The Day The Tower Opened: Part III

Thirteen years later it was all coming back to me, the anticipation, the excitement, and the thrill of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. As I read through my trip report of 13 years back what struck me as most interesting was my observations as my daughter, son, and I came to the bottom of that crazy elevator shaft and how the rest of that day went for all of us.

So allow me to wrap up this trip down memory lane with the final installment of The Day the Tower Opened with my own words from my trip report of July, 1994.

Carol was there waiting for us….along with a dozen cast members and several EMTs standing by to assist any visitors having problems. Needless to say, what other Disney attraction needs EMTs standing by? That says it right there that this attraction is major league.

We walked out past the unloading portion of the Tower Basement and turned a corner to see a large waiting area and a long counter. Behind the counter the wall contained a message reading:

Picture if you will…..

…the expression of horror on your face as…

“¦or something like that. This is to be the area where you can purchase the photo of yourself as you are frightened to death from that little one foot drop before THE BIG ONE. This area was incomplete so no photo for us.

We went into the gift shop. We all deserved a shirt after that. The shirts were selling like hotcakes. Of course they were out of my size for the one I wanted so I settled for my second choice. My shirt is black with the outline of The Hollywood Hotel. The front of the shirt contains green and purple letters that spell out “Hollywood Tower of Terror.” The back says, “You can check in……..but you can’t check out!”

The cast members in the gift shop were dressed like morticians. One asked me if I looked up while on the elevator. “Why?” I asked. He smiled.

We left the gift shop and walked into the courtyard. I saw some people sitting down and trying to catch their composure. Some people had a tough time with this ride. Media people were floating all around too. ABC’s Spencer Christian was in the area. As we left the TZTOT area we passed hundreds of people gathered on Sunset Blvd.

I overheard countless debates over whether or not to attempt the attraction. There were families having STRONG DISCUSSIONS.

“Gee Frederick I don’t know if it’s safe!”

“C’mon Dad, I’m tall enough!”

“Now Arthur we can’t let Junior and Sis go on alone. I’m sure your back will be okay.”

“Omigod did you hear those screams?”

“Hey, I just had a milkshake…and you want me to ride that thing?”

We stopped off at the Sunset Ranch Market to get a drink (mostly for Holly) and then headed out to check the ticker tape parade which kicks off the NY Street Party. Boy was that small. Don’t bother.

After that we worked our way back to Hollywood Blvd. and changed our plans to go to EPCOT that evening. Why? Simply, that if we want to ride the Tower again (Mike and I were game) then the best bet was to ride it that evening before word got out that it was open. Tomorrow the lines would be too long.

We had dinner in Hollywood & Vine although after her venture into the Twilight Zone Holly wasn’t hungry . When we left H&V we came out into the throes of Streetmosphere (can you tell that we love this entertainment?) Shelby Mayor gave me his card and told me that we could make millions by putting a blonde wig on me, stuffing me in pink tights, and throwing me into the wrestling ring.

Mike and I went back to the Tower and the queue looked short enough for us. While in line we struck up conversations with the other visitors and we were bombarded with questions regarding the attraction. We played it cute and said we couldn’t remember a lot of the stuff. When asked about the drop we said, “What drop?”

When we got to the boiler room we got to cut in front of a lot of people because we were a party of two. As we were moving towards the elevator I asked “Where are the seats? What row?” “It doesn’t matter, sir.” replied the cast member. “It does to me!”

When we got there I found myself standing on the spot representing the middle seat in the last row. I turned to the cast member and said, “Do I get the seat belt?” She nodded. “I prefer not to!” I semi-demanded in my best Bartleby the Scrivener voice.

She switched us with two other people. Everyone was wondering why.

Mike and I knew why.

We were in the front row. We sat in the front row on our initial journey also. I won’t go through the special effects again but will say that the ride is better the second time around because you know what to look for. Look up whenever you think of it. Also, it’s better during the day than at night.

The park was about to close for the day so we picked up some gifts we had planned to get for some friends and returned to the CBR. We had gone nonstop since 9 that morning. From opening day MGM has always played music throughout the day. As the day goes on the music changes. On this particular evening as we exited the turnstiles the music was bidding us farewell. Can music sob? I forget the song that was playing…it sure was melancholy.

It was a very satisfying day.

That was thirteen years ago. It was a very satisfying day and I’m looking forward to a very satisfying night”¦race night that is.

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