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Robert Niles

2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Published: March 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Theme Park Insider readers have voted The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios into the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament as the second seed in the Best Themed Ride bracket.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Tower of Terror opened in 1994 and won the inaugural Best Ride in America Tournament in 2008. It continues Disney's tradition of reimagining traditional amusement park ride systems as the basis for an immersive storytelling experience. (Other versions, with a different ride system, stand at Disney's California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris and Tokyo DisneySea. Only the California version includes the Twilight Zone theme, however.The Paris version has a different name and the Tokyo one a different theme, however.)

On Tower of Terror, a simple drop ride becomes the richly detailed Hollywood Tower Hotel, where on October 31, 1939, a bolt of lightning transported a wing of the hotel into The Twilight Zone.

(And by "Twilight Zone," we mean the classic 1960s television series, and not the realm of asexual teenage vampires.)

In a trick of creative video editing, Twilight Zone host Rod Serling sets up the story for us in the hotel's library, before we head into the hotel's boiler room, where we'll board the elevators that will take us to the site of the lightning strike... and perhaps, into The Twilight Zone itself.

The ride features multiple series of drops from the top, rewarding frequent riders with a fresh experience each time. With a variety of theatrical effects, copious visual references to various Twilight Zone episodes, and mix of light and dark drops, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror elevates (sorry, terrible pun, but I just couldn't resist) the simple amusement park drop ride into a true narrative experience.

That's why Tower of Terror is widely considered one of the best theme park attractions in the country. But is it the best? Tell us your thoughts about Tower of Terror, in the comments.

Replies (17)

Published: March 9, 2010 at 11:21 AM

My personal fav.

Published: March 9, 2010 at 11:28 AM

i think its brill 1 hell of a ride cant wait 2 go on it again in august.
Kris Jeronimus

Published: March 9, 2010 at 12:26 PM

It's a fantastic ride. I just wish I hadn't ridden with some loud and obnoxious frat boys my last trip, who ruined the ambiance with thier constant drunken chatter. I think TOT is best experianced when your ride mates are silent, until the drop of course.
Michael Owen

Published: March 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Simply the best themed attraction in the world.

What many people don't know is that the 'simple ride system' isn't actually simple at all. The system is a million miles away from traditional drop towers, instead the attraction goes faster-than-gravity and allows for the attraction to chose one of 5 different drop sequences.

Throw in some absolutely brilliant theming and you have the complete package - a true testament to what WDI can do.

Published: March 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM

The best attraction I have ever been on.

Published: March 9, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I actually liked it more when there was only one drop. You seemed to fall farther and faster. The multiple drops just don't have the "punch."
Anthony Murphy

Published: March 9, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Its the best!

It starts with the line you wait in, with the music, garden, and mist.

The ride itself, while over 10 years old, is still quite thrilling!

BTW, the Paris version is also a Twilight Zone Themed one (its actually a copy of the DCA version)

My most favorite attraction anywhere!

Joshua Counsil

Published: March 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM

In terms of themed rides, it just doesn't get any better than this. 10-Perfection on the TPI scale.

If I had a complaint, I would have to agree with the anonymous poster. The random drop sequences rarely pull a full 13-story drop, packing less of a punch than the classic ride, but it's still amazing.

As for your trick of creative video editing note, there is an excellent interview explaining how they pulled it off. Frankly, I consider it the best pre-show on any themed attraction.

Mike Saperstein

Published: March 9, 2010 at 2:19 PM

This ride is my wife's absolute favorite.

I have to mention as a side note: I am completely scared of drop rides, and will not go on this ride. But I did go through the queue area with my wife a few times. The first time, after skipping the ride itself, I was ushered alone to an "exit elevator" by a fully-costumed cast member. He stared at me, and pushed buttons manically in the "exit elevator", and I was honestly pretty scared and about 70% convinced we were about to drop!! :-)

Don Neal

Published: March 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM

I hadn't road this yet in 2008 when it won. But had the chance to ride it a few times last summer in Orlando. I was definitely impressed and see why so many people love it.
Thomas Caselli

Published: March 9, 2010 at 6:25 PM

One of the best, if not THE best theme park attraction ever. It was awesome when it first opened, then they changed it to a having a random drop sequence making it even better. It is also unique because it is the only one with a randowm drop sequence.
James Rao

Published: March 9, 2010 at 8:43 PM

TZ ToT is the attraction that obsoleted every other freefall-style ride in the world. It is also a perfect example of what Disney does best: take a standard amusement park idea and turn it into a creative tour de force. Pure genius.

Published: March 9, 2010 at 9:42 PM

This attraction is even better for someone who has only been on California's shortened version, then experiences the original in all its intended glory. In that way it is just like Pirates of the Caribbean, with the original in California this time.
Rob P

Published: March 10, 2010 at 3:09 AM

This used to be a fantastic attraction when it first opened.

But's even better. The introduction of the various "drops" added more spice to an already hot dish.

Every element of ToT is superb. From the outside line all the way into the reception area and then through to the lifts themselves : each and every step of the way is excellently themed and presented.

Enough has been said about the ride itself. It's the best. End of.

Published: March 10, 2010 at 5:09 AM

Sorry Niles,

But Paris' one is also Twilight Zone themed.

Sylvain Comeau

Published: March 10, 2010 at 6:56 AM

A perfect blend of thrills and immersive theming -- everything you could want in a Disney ride. TOT is a complete experience, from the detailed queue to the final "warning from Rod Serling". TOT is, and always will be, one of the top attractions at WDW.
Randy Scott

Published: March 12, 2010 at 5:00 PM

ToT is the best of the best hand's down. I'm not even going to justify my pick. If you can't tell the difference between ToT and free-fall rides at other parks I would just be wasting my time. Enough said.

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