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13 Facts and Secrets about The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror really is one of the most amazing and thrilling attractions in the world, not just Walt Disney World.  I have always been in love with this attraction from the moment that I first saw it, let alone got to experience every aspect of the lobby, the library, the boiler room and the amazing ride.  There are so many details and little secrets in this attraction.  Here are 13 facts and secrets about The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror that I know you will enjoy:


13 – Real ride malfunction sent guests on a real drop!

On September 15, 1998 there are numerous reports in the media that at around 10:30PM the ride malfunctioned and caused the elevator or guests to drop a full story before the emergency brake system took over and stopped the scary descent.  There were no major reported injuries from the incident, thankfully, but definitely a scary moment for those guests.  They were taken to the hospital and checked out for various complaints of pains from the motion of the elevator.

12 – How tall is the Tower of Terror?

The Tower of Terror is exactly 199 feet tall.  The attraction couldn’t be any taller or a flashing light would be required to warn airplanes.  Since the Disney imagineers couldn’t have a huge flashing light take away from the eerie theme of the attraction, the height was capped at 199 feet, which makes this attraction of the tallest in all of Walt Disney World.

11 – Attraction with video recording available!

Not long ago, Disney started adding ride video recordings to a couple attractions.  The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror just happens to be one of the attractions where you can get a video of your descent and experience on the ride!  So much fun and a wonderful memory to have captured for you and your family!

10 – It might have been a Stephen King inspired attraction.

Can you imagine what kind of attraction we might have if they followed through in working toward a Stephen King inspired attraction.  It has been reported that this was the original direction for the theming and story development for the ride, but later decided that Twilight Zone was a better fit with a more diverse grouping of stories to use to create all of the amazing elements. I love the attraction as it is, but I can’t help but imagine how scary it might have been to have Pennywise lurking in a random corner.

9 – Creepy lightning, coincidence or not?

The storyline for the attraction is said to take place on Halloween night in 1939.  Lightning is said to have struck the elevator, sending the passengers into another dimension.  Well lightning did actually strike the attraction when it was being built, which is very ironic and a bit creepy!  Lightening has also struck on a couple other occasions since the attraction has opened.  Coincidence or have we traveled directly to the Twilight Zone?!?


8 – Most expensive costumes!

As we all know, Disney spares no expense when it comes to the details.  The costumes for the bellhops at this attraction cost over $1,000 to make.  This makes them one of the most expensive cast costumes in all of Walt Disney World.  Now you can count all the bellhops you see and start thinking about how much money was spent just on costumes alone!

7 – The unpredictable ride sequence.

This is truly one of the most unique rides in the world, not just Disney World.  The elevator car is carried up by one vehicle, then it moves on its own (battery powered) to get to the next shaft where another car thrusts the elevator car up and down in the elevator shaft.  The ride sequence is unpredictable, so that you never get the same ride twice.  You may get 4, 5, 6, etc. drops.  You may go up first or down first, up all the way, up part way, etc.  There are so many variances, that it is part of what makes the ride so amazing.  You never know what is going to happen and you can’t predict your reaction!

6 – Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion influenced the design of Tower of Terror.

We have already mentioned how the Tower of Terror is a rather tall attraction.  Well you will likely notice that you can see the impressive “hotel” from many spots throughout Disney property. You can even see it from the Morocco pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase.  Imagineers didn’t want the view from Morocco to look off with an attraction in the distance that didn’t fit with the theme, so that colors and some of the styling was selected to pair nicely with the buildings at the Morocco pavilion!

5 – Extensive research to create the attraction.

The amount of research that had to be done in order to get everything perfect was unreal.  The Imagineering team viewed over 100 episodes of the Twilight Zone in order to study and incorporate various elements into the attraction, as well as create the amazing story that is the foundation for the experience.  We see the fruits of this hard work and preparation in the finished product, as well as through all of the nods to various episodes in the details that are spread all over the hotel.


4 – Rod Serling’s voice in the pre-show.

Rod Serling is the well-known host for the original Twilight Zone episodes.  He passed away in 1975, but he is a huge part of the Twilight Zone series and the imagineers wanted him involved.  Actual snippets of audio clips and video from real Twilight Zone episodes were used in order to make him part of the pre-show video, and use his real voice.  A voice actor, Mark Silverman, was used to narrate the parts of the video that couldn’t be created from the clips.  Mr. Silverman was actually chosen by Serling’s widow as the actor to replicate his voice!  Such an amazing way to pay tribute and preserve the Twilight Zone experience!

3 – The lobby is quite impressive and detailed.

While you are waiting in line for the attraction, the ride queue winds through the garden area of the hotel and then through the beautiful lobby.  Once you reach the lobby you will find beautiful antiques and statues.  These aren’t imagineer-made decorations, but actually carefully selected antiques and art to complete the space.  Some of the furniture, like the couches, are replicas of furniture from the era, but many of the chairs are real antiques. The lobby contains real Mahjong set with a game in progress.  The imagineers had professional Mahjong players come in and play a real game for a while and then leave it mid game, so that no one could say it was a staged game.  There are also many nods to Twilight Zone episodes in the lobby with little artifacts and belongings left that Twilight fans might notice and recognize.  Then, everything I have mentioned is all coated in a thick layer of dust and webs since the hotel lobby has been abandoned for so many years.  It is the picture of perfection with every detail considered to bring out the theme for the attraction.

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2 – Can you stay in the Hollywood Tower Hotel?

Unfortunately, no.  I am sure that Disney could keep the hotel packed and make a killing, but it was deemed not really feasible.  Michael Eisner reportedly toyed with the idea of trying to make the hotel a real functioning hotel along with the ride, but the idea was thrown out.  You will notice a room with lights on toward the top of the hotel, but it is just for show, and no one is actually staying there, or so we believe…..

1 – The Tower of Terror movie.

The ride is so popular and loved that a movie was made about the attraction (as has been done for a few other favorite Disney attractions).  The movie casts Steve Guttenberg as a tabloid-type reporter and Kirsten Dunst as his niece, whom he usually dresses up to help create photos for his stories.  Events get them to the Tower of Terror to help solve the mystery of the hotel and the events that have occurred there.  It is a really cute movie and fun to watch, especially for Tower of Terror fans!

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About Christy Caby

Hi! I’m Christy, and I am a wife and mother of 2 young boys (ages 5 and 2). I first fell in love with Disney when my mom took me when I was a child. After that I proceeded to go to WDW for my senior trip with my friends, and I completed a year in the Disney College Program (working in merchandise at Mickey’s of Hollywood at Disney’s Hollywood Studios). I shared my love of Disney with my now husband and sucked him in. He proposed at Disney, we honeymooned at Disney, we started bringing our boys before they were born and then as early as 8 weeks old. We then continued to vacation to Walt Disney World 2-3 times per year. We decided that what makes more sense than just moving to Orlando so that we could live the Disney life and be here for all of our favorite events and seasons every year. That is exactly what we did! Now we are at the parks a couple times a week and go for most events and major holidays. We can’t get enough and get to experience Disney in a whole different way. I love to share this love and passion for all things Disney with the world and hope that I can help others appreciate the magic that Walt Disney World has to offer!