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Hollywood Studios Blog


Ode to the Tower

I mentioned in a previous post that I believe The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (ToT) is the only ride in all of Walt Disney World for which the child swap is worth the time. Yes, you heard me right. I don't think Soarin', Expedition Everest, Splash Mountain, or Rock 'N' Roller Coaster are worth the time it takes to do a child swap. (Side note: child swap refers to when one parent rides first and then when he/she is done, the second parent has their turn, but can by-pass the line). 
Why did I give ToT this honor? Well, I may be biased because I thoroughly enjoy haunted house-type rides (anywhere), but I believe ToT is the most well done ride in all of Walt Disney World. As with all Disney attractions, it's not just a ride, but an experience. You can find a free-fall ride at numerous theme parks. In fact, we have one called Drop Tower at the large amusement park in my region. It involves the passengers boarding open-air seats, being lifted 230 feet and then being dropped within seconds. I'm sure we're all familiar with this type of ride.
People that enjoy the free-fall rides at their local amusement parks would surely enjoy ToT, but it's not the free fall that keeps me "child- swapping" to ride it. It's the details from the second you step in the line to the moment you get off the elevator that draw me to it time and again. As soon as I pass the grim-looking (in character) cast member (CM) at the entrance, and I hear the 1930s-era music and see the overgrown gardens of the hotel, I am immediately tranported to the time period and setting. Once in the lobby, the decor further convinces me that I have left Disney World and am now in a very old Hollywood hotel. It is evident that this hotel was once very classy, but neglect over many decades has given it the air of looking and feeling incredibly eerie. From the authentic-looking cobwebs, to the era-appropriate furniture and displayed publishings, Disney thinks of everything. I am further encouraged to let my imagination run away with me when the CM tells me to step into the library because my room isn't ready yet. Of course, the library is adorned with authentic antique pieces, as well.
What has always impressed me the most, however, is Disney's ability to make you feel that you are actually in the presence of the guests' ghosts while in the elevator. That, and the ability to make you believe that your elevator car is floating through the fifth dimension. I applaud Disney imagineers, because these scenes actually have the effect of making you leave your comfort zone behind and instead enter a true "Twilight Zone".  The special effects do an amazing job of making me feel somewhat frightened! It definitely makes me wish my husband was sitting next to me (something that hasn't happened since the kids!)!
So, the free fall, for me, is just an after-thought. I could take or leave that part. The true attraction, for me, is everything leading up to that fall. I know I've said that ToT is the only ride for which I will child-swap, but in truth, even though I think it's worth the time it takes, I dislike the child swap, even for this ride. Why? Because the ability to skip the regular line and instead motor through the Fast Pass line leaves me too little time for stopping to smell the roses... literally and figuratively.

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