18 Things You May Not Know About Tower Of Terror At Walt Disney World

Walking down Sunset Boulevard you can’t help but notice the Hollywood Tower Hotel at the end of the street. As you get closer you will notice that things were not as they seemed from down the street. This one time swanky hotel has seen some trouble. There are blackened parts of the façade where lightning has struck it. Parts of the building seem to be no longer there. The hotel appears to be deserted and the pavement is cracked, plants are taking over, fountains broken and dry –yet, eerily you can still hear the orchestra straining out Glenn Miller tunes amidst the terrified screams of guests in the attraction ahead of you. You may get a glimpse of them as the elevator doors randomly open to the outside.

18. We know that Disney Imagineers do untold hours of research and base their designs on places that impress them as a good part of the “story” of each attraction. During the daylight hours you will appreciate the lush landscaping that was inspired by Griffith and Elysian Parks in southern California circa early 1900’s. During the after-dark hours you will appreciate the spooky lighting and fog affects as you make your way through the garden areas of the queue.

17. The design of the hotel was patterned after several hotels popular in the 1930’s in California, such as the Biltmore Hotel and Mission Inn. It is a combination of the hotels frequented by celebrities. The antique furniture was actually purchased from homes in the Los Angeles area that existed during the time period of the story. The set of leather chairs in the hotel lobby are authentic Renaissance pieces. You may recognize some sculpture pieces of Auguste Moreau, a 19th century artist. Take a look at the Concierge Desk, you will find a copy of Photoplay magazine that features a piece entitled “Four Pages of Hilarious Star Caricatures by Walt Disney”. The dust and “cobwebs” are modern.

16. When you enter the Library take a quick look around at everything inside, before the lights dim to watch the video. There are actual props from the Twilight Zone on top of the bookcases in here. The lights dim and you are sure you are hearing the voice of Rod Serling, but it is actually a very good voice actor Mark Silverman. He introduces you to the characters in the story; the Hollywood elite couple, their daughter and the nanny along with a bellhop enter the elevator. They begin to ascend in the elevator when lighting suddenly strikes and they all disappear. Wings of the hotel have in fact disappeared on that night and the rest is haunted. You are invited to relive the events of that fateful night. “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 maintenance service elevator, still in operation today, waiting for you. We invite you, if you dare, to step aboard because in tonight’s episode you are the star. And this elevator takes you directly to…The Twilight Zone.“

15. Everything goes dark, a sliding wall opens and you exit the Library into this episode of The Twilight Zone and you find yourself in the boiler room of the hotel, getting ready to board a 1917 maintenance service elevator. You will be guided to a seat where you will need to use a seat belt. The door closes and you sit for a couple of seconds, building up the anticipation. Your first stop has the doors opening to only an optical illusion to a floor that no longer exists. “One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, and this time, it is opening for you.” The doors close and you move to the next stop. After the doors open you are taken to another stop where your elevator will then move along a track, past some special affects, and lights. The anticipation grows.

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“You are about to discover what lies beyond the 5th dimension, beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination in the Tower of Terror.”

14. You may find yourself gripping the metal handles between the seats, but resist. You don’t need to hold on, just let go and enjoy the gravitational pull. You may get more than one great view of Disney’s Hollywood Studios when the doors open to a missing floor, but you may only get one so enjoy it.

13. At the end of the ride sequence you will hear the voice telling you, “Welcome back to those of you who made it, and a friendly word of warning: something that won’t be found in any guide book, the next time you check into a hotel on the dark side of Hollywood make sure you know what kind of vacancy you are filling or you may find yourself a permanent resident of The Twilight Zone.”

12. The story extends to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, the attraction next door. At R’n’RC you will hear that many of the celebrities stayed at the Hollywood Tower Hotel when recording at this studio, until the “accident” that occurred in 1939. The hotel was abandoned and the record company struggled to stay alive. When someone came along and decided to restore the hotel to the state that celebrities would stay there again, then the record company came back as well.

11. The attraction celebrated its 23rd Anniversary in 2017. It will be 24 years on July 22, 2018.

10. The “story” is taken from the old Twilight Zone television show format. The Disney Imagineers watched over 150 episodes of Twilight Zone when doing research for the attraction. You will see things throughout the attraction that were inspired by the Twilight Zone. Many of the items you see in the attraction were actual props from the Twilight Zone set. When we enter the lobby we see a pair of broken glasses, a nod to an episode with Burgess Meredith. Inside the Library you will see a clip of the beginning of the episode “It’s a good life” featuring Rod Serling’s image. The episode titled “Little Girl Lost” is partly responsible for the “5th Dimension scene” in the attraction.

9. Track: The track is really more of an elevator shaft, although part of the attraction your ride vehicle will move along a pre-determined track. As for the elevator shaft, the ride is potentially different every time you ride. The number of drops, lifts, and the degree of those, is randomly determined by a computer to give you a different experience each time. It has the capability of a 13-story drop every time, depending on what the computer wants to do with you.

8. Vehicle: For this attraction your ride vehicle is a freight elevator equipped with 21 seats. It is a cage style with the front open, for a good view. There is a ride photo taken which you will be able to view on screens or your My Disney Experience App prior to purchasing shortly after you disembark from your elevator car.

7. Tower Gift shop: The elegant hotel gift shop is in the lower section of the attraction, a level below the lobby, where you disembark from the ride. You will find Hollywood Tower Hotel room keys, desk bells, plush robes, bell hop shirts and Mickey Ears atop bell hop hats. There is a large selection of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror merchandise such as apparel, glassware, photo frames, key chains, etc. You will also discover Nightmare Before Christmas themed merchandise, snacks, drinks and candy, a penny pincher, and a dog tag maker.

6. Tip: Get a FastPass+ for this very popular attraction, or ride first thing in the morning or during the first Fantasmic! showing of the evening.

5. Character Meet and Greet: There are no character meet and greets at this attraction, unless there is a special Hard Ticket event such as the “Villains Unleashed” where some characters may appear to join you on the ride.

4. Cast Member Costumes: These are patterned after a 1930’s bellhop. These costumes are among the most expensive for the Disney Parks, in fact being the most expensive for an attraction at Walt Disney World. Cast Members take on the spooky element of the attraction and you will rarely get them to crack a smile. There is a waiting list for CM’s to work here because the attraction, the costumes, and the gloomy character role is very attractive to long time Cast Members.

3. Other cool things about Tower of Terror: This attraction has a runDisney event named after it: Tower of Terror 10-miler nighttime run. This is one of the top themed attractions in Walt Disney World. The attention to detail is amazing. I especially like the light fixtures at this attraction, make sure you look up and see them and the greatly detailed ceiling inside the Lobby.

2. Attraction Timeline: 

  • Opened July 22, 1994
  • 1997 inspired a TV film Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, making it the first theme park ride-inspired movie
  • 2002 show upgrade in having the computers determine the ride sequences
  • July 12, 2005-a 16-year old girl from England complained of headache and other symptoms after riding ToT several times. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Surgery was performed to cease intracranial bleeding. She experience pain for a few days and suffered a massive stroke which led to cardiac arrest. She was in the hospital for six months suffering two heart attacks and surgery.

1. Attraction Details:

  • There are several hidden Mickey’s throughout the attraction. Just look at the Mickey Mouse plush the little girl in the film is holding, and because of the time period presented in the story it is one of the earliest Mickey dolls ever made. Check out the music on the music stand when you are in the library. The boiler room naturally has some water stains.
  • The Mah Jong game set up in the lobby is ready to play, it is authentic.
  • The top speed of the ride is about 39mph (you are pushed upward at a high rate of speed and you the ride also “drops” you faster than free-fall would be)
  • Yes, that is alligator on the luggage in the lobby.
  • The ride duration is 3 to 10 minutes
  • Check out the “Inspection Certificate” to the left of the elevator entrance. It is dated the same day as the “accident” that happened here at the hotel, Oct. 31, 1939, and signed by “Cadwallader”. This is a nod to another Twilight Zone, episode 6, where this character, Cadwallader, is actually the Devil. The certificate number is “1029” which corresponds with the air date of the first Twilight Zone episode, Oct. 2, 1959.
  • There is a dummy from the Twilight Zone series sitting off to the side, just before you walk off of the elevator.
  • 199 feet tall because if it was 200 feet tall the local building codes would require it to have lights on the top to warn airplanes. Since that would have negatively affected the eerie feeling of the hotel the Imagineers scaled it back to 199 feet tall, making it the second tallest structure in Walt Disney World. (Expedition Everest is the tallest structure at 199 ½’ tall)
  • Are you a AAA member? You might appreciate the sign on the wall in the Lobby area, behind the concierge’s desk that reads “AAA13 Diamond Award Hotel”.
  • Minimum height is 40”
  • Guests in wheelchairs must transfer to ride from chair.
  • Made with 1,500 tons of steel; 144,00 cubic feet of concrete and 27,000 roof tiles, Disney tells us.
  • Can be seen from World Showcase, showing up behind the Moroccan pavilion, so the paint colors were made to match. When you are standing on the opposite side of World Showcase promenade from Morocco you will see it as another tower in the pavilion


About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.