December 31, 1899 is an event from Tower of Terror.
Harrison Hightower III had been on an expedition in the Congo, and met with the Mtundu tribe. He came across their idol, Shiriki Utundu, and wanted to have it for himself. When buying it didn’t work, he stole it and brought it back to his home at the Hotel Hightower, to sit alongside the rest of his possessions and ‘acquisitions’ from his many adventures.
When Hightower returned to his home in New York City, Harrison Hightower III held a press conference to share his newest ‘acquisition’ with the press. Harrison told an exaggerated story about how the idol came into his possession and that he risked his life to get it and the Mtundu people weren’t happy to part with it. Reporter Manfred Strang asked him about the alleged curse only for Hightower to laugh at him and call him ridiculous. When Strang still persisted with the questions, Hightower had him kicked out of the conference.
After the press conference, Hightower met with his fellow members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers: namely Lord Henry Mystic, Captain Mary Oceaneer, Charlton J. Taboret, Dr. J.L. Baterista, and Professor R. Blauerhimmel. During the meeting, they took a group portrait together. Hightower could be seen holding Shiriki Utundu. The portrait was printed for Society members to displayed in their homes, such as Mystic Manor and the Oceaneer Lab.
That night, New Years Eve, Hightower held a massive party at the Hotel Hightower to celebrate his return. Strang had sneaked into the hotel, disguised as a waiter, to get more answers about the idol. Sometime during the party, Hightower excused himself to go to his penthouse and find a place to put the idol. His manservant Archibald Smelding warned him to treat it well, but Hightower scoffed. He put out his cigar on the idol’s head to show what he truly thought about it.
Fifteen minutes later, Shiriki Utundu came to life, opening its eyes. He trapped Hightower with his lightning powers and threw him into the elevator, sending it careening down all thirteen stories. Smelding and Strang went to the crashed elevator, but no one was there - only Shiriki Utundu remained.
Harrison Hightower III was never seen again. The Hotel Hightower was abandoned, and sat closed for thirteen years. Rumors about the hotel being cursed led people to believe that it should have been destroyed. In 1912, the New York City Preservation Society, led by Beatrice Rose Endicott, launched a campaign to save the hotel and name it a historic landmark. It was a success, and the Hotel Hightower reopened to the public for tours - complete with an elevator ride to the penthouse floor.
Appearances and allusions
There is a portrait of the S.E.A. roster within the Hotel Hightower within the halls of Mystic Manor.
Tower of Terror
- Tower of Terror: The Mystery - a short film made to promote Tower of Terror
- Tower of Terror, depicted in the attraction