –  you are pulled down. At 13.6 meters per second.

(Shot through steel cable opening, Gätjen continues:)

2:25  This is what it looks like through the opening for the steel cable.


The Tower of Terror’s Machine Room

(Shot of steel cable drum, Gätjen continues:)


2:31  And this is the steel cable.

2:35  The machine room is an engineering marvel.



(Shot of Merie Quick explaining drums. Merie:)

2:41  The basic mechanical portion of it is right here.


2:46  Every single motor operates according to the same principle.


2:49  The motor drives the first cable drum, and that goes on and pulls the second drum.

2:53  On the first drum has wire ropes that raise and lower the cab that the guest rides.


3:01  The second drum has cables, wire ropes, that go down to a counterweight.



(Scene change to Danny De Leeuw standing in front of a cable drum. Danny:)

3:10  A locomotive has approximately 5,000 PS – but these engines are almost twice as powerful.

(Scene changes back to Merie Quick. Merie:)

3:17  That part that stops it and makes it safe, are these large brakes.

3:22  There are four sets of brakes for every machine.


3:23  Of course, there’s three machines because there are three elevator shafts with the guests in it.

Power for the Tower

(Scene change to power generation building. Gätjen continues:)

3:30  The electricity for the motors comes out of this building.


(Scene change to interior with Tom explaining power cables. Tom:)

3:35  Those are the two power lines that come from the power station.

3:40  From here, we go to the high-voltage equipment up top,


3:47  These transformer transform 20,000 volts of high voltage are turned into 600 volts.


3:52  That powers the motors.  There is one transformer for each motor, so we have three.

4:02  This is a waterproof floor to collect the ten cubic meters of cooling liquid.


4:07   That is 10,000 liters of oil.

4:10  Each transformer weighs 13 tons.


Tower of Terror’s Computer Control Room

(Scene change to tower exterior. Gätjen continues:)

4:15  And this is where the journey in to the Fifth Dimension is  controlled –


(Scene change to computer control room interior)

4:20  from the Tower of Terror’s computer control room, and these are the experts.


(Unnamed computer control room official explains:)

4:26  The cabins behind me store show data.


4:31  Here is where all light, audio, and mechanical equipment which takes the visitor into another world stored.


4:37  Everything that happens in this building that “isn’t right” is controlled by these cabinets back here.

(Scene change with camera following power cable bundles. Gätjen continues:)


4:47  That requires more than one hundred kilometers of cable and several hundred computers. But what is happening here?


The “Wave Goodbye” Screen

(Scene change to Aslam Amiani in the basement. Aslam:)

4:59  Because of the way the building is set up, there are three ride shafts, we call them.


5:05  And the elevator doors open up on several different levels, and the visitor are looking at and interacting with the show.

(Scene change to trick pane. Gätjen continues:)

5:13  For example, they look through this pane, behind which there is a so-called magic mirror in which he can see himself and the other guests … and disappears in it.


5:24  Only the empty cabin is left behind.  All necessary tricks and effects are being installed by specialists from all over Europe.


Setting up the Hallway Scene


(Scene change to hotel hall floor. Aslam:)

5:40  This is one of the floors where the guests who disappear are now haunting this building.

5:45  And you will see them walking the halls of the hotel in here.


(Workers fade in. Gätjen continues:)

5:51  For that to happen, different spirits have to animate the hall.

5:56  Head designer David Fando and one of his co-workers arrange everything so that the hotel looks like it was actually inhabited, just like in 1939.



6:07  This was also carefully planned in advance.


6:11  Now it is ready to go.


Testing the Tower

(Scene change to computer control room. Unnamed computer control official continues:)

6:16  We’re just about finished with our safety tests, and we’ll do some mechanical safety tests through the last week of June.


(Scene change to rolling elevator cabin. Gätjen continues:)

6:21  The elevator cab is slid into the real cab by means of a special mechanism to disconcert visitors.






6:31  Then the doors are closed.

(Scene change to computer control room. Unnamed computer control official continues:)

6.36  A lot of rides we use sandbags to simulate the weight of our guests.  However, they would burst because of the tremendous acceleration and sand would be thrown all over shaft, so we are using water dummies, which are a lot less messy.


(Scene change to water dummies. Gätjen continues:)

6:50  They look like this and really have to stand extreme conditions.


6:56  It starts quite harmlessly, and you think that it’s not that big of a deal – if had known that earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety.



7:08  Tower of Terror.

7:13  That can only be an exaggeration.


7:16  But then…

(Scene change to Theron Skees outside the base of the tower. Theron:)

7:20  I know I’m going to be on the ride. I love rides. I’m a huge ride fan.

7:23  When we built the Tower of Terror in Florida, I rode that attraction for three hours straight try to figure out all the profiles and everything, so I can’t wait to get on this attraction.


(Scene change to elevator drop sequence. Gätjen continues:)

07:38  This was our second visit in Europe’s largest ghost hotel construction site.

07:42 In a few weeks


07:45 the Hollywood Tower Hotel will be opened for guests.

07:49  The elevator is waiting for you.

07:53  But for now: Have a lot of fun watching our Disney film. See you soon! Bye bye!



More Disney Imagineering

If you made it this far, you’d probably enjoy these books about Disney’s design and engineering processes!

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real

This 200+ page book is packed with hundreds of sketches, paintings, and plans for many of the Disney parks. It reads like a history of Disney, and it’s awesome to see how much of what’s in these early drawings is still present in the parks today. I thought I was a Disney expert, then I read this book… wow! It’s pretty picture-heavy, so it’s great for all ages.

(This book is very park-development focused. If you’re looking for something more attractions-focused, scroll down this list a bit to this book’s follow-up.)


“Herbie, I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.” – Walt Disney

The Unauthorized Story of Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion

Speaking of spooky, mysterious rides… this meticulously researched guide to Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction is one of the coolest Disney book I’ve ever read. Jeff Baham (of is an absolute expert on this ride and this book is full of fascinating facts about the history of the Haunted Mansion, how the effects work, and a step by step walkthrough of the ride. There’s even a Kindle version, so you can read it while you wait line for your Doom Buggy. 😀


“Well, your artwork was effective. The effect was that Walt doesn’t want it to look anything like that. He said we’re going to let the ghosts do all that stuff on the inside.” – Sam McKim

Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making MORE Magic Real

This book is a follow-up to the first one in the list. Where the first book is about the parks and their development, this one focuses more heavily on attractions and modern design challenges. It covers: refurbishments to classics such as the Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World, how the team brought the Tower of Terror to Japan, Cars Land, and more. This is a big fat 200 page book, like the first one, but it’s not just an update, it’s a whole new book.


Attractions-focused and updated to include rides built or refurbished during the 2000’s


Imagineering Field Guides

The Imagineering Field Guide series is really cool – each one is a pocket-sized guide for a single Disney parks, broken down by “land”. Each book includes trivia about attraction development, park maintenance, and the how’s and why’s of little details throughout the park. These books pack a lot into their 100+ pages, but the books are still small enough to carry around in the park and enjoy while scarfing down a corn dog.


Perfect for mega-fans and repeat visitors who love trivia and Disney factoids!

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Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature Figurine

At just 1″ tall, this miniature Tower of Terror figurine is probably the tiniest Tower memorabilia ever produced!

Disney Collector Packs are very tiny plastic collectibles in the likeness of beloved Disney characters and park features. Designs range from Tinkerbell to Test Track cars and Belle to park buses.  Disney’s been cranking these things out for years.  The gimmick: three figurines to a package, and the package is opaque, so you don’t know what’s inside until you open it.  Keep buying (and trading) until you complete your set – super addictive!

Even though DCP trading is several years old, there’s still a thriving market for selling and trading the figurines.  The Tower of Terror miniature (expansion Series 5, #13… of course) is fairly easy to find on eBay for under $15USD.  I recently added the Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs miniature to my collection – check it out below!

Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature front

Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature left side

Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature back side

Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature right side

Tower of Terror Disney Collector Packs Miniature bottom side has the full scoop on Disney Collector Packs, including trading, rarity, and expansion packs.