Out of pure fun, I’ve decided to finally tackling something I’ve always wanted to tackle and that was to design the Tower of Terror but without any references to the Twilight Zone. While I personally think that the Twilight Zone elements increase the ride’s enjoyment with all of its easter eggs and the Rod Serling narration, I do believe that a completely original version of the attraction with no IP would be just as good, if not better; very similar to like what we see in Tokyo’s Tower of Terror. I won’t be taking any single Tower of Terror and altering it but rather starting from scratch yet picking elements from the classic rides while maintaining the overall storyline.
Before getting inside the hotel, we must explore a bit of the surrounding area. Sunset Boulevard, a long narrow street full of life and color lined with shops, restaurants, and palm trees evenly placed on either side, leads guests to The Hollywood Tower Hotel looming over the street. The hotel, taking inspiration from a plethora of hotels from the early 1900’s, stands 13 stories, with the trees out front having overgrown to cover the bottom four stories and the evergreen in the back rising six stories.
The exterior is painted with a light orangey-pink with aquamarine trim around the window sills. Archways and balconies decorate the lower levels of the hotel. At the top of the tower, spires shoot out from the roof. The remnants of three towers stick out from the front side of the main tower, each revealing elevator door. Black singe marks from the lightning strike cover the front of the tower. Above the ruins and singe, glows a green neon sign reading “The HOLLYWOOD TOWER Hotel” with a few crooked letters and the third ‘O’ in ‘Hollywood’ burnt out.
To enter the hotel, guests come around the right side of the building. Here they enter a grand lobby with an arched ceiling. Large lights hang down from the roof giving the room an orange glow. To the wall furthest from the door rests a fireplace with a red tapestry hanging overhead sporting “HTH” on it. Old chairs and sofas, covered in cobwebs and dust, sit in the center of the room around a table with a statue of eagle on top. Tables and chairs sit alongside the left wall next to the windows with newspapers left on them from the night of the lightning strike. Plants fill the room, as well, many of which have withered and died. Columns with arches offer support on both the left and right of the lobby, with a receptionist desk and mail slots on the right. Also to the right of the lobby, a hallway leads down to the library.
Left of the hallway, a single elevator door rests with the dial stuck on 13. The door itself is bent and misshaped in parts and cracks surround its frame. Continuing down the hallway, guests find themselves in a small library, filled from floor to ceiling with books. (It should be noted, that unlike the classic Tower of Terror, guests would not stop in the library but rather keep flowing through with the doors always open as it would be part of the queue rather than a pre-show.) Here in the library, a small television from the late 30’s rests in a cabinet. The television plays a nonstop newsreel of a young woman discussing the events that unfolded the previous night at The Hollywood Tower Hotel. She tells of the five guests, one of which a child star, who fell to their demise when lightning struck the hotel.
Leaving the library, guests head into the boiler room. Dimly lit, the boiler room is wide and full of pipes. The sounds of steam fuming from the pipes and water boiling echo from wall to wall. Winding through the pathways, guests come across three service maintenance elevators. A cast member dressed as a bellhop assists the guests into their elevator and then they’re off.
Up, up, up they go in the dark elevator shaft. The elevator stops and the door opens a few floors up. A mirror stretches across the wall showing the guests in the elevator. Suddenly it’s dark and lightning flashes all around. The guests mysteriously disappear in the mirror now only showing an empty elevator. The doors close and up the guests go up again.
The doors open revealing a long hallway, dimly light in blues and purples. At the end of the hallway, another elevator. Out of nowhere, the five ghosts of those Hollywood Hotel residents materialize in the hallway, with the young girl can be heard singing “it’s raining, it’s pouring.” And just as fast as they materialize, with a crack of lightning, they disappear yet again. The lights in the hallway begin to dim and turn pitch black with the only light focusing on the elevator at the end of the hallway. The doors open on the elevator and the five ghosts are shown standing inside. Without warning, their elevator falls down the shaft, and within a second, so does the guests’.
After a brief moment of freefall, the elevator heads back up again. The doors open once more revealing another hallway. On the right side of the hallway are doors evenly spaced; on the left, windows. Outside, the rain hits the window and lightning flashes. The sound of thunder echoes loudly. A strong gush of wind blows in from behind the guests causing the guests to move down the hallway towards a large arched window. The curtains on the windows begin to blow violently away from the guests. The doors open and slam rapidly. The furniture and lights rattle and shake. Just before the elevator reaches the end of the hallway – BAM! Lightning strikes the tower turning the hallway darker than night. The elevator continues moving forward past where the arched window once was (the window would be projected onto painted doors that open as soon as the hallway turns black). Lightning cracks all along the walls giving brief glimpses of light. The elevator then stops as it enters another shaft. It begins to ascend.
Reaching the top, the elevator doors open showing how high up the guests are above Sunset Boulevard. Seconds after having their picture taken, the elevator descends rapidly down the shaft. Up and down. Up and down. The elevator finally drops back to the ground floor. Backwards it goes as it returns to its original loading position, passing by stacks of possessions that once belonged to the unfortunate residents of the hotel.
As guests unboard and leave the attraction, they head down a few flights of stairs. After seeing their photograph from the ride, guests enter into a fancy restaurant, rather than a gift shop. The restaurant is called Woodrow’s (as named after Woodrow Wilson, the president in 1917 when the hotel “opened”) and acts as the hotel’s bar rather than the Tip Top Club in the current ride’s lore. The restaurant would act as a full sit down with gorgeous detailing throughout, wide booths, mirrors behind the bar, and much more to offer. I could go on and on with what Woodrow’s would look like inside, but I only really wanted to focus on the attraction itself.
This attraction is, of course, 100% hypothetical and could not be placed in any current Disney theme park or any theme park that may ever be built. The goal was just to see if a Tower of Terror could be made without any Twilight Zone references and I think I took them all out pretty well. My biggest gripe with this version would be a lack of narration, which you may have noticed. I’d love to have a Paul Frees-style narration over the attraction instead of a Rod Serling one, but as it stands I couldn’t think of a way to properly work it into the attraction. But that’s all for today. Maybe someday I’ll get around to designing an entire theme park for this attraction to go in.
Sorry to anyone who regularly checks this blog (nobody) for not posting in months. I’ll definitely be giving my opinion on Mission Breakout once it opens as well as doing a breakdown on rides that use screens and projections and how and why it works and doesn’t.