Ever since its debut in 1994, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has been the star of Disney's Hollywood Studios. This attraction has that rare combination of unique breakthrough ride technology and incredible theming to make it one that attracts guests to ride again and again and again.
The theming starts from the moment you enter the ride queue. The Hollywood Tower Hotel grounds give the impression that this place had been quite an impressive place in its day. The current state is one of neglect and disrepair.
What intrigues me the most is the technology used in this attraction. It focuses around an elevator ride vehicle that starts out going up. Then the vehicle travels horizontally without a track as it travels to enter another larger elevator. Finally the ride uses computer control to randomize the drop sequence and parameters during the vertical movements. The specially designed super elevator utilizes computer controls to randomly determine the dropping and rising sequences making each ride unique. Hence the tagline: “The Tower is in control.”
The Disney Imagineers utilized AGV (automated guided vehicle) technology to guide the ride vehicle in the horizontal movement phase of the ride. This technology is commonly used in industry to have unmanned vehicles follow a wire in the floor to transport material to needed locations in factories. The wires in the floor transmit information to the vehicle, telling it where to go and how fast to go.
The random drop sequences programmed into the final phase of the ride, make the Tower of Terror unique amongst Disney attractions. The element of the unknown not only fits into the Twilight Zone theming well, it makes the ride even more exciting. The attraction really is in control.
According to Theron Skees, show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering: “Tower of Terror affects every one of the senses, leaving you feeling as if you have really been in your own episode of The Twilight Zone. A team of Walt Disney Imagineers worked very hard to break the barrier and truly immerse guests in the experience. Adding sound technology, scent, and visual effects is only part of the way we achieved this. We wanted the guest to feel completely out of control -- not knowing what to expect next, and giving the die-hard fans a lot more to talk about.”
The current random sequence programming is the 4th version of the ride programming that has been implemented since its start in 1994. The flexibility of this attraction to update the programming to add elements, change timing sequences, and completely alter the way it moves allows the Imagineers the ability to keep updating the ride and surprising even the frequent visitors.
Summary Not for the faint of heart, this ride is Exciting with a capital E! I would consider this to be the best ride in all of Disney World. The combination of the incredible theming and story telling combined with the use of random ride sequence programming takes this attraction to the top of the list.
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Disney World fan and Editor-in-Chief of the Disney World Blog - Only WDWorld (http://www.OnlyWDWorld.com) . After over 40 visits to the Walt Disney World Resort, I love to be … more
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