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What You Never Noticed About Disney World's Tower Of Terror

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Inspired by the popular television series The Twilight Zone, Walt Disney World opened their new free-fall attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in 1994 at Disney's Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios). 

The story is about a stormy night in 1939 at a glamorous hotel in Hollywood, where a group of visitors enter the hotel elevator, only to be struck by lightning and vanish. The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling is your host, and he invites you into the hotel's old maintenance elevator. "In tonight's episode, you are the star," the opening narration explains, "and this elevator travels directly to... the Twilight Zone." You can even watch the pre-show hosted by the late Serling (courtesy sound-alike Mark Silverman), which plays in a small room for guests before you enter the area that leads to the ride elevators, on TalkDisneyVideos' YouTube channel.

The attraction is, to this day, one of Disney's most popular rides. At 199 feet, the ride is 13 stories tall (obviously) and it looms over the rest of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Given its height, it comes as no surprise that the ride is visible from the park right next door, EPCOT. But the Disney Imagineers are nothing if not detail-oriented, and they planned for this. In fact, you can look right at this 13-story nightmare from EPCOT... and not even know it.

The back of the Tower of Terror was designed to blend in with EPCOT

A Reddit thread asking "What is a Disney World secret that you know?" brought plenty of great insight about the theme parks. One user, sports_is_life, shared a handful of wonderful secrets, one being about the Tower of Terror and its architectural design.

Knowing that they couldn't completely hide the Tower of Terror from the eyes of EPCOT guests next door, Walt Disney World Imagineers considered how to instead blend it in with parts of that park's World Showcase. Looking across the lagoon from the entrance to World Showcase, the Tower of Terror stands tall behind the Morocco Pavilion. Because of this, Imagineers designed the architecture of the building to fit in with this style. The building is based on pre-existing landmarks, including the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California, and the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Largely inspired by Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, the back of the Tower of Terror perfectly blends in with the Morocco Pavilion. 

Because of this attention to detail, the Tower of Terror actually adds depth to that section of EPCOT instead of being an eye sore for guests, and it makes the Morocco Pavilion feel bigger than it really is.

At night, the Tower of Terror has one illuminated window with a silhouette

Another secret about the Tower of Terror can only be seen at night. When the park is dark and the ride is closed, you can see one solitary window illuminated in the hotel, with the silhouette of a man looking down at the guests. The YouTube channel ithemepark has a video showing the window one night at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Subtly lit by blue lights from the ground, the Tower of Terror is dark and obscured, save for the bright yellow window that leads you to believe it just might be haunted by the ghosts of the hotel guests. 

There seems to be no creepy mythology behind this detail — Disney just wanted to add a spooky image for park visitors to find when looking at the attraction at night. Ex-CEO Michael Eisner states in his autobiography that he had at one point wanted the ride to be a real hotel as well, but it never came to fruition. Along with that, the ride went through various development phases during which it was almost a walk-on experience, some sort of Mel Brooks-narrated adventure, or even a Stephen King-inspired ride. Of course, none of those came to be, but the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror went on to become a classic attraction that remains a favorite for many guests after 25 years.