Tower of Terror is the Tokyo DisneySea adaptation of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, located in the American Waterfront area. It opened on September 22, 2006.

As The Twilight Zone television series was not popularly known in Japan, Walt Disney Imagineering instead devised an entirely new story focused on rich tycoon and explorer Harrison Hightower III and his home of Hotel Hightower.

Backstory[edit | edit source]

Tower_of_Terror-"The_Mystery"_-_Backstory_short_film_from_the_TOT1899_campaign

Tower of Terror-"The Mystery" - Backstory short film from the TOT1899 campaign

Anyone who visits American Waterfront will soon find their gaze irresistibly drawn to the unique form of the lofty Hotel Hightower. The building's unusual design and extraordinary proportions were symbols of the wealth and power of its notorious creator, antiquities collector Harrison Hightower III, and indeed the stories of the man and the hotel are inextricably linked.

After inheriting his father's mansion, Harrison Hightower III decided to renovate his home, adding gardens, a pool and spa, the five-story "Caliph's Tower", the eight-story "Indian Tower" with its many guest rooms and a ballroom, and finally the 14-story "Great Tower" in which Hightower kept his personal apartments in the penthouse suite. Although the overall style of the hotel is Gothic, to a certain extent there are elements of other architectural styles from all over the world. Also, as a further testament to his greatness, Hightower installed many artifacts he had acquired during his globe-spanning expeditions in various places around the hotel.

Harrison Hightower III was a collector of cultural antiquities. Accompanied by his valet, Mr. Smelding, he traveled to every continent to collect his curiosities, including Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania. Once he found an artifact he wanted, he would use any method available to acquire it, including on occasion outright plunder.

In 1899, Hightower embarked on the most hazardous expedition of his life, heading up the Congo River and into the dangerous parts of uncharted Africa. Though his intention was to collect the art and craftwork of the region, Hightower soon found himself the object of attacks by hostile local tribes, and many members of his team lost their lives.

Then one day, Hightower's severely reduced party was chased into the area of the dreaded Mtundu tribe. Though greatly feared by neighboring tribes, the Mtundu welcomed Harrison Hightower's ill-fated expedition quite cordially, and actually invited the adventurers to eat with them.

During the meal, Hightower learned of the existence of the tribe's protective idol. The statue was called "Shiriki Utundu" and Harrison Hightower wanted it for his own. He tried to persuade the village headman to sell him the idol, but was refused, which only served to increase his desire. He then told his men to prepare for battle, and grabbing Shiriki Utundu from its altar, stole the idol and escaped the village.

The expedition was nervous and afraid that the many warriors of the Mtundu tribe would pursue and attack them, but strangely they only stood by and watched expressionlessly as Hightower took their idol. Some thought they may even have been slightly smiling...

On December 31, 1899, Harrison Hightower III was back in New York and held a press conference in his private office at Hotel Hightower to unveil his latest "find". Manfred Strang, a reporter from the New York Globe-Telegraph, asked if Shiriki Utundu wasn't really cursed, but was then thrown out of the building. After that, Hightower was his usual bombastic self, giving a heroic description of his adventure and allowing no real questions. That evening, he gave a spectacular New Year's Eve party to celebrate his return from Africa.

Though the party was a success, Hightower left early to find a place for Shiriki Utundu in his penthouse apartment. As Hightower boarded the elevator, Mr. Smelding warned him to give proper respect to the idol. Hightower refused to pay heed, and, sneering in defiance, even put out his cigar on Shiriki Utundu's head!

As the clock struck midnight, all lights in the hotel went out and the party was plunged into darkness. People outside witnessed a dazzling green light bursting out from Harrison Hightower's rooms at the top of the hotel. From the top floors to the bottom, the benighted hotel was pierced by hundreds of thousands of volts of electricity. The arched windows in front shattered with a loud crash, causing broken glass and other debris to rain down on the onlookers below. Small fires had broken out, and panicked party guests scrambled to escape, with many injured in the rush.

However, the most astonishing thing of all was that Harrison Hightower III, who should have been in his rooms at the top of the hotel, abruptly disappeared without a trace.

With the explosion on the top floors, the cables of the hotel elevator were also cut, and Harrison Hightower III was heard screaming in fright. The only thing that was found in the remains of the shattered elevator, though, was Shiriki Utundu. Harrison Hightower was gone. Had Hightower somehow escaped from the elevator unharmed, or was he not even riding it when it crashed? Could he have been transported away somewhere? No one knows the truth.

After Mr. Hightower's mysterious disappearance the hotel was closed down. People in New York began calling it the "Tower of Terror". For 13 years, no one dared to enter the hotel until the New York City Preservation Society, led by its president and founder, Miss Beatrice Rose Endicott, began a plan to offer tours of the building to the public. The Society hopes that through its efforts people will again appreciate the architectural beauty of the hotel and the cultural value of the treasures in Harrison Hightower's collection.

Still, dark rumors persist amongst the people of New York. Some say how they saw the "strange, green lights" on that fateful night, while others recall hearing "a terrible scream". The passage of time seems only to have increased the mystery surrounding Hotel Hightower.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Queue[edit | edit source]

The New York City Preservation Society has opened up tours of Hotel Hightower, advertising an opportunity to discover the mystery behind Hightower's disappearance. The exterior queue winds through the gardens, passing broken statues and an abandoned artist's easel. Traveling inside the Hotel's lobby, left in its 1899 state, fresco murals depicting Hightower's adventures stealing artifacts from different cultures and escaping angry mobs trying to apprehend him. A fireplace constructed from a Indian temple piece features a portrait of Hightower in front of the piece. The broken down elevator also still stands.

Pre-Show[edit | edit source]

In Hightower's office, where Shiriki Utundu stands on a shelf, a NYCPS volunteer tells us the story of the 1899 incident, playing a record of Hightower's last press conference and leaving. The presentation is interrupted when the lights go out and a stained glass portrait of Hightower begins to change as Hightower's ghost tells us of Shiriki's curse and warns us to turn back. The idol comes to life with an evil grin and disappears like a Cheshire Cat as the lights come back on and an opening into the next room is revealed

Load Area[edit | edit source]

The load area takes the form of Hightower's storage rooms, where many of his collections can be found. As Shiriki's eyes watch from the rafters, a freight elevator prepares to take us to Hightower's penthouse.

Ride[edit | edit source]

As we ascend, Hightower's ghost can be heard surprised we haven't left and tells us of his regrets. When we enter the penthouse, Hightower's ghost and Shiriki Utundu appear. Shiriki attacks him again as the Penthouse fades into a field of stars before turning his attention onto the elevator. Moving to another floor, the elevator door opens onto a mirror where Hightower tells us to "wave goodbye" to ourselves as Shiriki Utundu begins to torment us, starting the drop sequence. We escape, but Hightower warns us to not become as obsessed as he was and never return.

Spin-offs[edit | edit source]

Overlays[edit | edit source]

Tower-of-terror-level-13.jpg

Level 13 "Shadow of Shiriki"[edit | edit source]

Level 13 "Shadow of Shiriki " was a special version of Tower of Terror that ran in 2018 from January 5 through March 20. The attraction remained the same with enhanced elements[1].

  • The drop sequences were changed, with seven drops in total, instead of the usual three.
  • A new 'room' in the drop sequence was a void with the face of Shiriki Utundu, who flew towards the elevator at the guests.
  • The shadow of Shiriki Utundu can be seen in the elevator shaft, cuttiing the elevator's wires just before the drop.
  • At the end of the pre-show, Shiriki Utundu's shadow flies across the stained glass window after it disappears.

Films[edit | edit source]

Tower of Terror: The Mystery[edit | edit source]

Connections[edit | edit source]

Adventurers Club[edit | edit source]

Adventurers Club president Pamelia Perkins identified Harrison and his group the Pillagers Brigade as having been an unethical ancestor of the Adventurers Club. The portrait of the brigade originates from the Adventurers Club of Pleasure Island where it was originally described as portraying Harrison's fellow S.E.A. member Merriweather Adam Pleasure, a contemporary of Harrison's.

Aulani[edit | edit source]

At Aunty's Beach House, a portrait that was once seen in the Adventurers Club is displayed on the wall alongside a letter from Adventurers Club president Pamelia Perkins. She describes the painting as being of the Pillagers Brigade, a less ethical predecessor to the Adventurers Club that a young Harrison Hightower belonged to and that it was during one one of their expeditions, that Hightower first heard tales of Shiriki Utundu.

Haunted Mansion[edit | edit source]

Harrison shares his surname with the character of George Hightower from the Haunted Mansion. George was a wealthy owner of the Haunted Mansion in New Orleans until he was murdered by his bride Constance Hatchaway in 1877.

Magic of Disney Animation[edit | edit source]

One Harrison Hightower IV is mentioned as screenwriter on a poster for Bride of Frankenollie (a parody of James Wales' Bride of Frankenstein) within the Hollywood dressing room of Minnie Mouse. Harrison Hightower IV is an implied relative of Harrison III for obvious reasons.

Mystic Manor[edit | edit source]

Hightower and Shiriki Utundu appear in the S.E.A. group portrait with Shiriki Utundu in his arms, which was painted at his final S.E.A. meeting on New Year's Eve 1899, just hours before the fatal elevator accident. This portrait has since appeared at other attractions related to S.E.A. such as Bengal Barbecue.

Oceaneer Lab[edit | edit source]

In Captain Mary Oceaneer's ship the R.V. Oceaneer Lab are newspapers from when the Hotel Hightower opened, a newspaper detailing Hightower's disappearance, and the portrait of the S.E.A. within Hotel Hightower from before Harrison's demise.

Jungle Cruise[edit | edit source]

Skipper Canteen[edit | edit source]

In the Skipper Canteen library are two books by Hotel Hightower owner Harrison Hightower III, MINE!, Treasures of the Animal Kingdom, and Everest Expedition: Search for the Yeti. Both of these books reference Hightower's actor Joe Rohde being an imagineer behind much of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme-park.

Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar[edit | edit source]

In this bar is a letter sent from Director Vanessa Capshaw of the New York Preservation Society to Trader Samabout one of Hightower's associates. This associate being Billamongawonga, or, "Trader Bill" who is described as having been Hightower's right-hand man. According to the letter, Trader Bill might be the grandfather of Trader Sam.[2]

Tropical Hideaway[edit | edit source]

Hightower has left an expedition paddle from a trip down the Yangtze River in 1872.

Raging Spirits[edit | edit source]

Materials within Tower of Terror's queue show Hightower plundering the ancient temple in the Lost River Delta. Subsequently, crates near the Raging Spirits attraction are labeled as containing artifacts due for shipment to the Hightower Trust.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Tower of Terror's ride system and scenes most resembles those from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disneyland Paris and Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! at Disney's California Adventure. There are dual-loading floors, a backwards push into the elevator shaft, and a mirror scene.
  • Harrison Hightower III was portrayed by Imagineer Joe Rohde , one of the current Creative Vice Presidents at Walt Disney Imagineering. He helped design attractions such as Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Adventurers Club of Downtown Disney.
  • Hotel Hightower was inspired by Hearst Castle, the home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.

References[edit | edit source]

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