Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort

Celebrating 45 Years of Ghoulish Delight at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park

posted on August 8th, 2014 by George Savvas, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort


“When hinges creak in doorless chambers, and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls … Whenever candlelights flicker where the air is deathly still, that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight. Welcome, foolish mortals, to the Haunted Mansion.”

As a six-year-old boy, hearing those words spoken by Disney Legend Paul Frees as the “ghost host” became an indelible Disney memory for me – and don’t get me started on the stretching room, Madame Leota or the ghost that was sitting next to me on the way home! For me, there was no turning back then – or now – from one of the most uniquely entertaining Disney Parks attractions ever created.

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The 999 happy haunts of the Haunted Mansion have been throwing a swinging wake for 45 delightfully frightful years, and they’ve received the sympathetic vibrations of millions of Disneyland park guests who have come out to socialize.

The disquieting tale of the Haunted Mansion actually began more than 50 years ago when Walt Disney approved the creation of a riverfront mansion even while he hadn’t yet decided exactly what would go inside. Walt insisted, however, that the house appear well kept on the outside and not look dilapidated.

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This rare concept drawing from Ken Anderson, courtesy of our friends at the Walt Disney Imagineering Art Library, was made in 1957.

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The library also provided this color artwork created by Sam McKim in 1958.

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In 1962, construction began on the beautiful southern plantation-inspired home, and in the years that followed, as Imagineers developed (sometimes competing) themes and stories of a Haunted Mansion attraction, a sign was placed in front of its closed gates to tease what was (possibly) to come.

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The idea for the sign was reportedly sparked by a comment Walt made upon returning from a trip to London when he remarked that he had been searching castles and old English countryside estates for ghosts looking for a new place to haunt. The sign would remain in place until the Haunted Mansion opened its gates more than six years later, in August of 1969.

During those years, with their combined talents, Imagineers, including Marc Davis, Claude Coats, X Atencio, Rolly Crump, Bill Justice, and Yale Gracey, Disney Legends all, developed the attraction we know today.

Near the time of its completion, some publicity photos were taken to help illustrate the attraction’s unique blend of macabre humor and to celebrate the artistry of those responsible for bringing it to … life.

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Here, special effects designer Yale Gracey tries to keep the lid on one of his latest creations.

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In this photo, Bill Justice tries to celebrate some of his technological accomplishments with a grim grinning ghost.

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Finally, cameras captured a sighting of the elusive Hatbox Ghost with Yale Gracey.

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“There’s a little matter I forgot to mention. Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!”

Whether your first “doom buggy” ride was today, or 45 years ago, the Haunted Mansion is what it has always been: a true original that’s pure Disney magic.

Hurry baaaaaack…

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Splash Mountain at Disneyland Park

posted on July 18th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


In my opinion, Splash Mountain at Disneyland park is the quintessential E-ticket attraction. There is something about plunging down Chick-A-Pin Hill that has made it my “laughing place” for as long as I can remember. Yesterday was not only the 59th anniversary of Disneyland park, it also marked the 25th anniversary of this beloved attraction. Today, I’m positively thrilled to continue “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series with an article from Critter Tales, a newspaper created by the animals of Critter Country, about the story of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear. In honor of the anniversary, enjoy this excerpt by Jasper P. Woodchuck about the story behind my favorite attraction, Splash Mountain.

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Towering up and above everything hereabouts is Splash Mountain. Used to be that once upon a time, Splash Mountain was called Chick-A-Pin Hill …

Nowadays, Brer Rabbit’s been living in a briar patch, deep in the heart of Splash Mountain. And not so long ago, old Brer Rabbit took it into his head that if he’d just up and leave his prickly home in the briar patch, then he’d be able to leave all his troubles behind, as well.

As soon as Brer Fox and Brer Bear got wind that Brer Rabbit was leaving his briar patch and setting out for an adventure, they decided to trap and catch him. Luckily for Brer Rabbit, he was able to trick Brer Bear into springing Brer Fox’s hastily devised rabbit trap. This made Brer Fox so furious that Brer Rabbit decided to play another trick on the two, and he began to tell them about a secret “laughing place” that only he knew about.

Sure enough, Brer Bear and Brer Fox followed that rabbit right to the foot of a twin oak tree … But instead of finding a laughing place, all Brer Bear found was honeybees. Suddenly, the rotted old tree gave way with a snap and pitched Brer Fox and Brer Bear into a darkened, water-filled cavern, buzzing with hundreds of angry bees.

Brer Rabbit laughed and laughed at the prank he’d played on the two scoundrels. Unfortunately for Brer Rabbit, however, he tended to laugh just a little too long at his own joke and before he knew what was happening, Brer Fox captured that hapless hare.

Brer Rabbit was dragged by the ears up to the top of Chick-A-Pin Hill, where Brer Fox’s lair was hidden in a hollowed log that jutted out over the mighty Splash Mountain waterfall. Brer Fox threatened to skin Brer Rabbit, and then to roast and eat him. But thinking quickly, Brer Rabbit told Brer Fox to go ahead and do anything with him he wanted, so long as he didn’t throw him over the waterfall into the Briar Patch.

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Slow-wittted Brer Bear liked the idea and decided that flinging Brer Rabbit into the briar patch was the best thing to be done. Brer Fox tried to prevent him, and in the struggle, all three went over the falls and into the briar patch.

The briar patch is, of course, Brer Rabbit’s home sweet home. All the critters hereabout turned out to congratulate clever Brer Rabbit on having gotten away once again. And while Brer Fox and Brer Bear tried unsuccessfully to untangle themselves from the sharp, prickly briars, Brer Rabbit promised his friends that once and for all he had learned his lesson about leaving home, and that he is going to stay here forever and ever – at least until the urge to go adventuring strikes him once again.

Your obedient reporter,

Jasper P. Woodchuck

What is your favorite memory on Splash Mountain? Leave your response in the comments below!

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Unforgettable Details of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa: Imagineer Joe Rohde on Design and Inspiration

posted on June 27th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Rohde, creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, about his inspirations for the design of Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. Joe’s career has included such iconic projects as Disney’s Animal Kingdom; Expedition Everest; Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; and the upcoming AVATAR-inspired land at Walt Disney World Resort. Today, Joe shares some of the magic and tradition behind what makes Aulani unlike anywhere else in the world.

What is the significance behind the arch logo for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa?

The curved arch is based on a traditional Hawaiian canoe house as echoed in the framing of the Maka‘ala lobby as well as in the resort’s physical layout.

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What was the inspiration for the Maka‘ala lobby?

Maka‘ala does several things all at once. It is a warm and welcoming place that expresses the spirit of aloha, acceptance and inclusion. But it also announces that this place – where you have arrived, Hawai‘i – is a special, unique and important place, and that there are stories to be learned here that you may not know … and LOTS of them. Lastly, it also suggests a feeling of elegance and artistry, which is consistent with true Hawaiian culture.

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What was the inspiration for the overall shape and design of Aulani and the Waikolohe Valley?

The resort was designed to reflect the sense of a Hawaiian valley opening out toward the ocean from highlands to lowlands. This organization has many connotations. One is the ahupua’a, the traditional organization of land that followed a watershed from the mountains to the sea and knitted all members of the community together in a working relationship and a functional sustainable relationship to the land.

Another is a Hawaiian concept of time itself as flowing – like fresh water – from the past, which is in the mountains, to the future, which is in the sea. The architectural statements of Aulani tend to follow this organizational layout.

You know, of course, that Waikolohe means “mischievous water.” That name is simply meant to connote the playful aspect of the springs, which spray you from unexpected directions, and the presence of the Menehune. It is true that, along this part of the O’ahu coast, fresh water comes from springs, and we wanted to reflect that but in a fun, mischievous way.

Hawaiian canoes are seen throughout Aulani. Why are canoes such a key aspect of the design?

We wanted to use little clues here and there to celebrate the great canoe tradition of Hawai`i, because these canoes are at the very heart of what makes Hawaiian culture Hawaiian. Without these canoes there would be no Hawaiians at all. They express the highest form of artistry, engineering, symbolic meaning, purposefulness and social cooperation that Hawaiian culture stands for. In particular, we wanted to celebrate the Hokulea, the canoe that awakened the Hawaiian cultural revival in the 1970s and continues today on its worldwide voyage.

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on June 18th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Since Cars Land opened on June 15, 2012, no trip to Disney California Adventure park has been complete without experiencing Radiator Springs Racers. From the state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics technology to the thrilling race through Ornament Valley, this attraction truly is the definition of an “E-ticket” experience. In honor of the attraction’s second anniversary earlier this week, I’m thrilled to continue the “Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” series with Radiator Springs Racers. With so much detail behind one of the largest attractions ever built for Disney Parks, today’s post will focus on the story of Stanley’s Oasis, which serves as the queue area for the attraction.

Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs, sold radiator caps along Route 66. It wasn’t until he found the spring of water now known as Stanley’s Oasis that Radiator Springs became an iconic destination in the middle of the desert. To reach Stanley’s Oasis, turn right at the courthouse and follow the pathway under two bridges. The first bridge you pass under is a steel structure built in the 1940s and the second bridge was built out of wood in the 1920s.
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After passing under the bridges, you have arrived at the entrance of the historic Stanley’s Oasis! You’ll immediately recognize the original Radiator Spring that continues to bubble after all these years. Directly behind the spring, notice the water tower where Stanley once invited customers to relax and enjoy a nice, cold drink. The pathway then heads into a covered structure – the first building Stanley established at the oasis. This is called the Cap ‘n’ Tap shop because of the various types of caps for sale. Next, the neighboring structure, called Stanley’s Service Garage, tells the story of Stanley’s once-booming auto-care business (remember the radiator caps he sold on Route 66?). Saving the best for last, you’ll continue on to the world-famous Oil Bottle House – the area’s most popular roadside attraction!

As you enter the wheel-well-shaped cavern, you’ll see Stanley’s Comfy Caverns Motor Court – a lodge nestled deep inside the expansive cave. Because the oasis became so popular, Stanley and his wife, Lizzie, built the lodge to accommodate the high demand from visitors who wanted to stay overnight. From here, you hop in your car and head back to town for the big race! Ka-chow racer!

What is your favorite Cars Land memory? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Five Things You Might Have Missed on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on June 17th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


This month marks the second anniversary of the grand reopening of Disney California Adventure park. Since then, the details of Buena Vista Street have captured the hearts of Disney fans and families – making the new entrance one of the most beloved lands at the Disneyland Resort. Today, I’m excited to share some of the details you might have missed in one of our newest additions, Buena Vista Street!

1. Disney California Adventure Park Rededication Time Capsule

Just inside the entrance of Disney California Adventure park, near the flagpole, look for a plaque on the ground. It reads: “May the hopes and dreams represented by the collection contained within the time capsule beneath this marker inspire a future generation of dreamers when it is unsealed a quarter century from now, on June 15, 2037.”

Do you know where the other time capsule is located at the Disneyland Resort? How about the year in which it will be opened?

2. Hyperion Bridge – The Disneyland Monorail crosses over a bridge that is inspired by a Los Angeles landmark, the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge. The original bridge opened in 1929 and can still be found in Los Angeles, spanning Interstate 5 from Glendale, Calif., to the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.

3. Street Addresses on Buena Vista Street

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This next detail is a favorite of mine: Next time you visit Disney California Adventure park, look at the addresses of each of the buildings on Buena Vista Street. Believe it or not, there is a significance to the numbers! The first two digits of all the addresses (26 or 27) refer to two of the years that the Walt Disney Studios were located on Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. The second two digits often, though not always, correspond to a milestone year in the history of the Studios. For example, the address of Julius Katz Shoe and Watch Repair is 2701 Buena Vista St., representing the year of Walt Disney’s birth – 1901.

4. Rock Candy Mountain Model – Located in the window of Trolley Treats is a model of Rock Candy Mountain, a short-lived concept to be part of Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland at Disneyland park. In the original plans, the exterior of the mountain was to be completely covered with candy – and the model was covered with real candy! Fortunately the original has since retired but we do have a replica featuring a scale-model trolley (fitting for Trolley Treats) traveling through lollipops, taffy, chocolate, fudge and more. If you look closely, you might find a hidden Mickey, of sorts, deep inside the mountain.

5. Atwater School of Art & Animation

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As you walk by Atwater Ink & Paint, look for the Atwater School of Art & Animation sign. The instructors are listed as: “Messrs. Clark, Davis, Johnston, Kahl, Kimball, Larson, Lounsbery, Reitherman, Thomas.” Do these names sound familiar? Well, these “instructors” are actually Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” a group of key animators who provided direction for Disney animated classics like “Peter Pan,” “Cinderella” and many more.

Have you discovered other details of Buena Vista Street? Please share with us in the comments below!

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D23 Brings More Magic to Disney Fans

posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Jeffrey Epstein, Manager, Marketing


We know you love Disney. So we at D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are bringing the magic of Disney to 11 cities (including at stop at Walt Disney World Resort!) across the country starting this August during out D23 Disney Fanniversary Celebration roadshow.

The 100-minute shows — hosted by an archivist from the Walt Disney Archives and a D23 Team Member — feature rarely seen images, photography, video, and music that honor Disney milestones celebrating landmark anniversaries. And of course there are many Disney Parks anniversaries to celebrate, including Disneyland Resort Monorail, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Submarine Voyage (55th anniversary), Haunted Mansion (45!), Splash Mountain (25), and the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios, celebrating its 25th anniversary). Plus we’re celebrating films, TV shows and much more when we hit the road.

D23 members can purchase tickets now at a discount, and tickets will be available to the general public July 9. Get all the details here.

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Also, D23 just announced the names of even more Disney Legends and Imagineers who will join Destination D: Attraction Rewind this November at Walt Disney World Resort. This member-exclusive, two-day event will feature panels and presentations — including some unbelievable images and terrific stories — about beloved Disney Parks attractions of the past, with an entire day dedicated to Disney’s participation in the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. Disney Legends scheduled to appear include Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr, Alice Davis, Charlie Ridgway, Ron Logan, and Bill Sullivan. And from Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), Gary Landrum, Jason Grandt, Dave Minichiello, and Pam Rawlins will take part. (Talent subject to change.) Plus there will be a special pop-up shop from Mickey’s of Glendale — WDI’s employee store, featuring a selection of Imagineering merchandise as well as collectibles created just for the event. And the closing party will be Pleasure Island: Rewind, an evening celebration themed around the Downtown Disney nightlife district. For more info and to get tickets, click here.

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Seven Reasons You’ll Love Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park

posted on May 13th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


Can you believe we’re nearly two weeks away from the official opening of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? The attraction, which will officially debut to guests on May 28, is the crowning jewel in the New Fantasyland expansion, which has also included the addition of Enchanted Tales With Belle, Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and more.
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Here are seven reasons you’ll love this attraction.

  1. It’s the newest Disney “mountain” – The debut of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train not only added another attraction to New Fantasyland, but it also plussed up the park’s landscape with another Disney “mountain” – the newest since Splash Mountain debuted in 1992.
  2. It features an innovative ride system – Imagineers developed special five-car trains designed to swing independently from side to side as they move along the track.
  3. A fun interactive queue – The attraction’s queue allows guests to immediately step into the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” by becoming miners themselves and playing a jewel washing game. See photos here.
  4. Awesomely advanced Audio-Animatronics figures – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features some of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics figures our Imagineers have ever created. (To learn more about the design process, click here).
  5. Its amazing level of detail - Like the rest of New Fantasyland, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is incredibly detailed – from the Wisteria Vine that lines the door of the Dwarfs’ cottage (just like in the film), down to the tracks of forest creatures that can be seen in the attraction’s pathway.
  6. Special nods to the film – Be on the lookout for a few historic treasures on your way through the attraction, including the song “Music In My Soup” in the queue. This tune was originally cut from the film during production in the 1930s, but Imagineers re-recorded it for this attraction. Also note the shadows of the Dwarfs marching home along the lift inside of the mine. These shadows were actually rotoscoped (traced frame by frame) from a scene in the original film.
  7. References to the previous Snow White attraction – When Magic Kingdom Park opened in 1971, Snow White’s Scary Adventures was among the list of opening day attractions. Look for familiar vulture figures perched at the top of the first climb, as well as Grumpy, Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, and Happy figures toward the end of the attraction.
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Five Things You Might Have Missed in Adventureland at Disneyland Park

posted on May 12th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


While walking around Disneyland park the other day, a colleague pointed something out that I had never noticed before in the queue for Indiana Jones Adventure. This got me thinking … what else could someone miss while exploring Adventureland?

1. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” Patrol Truck

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In the outside queue area of Indiana Jones Adventure is one of the patrol trucks used in the filming of the first Indiana Jones movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

2. A photograph of Tarzan’s parents in Tarzan’s Treehouse – It’s a little challenging to find, but once you cross the bridge onto the Disneydendron semperflorens grandis (“large ever-blooming Disney tree”), you’ll find a small hut that has been ransacked by the villainous Sabor. On the floor, you’ll find an old photograph of the young family.

3. Canary Island Palm Tree
Canary Island Palm Tree in Adventureland at Disneyland Park

The palm tree right next to the entrance to the Jungle Cruise – believe it or not – dates all the way back to 1896! When Walt Disney bought the property that would become Disneyland, he promised the owner that he would not remove the tree because of its sentimental value to the family. Disney Legend Bill Evans, who guided the landscape design of many Disney Parks, moved the tree to the Jungle Cruise entrance, where it proudly stands today.

4. Eeyore Parking Lot Sign in Indiana Jones Adventure Queue - Once you enter the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and reach the Projection Room, turn behind you and look up. Next to the projector, you’ll be able to faintly see a sign from the now-defunct Eeyore parking lot. The space that is now Indiana Jones Adventure was once home to the Eeyore parking section of the Disneyland parking lot!

5. Shrunken Ned in the Adventureland Bazaar
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Located in the center of the marketplace, South Sea Traders is home to one of my favorite people in all of Disneyland park, Shrunken Ned. Housed inside a bamboo kiosk, Shrunken Ned is the magically shrunken head of a 19th century British explorer, who – for a small fee – will diagnose any illness and provide a small souvenir!

What is your favorite hidden detail in Adventureland at Disneyland park? Let us know in the comments below!

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Time-Lapse Video: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Rises From New Fantasyland

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Jennifer Fickley-Baker, Social Media Manager


As Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs announced last week, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will officially open its doors in New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park on Wednesday, May 28.

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The addition of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train not only brings the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” back into the park – it also adds a fourth Disney “mountain” to the park’s skyline (the other three are Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain).

Watch Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rise up out of the ground in this new video, provided by Walt Disney Imagineering, below.

Visit the posts below for more videos of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train:

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The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on May 5th, 2014 by Tyler Slater, Public Relations Manager, Disney Destinations


Intocable El Gato Radio

Earlier today we looked back on the 10th anniversary of one of the most popular attractions at Disneyland Resort, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For 10 years, guests have been dropping into the fifth dimension at Disney California Adventure park. Having experienced the attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort, I anxiously awaited the opening of the attraction on this coast. I was so excited that I was here for the opening event on May 4, 2004. In honor of the anniversary, let’s continue “The Magic of Disney Parks Storytelling” by checking in at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

As with many Disney Parks stories, we begin with a legend. The Hollywood Tower Hotel opened in 1928 and quickly became a “star in its own right, a beacon for the show business elite.” But on October 31, 1939, lightning struck the Hollywood Tower Hotel and an elevator carrying five guests mysteriously vanished, along with a large portion of the hotel itself. No staff or guests could determine what happened to the guests inside the missing elevator, so everyone vacated the hotel immediately and the building sat abandoned for years.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure Park

Then, in May 2004, the hotel opened its doors again, offering tours of its historic and glamorous facilities. Despite the layers of dust, cracked walkways and overgrown weeds, the hotel looked the same as it did the night it closed – except the elevators. Behind the “Out of Order” sign, the elevator doors appear to be severely damaged and bent – clues from that mysterious incident.

So what exactly happened here? As a visiting guest to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you are invited into the Library to find out. A lost episode of “The Twilight Zone” tells the story of what happened on that fateful night and invites you to step aboard a service elevator that is still in operation. Of course, what happens on that elevator is a mystery you’ll have to experience for yourself!

I will confess that after my first stay, I screamed so loudly, I lost my voice for the rest of the day (from being excited, not scared, of course.)

And fans of “The Twilight Zone” should keep an eye out for props from iconic episodes throughout the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Two of my favorites are a gold thimble (from “The After Hours” episode) in the glass display case outside the Library and a pair of broken spectacles (from the “Time Enough at Last” episode) inside the Library.

What is your favorite detail inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel? Leave your answer in the “Comments” section!

The Twilight Zone® is a registered trademark of CBS, Inc. and used with permission pursuant to a license with CBS, Inc.

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