In fabulous Hollywood California there is a building called the Hollywood Tower. It's an apartment building just in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. It used to be known as the Hollywood Tower Hotel from it's opening in 1929 up until it was renovated and turned into apartments in the 1990s.
In Disney Studios Theme Park (Florida) and Disney's California Adventure (California) there stands a giant structure bearing the name "Hollywood Tower Hotel." This building houses the popular ride The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror.
The Tower of Terror is a 'freefall' type ride, like you find at most amusement parks, but with a Disney twist. The ride has magnificent theme-ing and a storyline involving a runaway elevator. "Runaway" is probably not the best word, but plunging makes me think of "neck lines" and "toilets," two things no one should have to think of at the same time.
It should surprise no one that Disney has made a movie based on this ride. After all, 3 other Disney attractions share this honor:
The Pirates of the Caribbean: This film was a huge success, taking the ride of the same name and bringing supernatural elements to it.
The Haunted Mansion: Not as successful, and not as good. This odd horror/comedy starred Eddie Murphy and a cast of zombies. My problem with the film was the overall tone. The film was creepy, then silly, then creepy again. It was like looking at Michael Jackson for an hour and a half.
The Country Bears: Not a hit, but I love it. Based on "The Country Bear Jamboree" this picture featured a band of singing bears. This has to be SEEN to be believed. A movie starring a bunch of guys in bear suits, and a maniacal Christopher Walken. What more could anyone want?
What IS interesting about The Tower of Terror's movie is that it preceded those films. This was a TV movie first aired back in 1997. Still, it holds up pretty well and is a bunch of fun.
The movie never makes any mention of "The Twilight Zone" either in the title or during the film. It's just as well; this is less creepy than most Twilight Zone episodes. It’s more of lighthearted flick aimed at young teens.
Having the mind of a young teen, I loved it. I also love Skittles and I giggle inappropriately when people say "Uranus."
Remember about 10 pages ago when I babbled something about the real Hollywood Tower building? If not, go back to the top of the article. We will wait for you.
Anyway, I don't know if that building was an influence on those who designed the ride, but according to some of the shots in the film, both the real and fake towers are in about the same place.
The film tells the story of five people that disappeared in an elevator related mishap back in 1939. Then in the present, Steve Guttenberg is contacted by an old lady who tells him that witchcraft may have been afoot at the Tower. So Steve investigates and brings Kirsten Dunst along for the tour.
The exterior of the Florida ride is used as the exterior of the building in the film. It seems a little silly, but maybe that is just because I have ridden it so many times. It would be like if in the middle of War of the Worlds Tom Cruise jumped on the Dumbo ride and used it as a plane.
Anyway, I do recommend this flick. It’s fun and easy to watch. The first half hour provides a couple of chills, but after we meet the ghosts there is nothing left to be scared of. The rest is just good old fashioned entertainment.
There is also a major plot twist that you can see coming from a mile away. Make sure to wave at it.