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  • Disney World

    The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

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Description And Comments

The Tower of Terror is a different species of Disney thrill ride, though it borrows elements of The Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom. The story is that you're touring a once-famous Hollywood hotel gone to ruin. As at Star Tours, the queuing area immerses guests in the adventure as they pass through the hotel's once-opulent public rooms. From the lobby, guests are escorted into the hotel's library, where Rod Serling, speaking from an old black-and white television, greets the guests and introduces the plot.

The Tower of Terror is a whopper at 13-plus-stories tall. Breaking tradition in terms of visually isolating themed areas, it lets you see the entire Studios from atop the tower ... but you have to look quick.

The ride vehicle, one of the hotel's service elevators, takes guests to see the haunted hostelry. The tour begins innocuously, but at about the fifth floor things get pretty weird. Guests are subjected to a full range of eerie effects as they cross into the Twilight Zone. The climax of the adventure occurs when the elevator reaches the top floor (the 13th, of course) and the cable snaps.

The Tower of Terror is an experience to savor. Though the final plunges— yep, plural—are calculated to thrill, the meat of the attraction is its extraordinary visual and audio effects. There’s richness and subtlety here, enough to keep the ride fresh and stimulating after many repetitions. Disney has also programmed random lift-and-drop sequences into the mix, making the attraction faster and keeping you guessing about when, how far, and how many times the elevator will fall.

A senior from the United Kingdom tried the Tower of Terror and liked it very much, writing:

I was thankful I had read your review of the Tower of Terror, or I would certainly have avoided it. As you say, it is so full of magnificent detail that it is worth riding, even if you don't fancy the drops involved.

A reader from Washington state thinks the randomness is a net negative:

Did they make the Tower of Terror ride much more tame? Last time I went to WDW, it was almost 20 years ago, but I remember a HUGE drop initially. This time it was just kind of up, down, up, down, up, up, down. I couldn’t hide the disappointment on my face, and the ride picture has me looking like I am still waiting for something cool to happen. Bummer.

The Tower has great potential for terrifying young children and rattling more-mature visitors. If you have teenagers in your party, use them as experimental probes. If they report back that they really, really liked the Tower of Terror, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

Touring Tips

If you're on hand when the park opens and want to ride Tower of Terror first, be aware that about 65% of the folks walking down Sunset Boulevard head for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. If you're not positioned on the far right of the street, it will be hard to move through the crowd to make a right turn into Tower of Terror.

To save time once you're inside the ride, when you enter the library waiting area, stand in the far back corner across from the door where you entered and at the opposite end of the room from the TV. When the doors to the loading area open, you'll be the first admitted.

Our touring plans incorporate strategies for riding Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania! with minimum waits.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Wait Times

This chart shows you roughly how long you'll wait for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror when you visit on a day with a given Disney's Hollywood Studios Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average "peak" wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it's the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Wait Times.

Attraction Photos

Special Comments

40" minimum height requirement; switching-off option offered.

Special Needs

Disney Dish with Jim Hill


Mel Brooks, not The Twilight Zone TV series, was the inspiration for this ride. When Disney originally began developing this ride, it was called Hotel Mel. Done in the style of Brooks’s Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety, it was supposed to be a send-up of Hollywood’s greatest horror and suspense films, with comedy. In fact, your 13-floor plummet was supposed to begin when movie director Mel yelled “Cut!”

Additional Resources

Other Attractions in Sunset Boulevard

Touring Plans with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

What is a Touring Plan?