The 14th issue of ‘Envie de +’ magazine is now making its way to Annual Passport (AP) holders across Europe, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror a significant feature. Refreshingly, the editors are obviously well aware that Annual Passport holders will already know a great deal about The Hollywood Tower Hotel.
In the age of the internet and with two years of construction passed, the spotlight is given not to a plain introduction of the elevator thrills (though this does have a brief feature) but to the art and accessories of the pre-show areas, many of which will apparently be more local than you might expect.
Those less fanatical AP holders who’ve searched for “La Tour de la Terreur” online might have stumbled upon the remarkably similar Californian predecessor — a version of the attraction which the folks in Paris (both Imagineering and marketing) now seem determined to trump.
Part of the Tower of Terror feature. Scan: narindra, DisneyCentralPlaza forum.
The feature “Quand l’Accessoire est essentiel” (When accessories are everything) features an interview with Imagineer David Fimbault, head of scenic decoration on the epic project. With the not-at-all-overly-confident introduction of “Attendance about to beat all records?”, the article says “Don’t fear!” because “Here is a waiting line where you won’t waste time — the scenes of the pre-show are as much a part of the attraction as the elevator drop itself.”
The Californian edition of the attraction also had a similar focus on its details and pre-show accessories (in the lobby, library video rooms and boiler rooms) upon opening, many of which were chosen to relate directly to specific episodes of The Twilight Zone television show itself. Here, David describes the hunt for a second set of brand new accessories, described as “a work of precision orchestrated by a true artist.” The Studios won’t know what has hit it…
All the artifacts we’ll see, are they from the period?
Absolutely, with the exception of a few Art Deco furnishings which were made to measure. All of these pieces are unique, they served their purpose through the 1930s and 40s and nowadays are the prize of collectors.
Where did you unearth these rare pieces?
Primarily in Paris. From the antique dealers comfortably positioned in the Quartier du Louvre to other, more popular dealers which we found at Puces. [An antiques fair in Saint-Ouen, North of Paris] Hunting for antiques is a grand adventure. I soon discovered my greatest finds would be in the most incongruous of places — an artists’ squat, a British factory about to be closed by its owner…
How did you go about creating a more eerie atmosphere?
It’s the combination of a multitude of details which give the general feeling. The mise en scène [production design], the lighting, a combination… All of it comes together. Of course some artifacts speak for themselves. For example, the bronze animals you’ll find the Library are quite frightening. Just as are the African masks or Asian statues — aquired from specialists in these antiques — which seem to reaffirm that there are secrets, supernatural feelings.
What makes this French Tower distinctive?
Even though the Pueblo Art Deco style is mostly inspired by the Californian attraction, the decoration, the accessories, are very different, because these are all unique pieces. We are lucky enough to have a fabulous art market in France and across Europe. We have found many authentic treasures, without ever falling into kitsch, bad taste. And then, there are also the hidden details — for example, among the books of the Library you’ll find several famous French authors, and along the shelves, the objets d’art sit amongst the books. It’s a kind of creative disorder, typically Mediterreanean.
Do any of the objects have a particularly interesting history?
They all have their history. The tea service in the lobby, the leather-binded books in the library, the antique telephone in the boiler room… I think also of the pairs of shoes from the period bought in a children’s size, to give the impression of perspective in the corridor which opens during the elevator ride. It was such a pleasure to make these discoveries.
Translation by DLRP TODAY; with thanks to narindra of DCP forum for scanning the magazine!