2013 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Tower of Terror vs. Indiana Jones Adventure

March 13, 2013, 8:21 AM · For our final match in the first round of the 2013 Theme Park Insider Tournament, we bring you two more favorites from Disney: Tower of Terror and the Indiana Jones Adventure.

You'll notice that I didn't preface Tower of Terror with the words "The Twilight Zone." That's right -- I'm putting up the Tokyo DisneySea version of Tower of Terror for this year's tournament. Why? I've explained before why I believe that Tokyo's Harrison Hightower story provides a better setting for the ride than the somewhat forced Twilight Zone overlay. (The TL;DR? The Twilight Zone is supposed to be all about ironic punishment. But there's no explicit irony in the TZToT lightning strike. The Harrison Hightower backstory provides a truly ironic reason for the strike, despite the lack of the Twilight Zone brand.)

Tower of Terror

But a better backstory wouldn't provide enough reason to prefer Tokyo's version of this popular drop ride to Florida's, given the Fourth Dimension scene and random drop sequences at Walt Disney World, which Tokyo's lacks -- as do the versions in Paris and Anaheim, too. So why choose the Tokyo version?

The preshow.

Tokyo's Tower of Terror offers a unique preshow that sets up the Harrison Hightower story with a visual effect that's simply the most amazing illusion I've ever seen in a theme park. I'm not linking a video because if there's even the slightest chance that you will one day visit Tokyo DisneySea, I hope that you'll walk into the Tower of Terror preshow without having seen an inferior video reproduction of what happens there, so you can feel its full effect, in person. You can have Florida's random drop sequence. I'll take watching that preshow over and over and over again. (FWIW, Theme Park Insider readers have given the Tokyo version a higher average reader rating than they have for the Florida one, though far, far fewer readers have rated the Tower in Tokyo.)

Indiana Jones Adventure

Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure dominated the Theme Park Insider reader ratings for the first couple years after I started collecting reader reviews online in 1999. The first theme park attraction to put a motion simulator on a dark ride track, Indy revolutionized the dark ride experience, paving the way for Spider-Man, Transformers and the upcoming Antarctica ride.

Even today, Indiana Jones wows fans in Anaheim and Tokyo with its use of animatronics, practical sets, and stagecraft to immerse you in a rollicking movie-serial-style adventure. (The Tokyo DisneySea version is called Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull, but is the same ride as in Anaheim, with the eponymous Crystal Skull replacing Mara and a temple idol effect replacing the rat room. The queue's larger, too, but those are the only differences.)

I know that starting with just 16 rides in the tournament left us with some really tough first-round match-ups, and I expect this to rank among the toughest. Of course, I also know that while I'm trying hard to raise awareness of Tokyo DisneySea and its outstanding Tower of Terror version, many of you will want to cast a vote for Tower of Terror on behalf of the WDW Twilight Zone version. If so, go right ahead. It's your vote. May Shiriki Utundu forgive you. ;^)

Let the flame war begin in the comments.

Tomorrow: The quarterfinals begin with Journey to the Center of the Earth vs. Haunted Mansion.

Replies (19)

March 13, 2013 at 8:27 AM · I hope no one is greatly offended, but... while I don't doubt that there are decision-makers at the major theme park companies reading this website and people's comments, it's almost laughable how seriously some people treat the results of these tournament votes.

I can imagine the conversation in the corporate offices of Disney. Executive: "Well, our proprietary research shows that a majority of our visitors prefer X kinds of rides and attractions." Lackey #1: "But in the poll from this theme park website, Splash Mountain beat out Radiator Springs Racers by a slim margin!" Executive: "That changes everything! Throw our research out the window! From now on, we go back to duplicating popular rides from the 1980s!"

C'mon, people, the tournament is just for fun. It's a diversion for people who like theme parks and theme park rides.

March 13, 2013 at 8:43 AM · I voted on behalf of WDW's version of ToT because for me the fourth dimension is what always made this ride unique. Indy was too rough, and for that reason I didn't enjoy it.
March 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM · Haven't been on either, but I'm going with Indiana Jones.
March 13, 2013 at 8:56 AM · Wdw ToT is the best attraction in Florida. If Tokyo version is even better, this contest is a no brainer.
March 13, 2013 at 8:57 AM · My love of darkrides, and the fact that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my all time favorite comfort movie, makes me go "Indiana Jones" all the way in this round.

I'm probably one of the only people in the world that feels the Tower of Terror (in any of its incarnations) has always been far over-rated. It's a ride that's practically ALL about the pre-show, the building facade and the theme. All of these things just disguise the fact that the meat-and-potatoes of the experience is an extremely brief, simple drop ride. There, I finally said it! I don't really like drop rides that much. If you removed the elaborate overlay and just presented the actual ride, it would be more fit for Six Flaggs than Disney. I didn't really get all the hype when it opened, and I still don't get it.

March 13, 2013 at 8:59 AM · I voted for TOT WDW version (since I have not been on the Disney Sea version). While I have ridden the DL version of Indy I actually prefer Dinosaur in AK, and it may have switched my vote if it would have been TOT vs Dinosaur. But I understand we cant have every great ride in a 16 ride tourny.
March 13, 2013 at 9:00 AM · Dom, you haven't been on ToT yet?

Haven't voted just yet, I'm slightly torn...ToT at Tokyo DisneySea sounds exciting!

But I really like Indy, always grab a FP for that.

Plus the ToT at DCA is super "AP heavy".....Folks repeat the opening monologue in unison & photos are always ridiculous (and I've been guilty of that :-(

But I still enjoy it.

I'll guess I'll go with...

March 13, 2013 at 9:05 AM · I love both attractions, but I had to vote for Indy. It's the best "thrill" ride in my book, tied with Space Mountain, at Disneyland (not including DCA).

It captures the feel of Indiana Jones movies and has THE best queue without resorting to gimmicky touch screens that Disney seems to love in WDW lately. Tower of Terror in Florida is the best of the lot, but the queue isn't as great at Indy. Indy doesn't seem to break down anymore either, and has a fantasticly fresh paintjob!

March 13, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Indy all the way. ToT is basically a stunning, immersive walkthrough with a pointless drop sequence at the end.
March 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Jay, nope. Every time I go there it's down or has a long wait. I'll get on it eventually.
March 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM · I cannot endorse a version of ToT without the 4th dimension room. I do know that the successive installation of the original eliminated this feature to increase reliability and capacity, but while Robert points out that the lightning strike is what takes guests into the Twilight Zone, it's that 4th dimension room that visuallizes it for guests. Add the random drop patterns that keep you guessing, and I just can't vote for what I would consider an inferior version (pre-show bedamned).

Indy is a solid ride, and featured one of Disney's first interactive queues. It immerses you into the story, and is a well executed extension of the franchise (much moreso than Florida's stuntshow).

March 13, 2013 at 11:01 AM · I have been to alot of parks and on alot of rides. Tower of Terror is by far the best ride anywhere.
March 13, 2013 at 11:24 AM · Kind of upset that the DHS version of Tower of Terror is not featured here. The build up to the attraction is perfect, as the old Hollywood Tower looms over the old Sunset Boulevard. Then, you approach and enter the forgotten gardens which helps to increase suspense even more before you finally enter the old lobby. Honestly, I think it's one of the few "perfect" attractions out there. Even at almost 20 years old (wow!) I believe that TZ:TOT is simply just one of the best attractions ever built.

But without the build up, without the elevator literally moving forwards though the Twilight Zone, without the gardens, without the randomized drop sequences, and with the over-the-shoulder restraints (yes, I do believe that DisneySea's version has OTSR, which I'm sure does not help to supply the amount of airtime that the Studio's version has), I think that Tower of Terror at the Studios seems to be a stronger attraction.

However, DisneySea's really has a beautiful facade and the disappearing idol has to be one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. I do like that it strays from the Twilight Zone tie-in and builds a story of its own. And in the end, it's unique, but its still Tower of Terror which I absolutely love, and therefore it gets my vote.

March 13, 2013 at 2:52 PM · I've only been on the California editions of these attractions (skipped French tower when visiting Disneyland Paris due to a 60 minute wait and one day for both parks), and I prefer Indiana Jones. It's possible this preference could change in the future once I ride good tower (DHS version) or Shiriki tower (TDS version), but as I generally enjoy dark rides more than drop rides it could also remain the same. For now, Indy gets my vote.

Bryce, I'm pretty sure that the Tokyo version still has seatbelts, but just has an additional shoulder belt (similar to a car seatbelt) instead of just a lap belt like the other versions of the attraction. Probably more restrictive, but not airtime killing.

March 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM · I've been on ToT at WDW many times but never been to DL to ride Indiana Jones but have been on Dinosaur several times (will use my imagination since I like the IJ movies). Voted for ToT because I have, many times, got right back in line for another ride after riding but never did that for Dinosaur. I just think the basic ride system is more fun no matter the theme.
March 13, 2013 at 8:32 PM · Sorry, but choosing Tokyo's TOT for this vote is a terrible decision. Again, most TPI readers have not experienced this version of the attraction, so how are they supposed to vote? Oh, right. Youtube videos...
So they still haven't experienced the attraction, but they're going to vote based on how that version "looks" (insert "eye roll" smiley face here).
March 13, 2013 at 10:33 PM · I like the facade of TOT in Tokyo, looks like a perfect attraction. In this case my vote is for Indy (dark ride), but now i am 100% sure that TOT is better.
March 14, 2013 at 6:37 AM · @sylvian

I'm going to guess 90% of ToT votes were based on DHS and not the Tokyo version.

As with Splash many of its votes came from MK and not DL

I think with exception to FJ most attractions benefit from having clones also attracting votes, with exception to PoTC whose most visited location is also its shortest and most maligned version.

March 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM · Robert: Your analysis seems very plausible.

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