where the stars stay and play

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

the architecture of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios that makes this attraction so unique

Walt Disney loved to tell a story and when it came to his parks he made sure every ride had a story behind it.  Every detail adds to the look and feel of the ride.  From the sounds, the smells, the architecture… you loose yourself in the world Imagineering has created.

Welcome to this month's Blogorail Orange Loop. Today we are sharing some of our favorite architectural details at the Disney Parks.

anyone who was anyone stayed here

One of the best examples of Disney architecture being used to tell a story has to be The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The ride is set at The Hollywood Tower Hotel which opened in 1928 and is known for it’s rich and famous guests. But on October 31, 1939 tragedy strikes in the form of lightning hitting one of the elevators.

The Twilight Zoen Tower of Terror - The Hollywood Tower Hotel Sunset Boulevard Billboard

a billboard highlighting the Hollywood Tower Hotel

The elevator and a portion of the hotel mysteriously disappear with 5 people inside: a couple that look to a singer, her boyfriend, a child, her nanny, and a hotel bellhop.  The hotel immediately closed until …. well until 1994.

You are now invited to board the only elevator (service elevator located in the basement boiler room) to discover the secret of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

double dog dare you to ride it

The hotel itself reflects the Hollywood art deco style of the 1930’s which is beautiful but the size of it is what first strikes you.

You can easily see it from the drive into the parking lot.  As you walk towards the park you will hear families daring each other to ride the Tower of Terror and a lot of heckling for those that refuse.

the tower from the Boardwalk walk way (photo credit: Greg from Why I Run Disney)

the tower from the Boardwalk walk way (photo credit: Greg from Why I Run Disney)

But as you enter the park and turn onto Sunset Boulevard the Tower is right there in front of you and looms higher and higher above you as you get closer.  (and the screams become louder and louder)

You can even begin to see all the details where the old elevator used to be.  There is a lot of detailed damage to take in.

A bit of trivia: the Hollywood Tower Hotel architecture was inspired by The Mission Inn in Riverside, California.

it really is creepy

One you walk past the entrance sign you will be immediately immersed in the world of the Hollywood Hotel.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studio - Entrance Sign

As you wander along the (unkept and creepy) garden pathway you will begin to hear beautiful 1930’s music.  It will sound like it is far away.  Like a memory the original hotel is trying to share with you.

As you approach the hotel you will pass broken statues, an old fountain and overgrown walkways. All adding to the wonderfully spooky and sad ambience.

If you happen to be there during the summer the misters will be on adding a creepy fog to the area.  And at night the light make this one of my favorite places.

It really is quite romantic if you don’t mind the screams and ghosts ‘dropping’ in.

it is the maids day off

Everything you have seen and heard up until pales in comparison to the lobby of the hotel.  Everything is covered in dust and is left just as it was on October 31, 1939.

Everything from suitcases on the floor, to a tea service, to dead flowers and more.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Dusty Lobby at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Take time to look at all the art deco architectural elements.  From arches to light fixtures to the intricate wood working to the decor.  Everything is stunning and accurate for the time period.

A bit of trivia: In fact, many of the items are genuine antiques, including several bronze statues carved by French artist Moreau.

Don’t think the details ends at the lobby.  From the hotel library to the boiler room you are kept in the story.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios - Entering the Boiler Room

Even the exit is in the same 1930’s art deco style – from fountains to the check out desk.

even out back

Even the back of the hotel carries the same great architecture.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios - exit area

Did you know that you can book private parties on that 2nd floor balcony.  Can you imagine having dinner up there?

As you can see the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is the complete package.  You will step back in time one you enter the grounds and you will remain there until you exit the back door.

What other ride goes to this level of detail?

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios - exit area

Thank you for joining me today as I shared my love of this attraction.  It truly sticks out from the rest.


For more architectural details at Disney, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Orange | Dealing with Problems at Disney Loop:
By |2017-10-12T12:43:36+00:00April 27th, 2016|

About the Author:

Full time working mom making the most out of time with my family through travel, crafts & photography. Owner/designer of Capturing Magical Memories® and co-owner of the Magical Blogorail travel co-operative. In my free time it is all spas, wineries and concierge.


  1. Onna April 11, 2012 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Wow! These are some awesome shots! Quite the adventure!

  2. Holly Anderson April 11, 2012 at 4:17 am - Reply

    Great pictures from one of my favorite Disney adventures! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Steve April 11, 2012 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Such a fun ride. Definitely a first class example of adventure. Beautiful pictures.

  4. Manda April 11, 2012 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Oh wow! Brilliant photos! I love TOT! 😀 x

  5. DebSays April 11, 2012 at 11:55 am - Reply

    What great shots! So cool that you got the ride people too! TOT is a great example of a Disney adventure!! Love your new sig !It's always fun seeing what's new here!

  6. Sean April 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Oh yes I can already feel the adventure.   Great shots!   

  7. R We There Yet Mom? April 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Great photos – I love this ride and all the details make it so much greater!!

  8. Melissa April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Great pics! Love all the details! 

  9. MouseFanDiane April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Mary those are some really great shots. I always love seeing the close up of the rides and inside tooo

  10. Ariel Snow April 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I have always been afraid of this ride, my friends once made it go on the TOT Five times in a row to get over my fear…and yet still I am so afraid of it! Love your pics though:)

  11. Tami April 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    FANTASTIC shots… I felt like I was all queued up to ride!  🙂  I don't even remember that lobby/desk area … is this Hollywood Studios or California Adventure?

  12. Pam April 12, 2012 at 2:39 am - Reply

    Great photos! I love that you included the fast pass!

  13. Disney on Wheels April 12, 2012 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    You got some awesome shots of the lobby! I love that they let you walk around and take photos.

  14. […] Photo Courtesy of Capturing Magical Memories […]

  15. Heidi April 28, 2016 at 6:44 am - Reply

    And that is why the Tower of Terror is my favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World. Sure, I have favorites in each park; but there’s just something really extra special about this one. And to add to everything that you shared about its architecture . . . what makes it special to me is its ability to make me scream and laugh hysterically at the same time! There’s just something about that high I get when I ride it that keeps me going back for more!

  16. Mike @ My Dreams of Disney April 28, 2016 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Wow, Mary, great post! Puts my post on Spaceship Earth to shame! 🙂 I love the details of the attraction, but I can’t stand the ride! Your post sends chills through me just reading about it. Sophie and Cindy, though love it to this day. We have Disney Clue with the Tower of Terror featured, so that’s a great sidebar. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Lee Beatens May 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I love the misters and the effects they create!

  18. Lin May 3, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I can’t take Tower of Terror, drops are my least favorite thing. That being said I have been on it twice; once with my students during a Disney Youth Education course and once with a wedding party. I say now that I’ll never do it again but I’m sure something will come up that will force me on it again!

    Even though I can’t stand the actual ride I do love walking through the line. There is so much attention to detail and so much to take in. It is simply stunning.

  19. Rosanne May 3, 2016 at 9:46 am - Reply

    I love this attraction. This has been my favorite for so long, and the theme and the building itself are the reasons.I just love this. Great photos, thanks for sharing.

  20. Disney Architecture May 17, 2016 at 9:22 am - Reply

    […] Stop: Hollywood Studios – Tower of Terror with Capturing Magical […]

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Mary Connor

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