Friends, I hope you will forgive me for running a little late today – I thought the best birthday gift for myself would be the treat of getting a full 7 hours of sleep. That worked out well for me to be honest but then I found this little gift waiting as well – a promo video for the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – the Disney California Adventure version that opened back in 2004. It would be safe to say that I am a HUGE fan of The Twilight Zone television series that was created by Rod Serling back in 1959 for CBS – I’ve actually gone on record as saying it might possibly be the greatest TV series of all time. Granted it is hard to go wrong with a collection of writers that included Richard Matheson (Duel, I Am Legend), Charles Beaumont (7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The Masque of the Red Death), George Clayton Johnson (Wanted Dead or Alive, Star Trek), Reginald Rose (Twelve Angry Men), Jerry Sohl (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Star Trek), Earl Hamner Jr. (Spencer’s Mountain, The Waltons), and of course Ray Bradbury. Together with an embarrassment of riches in front and behind the camera – The Twilight Zone entertained as well as taught us that often the true monster need not come from outer space or from our imagination… but is plainly visible in the nearest mirror.
I have shared in the past how the bedtime stories of my youth unbeknownst to myself were actually episodes of The Twilight Zone that my Father remembered. So when I started catching the series on reruns… I was a little shocked to realize I knew some of the twist endings before they were revealed. I still loved watching them and would tape them on VHS and watch them over and over again. Then my mind was kind of blown when I found out that in ’94 that The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World… I knew I must make a pilgrimage there to check it out. Especially when getting a glimpse of the fun courtesy of Walt Disney World Inside Out at the time of the ride’s opening. Who better to give us a guided tour of the Hollywood Tower Hotel than host of Walt Disney World Inside Out Scott Herriot and special guest Gilbert Gottfried?
Actually two of my best friends beat me to the Tower of Terror and brought back some chilling tales from their encounter with the Twilight Zone – in addition to some sweet, sweet collectibles too. A couple of years later I was able to experience the Tower of Terror for myself with another best friend and while the ride was over before I knew it… I kept the memories with me… I even bought the photograph of us screaming our heads off – plus some video of the bellhops of the Hollywood Tower Hotel doing their best to be both creepy and funny!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Florida is still in operation – with the Disney California Adventure version opening in 2004 but closing in 2017 to make room for the Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! drop ride. At the very least we have this wonderful promo video on the Disney California Adventure version opening – including some chats with a few of the Imagineers responsible for the ride design and even architecture. To say nothing of the reactions of some of the lucky people who were able to try out the ride during the promo video!