Hollywood Tower Hotel bell
As I've mentioned before, my favourite ride is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios. It's a drop ride, inspired by the Twilight Zone TV show, and according to the story and the preamble you'll be taking a trip to the Twilight Zone. The story goes that The Hollywood Tower Hotel was very successful until one stormy night, on Halloween in 1939, when the elevator shaft was struck by lightning and the five guests inside disappeared never to be seen again – and you're about to make the same trip.
The bell is one of the specific items of Tower of Terror merchandise sold in the gift shop at the exit of the ride, it's like a bell that would have sat on the hotel's reception desk. Because the story says that the hotel has been closed since the tragic event happened in 1939, the queue for the ride winds through the derelict hotel gardens that are now overgrown and eerie, it then goes through the hotel's lobby which is amazing, and a bit chilling. Everything is covered in cobwebs and dust as if no one's been there for years.
I love that this ride has an entire backstory and that the queue line isn't just a massive switchback queue that you can see the boarding area from – to be fair, not many of the queues at Disney World are like that. And that's on top of how amazing the ride itself is. I've mentioned it in a previous blog, but the ride includes trackless vehicles that move from one elevator shaft to another and "free-fall" drops that are actually faster than a normal free-fall. The faster than a free-fall "free-fall" is achieved by the cables that control the drop part of the ride. The elevator cables actually pull your vehicle down (as well as up), and pull you faster than the speed you would go if you were just being pulled down by gravity alone, so you're treated to a feeling of weightlessness. There are a number of different drop patterns that you can experience, as the ride computer chooses from the different options at random. The largest drop you can get is 13-storeys. Of course. And if you're one of the people who hasn't got their eyes closed you're treated to views across the whole park when the elevator doors open near the top!
The cherry on the top of this brilliant experience is the cast members, in addition to directing thousands of tourists around the ride all day – and keeping them safe – they become part of the story as creepy and/or hilarious bellhops who never left the hotel.