Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the Midsummer Scream panel BEYOND THE 5TH DIMENSION: CREATING THE TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR. To best describe the conceit, I will turn to the official summary:
“The creators of the iconic ride discuss how they transported guests into the Fifth Dimension.”
After a brief introduction video, we dive head first into a panel that looks into what it took to make one of Walt Disney World’s key attractions. Guest speakers Mark Silverman (who provided the voice of Rod Serling), Cory Sewelson (the production designer), Michael Sprout (who scripted the ride), and Eric Jacobson (creative executive on the project) were on hand to illuminate the already interesting subject matter. The panel was led by moderator Rick West whose passion for the attraction could be felt no matter where one was sitting in the theater.
Through inside stories and personal recollections the audience learned the genesis of the ride itself and how it, much like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, started its life as a walk through attraction. From there it was told how the project became bigger as Disney saw a chance to add their own, unique spin to the common drop tower attraction. At this point it became a matter of figuring out if they could make the ride a functioning hotel as well or just keep it as its own thing. Obviously we now know they could not, but hearing some of the initial pitches and how they tried to build a whole land around the one ride proved to be fascinating.
While the inside information was certainly the highlight, it was interesting to hear how each of the people involved in the project came on board. Whether it was the open casting call for Rod Serling impersonations that attracted Mark Silverman or the passion Michael Sprout had for the property, each had their own story as to what drew them to the beloved tower. Learning that some of them stuck around for the various iterations around the world only further confirmed that their work on this project was not just labor, but also passion based.
All in all, this panel really brought to life all the work and fervor that went into creating THE TWILIGHT ZONE: TOWER OF TERROR attraction. It was so strongly felt that my wife, who has never had a chance to go on the original ride, asked me when we were going to get down to Orlando to give it a whirl. If Midsummer Scream continues its trend of spotlighting theme park attractions with spooky roots, anyone who has a love of these sorts of rides should do themselves a service and check out these future panels.