The Tower of Terror: Walt Disney World's Best Attraction

by: Matt Hochberg Updated:

Among Walt Disney World enthusiasts, there are always topics that can be debated until the end of time, and one of them is which attraction is “the best”.  The best can mean a lot to different people, but without question I always have the same answer: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  So why pick the Tower of Terror and what makes it so special?

For me, the Tower of Terror is the epitome of what makes for a great theme park attraction.  It excels in three core areas:  theme, story and ride.

The theme of the Tower of Terror is one of the best implementations you can find at any Disney Parks attraction and it’s a testament to the Disney Imagineers who designed it.  Even before you set foot on the ride, the theme of the attraction begins.  As you walk down Sunset Boulevard you can see the Tower of Terror looming in the distance and as you get closer, you’ll start to hear the eery background music take over for the upbeat background music usually heard on Sunset Boulevard.  The “hotel” grounds are clearly unkept and in disrepair, yet the gates are open for you to enter. 

As you walk through the garden and into the hotel lobby, you enter a place frozen in time.  Everything from the newspapers to the clocks to the mahjongg game are just as they were for years.  The ability of the Imagineers to make this attraction look and feel like a hotel from the 1930’s is unparalleled. All of the design elements come together to sell you on the idea that you are indeed in an abandoned hotel.

The story of the attraction is one of the more complete stories you’ll find in a theme park attraction.  Most theme park attraction have very loose stories, if any at all.  At the Tower of Terror, the preshow tells the back story but it’s a story that you’re already being told before entering.  And when you embark upon taking a ride on the elevator, you become part of the Twilight Zone story as you discover “what lies beyond the fifth dimension…beyond the deepest, darkest corner of the imagination”.

Of course, it’s hard to ignore just how fun this ride is.  At the heart of the Tower of Terror is a plain fun thrill ride.  Over the years Disney Imagineers have tweaked the ride from a single rise and fall to the current random ride sequence, where you don’t know how many times you will rise and fall.  The result is one of the most fun attractions in Walt Disney World and certainly a classic experience.

When you combine the superb theme, story and ride, you end up with the best attraction in Walt Disney World.  Other rides may have good theme and even a fun ride, but have little to no back story.  Or a good story but not as fun ride.  It’s because the Tower of Terror has it all that it holds the distinction of being the best attraction in Walt Disney World.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Matt Hochberg is a Disney’s Hollywood Studios super fan and runs, a site dedicated to all things Hollywood Studios.  Matt also hosts WDW Today, a free Walt Disney World planning podcast that offers trip planning advice, strategies and tips.  You can find Matt on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.