Yesterland

The Twilight Zone
Tower of Terror


Coming in 2004!
Announcemnet of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

Celebrating the first birthday of the new park, February 8, 2002

It’s February 8, 2002 at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. The park had its grand opening exactly one year ago.

It’s not a secret that the new park has not met its business expectations. The national economy has been weak. The 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred when the park had been open seven months, putting the brakes on leisure travel. But the real problem is the park itself. Guests continue to pour into Disneyland Park in far greater numbers than into its baby brother across the Esplanade.


Executives have made quick fixes, such as bringing the beloved Main Street Electrical Parade to the underachieving park as Disney’s Electrical Parade. What this park needs now is more attractions—including at least one of “E” ticket caliber.

Announcemnet of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

Cynthia Harriss making announcements on February 8, 2002

There’s a First Birthday press event today—with news of expansion plans.

Cynthia Harriss, President of the Disneyland Resort, is announcing two major additions to the new park. The first will be “A Bug’s Land” featuring “Flik’s Fun Fair,” opening fall 2002 for “the young and the young-at-heart.” The other will be a proven crowd-pleaser from Florida.

Announcemnet of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

Tower of Terror artwork at the press event, February 8, 2002

A Disney press release today includes these details:

Also coming to Disney’s California Adventure, in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area, is “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,” a California version of the chilling and thrilling supernatural adventure which has proven wildly popular at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Inspired by Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, the attraction is set within the spooky halls of the desolate Hollywood Tower Hotel. Guests are invited to retrace the steps of five previous visitors who disappeared “one dark and stormy night.” An elevator ride up into the Hollywood Tower is filled with strange apparitions and unsettling sounds, climaxing in a precipitous drop of… could it be 13 stories?

“The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” will open in 2004 in Hollywood Pictures Backlot at Disney’s California Adventure.

For those who have been paying attention, it’s old news.

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2001

Timon lot on October 5, 2001

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2001

Timon lot on December 22, 2001

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

Site on January 18, 2002 (looking south from the Hyperion Theatre)

After all, the northern tip of the Timon parking has been blocked off since September 2001. What had been asphalt is now bare dirt. Site preparation is underway.

The Orange County Register even wrote about it on September 21, 2001:

Disney has started construction on a Tower of Terror ride at its new California Adventure theme park. The ride is like the popular Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride at Disney World in Florida, built in 1994. However, because of the terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center towers last week, the Anaheim version of the ride will be called something different. According to Disney watchers, construction is under way.

But that was back in September 2001. With the official announcement today, we know it will be The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror after all.

This should be a popular attraction for many decades to come.


Most photos in this article are by Tony Moore. From 1999 to 2005, Tony’s website, DCACentral.com, brilliantly covered the construction, opening, and early years of Disney’s California Adventure. Tony figured out where he could capture construction photos, without trespassing. In 2012, Tony shared all his DCACentral photos with Yesterland. [Tony: Thank you again! WW]

Over the course of five years, Tony took 945 photos of the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror—its construction and the finished product. The rest of this article consists of selected photos from various angles showing how the attraction became a reality.

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

Steel framework on September 1, 2002

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2002

More extensive framework on October 16, 2002

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

On the second birthday of Disney’s California Adventure, February 8, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Working on the skin, March 29, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Architectural details beginning to appear, June 14, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

A wall of mission deco architecture revealed, June 26, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Lots of scaffolding on the other side, June 26, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Top exterior almost finished, July 18, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Still getting finishing touches on the exterior, August 16, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Paint that tells a story, November 14, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2003

Working on the grounds, November 15, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2003

Still behind a construction wall, December 13, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2003

The backstory presented on the construction wall, December 13, 2003

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2004

Less than two weeks before opening, April 23, 2004

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, May 9, 2004

Cutout bellman at the park information desk, opening week, 2004

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2004

Tower, looking magnificent, May 9, 2004

Construction of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s California Adventure

Photo by Tony “WiseBearAZ” Moore, 2004

Opening week guests, May 9, 2004

Of course, there’s more to The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror than its construction. There’s also the experience of going on the ride, shopping at the gift shop, and watching the 2017 transformation into Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! But those will be subjects of future Yesterland articles.


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Updated June 30, 2017.