2010 Best Theme Park Attraction: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror vs. Haunted Mansion

March 31, 2010, 10:00 AM · It's time to pick the first finalist in the Best Themed Ride bracket of the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament.

You can click the links or pictures below for a full description of each ride, along with comments from other Theme Park Insider readers.

2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios


6. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

Please tell us in the comments why you voted the way you did.

Wanna know the best way to keep up with the tournament, so you never miss a vote?

Next up: We complete the Best Themed Ride finalists, with 1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man vs. 5. Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean.

Replies (32)

March 31, 2010 at 10:08 AM · Haunted Mansion by a long shot. It has stronger story elements, rich, detailed scenes, and a fantastic score. It's easily one of the greatest rides ever created. ToT has amazing theming, it fails for me on the actual ride aspect. It's fun, but a bit short and to me, it's a bit of a cop out thrill ride. It's not tall enough to be as thrilling as most other drop towers but it also alienates plenty of other people who can't handle drops like that.
March 31, 2010 at 10:09 AM · I get all the love for Haunted Mansion, I really do, but c'mon people... Tower of Terror.
March 31, 2010 at 10:14 AM · Have to go for Tower of Terror. Not only does it have an amazing theme and story, but it's also an incredibly advanced ride with regards to technology. This is far from a simple drop tower, it's a faster-than-gravity fall which truly shows the genius that Walt Disney Imagineering posses.
March 31, 2010 at 10:34 AM · Very, very difficult choice. I love these rides so much! But, I had to go with the Haunted Mansion. Everyone, regardless of height, can ride and enjoy it.
March 31, 2010 at 10:38 AM · Tower of Terror has a decent Theme but it isn't much afterwards. Up & down, fast thrills.

Haunted Mansion is a classic with a lot more work involved.
I can find Fast Thrills at any park. Haunted Mansion is a rarity!

March 31, 2010 at 10:48 AM · Timeless Creepy Classic vs. Much Better Than Average Faster than Gravity Freefall ride.

Tough one... ToT isn't your normal freefall ride. The theming is awesome, and immersive. Rod Serling(sp?) makes a "return" here and it works great. 2nd Best to IJA in queue theming in my eyes.

But HM can be ridden by everyone. It feels like a Disney attraction more than almost any other one. There's a certain "magic"... that je ne sais quoi that other attractions don't have (but shared by Pirates). And as mentioned before, if I had to keep one ride and destroy another, I'd keep HM.

March 31, 2010 at 10:58 AM · Man is this a tough vote. Both are awesome with incredible theming and great storytelling. Disney hit home runs with both of these attractions.
March 31, 2010 at 11:01 AM · If nothing else, I am really pleased that both of these rides made it this far. My vote went to The Haunted Mansion because it is accessible to everyone, and is really just a Disney classic.
March 31, 2010 at 11:06 AM · I voted for Tower of Terror because I see it as a thrill ride version of the Haunted Mansion. Think about it....

Also, remember, its DHS's much better ToT which is more about the themeing and story than its thrill ride DCA counterpart!

March 31, 2010 at 11:19 AM · This is a no-brainer, since this is Disneyland's Haunted Mansion and not Disney World's. Without the update, there are too many cheap elements, whereas Tower is pure gold.

I'm afraid I created a monster when I notified those Mansion fanboys about this contest to prevent Mummy from proceeding. I had better notify some Tower fanboys.

March 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM · I went for the underdog and voted Haunted Mansion. It may not have Tower's thrills, but it is a classic and has perhaps an even deeper and more intriguing story. The unofficial backstory has created quite a fan following around it. Combined with catchy music and iconic narration, and I think Mansion really does edge out Tower.
March 31, 2010 at 11:45 AM · I can ride Haunted Mansion a million times and never get tired of it. ToT, after three rides, I'm done. The detail, the story, the best special effects I've seen, the music and the vastness of the ride make Haunted Mansion better. It can be enjoyed by all demographics, always keeps the line moving and just flat out the better ride.

ToT's effects have fallen apart, stopped working and now the "Twilight Zone" part is a huge let down. There's not much there and it's just awkward.

As for technology, HM has some of the more recent, most expensive effects that make the TOT's effect look out dated. PLus, HM turns into a completely different ride for the holiday season, and ToT remains...very much the same.

Haunted Mansion deserves the credit.

March 31, 2010 at 12:00 PM · I have to go with that "E Ticket" ride the Haunted Mansion and yes I am old enough to know what an "E" ticket is. It has always been my favorite ride since I was a little kid (and I still haven't grown up yet:) ). I'm not much for the free fall style of rides so Tower of Terror really doesn't do anything for me. Plus I have really good memories of the Haunted Mansion and my sometimes macabre sense of humor helps.
One time my parents and I were in the stretching room and during the show I kept feeling something tickle the back of my neck. So thinking it was hair or a bug, I kept trying to brush it away. As the show was over my neck got tickled on last time so as I started to brush my neck I turned just enough to see that someone was standing behind me in the gloom of the room. I sort of let out a shocked noise (not quite a yell). Here it was one of the cast members with a feather. He told me that there was nothing to be scared of, but he scared the liver out of me. I wasn't expecting anyone to be standing behind me since we were the last ones into the streching room. GOOD TIMES.
March 31, 2010 at 12:22 PM · My vote isn't "if the whole family can ride" but about what I want to ride. ToT gets my vote.
March 31, 2010 at 12:42 PM · Walt's dream was to have a haunted house in Disneyland, but he died before his dream was brought to life. HM was a huge test for the Imagineers- their first ride without Walt at the helm. ToT is great, but it's nowhere near HM in my book.
March 31, 2010 at 12:42 PM · Very Tough vote. I would settle for a tie in this one. Both attractions are well themed and just plain terrific. I only give the Edge to TZTOT because it has more of a thrill factor.
March 31, 2010 at 12:47 PM · Wow, a flip to be sure!

I think a vote for ToT is also a vote for the HM beause, like I mentioned before. ToT is similar to a Haunted Mansion with a thrill ride aspect!

I would also say that these two attractions are probably the closest mood and similarity!

March 31, 2010 at 12:54 PM · Are voting for Best Themed, or slightly more thrilling? I believe by and far Haunted Mansion wins. HM's effects are better , the theming is better and mind blowing. ToT is ok theme wise, and ok visual effects wise, and ok with the drops.

Mansion is way way deserving of the title Best THemed Ride. ToT has won before, why not let Mansion finally receive a title it deserves?

March 31, 2010 at 12:59 PM · The worst day at Disney that ever happened to me is when we drove all the way down from Michigan and the Haunted Mansion was under construction. It was an icon of my childhood and I know all the words of the songs by heart, where to exactly look on the ride, and even had the book and record set as a kid. As an adult professional, the Haunted Mansion is still a place that brings back massive positive memories and immediate childhood joy when I think of it or look at pictures. I cannot wait to bring my own kids to the Mansion for their own adventures.
March 31, 2010 at 1:06 PM · I love the Mansion, but this is Disneyland's Mansion. You know, the one with the pop-up dolls that shriek, glow paint spiders, and an omnimover that breaks down every time I ride?

And it's competing against Disney World's Tower of Terror. You know, the one with a digital re-creation of Rod Serling, a control system that makes every ride different, an elevator that travels up a lift and through a hallway, the eeriest queue line on the planet, and an absolutely gorgeous backdrop on Sunset Boulevard?

If Disney World's Haunted Mansion was battling Disneyland's Tower of Terror, then Mansion would deserve to win. That's not the case, though.

I can't believe this and Spiderman are getting eliminated in the same round by two Disneyland attractions from the '60s.

March 31, 2010 at 2:23 PM · Haunted Mansion is a fine dark ride, but ToT is a fine dark ride with an exclamation point at the end! Don't just vote for an attraction because it is a classic...

Also, with a 40" height requirement and a thrilling but easily digestible conclusion, ToT is pretty much a whole-family experience. My daughter was able to ride when she was just shy of four years old.... would that there were attractions of ToT's caliber she could experience at my local park!

Vote with your heads (and stomachs), not your hearts! =)

March 31, 2010 at 2:29 PM · I love both rides equally (although I have never been to WDW to see their version of the mansion & the original version of TOT, only the DLR original of HM and the DCA version of TOT). I must say, both rides win for excellent theming throughout! The two reasons why I visit both parks constantly!!!
March 31, 2010 at 2:39 PM · Joshua, to be fair I would agree that Disneyland's HM should beat DCA's ToT everytime. But doesn't DCA's ToT also have the one and only Rod Serling in the video in the queue? DCA's ToT is inferior to DHS's in every way... except maybe local weather?

For me it's just personal preference... I have to ride HM at either park... but ToT can be missed every now and then.

March 31, 2010 at 3:03 PM · I personally think the Tower of Terror (in DHS) is one of the masterpieces of Imagineering in the last two decades. However, I think I'd die if the Haunted Mansion ever passed on.
March 31, 2010 at 3:56 PM · Another hellishly difficult choice in this matchup. I would have voted for the WDW Mansion, but I give a slight edge to TOT over the Disneyland Mansion. The Anaheim managers haven't done a good enough job of maintaining and upgrading the technology in the Mansion, especially considering that technology has been available to them ever since WDW upgraded their HM. Anaheim is sacrifising the quality of the attraction just so they can keep that garish Nightmare before Christmas overlay. So that is why I'm picking TOT, a top notch attraction which is in great shape.
March 31, 2010 at 4:20 PM · Tower of Terror losing is a crime. I cry shenanigans! =)

Seriously, I love Haunted Mansion too, but please, ToT obsoleted every other freefall/drop ride ever built. Disneyland's HM is itself obsoleted by WDW's version of the same ride!

Vote for the attraction that is not obsolete!

March 31, 2010 at 4:56 PM · Easily the best outcome to this I could have possibly hoped for. This made my day. I know Haunted Mansion is gonna get shot down soon and make way for the real contenders. This year might finally get interesting!
March 31, 2010 at 5:09 PM · wow... really???? Haunted Mansion???while they have virturally the same quality line. TOT has the superior story(haunted mansions is really unclear unless you study it), thrill and scary elements go to TOT, the effects on both rides are pretty cool(i'll give it to mansion), and we are talking about Disneyland HM(the one with the not as good looking building(a plantation?) and streching room where you can feel going down) and DHS' TOT(the one with the greater theme). Haunted Mansion is excellent...but Tower of Terror is much better in my books.
March 31, 2010 at 5:35 PM · While both attractions are highly themed masterpieces, I have to go with ToT.

HM is fantastic, and it's theme is executed flawlessly. Starting from way off in the distance as you begin to make out the howls that signify that the mansion is fast approaching. More quirky than scary, the ride takes a premise designed to normally scare the cheese out of you and turns it on it's side, offering a delightfully, somewhat eary at times, ride through a mansion that makes the after life seem like one heck of a party. Just a fun, CLASSIC Disney ride, deserving of all the accolades it has received throughout the years.

Tower of Terror takes the creepy from HM and gets rid of the quirky. Swapping out cartoonish humor for a more realistic approach. No soundtrack of howls needed for this attraction as you approach, as the screams are from the actual guest of the ride. The ominous picture of the ToT at the end of Sunset Blvd builds the anticipation of your experience, which begins not as you enter the rides queue, but at the moment you begin your journey up Sunset Blvd. The queue itself is outstanding, from the courtyard, to the hotel where nothing has been touched since it shut down. The 1930's era music is a nice touch that helps to set the immersive mood of the ride. The set up in the library featuring Rod Serling and a dead on voice actor is perfection. Leading you into the boiler room and finally onto the ride itself. The fact that the ride travels up an elevator shaft, then leaves said shaft to move forward into the fifth dimension, only to end up in another shaft for the shows finale is an incredible feat of engineering on the part of Disney imagineers. And the finale is one of the most rewarding of all pay offs of any highly themed ride ever created really. Far more rewarding than a ghost riding home with you. ToT is tops in my book, and was deserving of it's crown the first year it won this tourney. It will be a shame to see it get knocked out yet again.

March 31, 2010 at 10:37 PM · I want to remind everyone that until 2 years ago, the DL Haunted Mansion was EASILY considered way better than the WDW version as it's upkeep was far superior. Until the rehab 2 years ago, the WDW version had doombuggies with horrendous speakers to the point where you could barely understand the dialogue and the awful neon spider web section instead of the staircases. The majority of the updates WDW got (new attic, floating Leota, changing portraits) originated in the DL mansion. And unlike WDW< the DL mansion is usually waaaaaay better upkept than anything on the east coast. Right before WDW's was upgraded, it was in horrible shape.
April 1, 2010 at 4:05 AM · ^^You're correct! Until Disnelyand's HM was reduced to obsolescence by the recent advancement of the WDW version of the attraction, it was top dog on both coasts. Maybe if the WDW version dwindles with a lack of upkeep, Disneyland's version can be top dog again.

Regardless, DHS' Tower of Terror is the better attraction. And at least it had a chance of beating a popular roller coaster and winning the whole tournament. HM does not.

April 1, 2010 at 6:44 AM · Im a little upset by this because tot is so amazing. Haunted Mansion is a spectacular ride, but against TOT? The two are just on a different type of level and im very shocked that TOT lost. Well ill be rooting for pirates in the best ride bracket. Surpising that both the 1st and 2nd seed got eliminated this year!

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