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Twilight Zone Tower of Terror reviews

Theme Park Insider readers offer their ratings and reviews for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, a drop ride in Hollywood Land at Disney's California Adventure. (The minimum height to ride is 40 inches.)

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Written by
Theme Park Insider Editor
Posted: June 9, 2012

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror's conceit offers that a bolt of lightning knocked the 13th floor of Hollywood's favorite gathering place into the fifth dimension. And that the tale of that supernatural event is told in a "lost episode" of Rod Serling's television series.

That Hollywood Tower Hotel looms over California Adventure's Sunset Boulevard, as its predecessor does at Disney-MGM Studios in Walt Disney World. But while the Florida version bears a passing resemblance to the real Hollywood Tower, California Adventure's hotel evokes Pasadena's Castle Green, with a kick of art deco flavor.

From the lobby, bellhops beckon you into the library, crammed with authentic Twilight Zone TV props and a short video featuring the Tower's back story, narrated by a cleverly edited Serling himself. You are to enter the tower through a service elevator, and to experience for yourself the journey into the Fifth Dimension where the hotel's previous guests were lost. So it is through the back door into the boiler room, where the elevators await.

Here you will find another difference from the Florida original. The loading deck is split on two floors, and the elevators here travel in a single shaft. Florida's Tower of Terror takes riders up one shaft, where the elevator pauses for a few show scenes. Then the elevator follows a vanished family through the fifth dimension and into a second, drop shaft, where a blast of lightning sends riders into one of a randomly chosen sequence of drops and launches.

In California Adventure's version, your first movement is back, not up. The shaft melts into a star field as the elevator shoots upward to lobby level, where riders can gaze at themselves in a mirror, only to watch their images dissolve into apparitions. Go ahead, wave your arms and watch the ghost "you" wave back. Then it's swiftly up another level, where you meet up with that vanished family, beckoning you down the hall.

In Florida, your elevator would leave the shaft and follow. Here, you remain, watching them board an elevator which drops into space. As yours does immediately after. The drop surprised me, as it led immediately into this Tower of Terror's drop sequence.

Readers' rating:

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42 votes, so far

Yes, the version of the ride at DCA does not have the extended Fifth Dimension movement of the classic Orlando original, but when Rod Serling says, "One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, but this time it's opening for you," and your elevator starts to work its magic, the missing 5th dimension scene doesn't matter because the Tower of Terror flat out rocks in any form. It is still immersive, exciting, and transcendental. It is still the ride that made all other drop rides obsolete. - James Rao

This is one of only two california versions of shared attractions that are not better than those found in Florida, Splash Mountain being the other. I miss the stroll through the hotel grounds in Florida. I miss how the tower is first viewed from the far. End of Sunset blvd. I also miss hearing the screams of those on the ride. Why can't we hear the screams in California? The ride lacks the complexity of the version at DHS,but it is still loads of fun. - Rob McCullough

Great themeing, but the actual ride gave me a headache. - Mark Kausch

I didn't feel there was much difference between this version and Hollywood Studios. The ride is outstanding. - Carl Stovall

While it pales in comparison to its Florida counterpart, this attraction is still a power house at the Disneyland Resort. The editor's description is sufficient with no reason to add any additional detail here. It's one of Disney's best and one of the very few E-ticket offerings at California Adventure that would compete side by side with attractions like Indiana Jones, Pirates and Splash Mountain. Heavy on story and theming and a thrill to say the least. If you get motion sick, you might should sit this one out...though I'll be sad for you if you do. It really is one of the best attractions out there. - Jeff Haslam

by far my favorite ride in California Adventure, the 13 story drop is amazing and not to mention the effects and the creepy bell hops. I absolutly love this ride!!!! - daniel reyes

The most thrilling and best attraction in DCA. A bit scarry the first few times you ride it but very thrilling and enjoyable. My favorite attraction in the park. - Erik Avila

I like it better than the one I went in Orlando a long time. The drops on this one are better than the one in Orlando. I like the last drop, you have no idea when it is going to drop! The first time I went on it, I was 9 (almost 10) and it scared me. - Alicia Pearce

super fun! - N O

Surprisingly I liked this attraction more than it's Orlando counterpart. I think it's because I had a better drop sequence here but I also liked the set up to this version better. - Jeff Moon

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