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

Tyler Slater

by , Public Relations Manager, Disney Parks, Experiences & Products

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.


  • Thanks Tyler, I thought it was, but wasn’t sure. This is a wonderful series you’re doing! The family is enjoying it too!

  • in the lobby I believe there is an original Shirley Temple doll and a First Edition “Wizard of Oz.”

  • This is my favorite attraction,I also enjoy the movie. Is it the first to be based on a park attraction?

    • Great question, Nancy! I’m currently with our friends at The Walt Disney Archives and will get back to you as soon as I can confirm the answer.

    • I have the answer, Nancy! Tower of Terror was in fact the first feature film to be inspired by a Disney Parks attraction – great question!

  • Me, too Michelle!! Whenever we ride I make my daughter explain to the rest of the family the episode behind the broken watch in the display case! She’s told the story at least 50 times!

  • I love the nods to the different episodes of the show–like the casino machine, the fortunate teller, etc.!!

  • This is a great attraction! I love the mirror effect.

  • Great post, thanks for adding DCA’s HTH to the Storytelling blog series! What makes Disney so great is their attention to detail and ability to tell a great story, and nowhere is this more apparent than at HTH. Although there are so many details to appreciate, including the decaying foliage outside and decrepit state of the building, my favorite would be the statue of the owl in the middle of the lobby. With its swooping pose covered in spider webs, the piece perfectly sets the creepy tone for the entire attraction. Keep up this excellent series!

    • Thank you, Dustin! Don’t worry, I’m working on future posts as we speak!

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