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Worth the fear

One of the most common things I'm told as it relates to Hollywood Studios is something along of the lines of "I've never ridden Tower of Terror because I'm afraid to".  It's usually accompanied with a slew of reasons why they are scared of the ride and while I try to convince them to ride, I can't force anyone and have to respect everyone's fears (after all I'm not exactly without fault). That being said, I might ordinarily shrug my shoulders and move on but Tower of Terror is different and I'd like to give the argument why you should not avoid Tower of Terror, or at least try it once.
Simply put, Tower of Terror is the best attraction at Walt Disney World.  The reason I think it's the best is because it has the total package.  It has everything and when you factor in every aspect of the ride and compare it to another ride, you'll see that Tower of Terror comes out ahead.  Think about it, Tower has a great story line, an exhilirating ride and wonderful details.  If you look at perenial favorites like Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean, while they do have terrific detail, neither's ride system can compare to Tower and I like to think the story line is superior at Tower.  Regardless of if you agree with me on Tower's superiority, anyone who has ridden it has to admit there is so much in the ride and it's not just a free-fall attraction.  Moreover, Imagineers really spent a lot of time on this attraction and placed a great deal of detail in it.
Let's start with those who are frightened by the free-fall ride.  I can symptahtize with you as for years I avoided Tower of Terror as well. It wasn't until 2000 when I was with a group of friends I gave into peer pressure and rode for the first time.  The truth is that the actual ride isn't that scary.  What I do think is scary is the anticipation associated with the drop;  basically, you know you're going to rise and fall at some point but you don't know when and until it happens, you're freaking yourself out about it.  With everyone I've rode with for the first time, they always agree after the ride that their own anticipation was the worst part and the actual rising and falling wasn't as bad as they thought it would be.  So if it's any comfort, once you ride it and know what will happen when, it really isn't that bad and if anything, you'll come to love it.
The reason why I'm so adimant about convincing you to ride if you are afraid to isn't even because I like the ride for the ride.  It's the details Imagineers included that make Tower of Terror stand out.  It isn't just about dropping you over and over again when it comes to this attraction.  Disney took a very simple ride idea and turned it into an experience.  There's the queue and it's spooky setting that set the tone for your story; the unkept grounds lead to a lobby that looks like it hasn't been used in many years and that's where your story begins.  You're told what's happened at this hotel and before you know it, you're making your way to the service elevator.  I don't have the space in this column to explain all of the detail in this attraction but I can tell you all of it is worth seeing and experiencing.  Disney took everything they had learned when it came to making attractions and put it to use at Tower of Terror because those who ride for the first time are always impressed by what they find not just in the ride itself, but the entire attraction building. It really is that extraordinary.
With all that being said, there may still be folks out there reading this saying "Look, I believe you that it's really cool but I just can't get over the fear I have about the ride" or perhaps you have a medical condition prohibiting you from experiencing it.  If all else fails, you can still experience most of the attraction's great detail without riding.  You can take advantage of the "chicken exit", which will allow you to go through the entire queue, preshow and boiler room and right up to the point of boarding the attraction and when the Cast Member asks for how many in your party, you can opt out and tell him or her you'd like not to ride, where you will be escorted to the area where the ride let's out (ironically, you do take an elevator but this one is rather dull and simply goes down one floor").  While you'll miss out on the detail and story of the ride as well as the ride itself, you can still get the idea of the attraction and have an opportunity to enjoy this treasure of an attraction.
So the next time you're at Hollywood Studios and opt to avoid Tower of Terror, take a moment and rethink your decision.  If you are physically able to, take the plunge (pardon the pun), and go for a ride.  And of course, there's still the chicken exit to consider to experience much of the entire experience.  Regardless of which option you choose, the Tower of Terror is that impressive that it warrants experiencing because of the incredible detail it has.
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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 by