Monday, September 25, 2023

Tower of Terror Comparison

Because I was not a fan of drop rides, I avoided the Tower of Terror attraction like the plague. The first time I saw it was in 2002 when I was “backstage” at Walt Disney World in Orlando; it had opened July 22, 1994.

When three-year-old Disney California Adventure in Anaheim was struggling, the Tower of Terror attraction was viewed as the Park’s savior when it opened May 5, 2004. It was truly the first “wow” ride that Anaheim’s second gate could boast about. Still, it lacked the attention to detail and lavish opulence of its east coast counterpart. The exterior bore little resemblance to the Southern California landmarks that Orlandp’s version was based on (The Los Angeles Biltmore, The Chateau Marmont, and The Mission Inn). Compare the center balcony detail from Orlando:

…inspired by the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood:

Not so distinctive was Anaheim; just plain with purple paint representing the lightning damage:

According to Wikipedia, Anaheim’s architectural style was “Pueblo Deco,” but that was truly stretching it. The windows looked too modern and the odd large box-like shape on top seemed like a poorly planned addition. This place would look more at home in Vegas. Orlando definitely was superior at evoking an old Hollywood hotel. Orlando also had a more extensive outdoor queue, with a winding path and overgrown gardens that give guests time to build anticipation and suspense before entering the lobby area.

In Anaheim, you had a short queue area to the right:

…and to the left. And that was it.

What about the interior? Orlando:

…which was inspired by the Los Angeles Biltmore:

The Anaheim version:

At first glance, both seem ornate, but the Orlando version looks more authentic and less like a movie set. It has been years since I’ve been on either attraction (Anaheim’s closed for retheming in January 2017), but I do recall that the Orlando version’s “elevator” went  horizontal (taking you through the hotel) before it rose to the top for the big drop. That was a nice touch. I guess if the U.S. had to sacrifice one of these, it’s a good thing it was the Anaheim version. Here are the ghosts from Orlando beckoning me to return. It’s only been… thirteen years!

See more WDW Tower of Terror photos at my main website.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Completely agreed. I've been on the Orlando version as recent as 2019. I went with a friend, a Club 33 member, in September 2019 and he damned or died getting on the ride. Rushed him to the hospital in 3 days in the ICU. He later joked it would have been the perfect place for him to die, short of in the Haunted Mansion itself. A hell of a dark joke to make but a valid point. That Orlando ride is fastly Superior, as you pointed out with the horizontal hallway that brings you to the next drop. I rarely appreciate a good ride being re-themed but the Anaheim one is better off as guardians of the galaxy. The only caveat is that they ruined the theming of the 1920s land when they change the exterior facade of that building. It no longer Blends in as it was supposed to. It doesn't compliment the land, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Let's be honest here, DCA is all about sticking out like a sore thumb, not blending together anymore. We're just lucky that they have some rides that work, thematically. Also, thank you for pointing out what always bugged me about the exterior architecture but I could never understand and articulate properly. That Anaheim won tried to copy the original but missed the mark. It's almost as if somebody else thought they would try to plus it but ended up negative the thing instead.