After you have been to Walt Disney World as many times as we have, you know the major attractions well. You recognize the ones you love to ride, the ones you ride because they are classics, and the rides that you just don’t enjoy enough to suffer though (often because of the way they make you feel – insert my vertigo here). There is another category that a lot of people have –rides they are too afraid to ride (have you seen the outside of this thing, starts spooky here, gets more spooky inside)!?!
I have friends that do not enjoy rides at all. When they go to Disney they just hang out at the resort or walk around the park. They may ride ‘It’s a Small World’ (which did not make either of our lists even if we do ride it occasionally) – but you would never get them on any type of a coaster – some won’t even ride Haunted Mansion. There was one ride at Hollywood Studios I said you would never get me on – The Tower of Terror. Just looking at it scared me to death. My stomach would flip when I saw those big doors open and hear the (recorded?) screams. My husband and daughter often tried to get me to ride but to no avail. This was an attraction I was glad to just see by walking through the queue.
One of the great things about Disney, they are happy for you to walk through the queue of an attraction and not actually ride it. All you must do is tell the Cast Member at loading you are not going to ride (or cluck at them), and they will direct you to the location where you can wait for your party. There are a couple of reasons to walk through Disney queues, even if you are not going to ride. First, why sit somewhere in the heat by yourself when you can be hanging out in a queue with your friends and family. But most importantly, Disney attractions are excessively themed – the detail is amazing – you should enjoy the work they have put into it!!
The first time I walked through the Tower of Terror queue, we arrived at the doors to the ride vehicles – obviously they look like large elevator doors. The Cast Members are dressed like bellhops and they are masters at keeping a straight, scary face – and monotone voice – while they are directing you to your seat. I explained that I would not be riding, the bellhop motioned me to another bellhop that would take me down another way. He walked me to a large set of elevator doors…I looked at him for a moment and asked if he knew that I would not be riding today. (At this time, I had never seen the interior of the ride vehicle.) He stayed silent, pointed at the doors, and pushed the button. Again, I said that I wanted to make sure he knew I wasn’t riding…he continued to stare at me. The elevator doors open, and it was just a regular elevator. But as I stepped in – just for a moment – I knew it was going to plummet me to my death.
What finally changed my mind? Why did I decide to start riding it? A couple of things. First, peer pressure. I wanted to experience the attraction with my family – they loved it so much and egged me on. But what finally convinced me was a backstage tour of the park (not the love of my family, who was clearly trying to get me killed). During the tour, the guide gave us some history of the Tower of Terror and explained how the ride worked. Understanding how the ride functioned helped me to see that it was not really quite as terrifying as it looked. So, I decided to give it a try, totally worth it!
Tower of Terror is the one ride in all of Walt Disney World that still truly scares me – before I get on it and while I am on it. I question my life choices every time I buckle the seat belt. But it is also an incredibly fun attraction that I enjoy doing and try to ride it every time I visit Hollywood Studios. Does it mess with my vertigo? Maybe just a little – but it is totally worth it!!