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.
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.”
Here is a clip from the History Channel's Modern Marvels discussing the design of the ride:
As mentioned in the video clip 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 fans of TOT definitely have a lot to talk about. The ride has even attracted two well written fan sites totally dedicated to this one attraction: http://www.towerofterror.org/ & http://www.serviceelevator.com/ .
These sites have all kinds of interesting information about the history, facts, and latest news about all four versions (Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's California Adventure, Tokyo Disney, & Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris) of this thrilling Disney Attraction.
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.
To learn the latest on what is happening with the Tower of Terror or more details about how the attraction was conceived check out the fan sites listed above.
Posted by Jamie Collins on 6:03 AM // 3 comments