The Disney Attraction Trick That Almost Breaks A Law

Disney is famous for its incredible theming and immersive magic.

From the forced perspective of Cinderella Castle and Main Street, U.S.A. to the amazing details of lands like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Pandora: World of Avatar, Walt Disney World is renowned for its enchanting storytelling that brings the movies and characters we love to life.

The Imagineers work to create themed areas in Disney Parks abundant with hidden Mickeys, authentic artwork, and cultural accuracies, lands that take us truly into a “world of fantasy”. But to do this, Disney is in fact only inches away from breaking a federal law on some of its major Walt Disney World attractions.


Credit: Disney

It’s no secret that Expedition Everest and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are tall attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Their iconic shapes can be seen across the Lake Buena Vista Resort, with each tall structure holding a classic thrill ride that leaves Guests screaming.

Across Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is no structure taller than these popular rides. Expedition Everest stands at 199.5 feet tall and the Tower of Terror measures up at 199 feet, while Cinderella Castle is only 189 feet high.

Very specific heights, right? Well, there is a reason behind these deliberately measured-out buildings, and it comes down to the law.


Credit: Disney Dining

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), attractions standing 200 feet or higher require a flashing red light on top to alert airplanes of the structure.

Disney wasn’t about to ruin the magic with a big red light flashing from The Tower of Terror, so to avoid the unsightly add-on, Disney Imagineers made sure to build the attraction slightly shorter than 200 feet!

This avoids damage to Disney Park theming but also remains within the plane safety regulations of the FAA. The Hollywood “glitz and glitter” of Disney’s Hollywood Studios doesn’t get interrupted, while the carefully designed Asian aesthetic of Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom isn’t taken away by a big blinking light on top of the mountain.


Credit: Disney Tips

So, even though Disney World is just inches away from breaking Florida law, Imagineers used their design skills to balance the safety of those in low-flying aircraft with the magic of those on the ground in the theme parks.

Imagineers do a fantastic job at hiding operations and buildings from Guest view to preserve the magic of Disney Parks, with The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror‘s design tied into the Morocco Pavilion in EPCOT and Splash Mountain’s show building hidden behind trees and a mountain facade.

When it was opened back in 2006, Expedition Everest was the most expensive roller coaster in the world. Its total cost was reported to be US$100 million for six years of planning and construction, and the popular Disney attraction held this record up until 2019 when the $300M Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.


About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband. Find her children's book at @thebearandthehug_book