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When Did Tower of Terror Open in Disney World?

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The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, more commonly known as the Tower of Terror, is one of the most iconic attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. Since its opening on July 22, 1994, the ride has thrilled countless visitors with its unique combination of storytelling, suspense, and sudden drops. But when exactly did this beloved attraction open, and what is its story? Let’s dive into the history and details of the Tower of Terror.


The Tower of Terror officially opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, on July 22, 1994. This iconic attraction, inspired by “The Twilight Zone” TV series, has been thrilling visitors with its unique storytelling, suspense, and sudden drops ever since.

The Grand Opening

The Tower of Terror officially opened to the public on July 22, 1994, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, then known as Disney-MGM Studios. The grand opening marked the culmination of over two years of construction, which began in 1992.

The Story Behind the Tower of Terror

The story of the Tower of Terror is inspired by the popular television series “The Twilight Zone.” It is set in the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel, a once-glamorous establishment that was mysteriously abandoned after an uncanny incident on Halloween night in 1939. A bolt of lightning struck the hotel, causing an elevator carrying five passengers to disappear, along with a large portion of the hotel itself. The passengers are said to have fallen into the fifth dimension and have remained trapped there, unaged and in a timeless limbo, for decades.

Unique Features of the Tower of Terror

What sets the Tower of Terror apart from other Disney attractions are its unique features, which include:

  1. Immersive Theming: The detailed and immersive theming of the Tower of Terror, from its meticulously designed lobby to its storyline set on Halloween night in 1939, sets it apart from other attractions.
  2. Advanced Ride System: The Tower of Terror combines an accelerated drop tower and a dark ride, using an Autonomous Guided Vehicle (AGV) that follows wires in the floor. The vertical ride system was built by Otis Elevators, an actual elevator company.
  3. Faster-Than-Free-Fall Experience: The ride doesn’t just involve a simple free-fall; powerful motors push the carts down even faster than they would travel in a free-fall, enhancing the overall experience.
  4. Fifth Dimension Scene: The Florida version of the ride features a unique “Fifth Dimension” scene, where the vehicle moves horizontally before entering the drop sequence. This feature is not present in other versions of the ride.
  5. Random Drop Sequences: The ride’s advanced technology allows engineers to reprogram new drop sequences, providing a different experience each time.

Reception and Impact

Upon its opening, the Tower of Terror was well-received by both the public and critics. Its thrilling experience, immersive storyline, and detailed theming earned it high praise. Over the years, the ride has become a fan favorite and a must-visit attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Tower of Terror has also significantly impacted Disney World as a whole, drawing large crowds and contributing to the park’s overall success. It has even influenced other Disney parks worldwide, with additional versions of the ride opening at Walt Disney Studios Park, Tokyo DisneySea, and Disney California Adventure.

Evolution Over the Years

Since its opening, the Tower of Terror has undergone several changes. Initially, the ride only had one drop, but additional drops were added over the years to increase the thrill for guests. In 2022, the attraction underwent a refurbishment, during which one side of the ride was closed, resulting in longer wait times. The refurbishment was completed in June 2022, and all four elevator shafts were back in operation, returning the ride to full capacity.

In conclusion, the Tower of Terror, with its thrilling drops, engaging storyline, and impressive theming, has been a beloved attraction at Disney World since its opening in 1994. Despite facing challenges over the years, it continues to draw large crowds and remains a significant part of the Disney World experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the ride duration for the Tower of Terror?

The Tower of Terror ride duration is approximately 15 minutes, which includes the pre-show, queue, and ride experience.

What is the height requirement for the Tower of Terror?

The height requirement for the Tower of Terror is 40 inches (102 cm). Children under this height will not be allowed to ride.

Are there any health restrictions for the Tower of Terror?

Yes, due to its intense nature, the Tower of Terror is not recommended for guests with heart conditions, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this ride. Pregnant women should not ride.

Is the Tower of Terror scary for children?

The Tower of Terror can be quite intense for young children due to its dark themes, sudden drops, and overall suspenseful atmosphere. It’s recommended for parents to gauge their child’s comfort level with such experiences before deciding to ride.

Is the Tower of Terror available in other Disney parks?

Yes, variations of the Tower of Terror are available in other Disney parks, including Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, Tokyo DisneySea in Japan, and Disney California Adventure. However, the version at Disney California Adventure has been reimagined as “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!” since 2017.

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