It’s time for another one of our classic Nerd Head-to-Heads. Today we’re moving on from mountains to towers. Yes, that’s right: we’re comparing the Tower of Terror to a Tower filled with superheroes. Both feature similar ride mechanics, but they’re a radically different ride experience. Battle of the Towers!
From the day it opened, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has offered a truly unique and immersive experience. The tight suspense that builds from the moment you walk into the building culminated with a thrilling free-fall hundreds of feet, making it one of the most exciting rides at Disney World. It has been causing screams of terror since 1994, and it has consistently been a fan-favorite at Disney locations across the globe. It’s compelling story and immersive decorations make it a great choice for anyone who loves scary thrills.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout offers a fresh take on the same ride. Instead of the tense, eerie atmosphere of its predecessor, this new instalment fully embraces the high-energy shenanigans that make the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise so popular. This new makeover of an older ride is fun and vibrant and offers a plucky competitor to the well-established Tower of Terror.
Battle of the Towers: The Line Experience
The Tower of Terror does a fantastic job of building suspense before the ride. The waiting experience is filled with an air of mystery and tension. As you walk through the lobby, you see the cobweb-covered remains of the deserted hotel. The line experience is alluring, drawing you deeper and deeper into the mystery of Hollywood Tower Hotel as you progress through the line.
Guardians of the Galaxy also sets an on-theme mood, but that mood is quite different than that of the Tower of Terror. Instead of building suspense through the ominous emptiness of the Hollywood Tower Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy takes you through the Collector’s hoard of Marvel artifacts and species. The wide variety of collectables are filled with Easter eggs, which is a particularly enjoyable experience for Marvel-loving Nerds.
So, let’s dole out some ratings in this battle of the towers!
This Nerd gives Tower of Terror a 9.5/10 for the line experience. The attention to detail is incredible. From the cobwebs covering every corner of the hotel to the towering bookshelves that line the wall of the library, everything is planned out perfectly to create an ominous mood. This is Disney magic at its best, with every single element well-considered and perfectly executed. The wait is usually quite long, usually ranging from 45 to 75 minutes; but you honestly won’t mind. The lengthy wait mimics the effects of a quality film – it simply builds suspense as you head inexorably towards the climax. The line is not only part of the ride experience, it adds to it.
By contrast, this Nerd gives Mission Breakout an 7.5/10 for wait experience. The wait is enjoyable enough (better than some rides). and the various Marvel items and species are very fun to see. Disney has done a good job keeping things interesting. But to this Nerd, it still felt like a ride rather than an experience. Still, the decorations offer great entertainment and the mood is upbeat and fun. Unfortunately, the wait for this ride is usually a bit longer than its predecessor.
Battle of the Towers: The Pre-Show Experience
Both of these rides offer an entertaining pre-show to immerse you in the story of the ride.
The Tower of Terror preshow explains the story in an intriguing way: you enter the hotel library when suddenly the lights go out, except for a single television set. Rod Sterling explains the nature of the ride in traditional Twilight Zone style: one stormy night a lightning bolt struck the Hollywood Tower Hotel causing the inhabitants of an entire wing of the building to disappear. Sterling warns the guests that they will be entering a maintenance elevator, which will take them directly to the Twilight Zone.
The Guardians of the Galaxy preshow also explains the main story of the ride, but in a light-hearted, slightly goofy way that is the classic Guardians of the Galaxy style. It explains that you are VIP guests, touring Tivan the Collector’s vast array of artifacts and species. Tivan tells you about the crown jewel of his collection: the Guardians of the Galaxy. While waiting for the tour, Rocket escapes captivity and approaches you to ask for your help in freeing his friends. You can use your hands to get access to the control room, and Rocket will blast the power generator, freeing all of the Collector’s prisoners as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
This Nerd gives Tower of Terror an 8/10 for the pre-show. It did a great job of explaining the story clearly and setting the mood in an on-theme way, but was lacking a little pizazz – though it does offer great ambience. But still, the video was just that: a video. And although it did match the tone, this Nerd felt like it could be more than just watching a TV.
This Nerd gives Tower of Terror a 9/10 for the pre-show. The show was unique, enjoyable, on theme, and set up the rest of the ride in a comprehensible way. When this Nerd first rode this ride, he thought it would just be another video, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Rocket pop up out of nowhere. This pre-show was light-hearted and entertaining while still serving its purpose to explain the story of the ride.
Battle of the Towers: The Ride Experience
The Tower of Terror ride is truly one of a kind. It’s use of music and visuals set the mood, and the Twilight Zone musical motif echoes on the walls as you ascend the floors of the hotel. The sight of the five ghosts when the elevator doors finally open will have you on the edge of your seat. Then, you slowly cross over into the Twilight Zone. All the build-up comes to a climax when, in complete darkness, you begin to fall. After a series of rises and falls, you escape the Twilight Zone and return to normal life. Tower of Terror is a classic ride, and is sure to add a little bit of terror to your day.
Mission Breakout is much more energetic. Its style is so different from Tower of Terror it’s almost unrecognizable as being such a similar ride from a mechanical standpoint. Funky music blasts as you rise up and down, and you catch occasionally snippets of the Guardians of the Galaxy and their ridiculous exploits as they try to escape. This ride is hilarious and fun, making it more accessible to those who aren’t big on horror. With a wide selection of songs and scenes, this ride never gets old.
This Nerd gives Tower of Terror a 9/10 for its ride experience. The music, the visual effects, and the story all combine to create a truly unique combination of horror and roller coasters. All of the suspense pays off in the exhilarating rises and drops. Tower of Terror is one-of-a-kind ride that never disappoints.
This Nerd also gives Mission Breakout a 9/10 for its ride experience. This ride is so much fun. Its music is electrifying and the changing scenes make each time you ride it new and exciting. It is a consistently thrilling ride that leaves you wanting more.
Battle of the Towers: The Victor
The winner of the Battle of the Towers is… Tower of Terror!
Maybe this Nerd is just a sucker for the classics. There’s no doubt both are fantastic ride experiences, but there is something about the little details of Tower of Terror that make it feel like Disney magic at its finest. Still, this one is likely to come down to personal preference.
So, do you agree with our conclusion? Which ride to you think is superior – and why?