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Is Tower of Terror Scary?: A Guide to the Haunted Twilight Zone Ride

Are you planning a trip to one of Disney’s amusement parks and curious about whether the Tower of Terror ride is worth your time? Fear not, I’ve got you covered!

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a free fall ride that takes you through the eerie corridors of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, an abandoned Art Deco marvel that once hosted the elite of Tinseltown.

As you step inside the hotel’s dilapidated lobby, you’ll be transported to October 31, 1939, the fateful night when a storm struck the hotel, causing an elevator with five guests to plummet to the ground, causing them to pass.

These days, you’ll board an elevator, rise up 13 stories, and then face a series of terrifying drops and twists that will make your heart race.

This thrilling ride is available a several Disney parks around the world, so lots of you have been wondering about whether to add to your itinerary or not because it might be too scary!

In this blog post, I’ll take an in-depth look at the thrill factor behind this Twilight Zone inspired adventure.

I’ll cover topics like health and safety restrictions, accessibility accommodations, speed, duration, and other elements that might make a ride too scary for you.

Plus, I’ll share tips on how to avoid long lines, when to pose for the ride photo, and all the different parks that feature this ride.

Welcome to the Hollywood Tower Hotel – it’s time to check in!

Is the Tower of Terror scary?

Photo of the dark and spooky interior of Tower of Terror Hollywood Studios with cobwebs, dim lighting, and Art Deco interior.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Ah, the ultimate question! Is the Tower of Terror scary? Well, the answer is…it depends.

The Tower of Terror is undoubtedly a thrill ride that will make your heart race and your stomach drop. Emphasis on that last part!

The sudden drops, pitch-black darkness, and immersive haunted hotel theming can be quite intense and disorienting, especially for first-time riders.

Many years ago, when I rode it the first time, I swore up and down that I’d never go on it again. But of course, that was probably the adrenaline talking because I’ve been on it plenty of times since!

Some guests might find the ride more exhilarating than scary, as the element of surprise and unpredictability are part of the fun.

Ultimately, whether you find the Tower of Terror scary or enjoyable depends on your tolerance for thrill rides and your sense of adventure.

Let’s dig in to some individual elements that might make or break it for you, so by the end of the post you can decide if it’s too scary for you.

How tall is the Tower of Terror?

Photo of the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios during the day time.

The Twilight Zone® Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios and Walt Disney Studios in Paris both stand at a towering height of 199 feet.

The height is no accident, as it allows the ride to reach an exhilarating top speed of 39 miles per hour.

The Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea is slightly shorter at 183 feet and the speed tops out at 34 mph.

How long is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The duration of the Twilight Zone® Tower of Terror ride at Hollywood Studios and Walt Disney Studios in Paris is approximately 3.5 minutes.

The Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea is approximately 2.5 minutes.

For some, this shorter version might be more tolerable, while others might be left wanting more. It’s all up to you!

Is rider switch available?

Yes, rider switch is available for this ride at all locations.

This feature allows guests with small children or any companion who cannot or does not want to ride the attraction to wait in a designated area while the rest of the group rides.

Then, you can switch places so that the waiting party can enjoy the attraction without waiting in line again.

I love this feature because it takes away the pressure for kiddos that might bail out at last minute because they are too scared.

Most kids are definitely cognizant of whether their actions might lead to disappointment for others even if it’s relief for them. This removes any feelings like that!

Accessibility accommodations

Photo of an abandoned, cobwebbed desk inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel at Hollywood Studios.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Video captioning is available for this ride – just ask a cast member for assistance.

In addition, guests in wheelchairs or ECVs must transfer to the ride on their own or with the help of their party. Cast members can’t help with this.

Lastly, service animals are not permitted on the ride, even if used for anxiety or panic disorders. This is for the safety of the service animal.

However, if being separated for a few minutes is safe for you, cast members can place your service animal in a designated area while you ride.

Health and safety restrictions

As with any thrill ride, the Twilight Zone® Tower of Terror has specific health and safety restrictions that guests must adhere to.

First, the ride’s minimum height requirement is 40 inches at all locations.

In addition, guests should be in good health with no pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart, neck, or back problems, that could be aggravated by the ride’s sudden drops and movements.

Lastly, the attraction is not recommended for those who are pregnant or are prone to motion sickness, as well.

Personally I’ve never had an issue with motion sickness on this ride, but I can definitely see why others might.

The drops can be pretty intense on this ride, especially coupled with the disorienting movements that aren’t ever the same each ride.

That means no matter how many times you ride, your body can’t get used to the track, leading to surprises with each ride. This factor might be too intense and scary for some – and it was for many years for myself!

Is there a ride photo?

Yes, there is! The Tower of Terror offers an on-ride video, which captures your terrified facial expression as you plummet down the elevator shaft, screaming your lungs out.

When the ride reaches a window that opens behind the Hollywood Tower Hotel sign, get ready for your reaction to be captured when the ride drops!

TIP: If you ride at Hollywood Studios, the video comes free with Genie+, as well as the Memory Maker package.

Can I use Genie+ or Lightning Lane?

Photo of a dimly light corner inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel with cobwebs and creepy statues.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

At Hollywood Studios, guests can select the Twilight Zone® Tower of Terror as part of Genie+. There isn’t an individual paid lightning lane option available.

Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea both use a Premier Pass system, of which Tower of Terror is an option.

Availability and prices may vary depending on the time of day and season at all three locations.

Best time to ride Tower of Terror

Photo of the Tower of Terror at night from a distance.

The best time to ride the Tower of Terror depends on your preferences and priorities.

During peak season, the ride tends to have longer wait times, sometimes exceeding 60 minutes or more.

Therefore, if you want to minimize your waiting time, you might consider riding during off-peak hours, such as early morning or during parades or shows.

For example, at Hollywood Studios, riding during Fantasmic! will lead to much shorter standby lines. The same goes for riding right at park open, especially if you have access to early park entry hours.

However, keep in mind that the ride’s ambiance and atmosphere are particularly spooky at night, especially during Halloween season. So, if you want the full ghoulish experience, wait until after dark to ride!

Where to find the Tower of Terror

Actors Mykal-Michelle Harris and Felix Avitia (L-R) from Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home” pose with Tower of Terror merchandise with the Hollywood Tower Hotel in the background.
Stephen Diaz / Disney

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris and Tokyo DisneySea in Japan.

There used to be a fourth location at Disney California Adventure, but it closed in 2017.

It was replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!, which is pretty much the same ride but with a Marvel theme and classic rock soundtrack.

Hollywood Studios in Florida

The original Twilight Zone® Tower of Terror opened at the end of Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 22, 1994.

Since then, it has become one of the most beloved and iconic attractions in the park, and a must-ride for thrill-seekers of all ages.

To get there from the main entrance, go straight down Hollywood Boulevard and take a right onto Sunset Boulevard and walk all the way to the end.

Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris

At Walt Disney Studios Park, the Tower of Terror opened on December 22, 2007 in the Hollywood Boulevard area.

To get there from the main entrance, just walk straight down Hollywood Boulevard. You can’t miss it because it’s right at the end, so you can see it right when you get through the main gate.

Tokyo DisneySea in Japan

The Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea opened on September 4, 2006 in the American Waterfront area.

To get there from the main entrance, veer left to the American Waterfront neighborhood. The ride is located in the building behind the American Waterfront park.

NOTE: The Tower of Terror at DisneySea is not Twilight Zone® themed, but it still has a very similar haunted hotel theme! It just doesn’t have the licensing that the other locations have.

Are you ready to board Disney’s Tower of Terror ride?

Well friends, we’ve reached the end of our journey into all things Tower of Terror.

I hope this guide has provided you with all the information you need to decide whether you want to brave the ride or set it aside.

Remember, the Tower of Terror is just one of the many thrilling and immersive attractions at Disney parks around the world.

So, if you’re up for an adventure, strap on your seatbelt, and make your way to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Who knows, maybe you’ll encounter some ghoulish residents on your way!

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

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This post was originally published July 5, 2023. It was last updated October 14, 2023.