Freefallin’ (The Tower Of Terror Misadventures)

Recently, I reconnected with an old friend via social media. He and I went to college together, and we briefly worked at Walt Disney World together as attractions hosts (a blanket term for those cast members who staff rides, shows, and more) at the Disney/MGM Studios park. Chatting with him sparked some memories, which made me think of one involving us on Tower Of Terror. I’ll share that story in a bit.

Once I started reminiscing about that one, though, it led to remembering a few other tales from that particular attraction. I’ve collected those here.

*

While working at the park one afternoon, I was asked to pick up a few hours at the short-staffed Tower Of Terror after my shift in the Animation Courtyard had ended.

So, after a trip to costuming to change from my Voyage Of The Little Mermaid outfit to a Tower Of Terror bellhop uniform, I headed over to the “Hollywood Tower Hotel”. As I wasn’t trained on any of the internal positions, I was assigned to be a greeter. This meant standing in front of the ride, directing guests and answering questions and such. I was also tasked with changing the wait time sign as needed.

Now, I should point out here that this was a day that I forgot to wear an undershirt. At Mermaid it wasn’t really a big deal, but the bellhop coats were considerably shorter than our sailor shirts. I should also point out that this was before digital signage and as such wait times couldn’t be changed with the touch of a button. I had to reach up (on my tip-toes because I’m short) and stretch to turn a dial that would adjust the number. I also had to do so while trying to keep my jacket from riding up and giving all those assembled a stunning view of my midsection.

*

While combatting my near constant wardrobe malfunction, a woman pushing a stroller approached me. She had questions, but a language barrier prevented easy communication between us. I of course did my best, and soon gleaned that she was trying to find out what sort of experience Tower Of Terror was. I tried to explain it as best I could, but again the language barrier got in the way.

Finally I had an idea. I pointed up to the windows that open just before the big drop, which opened as if on cue. She nodded, with me so far. I then, just as the screaming started, dropped my hand as quickly as possible until I was pointing to roughly where the elevator would end up.

Her eyes bulged out of her head as she understood exactly what I was trying to say. Shaking her head “no” as vigorously as she could, she quickly backed away from the attraction. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite ways to “describe” Tower Of Terror.

*

Sometimes, forgetting an article of clothing or finding new ways to explain a ride can make for an entertaining anecdote, but other times (mis)adventures happen because you and a buddy decide to go out of your way to be jerks.

While wandering the park one afternoon, this friend and I decided to ride Tower Of Terror. This was roughly a year after the attraction opened, and at the time it featured just one big drop. Eventually they added a second, and gradually it was retooled into its current iteration–in which each ride involves a random drop sequence–but back then the elevator car went up to the top of the track, then just went straight down.

We were seated in the front row, and it became immediately apparent that we were the only ones in our car who had been on Tower Of Terror before.

The elevator went up, and then stopped at the entrance to the first floor. For those of you unfamiliar with the attraction, all that happens on this floor is the door opens and a bit of story scenario plays out in front of you. Before this door opened, though, my friend loudly exclaimed “Hold on! This is that big drop you’ve heard about!” He and I grabbed onto the safety bar for dear life, causing everyone else to do the same. The door opened, the scene played out, but of course there was no drop. The door closed, the car continued its vertical ascent, and he and I released the bar while laughing. At this point, too, everyone else seemed entertained by our antics. There was some giggling and some good natured groaning, but that was it.

The elevator reached the second floor. Again, for those of you who have not ridden Tower Of Terror, the drop doesn’t happen here either. The car just slowly moves forward through a spooky scene that further tells the ride’s story. So, again, before the door opened we grabbed the bar. This time we didn’t say anything, though, but people were watching us. They saw us grab the bar and assumed that the drop was about to happen, so most of them also grabbed on for dear life. Door opened, car started its slow forward journey, and again people let go and grumbled.

Finally, at the end of this section, the elevator locked into place with a bit of a jolt. Moments later, the car rapidly shot upward to get into position for the drop. People screamed, but we assured them that it was going up, so it was OK.

We reached the top, and that window opened to allow a brief view of the outside before the rapid descent. My friend and I had our hands off the bar, and he pointed out and said something to the effect of “Oh hey, there’s my car”. Naturally, this distracted everyone for a moment and many tried to look outside to where he was pointing.

Which meant that nobody was prepared when the elevator plummeted thirteen stories.

We got a few side glances as we all exited the ride, and there was some good-natured chuckling as well as a couple negative-sounding mumbles aimed at us, but we were certainly entertained by our antics. Really, that’s what’s important here.

*

So how about it, readers? Do you have any tales to tell about your experiences at the Hollywood Tower Hotel? Comment and share!

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One Response to Freefallin’ (The Tower Of Terror Misadventures)

  1. Pingback: The Cast Member Diaries Part Two: Spreading The Pixie Dust | Magic & Misadventures

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