Disney’s Tower of Terror: Secrets, Histories, and Mysteries


Welcome to TowerSecrets, a fan-made tribute to Disney’s most thrilling attraction, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!  It goes without saying that this site is full of spoilers! If you explore this site, you’re going to discover many of the secrets behind the Tower’s thrilling effects!

new_icon_blink Added April 26, 2016: Big rumor about upcoming changes to the DCA Tower

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The Tower of Terror’s Legend

Built in 1917, the Hollywood Tower Hotel was an elegant destination for the showbiz elite during cinema’s golden age. The Hotel’s towers soared 13 stories high, a pinnacle of luxury and modernism in their day. On the unusually stormy night of October 31st, 1939, a massive bolt of lightning struck the Towers, scrawling its sizzling signature across the facade of its elevators… which vanished, never to be seen again. In the wake of the catastrophe, the hotel was abandoned and left to crumble into the debris of history.

As for the five unlucky guests inside the elevator that night? They were never found. Perhaps they’re resting in peace, somewhere in the Hotel’s ruins… or perhaps their stay never ended. Perhaps you’ll find out, as you check in to a room with a view of… the Twilight Zone.

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Towers ‘Round the World

About the Attraction

What lies beyond these gates is a spine-tingling, hair-raising one-way ticket to an exhilarating plunge into another dimension! Okay, it’s a drop ride. But it’s better than the garden-variety drop rides you find at Universal or Six Flags.

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Inspired by the classic American science-fiction TV show, The Twilight Zone (which ran from 1959-1964), the attraction’s story is presented as a “lost episode”, complete with an introduction by Twilight Zone creator and host, Rod Serling (thanks to a bit of Disney magic).

At nearly 200 feet tall, the Tower of Terror’s glowering presence is felt by all who enter the park. Heck, you can even see it from the highway outside the park and it’s not too hard to spot when flying into Santa Ana or Orlando, depending where you’re flying from.

Elevator doors to the Tower’s missing hallways are exposed to the park, opening and closing in time with the arrival of shrieking passengers. Where do they go?  You’ll have to ride (or read!) to find out. 🙂

Nitty-Gritty Technical Stuff for Nerds

More Secrets, Mysteries, and Miscellany

Tower of Terror Ride Experience & My Review

The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror attraction is hands-down Disney’s most thrilling ride. It’s been my favorite for 20 years (in case you couldn’t tell… hah). Whereas most Disney attractions are mildly spooky at best, the Tower cranks it up to 11! You can’t help but feel creeped out as you approach it, and the Tower revels in its atmosphere of suspense.

Best Times to Ride the Tower of Terror

I’m giving away all my other Tower secrets… might as well tell you the best times to ride, too!

At park open

Go as soon as the park opens, and you’ll have the ride to yourself for at least an hour.

In DCA, everyone beats feet for Cars (feel free to pick up a Radiator Springs Racers Fast Pass before hitting up the Tower, it’s pretty close by) and in Hollywood Studios, everyone’s busy packing themselves into line for Buzz Lightyear and Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

5pm – 7pm

Crowds thin out around dinnertime (doubly so if you can time it with a parade). Not only do you get to ride over and over, but the sunset colors are either just starting or in full swing depending on the time of year you’re visiting. The park looks great at sunset, so take a long look… before you plunge into darkness!

Ordinary Weeknights

The best weeknight I’ve found for marathon rides is Tuesday. I guess Tuesday is a pretty boring day in the scheme of things, but Tuesday also seems to be one of the days that Disney doesn’t close down Disneyland / Magic Kingdom for special ticket parties, so crowds don’t pile into DCA/HS.

Conversely, some of the worst Tower waits I’ve ever seen were in DCA when Disneyland closed down for Mickey’s Halloween Party and in Hollywood Studios when the Magic Kingdom closed down for Mickey’s Christmas Party.

Late at night / Nighttime Passholder Hours

Yes, the creepiness is extra creepy at night, but that’s not the only reason to ride the Tower at night. The real reason is to ride with the locals and other diehards.

Families and tourists go home, but the locals know the ride by heart. These guests just love the ride and I love riding with them – they chant along with the pre-show movie, mug for the camera, and scream extra loud with every drop.

Scared to Ride? Here’s What it’s REALLY Like

This section is for first-timers who aren’t sure if they want to ride or not. I know YOU’RE not scared, but a lot of visitors and people I meet in real life are terrified of this thing!

Fear not, daring riders: this ride’s bark is worse than its bite.

You will ride seat-belted firmly into your seat. Readers who expect to be standing can be forgiven, as Disney usually portrays this ride as standing-only.

Once you’re buckled in, rest assured – the first few minutes of the ride have no drops. This portion of the ride is all about the effects.

  • If you’re riding in Florida: You’ll watch a few minutes of special effects before you get to the big drops. You will traverse a dark, star-lit hallway and pass through a set of glowing-edged doors. This is where the real drop action begins (don’t let anyone spook you into thinking the drops start sooner). From here, your elevator will either immediately drop or rise. There is no way of knowing ahead of time which you’ll get, so be prepared for either. I find this to be the absolute most suspenseful part of the ride!
  • If you’re riding in California, Paris, or Tokyo: The whole ride takes place in a single elevator shaft. You’ll know it’s time to start the real show once you’ve seen both the magic mirror and the ghost scene. In California, the Tower always drops first.

Once the free-falling mania begins, just… try to relax! I actually find it makes things worse to hold onto the hand bars, but your mileage may vary.

The drops themselves are short and usually four in number. The worst part is waiting for them to begin! The Tower may look tall, but you’ll only drop the entire height of the attraction once. You’ll probably rise out of your seat on the descent, but the change in direction is smooth.

I’ve had the pleasure of riding with many first-timers, and (aside from laughing themselves silly once it’s over), they all marvel at how smooth the ride actually was. If you’re scared to get on, my advice is to get on and do it anyway – you’ll be laughing by the time it ends.

See You Soon

After you ride, please come back and explore this site! I am a lifelong Disney parks fan and Tower of Terror nut. Building and updating this site is one of my most cherished hobbies.

Thank you… for dropping in. 😉 

MJ, the “Haunted Hostess” of TowerSecrets