Tower of Terror – 10 Best Things

RM-Hollywood-Tower-Hotel-SignIt’s October and I’m feeling Halloween-ish.  Last week, I listed my favorite things about Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion.  This week, I feel it’s only fair to do the same for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  As it is most certainly one of my top three favorite attractions, I have plenty of love for every dark, spooky, incredible detail.  Where to begin?  That’s easy!  The Tower of Terror’s draw begins long before guests step into the queue.  Stroll down Sunset Boulevard and you’ll see (and hear) what I mean.  The Tower’s exterior, complete with screaming faces in the upstairs window, is sure to capture your attention.

Tower of Terror – 10 Best Things

  1. The Grounds – This is one of the best, most detailed attraction exteriors ever created.  Disney Imagineering at its very best.  There’s mist, age, decay, overgrown landscaping – the story begins long before that first step inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Misty-Queue
  2. The Lobby – If you could escape from a Doom-Buggy in Haunted Mansion, it might be a lot like exploring the Tower of Terror.  Clearly, this was once a finely appointed, upscale establishment.  It’s almost sad to see it in such a rundown state.  Creepy yet lovely with a sense of foreboding.  Exactly the right atmosphere for what happens next.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Lobby-Desk
  3. The Bellhops – Seriously some of the best and most fun Cast Members in the World!  They’re solemn (but still fun) and have awesome costumes.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Bellhop
  4. The Library – So much to see! Incredible details are everywhere even before the TV comes alive and Rod Serling (voiced by Mark Silverman) sets exactly the right mood!  This attraction layers the buildup like none other – carefully crafting the story while maximizing anticipation and a bit of fear (in a good way).  Watch carefully – the hidden details are part of the charm!RM-Rod-Serling-Tower-of-Terror
  5. The Sounds – The classic Twilight Zone theme song, the televised back story, the use of sound (and silence) from the library to the end of the ride…genius!  “It’s raining it’s pouring…”RM-Tower-of-Terror-TV
  6. The Basement – Amazingly detailed (like the grounds outside), the winding path between the library and the elevator takes guests into the dark, dingy hotel basement.  Giant boilers, pipes, equipment, and Hidden Mickeys are all there to be explored.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Queue2
  7. The Service Elevator – Could a ride vehicle look more daunting?  I don’t think so.  The elevator on the outside looks ramshackle and uninviting – once the doors open?  It takes some serious bravery to step inside knowing that once those doors close, there’s no turning back.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Elevator-Doors
  8. The Anticipation – First-timers worry about what’s going to happen next.  Repeat guests DO know what’s in store and still…well, I know how hard my heart is pounding at this point and I’ve ridden dozens of times. That’s part of what keeps me coming back!RM-Tower-of-Terror-Elevator
  9. The Thrill – As you can tell from outside this attraction, the Tower of Terror tends to make people scream.  Me?  Not so much – this ride makes me laugh hysterically.  I can’t explain it, but the surprises on this ride seriously crack me up.RM-Tower-of-Terror-Queue
  10. The Pictures – Even before our Memory Maker package included video for the Tower of Terror and even with many strangers in every picture, I still count the ride photos among my most favorite.  I guess it’s all the different expressions captured and the different way each person reacts to the ride’s random movements…makes me smile every time I see our pictures.Tower of Terror Ride Photo

What about YOU?  How do you feel about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?  Do you love it?  What’s your favorite detail about this attraction?


On Ellen’s Energy Adventure

RM-Universe-of-EnergyBefore I proceed with this post, I must disclose that I do not dislike Ellen DeGeneres.  I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused on that point.  I DO like Ellen.  Her Energy Adventure?  Not so much.  I’ve discussed in the past the Walt Disney World Attractions I could live without.  Today I’m taking that one step further by confessing this:  If there were a SINGLE attraction I would do away with at this very moment and replace it with something (anything!) better, it would be in Epcot’s Future World.  The attraction I find the weakest of all (although it is, undeniably and excellent place to take a nap)…The once-interesting and semi-entertaining Ellen’s Energy Adventure.

The problem?  It’s called FUTURE World.  Ellen and her buddy, Bill Nye (of Science Guy fame) embarked on the current version of their adventure in 1996.  NINETEEN-NINETY-SIX!!!  Let’s look at five good reasons for Disney to consider alternatives to Ellen’s Energy Adventure…RM-Ellen's-Energy-Adventure

1.  1996 was a long time ago.  Technology has come a LONG way since then.  Times were different.  Ellen and Bill Nye were a lot younger, sure, but advances in energy and the way humans think about fossil fuel and the future of energy was as different as the fashions of the time.  As an illustration of how much time has passed, I’ll share with you a picture of our family at Walt Disney World in 1996 and our family last May:RM-Magic-Kingdom-Parade-Watching-1996WDW Bus Stop at Old Key West

If ever there were a reason to update an attraction, it’s 19 years of technological advances.  Ellen’s Energy Adventure, unlike Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World, is not a timeless classic.RM-Ellen's-EarthRM-Ellen's-Volcano

2.  45 minutes!  Hello!  This is a HUGE time investment during a Disney vacation.  There are practically an infinite number of better ways to spend this time than visiting 1996.RM-Universe-of-Energy-Exterior

3.  Future World as a whole is in dire need of modernization.  It’s not just Ellen’s attraction.  Compared to what Epcot once was, compared to the charm and beauty of the World Showcase…Future World (basically half of Epcot) has undeniably deteriorated to just a few interesting or enjoyable areas/attractions.  So much wasted potential saddens me.RM-EEA-Dinos

4.  It wouldn’t take much to “plus” the attraction (as Walt Disney would have said).  Ellen and Bill Nye could certainly make a return visit for another rousing discussion of energy or the space could be completely reimagined.  Makes no matter to me – Future World needs more “future” and the available real estate is right there in Universe of Energy.RM-Ellen-and-Bill-NyeRM-EEA-Dinosaur

5. The scenes I know nothing about.  Why is there an attraction in Epcot with scenes I haven’t experienced?  I fall asleep!  Every. Single. Time.  I have never, in the past 19 years, ridden Ellen’s Adventure and managed to stay awake for the entire attraction.  I always wake up for the dino part – it’s my favorite.

Are you a fan of Ellen’s Energy Adventure?  What changes would you make to Future World if you could?


For Love of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth at Sunset / Epcot / Walt Disney WorldThe iconic heart of Epcot’s Future World, this much-photographed geosphere is a beloved park favorite at Walt Disney World.  Spaceship Earth is both a weenie and an attraction – and adored by legions of Disney fans around the world.  The ride inside Spaceship Earth takes us on a slow and easy journey through time for a peek at various innovations in communications technology and how those discoveries influenced human lives through the ages (and will shape our future, perhaps).

For my family, this 16 minute tour of both past and future never gets old and we’re not alone in our love for this attraction!  We’ve been known to ride Spaceship Earth many times during aRM-SSE5 single vacation – even multiple times in a single day.  Is it the animatronics?  The narration?  The smell of Rome burning?  The peek into our personalized future on Earth?  No!  I believe there’s no single moment of the experience, but the perfection in the combination of all the components, the small details and the expansive scenes.

Once again, I asked and you answered.  Twitter followers and Facebook friends were happy to respond to my request for shout-outs, in Haiku form, expressing feelings for Epcot’s icon.  I’m happy to share these gems of poetic beauty with you now…

For Love of Epcot’s Spaceship Earth

From Facebook, there were only two entries, but both were highly creative!

DSCN2870Submitted by Anastasia:

Golf ball cool and dark
Invites me to sit and rest
I can haz nap now

Gaylin posted her fondness this way:

Bright golf ball of love
Beckons all to ride away
Past to future slow.

On Twitter, the response was overwhelming! (If you’re looking for Disney friends on Twitter, you should follow all of these awesome folks!)

From @BerryMary92, a beautiful poem:RM-SSE1

One of Disney’s icons
beautiful site to behold
stands proud in Epcot

From good friend (and occasional guest writer) @AndrewCfran:

At Epcot Center
Lies a geodesic dome
Called Spaceship Earth

@bscala1986 composed this very touching entry:

Grand and miraculous.
A symbol of immortality.
Tomorrow’s child awaits.

RM-SSE4@WDWParkHopper captured Spaceship Earth’s best moments:

Thank the Phoenicians
I can smell the fire in Rome
Time to head back home

@Bekka_C writes of her own Spaceship Earth memories (Bekka – stay awake & you’ll remember it better!):

Every time I ride.
I swear it is new inside.
What a great sleep ride.

@HLebischak also captured the spirit of Spaceship Earth with:

Time traveling sphere –
in the center of EPCOT –
thank you, Phoenicians.

@scottquaile seems to feel the latest Disney technology has not been good for SSE!RM-Spaceship-Earth

My Magic Plussed
Long lines it has

@TacoMan945 submitted this beautiful piece:

Jeremy Irons
Many think you’re a golf ball
Smell in burning Rome

@GoAwayGreen played along this time with a profound piece of art!

Most fragile transport
Of the knowledge collected,
Analyzed and shared

RM-SSE7In @YoPaulieNJ’s entry, Paulie weighs in on SSE’s most recent updates:

The last ride descent
Once so very inspiring
Now a dumb cartoon

Finally, I am proud to bring you the artistic talents of @AmyBethCombs, who didn’t just compose one poem – Amy’s obvious love for SSE could not be contained in a single Haiku.  Amy is the clear winner of today’s game (Congratulations, Amy) with this Ode to Spaceship Earth composed of several entries…

Spaceship Earth is cool.
Spaceship Earth is really cool.
Wow I love Epcot.

Look at those three guys.RM-Spaceship-Earth-Early-Backup-System
That guy’s hat looks like garlic.
I love Spaceship Earth.

Hey, do you smell smoke?
Oh no! Rome is on fire!
Well, there go the books.

Thank the Phoenicians.
You know what they invented?
The alphabet, chump.

How did they do that?
The cave painting on the wall.
It moves. That is cool.

When it turns backwards
That can be kind of scary
The angle is steep.

RM-SSE6Each entry was awesome – some of their expressions of love, others for their honesty.  How do YOU feel about Spaceship Earth?  Which attraction would you like to see tributes for next?

Epcot’s Living With the Land

RM-Living-With-The-Land-SceneAs with each and every Walt Disney World attraction, Living With the Land will not appeal to everyone.  In truth, it’ll probably appeal to fewer folks than most rides and that’s just how it is.  It’s not breathtaking like Soarin’ or thrilling like Mission: Space and Test Track, but it IS unique and special in its own way.  It harkens back to Epcot’s roots (HA! You’ll get that one in a minute) and is both entertaining(-ish) and educational (but still fun).  Plus, it’s a realistic, behind-the-scenes look at the heart of Walt Disney World.

Decidedly slow-moving, Living With the Land takes guests on a boat tour.  No, not like Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of the Caribbean or Splash Mountain – this tour hasn’t got any singing animals nor does it take you to a world of make believe.  Living With the Land mostly keeps you in the here and now while, in it’s own unique and fascinating way, shows visitors how Epcot uses the most cutting edge agricultural and aqua-cultural techniques to feed Walt Disney World guests.  It’s also packed with lessons on the effects of climate and environment on organic food production.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Production-and-Research-Sign

If Living With the Land sounds boring to you, you’re not alone.  Many people pass up what certainly sounds like a major snooze-fest.  I’d like you to reconsider.  It will eat up a whopping 15-or-so minutes of your Epcot day, but there’s rarely a wait!  The Land pavilion has Soarin’ and one of my favorite snack places, Sunshine Seasons (chocolate croissant, just a suggestion), but if you need a break, want to relax, are tired, hot, or trying to maybe save your legs for a runDisney event, you really can’t ask for a better attraction than Living With the Land!RM-Living-With-The-Land-Tunnel

The tour is made up of two halves – the first explains the Earth’s different agricultural environments and challenges.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Scene RM-Living-With-The-Land-Landscape-SceneRM-Living-With-The-Land-Buffalo-SceneThe second part (which is SO cool!) shows how Epcot raises large quantities of produce to use in Epcot’s Garden Grill and Sunshine Seasons restaurants and demonstrates the use of soil-less and other modern agricultural techniques to reduce the use of natural resources and incorporate natural pest control.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Produce RM-Living-With-The-Land-Greenhouse RM-Living-With-The-Land-Banana-Plant RM-Living-With-The-Land-Agriculture-AreaThere are also displays of modern aquaculture – I’m talking tanks of fish!  Interesting-looking giant “vats” of eels, catfish, tilapia and more.  There is also an alligator-raising area.RM-Living-With-The-Land-Aquaculture-Area RM-Living-With-The-Land-Fish

So maybe your FastPass for Soarin’ isn’t good for the next 20 minutes – whatever the reason, you should consider hopping a boat for the Living With the Land experience.  There’s a little bit of something for everyone and, even if you’re not into educational vacation experiences, you’re bound to see something interesting.

Have you ever tried Living With the Land before?  What did you thing about it?