17 years of thrills (still)

Friday marks the 17th anniversary of the opening of the Tower of Terror and this entire month we've been taking some time to explore this amazing attraction.  Quite often I like to point out why an attraction is so great by highlighting a nuiance of the attraction that is overlooked but this week I'm ignoring the really cool details and just talking about how stinking cool the Tower of Terror really is.

If you were to stop every guest who is walking back down Sunset Boulevard and asked them about their opinion of the Tower of Terror (assuming they rode, of course), you'd likely get a wide array of answers that all come back to the ride being just plain awesome.  It's fun, thrilling, scary and exciting and even after 17 years, people who ride it still get a big kick out of it.

Even if you overlook the wonderful theme, deep story and great architecture, you have a ride that people still look forward to riding.  It's one of those rides that Cast Members tell guests who are new to the park to check out and one of those rides that when guests return home tell their friends about how much fun they had on the Tower of Terror.  For one reason or another, the Tower of Terror transcends many other rides to the point it has reached a level of notieriety and populairty that other rides in Walt Disney World or elsehere haven't come close to.

So why is the Tower of Terror so much fun?  It's a simple ride system but what Disney does best is taking basic premises and transform them into something more.  After all, Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat ride, Splash Mountain is a flume ride and the Haunted Mansion a dark ride.  But Imagineers have an unique talent to make these rides so much more than what we've experienced at our local amusement park.

I think there's also something about the blending of thrill and fear that Disney does so well.  In reality, Disney thrill rides are quite tame compared to the thrill rides you can find at Six Flags or even Universal Studios.  But Disney's ability to make "scary rides" fun is part of why I think rides like the Tower of Terror are so popular.  People may look at the Tower of Terror and be scared at first, but it isn't that intimidating.  Basically, the Tower of Terror is a thrill ride people feel they can tackle.  Despite the fact it looks decrepid, run down and something isn't right, there's something there that makes you want to ride.

It's one thing for Disney to build a fun ride but it's quite another thing for Disney to build a fun ride that continues to be fun nearly two decades after it was built.  Imagineers can look back at the 17 years the Tower of Terror has been in operation and know that their efforts still entertain guests today on a wide scale.

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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, July 20, 2011 by