The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Preview Event - April 23, 2004
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Preview Event - April 23, 2004
After I spent part of the day at the resort, my husband then met up with me around 4:45pm, and we went to register for the event. Registration for the past few events we've been to have been at the Grand Californian ballroom, but this registration was at the Disneyland Hotel ballrooms. There weren't a lot of signs directing people where to go, so we finally asked a couple who it was evident had registered for the event already, and they directed us to the right way.
We checked in and were given our packets, which came in a black envelope with "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror April 23, 2004" printed on the front and included a welcome letter, an itinerary, a shopping list for merchandise that was still available, an invoice for the merchandise we'd already purchased and a survey. Also included was an event lanyard with the Hollywood Tower Hotel (HTH) emblem, an admission ticket for the evening's event, a "Terrifying Fun Book" (which had 5 tear-away coupons for games and tear-away coupons for a treat, a drink and a commemorative gift at the end of the night), and a pin of Minnie. We then went to pick up our pre-purchased merchandise (which came in the translucent bags we've been used to now, with the event title printed on the side) and then had a quick look around the merchandise store. The entire process was the easiest we've encountered in the several events we've attended.
The front and back of the "Gift Shop" event lanyard.
The front and back of the evening's admission ticket.
The cover of the fun book.
The pin of Minnie.
The logo on the merchandise bag.
Since we had signed up for the lowest level package, our entry into the event wasn't until 9:15, so we had a lovely and leisurely dinner at Catal, our favorite restaurant at the resort. We then headed for DCA around 9pm and found a line of people waiting to get into the event as well. They let us in (having to show our lanyard and our admission ticket) around 9:15. DCA was still open, and the Electrical Parade was just finishing up. We made our way to the Hollywood Backlot area, where another line formed to get into the event itself. Everyone in our line had signed up for the lowest level package. People who had signed up for the higher level packages had earlier entry times into the event because they had extra activities. While we were waiting in line, we ended up striking up a conversation with the two people behind us. They didn't know much about what to expect, so we answered the questions they had, and we actually ended up going on the ride with them. (They loved it, and when we ran into them later in the evening, they had just finished their third ride.) After waiting a short while, our line started to move, and we were let into the area just outside the Hyperion Theatre and into the area surrounding the Tower of Terror. Some people decided to go play the games or have their refreshments first. We opted to go on the ride first, figuring we could play the games and have our treats after, and then hoping there might even be time for another ride. The line to get into the ride was fairly long, even using some of the attraction queue space, but the line moved fairly easily.
When we finished with the ride and came out the exit (the gift shop was very, very crowded, and many people seemed to be making a lot of purchases), we noticed that there was no longer an outside line for the attraction. It was only 10pm at that point, so we were pleased that we had another hour and a half in which to enjoy the evening. We decided to go play whatever games had been set up. There were five games, following the course of going to the hotel. The prize for each of the games was another pin that matched the Minnie pin we'd received with our registration packets, so after we finished all the games, we had Mickey, Donald, Daisy, Pluto and Goofy pins to add to our collection. And at these games, everyone was a winner. The first game involved packing. There was a hat, a folded-up t-shirt, a slipper and a pair of socks, with compartments for each of them. The task was to toss each item into its appropriate compartment. The second game was arriving at the hotel. There were standees of the hotel with three different-sized holes cut into them, and a swinging portion that would cover and uncover the holes. The task was to throw small koosh-like balls through the holes. The third game involved the bellhop and bells like those one might find in a hotel lobby to summon the bellhop. The CM played a bit of a tune on the bells, and the task was to duplicate what he did. Appropriately enough, he played the first strains of the Twilight Zone theme. The fourth game involved check-in. It was a competition between two people (or with a CM if the person was solo). There were colored mail slots and colored letters. The task was to correctly put each letter into its corresponding colored mail slot, and the first person to finish won. The fifth game was a ring toss. There were standees of hotel guests, and you were given three rings that you had to toss to catch on the arm of one of the guests. I really enjoyed this part of the evening. I like pins, but I'm not fond of just being handed them. We had a really fun time playing all the games and getting the pins that way, and CMs really seemed to be having as much fun as the attendees.
The five "prize" pins to complete the set.
After we finished our games, we picked up our treat (a cookie with a picture of the HTH on it) and drink and found a table. There were tables and chairs set up all around in the area between the Tower of Terror entrance and the Fastpass machines, as well as in the area outside the gift shop. There was also a live band playing big band music. It was very nice to sit out on this lovely Spring day in comfortable weather, having a sweet treat, listening to the music, and just enjoying the atmosphere. As we had our snack, others were taking additional rides, so it was nice that people were able to do multiple rides. I was curious and so had found out from a CM lead that the attendance to this event was between 750 and 1000 people. After we finished our snack, we decided to take a second ride before heading out for the evening around 11pm.
We had been speculating on what the parting gift would be. Since we had already received six pins, we were figuring (and hoping) that it wasn't going to be another pin. As we walked out of the Hollywood Backlot area and headed towards the gates, we noticed CMs standing just before the gates, right next to a few tables piled with boxes about the size of a small shoebox. We gave them our tickets and were each given a box. We had no idea what might be in the box. Eager to find out, we stepped outside the gates and opened one. Inside the white thin-cardboard sleeve was a sturdy gray box with a lid. There was a postcard of the event art of the HTH being struck by lightning. The box had the HTH emblem and name. Inside the padded box was a pocket watch and small display dome. The pocket watch is gold in color, with the HTH glamour art picture on one side, and embedded on the other side is the HTH emblem and name and the event date "April 23, 2004". When you click the top of the watch, it opens, and the watch is running and set to the correct time. The dome is made of hard plastic on a wooden base and inside is a hook on which to hang the watch. We were a bit astounded by this gift, as were others around us who were either opening their own boxes or looking at the one we'd opened. It's one of the nicest gifts we've received at this kind of event, and the pocket watch fits in perfectly with the theming of the hotel. I love the merchandise of the HTH moreso than the merchandise of the Tower of Terror attraction, and the pocket watch is packaged as if it's a souvenir from the hotel. Bravo to the Disney folks for coming up with such a nifty gift.
The cover and contents of the gift box.
The display dome.
The back of the pocket watch.
The front and inside of the pocket watch.
We had an absolutely wonderful time at this event, from the ease of registration, to being able to do the ride more than once, to the fun games we played and the nice atmosphere of the set-up, to the terrific parting gift. Disney definitely did this event right.
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