Secrets of the Hollywood Tower Hotel

by | May 18, 2020 | Disney Parks and Resorts, Uncategorized

There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow — between man’s grasp and his reach; between science and superstition; between the pit of his fears and the sunlight of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that might be called the Twilight Zone….

The building you see in front of you is the Hollywood Tower hotel. Opened in 1928, it became a, “star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite.” Then, in 1939, the hotel was struck by lightning and five guests riding in the elevator mysteriously disappeared. The hotel remained closed until 1994, when it once again opened its doors. What happened next is a story that defies explanation and reason. It is a story that could only occur after you’ve checked in…to The Twilight Zone…

The Twilight Zone is, without question, one of the greatest programs in television history and a personal favorite. Rod Serling’s masterful storytelling ushered viewers into a strange world of imagination and terror, a world where nothing was quite as it seemed.

In 1994, Disney opened the doors to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios). Imagineers created an attraction that allowed Guests to step into Rod Serling’s world, experiencing it in a personal, visceral way. The attraction is a brilliant feat of storytelling and theming.

To bring Serling’s world to life, Imagineers watched every episode of the Twilight Zone twice (156 episodes in total). Several episodes played a particularly important role in the development of the attraction. Among those were Little Girl Lost (episode 91). The episode features a little girl who slips into a fourth, or possibly fifth, dimension. Guests experience this fifth dimension when the elevator car begins moving horizontally through the hotel. The footage of Rod Serling is taken from It’s a Good Life (episode 73).

There are hidden references to various Twilight Zone episodes hidden in the hotel’s library as well. There is a cookbook titled “To Serve Man,” from the episode of the same name (episode 73). There is also a fortune telling machine, a reference to “Nick of Time (episode 43). In a glass case outside the library, you can spy a glass case holding a gold thimble, which is a reference to “The After Hours,” (episode 34). Perhaps my favorite Easter Egg reference is the pair of broken glasses in the hotel’s library. This is a clever allusion to “Time Enough At Last” (episode 8), perhaps one of the greatest episodes of the Twilight Zone ever created.

Of course, references to the Twilight Zone aren’t the only things cleverly hidden throughout the hotel. After all, this is Disney, and no Disney attraction would be complete without some self-referential Easter Eggs. At the concierge desk, you’ll see a copy of Photoplay Magazine which features, ““Four Pages of Hilarious Star Caricatures by Walt Disney.” In the library, there is sheet music for the song, “What! No Mickey Mouse? (What Kind of Party is This?),” a 1932 song written by Irving Caesar. The most obvious reference to Disney appears in the arms of the little girl who disappears in the elevator. She is clutching a plush Mickey Mouse.

There are so many little details scattered throughout the hotel, from the architecture to the artwork, that it would take a full length book to explore them all. Fortunately, that means that every time you ride the attraction, you’ll get a slightly different experience. It’s a ride so entertaining that it could only exist in…The Twilight Zone…or Walt Disney World.

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