The Quick 10: 10 Twilight Zone references in Disney's Tower of Terror

Most people spent the weekend grilling out or boating or enjoying parades and fireworks; I spent mine refinishing our kitchen floor and watching The Twilight Zone marathon on SciFi (soon to be SyFy). I wasn't around for the first incarnation of the series, and I was too young to really appreciate the revival in the '80s. So, as blasphemous as it may be, my first real introduction to Rod Serling's fascinating mind was The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney World's Hollywood Studios (then MGM Studios). I got some of the sly references to Twilight Zone episodes on the ride just from being a bit of a pop culture freak, but now that I'm more familiar with the series (not just from the marathon), I realize there are tons of references. Each imagineer who helped develop the ride watched every single episode of the original series - that's 156 episodes - twice. Here are a few of my favorites:

tina1. Talky Tina. If you follow my Twitter at all, then you might already know that I think this is the scariest Twilight Zone episode ever. Starring Telly Savalas, the show is about a man whose stepdaughter has a doll that has it in for him. While it normally says things like, "I'm Talky Tina! Want to play?", it spews forth hatred for Mr. Savalas in the form of, "I'm Talky Tina and I'm going to kill you." It's truly creepy. And, terrifyingly, you can find Talky Tina sitting quietly on the couch in the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, waiting for a new friend. I'd advise you to steer clear.

2. Caesar the Dummy. In "Caesar and Me," a ventriloquist starts to commit serious robberies at the insistence of his wooden partner, Caesar. Of course, we don't know if the ventriloquist has lost his marbles or if the doll is really alive, but we definitely find out at the end when the ventriloquist goes to jail and the dummy plans to run away with the girl who informed on his better half. Caesar is lurking in an especially spooky spot: after your elevator descends and you're waiting on the ride doors to open, look around the "elevator shaft." There's a display of old junk sitting in the dark like you're in the storage room of, well, an old hotel, and amongst the junk is the scheming Caesar.

3. Cadwallader. "Escape Clause" is about a man who makes a deal with the devil - he trades his soul in exchange for immortality. I don't need to tell you the end of the story to for you to get the reference - the devil calls himself Cadwallader. And after you check out the "inspection" certificate outside of the elevator you're about to get on, you might rethink your ride: it's signed by a Mr. Cadwallader and it's dated October 31, 1939. It's also certificate #10259, which stands for October 2, 1959 - the day the first Twilight Zone episode aired.

fremont4. Anthony Fremont. The episode "It's a Good Life" actually has a couple of references, although only one is intentional. The other was just necessary. You'll see what I mean in a second. The intentional reference is an old sign that advertises "Anthony Fremont and his orchestra, now appearing at the Top of the Tower" at the Tip-Top Club. In "It's a Good Life," Anthony is a little boy who mentally controls an entire town and makes them do what he wants. If they act outside of his wishes, he has the power to send them to "the cornfield," and no one comes back from the cornfield. It was part of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie, if it sounds familiar. So that's Anthony. "It's a Good Life" is also where the opening narration for the ride comes from. Rod Serling says, "Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a m..." and from there, a Rod Serling impersonator takes over, personally selected by Serling's widow. "Maintenance elevator," is how the impersonator finishes the sentence, but Rod's original narration said, "map of the United States." Photo by Photobucket user brnder.

5. Nan Adams. Miss Nan Adams is a character in "The Hitch-Hiker," an episode from the first season of The Twilight Zone. Nan is on her way from New York to L.A. when she gets a flat tire. While she waits for a mechanic to fix it, she notices a strange man watching her. She's a bit rattled, especially when she continues on her journey and keeps seeing the man pop up in odd places along the road. When Nan calls home to check in with her mother, she is informed that Nan's mom had a nervous breakdown upon hearing of her daughter's death in a freak car accident. It's then that Nan realizes that she died in the accident when her tire blew out, and the man following her is actually Death. This makes the handwritten note you'll find in the Hollywood Tower Hotel's lobby rather humorous: "Miss Nan Adams
Reservations for Oct. 31 - Arrival delayed Hold Room"

THIMBLE6. A golden thimble. This one is exclusive to the Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure, as far as I know. In "The After Hours," a woman goes to a department store to find a birthday gift for her mother. She tells the elevator operator that she is looking for a gift and he takes her to the ninth floor and drops her off. There's nothing on the ninth floor, save for a single saleswoman who happens to have a single golden thimble - exactly what she's looking for. On the way back down, she notices a scratch on the thimble and heads to customer service to exchange it. The problem? Customer service calmly informs her that there is no ninth floor. If you think a golden thimble is just what your mother needs, the Hollywood Tower Hotel has just the thing in their gift shop... at least, according to the display case in the lobby.

7. To Serve Man. It's one of the most famous Twilight Zone episodes ever - aliens come to Earth, but it's almost too good to be true: they help people end war, they show them how to produce enough food so that no one will ever go hungry, and they are all around-fabulous. They even offer to send humans to their amazing planet free of charge, just to open up a free exchange of sorts. The Earthlings find a book belonging to one of the aliens, and, not totally trusting them, decide to go on a covert mission to decipher the book. It takes them years, but they finally figure it out: the title of the book is To Serve Man and it's chock-full of delicious recipes. Apparently the humans didn't notice that no one ever came back from the aliens' planet. The book is now on display in the library in the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

meredith8. Broken Glasses. Poor Henry Bemis - his wife and boss just won't let him sit down and read in "Time Enough at Last." On his break at work as a bank teller, he sneaks down to the vault and shuts himself in so he can read in peace and quiet where no one will see him or taunt him. While he's in there, an H-Bomb goes off, leaving him as the sole survivor. He's picking through the remains of the town when he finds the public library. Delighted, he stacks up all of the books he's going to read. Just as he is about to sit down to enjoy them, his glasses fall off and shatter on the cement, leaving him utterly blind. And now you know the story behind the shattered glasses underneath the television in the library of the Tower at California Adventure (rumor has it they're in Orlando too... anyone seen them?).

9. Chalk Marks. Before Poltergeist, there was "Little Girl Lost." A couple wakes up and hears their daughter calling for help but can't seem to find her anywhere. She's fallen into another dimension - the Twilight Zone, if you will - and they do everything they can to find her, including chalking off entryways on the wall (which is how they eventually find her). Someone has been looking for that otherworldly dimension in the boiler room of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, because there are similar chalk marks on the wall there.

morgue10. Room 22. Another DCA exclusive. In "Twenty-Two," Miss Liz Powell is a stripper who has been committed to a hospital because she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Every night she has a nightmare that she wakes up and hears a nurse outside her door. The nurse motions that Liz should follow her, so she does - down to the morgue in the basement. The nurse pops up from inside the dark room and says, rather wickedly, "Room for one more, honey." Liz is finally given the clearance to go home and arrives at the airport to check in, where it turns out that she's on Flight 22. As she climbs the stairs to board the plane, a stewardess steps out, smiles coldly, and says, "Room for one more, honey." Liz screams and runs back into the airport and watches from the window as the plane takes off - and explodes (a little Final Destination, right?). At DCA, Room 22 is located by some out-of-order elevator doors. Word to the wise: trust the sign.

If you could throw in whatever TZ reference you wanted to, what would it be? I think I might throw in an old traveling salesman-style suitcase with junk in it to reference "One for the Angels." It's an episode starring Ed Wynn as a traveling salesman who has to pitch a sale to Death in order to save a little girl's life. Ed Wynn did a lot of work for Disney, including voicing the Mad Hatter and laughing on the ceiling in Mary Poppins, so I think it would be fitting. Share yours in the comments!

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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