Orlando/SoCal Theme Park Showdown: Tower of Terror vs. Tower of Terror

October 14, 2011, 8:02 AM · The Orlando parks have dominated the Theme Park Insider Orlando/Southern California Showdown so far. Will that trend continue today? Let's find with our first match-up of the day, featuring the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror rides at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and at Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim. Consider whatever details you'd like when voting, including setting, decor, ride or narrative. The vote will be open for 24 hours.

Disney's Hollywood Studios' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Sunset Boulevard

Disney's Hollywood Studios' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Disney California Adventure's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Hollywood Pictures Backlot

Disney California Adventure's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

The differences? Both versions of Tower or Terror are, at their heart, themed drop rides set in a hotel. Beyond that, though, the differences are substantial. The Hollywood Studios original in Florida opened in July 1994 and its exterior is inspired by the Hollywood Tower in California. (You can see it just north of the 101 freeway in Hollywood, if you're ever out our way). The California Adventure version opened 10 years later, in May 2004, and its exterior is inspired by Pasadena's Castle Green.

On the inside, once you've boarded the elevator, you are in for different ride experiences on each coast, In Florida's Tower of Terror, you proceed up the first elevator shaft, before proceeding forward into a Fifth Dimension scene that will lead you to the drop shaft. In the drop shaft, riders get a randomized pattern of drops, before descending to the unload station. In California, your elevator pushes back immediately, before rising to the "ghost riders" scene, then proceeding to the drop sequence in the same shaft.

Feel free to further break down the match-up in the comments.

Other Showdown winners:

Replies (10)

October 14, 2011 at 9:06 AM · Why are we even voting on this one? This is a given, it's obvious, a no brainer.
October 14, 2011 at 9:20 AM · Never been on either, but WDW wins because of Exterior, Interior, and random experiences.
October 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM · (Cue dramatic music)
Submitted for your approval: Two hotel themed, drop based Rides. Both are masterworks of theming, but there is something wrong here. In only one of these hotels can you enter the forth dimension.

Up ahead, there's a signpost. It reads California Adventure. But before you check into this hotel, you should think twice. You are about to enter... The budget cut zone.
(Music concludes, dramatically of course)

Seriously. This isn't even a contest. I'll never forget going on the ToT at CA, and discovering that the elevator doors in basement boarding area didn't open to an elevator, but rather a hallway which leads to the elevator. The only good thing that the CA version adds is the mirror illusion just before the drop sequence (which, I must admit, is pretty cool). Other than that, the WDW ToT wins hands down. The DL's version's lack of a forth dimension room where the elevator leaves the shaft places it at an unrecoverable disadvantage.

October 14, 2011 at 12:51 PM · The Studios version is well worth the visit. It feels like a complete ride. The DCA version is not only shorter, it feels like they made deliberate budget cuts. I know they had problems with the WDW layout like the constant breakdowns in the 5th Dimension room. Instead of fixing the flaws, it broke it competely apart. The newer revised version is just a big mistake. It would have been better for them to change the story completely so there is no comparison. They did a new story at Tokyo DisneySeas. Probably works better.
October 14, 2011 at 1:31 PM · California's version wasn't so much budget cuts, but differences in the amount of land they wanted to use and different goals. They were attempting to improve ride capacity and reduce the amount of downtime. The movement of the ride vehicles through the attraction in Florida is complicated and problematic.

Without question the Florida ride is superior, but part there is a part of the California ride that is better and that is the audio. The audio in both the library and ride are superior at California Adventure.

October 14, 2011 at 11:45 PM · DHS's Tower is a world class attraction. DCA's version is "TOT Lite", as my DLR Guru (you know who you are!) says.
October 14, 2011 at 2:33 PM · ToT is the Bizarro Pirates of the Caribbean. What Disney did to Disneyland's Pirates in Florida, it did to Disney World's Tower of Terror in California - you get very nice, but abbreviated, versions of the classic original.
October 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM · I think 9% of the 300 people hit the wrong button by mistake!
October 15, 2011 at 2:26 AM · I haven't been to DCA's Tower, but I have seen ridethrough videos of it. While I like the effect with the 'mirror,' it simply can not compare to the experience of having your elevator car suddenly start moving INTO a hotel corridor, and then having that corridor transition into the Twilight Zone itself, before finding yourself in that ill-fated elevator shaft of so long ago. The story makes more sense, without the initial silliness that California seems to suffer of having the elevator car having to move into the shaft. That just throws the story and the pacing right out the window...
October 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM · How Orlando didn't win this 100% is beyond me! I only went on the WDW version once and it still lingers in my mind about how cool it was compared to the DLR one. Oh well, I guess some people really do like the DLR one, or are so biased that they always have to vote for the park closest to their heart.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive