Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Hollywood Pictures Backlot Disney’s California Adventure
NOTE: This attraction closed January 2, 2017, and was replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, which opened on May 27, 2017.
Looming ominously at the end of the Hollywood Pictures Backlot is the Hollywood Tower Hotel, home to one of the premiere thrill rides at Disney’s California Adventure — The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. En route to their rooms, a mysteriously malfunctioning elevator sends guests plummeting down the elevator shaft…only to rise and fall again and again. An exhilarating ride that lives up to its name!
The Pre-Show — The queue enters the lobby of the well-lit, but strangely vacant, Hollywood Tower Hotel. There’s an “Out of Service” sign on the elevator, so instead a dour bellhop directs you to one of two libraries. Once the door closes and the lights dim, the old black and white television on the wall shows a short snippet of a Twilight Zone episode hosted by Rod Serling. He describes some strange occurrences in the elevator of the Hollywood Tower Hotel in 1939. But “in tonight’s episode you are the star, and this elevator travels directly to…The Twilight Zone.” The back door of the library opens and from the opulence of the hotel you’ll suddenly go to the harsh industrial environment of the boiler room. Something’s not quite right…and it seems the boiler itself has a rather creepy-looking face!
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror — Once your room is ready, a bellhop will direct you to your seats in the maintenance elevator that will take you to your room. You’ll fasten your seatbelts and be reminded to stow any loose items. The elevator pulls back from the loading area and smoothly rises. The doors open, revealing a huge mirror reflecting the occupants of your elevator. Rod Serling says: “Say goodbye to the real world,” and an electrical effect sparks and crackles and outlines everyone and you all disappear. The elevator descends slightly and again the doors open, where you’ll see a hotel hallway with the ghostly images of former guests beckoning to you. There’s a crash of glass and suddenly the elevator plunges down. As it rises back up the doors again open, and you’ll see DCA and Disneyland in front of you. The elevator rises and falls again in an unpredictable series of shorter drops, until at last the voice of Rod Serling welcomes back “those of you who made it.” The elevator doors open a final time and you exit into a dimly lit hallway.
Read about the Walt Disney World version of the Tower of Terror HERE.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a FastPass attraction. The Standby line at this attraction can be long on busy days, but generally moves pretty quickly. The line gets longer right after the Aladdin show in the Hyperion Theatre next door finishes a show.
When the attraction is a walk-on, the time on the Standby line typically reads “13 minutes”.
The loading area has two floors – you will need to climb stairs to get to the upper loading area, so alert the Cast Member at the Check-in podium if you do not wish to do so. There are three elevator shafts, and each loading area has three different elevator loading areas, for a total of six. Each elevator seats 21 people.
The ride is about 2 minutes and 28 seconds long. When all the elevators are in use 1,543 people per hour can ride.
Just before you board the elevator for the ride, there is an exit for those who change their minds at the last minute. Be sure to let the Cast Member know if you wish to exit at this point.
This attraction is very dark and is probably not advisable for folks with a fear of the dark or claustrophobia. Those with a fear of heights should also consider the advisability of riding.
If you stand outside the Tower of Terror, you can hear the screams and squeals of its passengers — you may even watch the elevator doors open and see the hapless guests dangling in mid-air before their next drop!
Be sure to check out the photo that was snapped of you while on the ride – the photo monitors are at the end of the exit hall right before you enter the gift shop.
The repeated drops can be jarring to guests with sensitive backs or other medical concerns. Pregnant women or others with medical considerations are advised not to ride this attraction.
Height requirement for this attraction is 40 inches (102 cm).
Guests in wheelchairs and ECVs should proceed all the way through the regular queue, but once they reach the elevator loading area they must transfer into the elevator.
Restrooms are located at the end of Hollywood Blvd to the left of the Hyperion Theatre.
This is a dark ride and may be too intense for many young children (not to mention some adults!).
There are no characters associated with this attraction, but there are often characters in and around the Disney Animation Building, which is located nearby. Check your daily Times Guide for times and locations.
Award Wieners on Hollywood Blvd offers a selection of hot dogs and sausages; snacks are available at Schmoozies and Fairfax Market.
There’s a gift shop featuring Tower of Terror-specific merchandise located at the exit of this attraction. There is also a photograph taken during one of the drop sequences that is available for purchase at the ride exit. The cost is $16.95 for one 8″x10″, or one 5″x7″ with four wallet-sized photos. If you do not wish to carry the photo around with you, you may leave it with Package Check at Engine-Ears Toys, near the Sunshine Plaza, and pick it up later. Guests at any of the Disney resorts may go to Package Check and have their purchases delivered to Bell Services at their resort for next-day pickup.
Many of the items in the queue and other areas of the attraction are from actual episodes of the original Twilight Zone series, such as a broken stopwatch and a dented thimble in the lobby, and a metal robot in the library.
The building is 183 feet tall, with three stories below ground.
Many of the drop sequences feature assisted freefall, where the elevator is propelled downward at speeds faster than gravity, making you rise off your seat and giving you the sensation of weightlessness for a couple seconds.
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