Have you ever “retired” from a ride? Faced that moment of truth when you are walking away from the attraction exit, you look over your shoulder, and you say to yourself and maybe anyone else within earshot – “You’ll never get me on that again.” Just from my own informal poll, I hear that most from people I know who go on Space Mountain. There is no middle ground. The ride is either one of the greatest things ever or “you’ll never get me on that again”.
As far as Disneyland and Disney California Adventure thrill rides go, I’m pretty much all in. Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad (unfortunately closed for most of this year), the Matterhorn, California Screamin’ – I love them all and throw in Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run even though their thrills come in the blink of an eye with the requirement of dodging large amounts of water.
Disney thrill rides are great and in no way relate to any of the white knuckle, heart attack inducing rides of typical area amusement parks.
The way I look at it, millions of people enjoy Disney thrill rides and while there is an occasional accident, that usually has more to do with the passenger that the attraction itself. The Disney safety record is remarkable considering the shear number of park visitors.
But yes, I did leave one “thrill” ride out of my “all in” list – The Hollywood Tower of Terror, or as I once referred to it – The Hollywood Tower of Anxiety. Left to my own thoughts, I’d normally pass right by the massive attraction since its not really “my thing” but in the company of other family members passing by sometimes is not an option and I succumb to some weird kind peer pressure as I put on a my brave face in front of younger family members (most of whom are female).
So I’ve probably taken the Tower of Terror plunge about 8 times or so over the years and I’ve survived each and every time. And I’ve picked up a trick to my own personal survival on the Tower of Terror. Over and over I tell myself – “You know, this ride is over in about 40 seconds. Not even a minute long and you are done and out of there.” It kind of works. Kind of….
The 40 seconds of terror is all well and good if you could walk yourself up to the elevator, strap yourself in, and take off but it doesn’t quite work that way. There’s that little pre-ride gathering to listen to the faux Rod Serling give you the back story to the attraction.
Then there is the death walk, the maze you pass through to arrive at the elevator doors. On busier days, this may take awhile. As Tom Petty once sang “the waiting is the hardest part”. Waiting to get in the elevator, I feel the anxiety build, and build.
“Is my chest getting tighter?” Why am I sweating?” Oh yes, to nieces and nephews, and assorted relatives and friends, I’m as cool as the other side of the pillow but inside, the nerves of slapping me silly. “40 second, 40 seconds, 40 seconds….”. Actually relief comes when the elevator doors close because that’s the moment it really is about 40 seconds until you can start the walk to the gift shop.
It happened on our last trip Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. It was just my wife and myself but for some unknown reason, she wanted to go on the Tower of Terror. To my knowledge, she had only gone on the Tower of Terror one other time in all our trips to DL and DCA. She has no problem saying “No thanks, you guys go on, I’m just going to (pick a store)”. But this particular visit, she wanted to go, just the two of us. And we did. The anxiety and angst was still there but I survived the Tower of Terror once again.
This time in the convenient gift shop that you must pass through at the ride exit, my wife and both bought the “I Survived the Tower of Terror” lanyard badge with our names on it. Mine hangs as reminder in my office cubicle. Exiting the gift shop, my wife turned her head and looked over her shoulder at the imposing hotel and said something like “That’s it! That’s the last time. I think I’m done with the Tower of Terror.” And quietly, I think I looked at her and said “Me too – never again”. We have officially retired from the Tower of Terror. We have enough stress in our lives already. That is until some niece comes up to me and grabs me by the arm and drags me in again. Never say never. And always remember, “it’s only 40 seconds”.