What is it?
In Disney’s California Adventure, there’s a Twilight Zone themed ride called the Tower of Terror, which opened on May 5, 2014 and that will be closing on January 3, 2017 to make way for a re-themed ride “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!” For the past month, the park has been running a “late checkout” which allows guests to ride the attraction in complete darkness.
This ride is amazing. The first time I rode it I was grinning ear to ear because of my love of Twilight Zone as a kid and how great that it was that Disneyland’s California Adventure incorporated it into their park. The entire building is themed, sometimes even having live period music. Much like the Enchanted Tiki Room’s waiting area and the Haunted Mansion, the story is introduced in a waiting room, playing a synopsis about the strange occurrence that occurred in the hotel themed attraction and readying guests for what is to come ahead. After, the line leads through an amazingly detailed boiler room area full with a furnace and antiqued set-up.
When the ride started doing their “Late Checkout” where guests rode in total darkness, I knew I wanted to check it out, but was surprised to find just how much more terrifying it is without lights or sound effects (aside from an eerie narration). During the 2-3 minute ride, the pauses before the drops seemed to drag on forever – letting each rider feel the tension and anxiety in everyone else, even when they couldn’t see their hand in front of their own face. Everyone was holding their breath, myself included, as the usual cues for when the fall would begin were absent.
Something cool, is after you get off the ride, but before you reach the gift shop/picture area under the staircase, you can see the a set of feet sticking out from behind a crate. When facing the stairs as if you would walk up them, the feet are under the right-hand staircase. Ask a cast member to show you if you have trouble finding them, it’s definitely worth it to see in person.
Although I think it is a good thing, the overall ambiance of the ride is about as “creepy” as the Haunted Mansion (my favorite ride), but may scare young children. If you’re planning to check into the hotel (ride this attraction) expect the line to be an hour to two hours long, and fastpasses go pretty quick, especially now that the ride will be taken out, which is disappointing considering how popular it is. It’s also important to understand that the ride does close frequently for maintenance and in cases that it breaks down, but tends to reopen in a couple of hours. If you don’t like free-fall rides, or are afraid of heights/falling, this ride is not for you, as at the top of it, doors will open up, giving riders a view of the park, before dropping them to a 130 foot free-fall.
I think it’s also important to note that the Tower of Terror ride in Orlando Florida is a bit more interesting than the straight drop in Anaheim’s California Adventure. The Hollywood Studios (Orlando) ride moves not only vertically, but horizontally, taking guests through different rooms, which was less plausible in the Anaheim location because of the physical space available for the ride.
Overall, I’d give this ride a 9/10. Even though it’s nowhere near as anxiety-causing as other free-fall thrill rides, such as 6 Flags Magic Mountain’s Lex Luthar Drop of Doom, it’s a fun, fairly family friendly attraction that will add some adventure and excitement into your California Adventure Trip. Remember, the ride will be closing January 3, 2017, despite petition to keep it open, however there are not currently any plans (or rumors) to close other The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror rides at other Disney parks.
Other parks that have The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Ride:
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida – USA)
- Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan)
- Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris, France)