One of my favorite rides at Disney is the Tower of Terror. Everything about it is spooktacularly wonderful! Big J also loves Tower of Terror, but Little J… not so much. Back in the day, right when Little J hit 40 inches, Big J started really talking up the Tower of Terror… except he called it the Tower of Fun. As expected, Little J’s first ride was a lesson in why you should never blindly trust your older sibling… but let’s face it, not many people actually have the moment that trust is broken captured on film forever!
Today is the anniversary of the 2013 runDisney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler. This is the race that started my running career – Heather had been trying for a while to get me to run with her, and I kept saying no, until she told me about runDisney. Not only runDisney in general, but a VILLAINS THEMED race! With Maleficent! Maleficent is my favorite Disney character ever and you just don’t get to meet her often, so I was all over this race. Signed up and started running and training right away. So in honor of my love for the Tower of Terror and the race that started my running career, I have compiled some neato facts about the Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror:
The Tower of Terror is 199 feet tall – it is actually taller than Cinderella’s Castle (which is 189 feet tall), and within Walt Disney World it is second only to Expedition Everest (which is 199.5 feet tall) in height. The heights are very deliberate, as the Federal Aviation Administration requires structures 200 feet or taller to have a blinking red light at the top.
The drops (yes, plural) that you experience are actually faster than a drop from gravity alone. There are cables above and below your elevator car that pull the car down at a whopping 39 miles per hour!
The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM), built in 1994, is the original, but there have been four Towers of Terror total. The Disneyland Tower of Terror opened in 2001 (but has since closed), the Tokyo Disney Tower of Terror opened in 2006, and the Disneyland Paris Tower of Terror opened in 2008.
Not every elevator inside the Tower of Terror is part of the ride. There is a regular elevator as well, used for guests with disabilities or guests who go through the queue but opt not to ride. A friend of mine knew she did not want to ride, but still wanted to go through the queue and experience the non-drop part of the Tower. It was nice, because we were able to give her our bags and not have to worry about securing them (but pro tip: if you’re in this situation, make sure you designate an exact meeting spot or keep a cell phone with you, so you don’t have to ask a stranger to use their phone to meet back up with your friend… not that I speak from experience or anything!).
Most of the furnishings and decorations in the lobby of the Tower are authentic antiques that Disney purchased from Los Angeles auction sites. My mom actually has a match for one of the vases in the lobby!
Disney makes all of their cast member costumes in house, and they are incredibly detailed. Although the Tower of Terror bellhop uniforms look simple, they are actually among the most expensive at Disney – allegedly each bellhop uniform cost more than $1000 to make! A lot of people seem skeptical of that price tag, but let me tell you… if Big J loses his ROTC uniform we have to pay over $300 and that’s just for some stock uniform pieces. Disney is way more elaborate (and probably way more high quality) than what they’re giving high schoolers these days.
Guests must be 40 inches tall to ride, and cast members will check your child’s height if they think it is close to the minimum. Little J is super small for his size (he is 6 years 6 months old and the size 5 pants I just bought him are miles too big) but even he was able to ride this before he turned 5. Patience is a virtue, and it is totally worth the wait!
You can actually rent out the terraces for private parties after park hours. Of course, you will definitely be paying Big Bucks for that privilege, but I am kind of tempted to save up and do this one day. It sounds like so much fun!
As mentioned before, the Tower of Terror was the center focus of the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler. It was a nighttime race that started at the Wide World of Sports and ended inside Hollywood Studios, where participants had access to an all night after party with rides, food, and villain character meetings! The best! I don’t hold my breath that this race will ever return (especially with the axing of other nighttime races) but I sure do wish upon a star that it will.