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Harrison Hightower III is the main character of Tokyo DisneySea's Tower of Terror. A corrupt member of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, Hightower collected treasures and antiquities from around the world under shady circumstances. This would eventually be his downfall when he stole a certain item: a cursed idol by the name of Shiriki Utundu.
Hightower was born in New York in 1835. When Hightower was twelve and attending Boarding School in England, he bullied Cornelius Endicott III. This started a long rivalry between the two, with Endicott becoming his main business rival.
Harrison Hightower III is presented as a decadent and greedy heir who used his money and influence to get what he wanted -- namely, artifacts and items from cultures found around the globe. If something piqued his interest, he stopped at nothing to acquire it for his own, finding no qualms about resorting to methods such as outright plunder and exploiting the good will of the native people he encountered, keeping the stolen items stored in his inherited mansion-turned-hotel on display as trophies. Harrison was a particularly skeptical and disrespectful man who mocked the thought that Shiriki Utundu was cursed -- something that led to his eventual downfall.
Harrison Hightower is shown as an elderly man with a white beard and mustache. He wears a white vest, red and yellow checkered fez, and a dark, fur-trimmed overcoat over black boots and tan travel pants.
On the tours of Hotel Hightower presented by the New York Preservation Society, archival recordings of a press conference tell the story of how his contact with the Shiriki Utundu statue led to the events of the hotel's haunting.
While escaping from hostile natives in the jungle of the Congo River, he and his expedition crew ran into the dreaded Mtundu. They were surprisingly friendly towards the foreigners and invited them to share food. During the meal, Hightower learned of the tribe's protective deity, Shiriki Utundu, personified in the form of an idol resting on an altar in the village. With his curiosity and greed lit afire, the businessman tried to convince the tribe's headman to sell the statuette to him. When he refused, Harrison stole it from the village and fled with his expedition. Oddly enough, the Mtundu gave no indication of wanting to chase them for their crime, even appearing to be smiling slightly...
On the night of December 31, 1899, Harrison Hightower threw a press conference and a New Year's Eve party in his hotel to boast of his "latest find," showing a pompous attitude and allowing no real question. When reporter Manfred Strang from the New York Globe-Telegraph asked if Shiriki Utundu wasn't really cursed, an annoyed Hightower had him thrown out.
While his celebration was a success, Harrison retired early (at the stroke of midnight) to find a spot for the idol in his penthouse apartments. He was stopped at the elevator by Mr. Smelding, his personal valet, with a warning to show proper respect for the statue. A sneering Hightower refused, and defiantly extinguished his cigar on Utundu's head.
Inside the elevator, Shiriki Utundu came to life with an evil green glow in its eyes, horrifying Mr. Hightower. The cursed idol gave out a terrible laugh as it summoned green lightning to blast Harrison into oblivion, plunging the elevator down the shaft and causing the chaos that led to the hotel's closure and its reputation as a haunted place.
During the ride, guests see the blue ghost of Harrison Hightower reaching out to touch the idol resting on a table in a hallway, before it reanimates itself once more and zaps him into an elevator shaft, sending him crashing down.
- He is similar in character and appearance to re-occurring Disney film villain Alonzo Hawk from The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber and Herbie Rides Again (due to their greedy and selfish personalities, being rich corrupt businessmen, suffering fates as a result of their greed and Hightower's face complete with white hair and a beard resembling actor Keenan Wynn, who portrayed Hawk, from Herbie Rides Again).
- Harrison Hightower makes a cameo appearance in the queue area of Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor, appearing in a group portrait with Henry Mystic and the rest of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, dated 1899 before his disappearance. He is also holding Shiriki Utundu in the portrait.
- He is possibly related to George Hightower from The Haunted Mansion, one of Constance Hatchaway's husbands-turned-victims.
Linked Attractions: Fortress Explorations | Tower of Terror (Tokyo DisneySea) | Mystic Manor | Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom) | Oceaneer Lab (aboard the Disney Magic) | Miss Fortune Falls (Typhoon Lagoon)
Restaurants: Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar | Skipper Canteen