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Tower of Terror Rhyme

Our column this week is another reader request to help explain something she has noticed in Hollywood Studios and can't explain.  It comes from Anne Campbell,

Hi Matt,

I wonder if you can shed some light on a mystery that I've always wondered about in the Tower of Terror queue. In the boiler room on the far left, just before the left load area, there's a table that's cluttered with tools, wire, coffee mugs, etc. On the desk is a plaque that says:

"It's easy enough to be pleasant,
when life hums along like a song.
But the man worth while
is the man who can smile
when everything goes dead wrong."

I'm guessing this is a Twilight Zone reference, but I don't know anything about the show and haven't been able to find any information on this poem online. Can you shed some light? I'd be glad to send you a photo of the plaque if it helps.

Thanks very much!

So where is this quote from? And why is it in the Tower of Terror

The rhyme was written by an American poet named Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who was born in 1850 and died in 1919.  Surprisingly enough, Wilcox is frequently cited in antholgoies of bad poetry.  Wilcox is also well known for writing "Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone."  The rhyme we see is part of a larger poem called "Worth While".  Here's the full text.

It is easy enough to be pleasant
   When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is the one who will smile
   When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
   And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
   Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent
   When nothing tempts you to stray,
When without or within no voice of sin
   Is luring your soul away;
But it’s only a negative virtue
   Until it is tried by fire,
And the life that is worth the honour on earth
   Is the one that resists desire.

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,
   Who had no strength for the strife,
The world’s highway is cumbered to-day—
   They make up the sum of life;
But the virtue that conquers passion,
   And the sorrow that hides in a smile—
It is these that are worth the homage on earth,
   For we find them but once in a while.

So why is it there?  Actually, this quote is not in a Twilight Zone episode.  The reason it's there is most likely it's of the time period that the Hollywood Tower Hotel fit into and the content of the poem fits into the ride's story fairly well.  Imagineers want to set a tone in the attraction of instilling a fear that something isn't quite right and a poem like this fits perfectly.

Just like the furniture in the lobby or architecture of the building or horticulture of the grounds, the poem helps set the story and contributes to the overal theme of the attraction.  

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Ever seen something in Hollywood Studios and wondered why it was placed there by Disney's Imagineers? Matt Hochberg leads you on a regular look at the hidden details in Hollywood Studios and explains why it's there.


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Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011 by
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