Taking a Five Year Old on the Tower of Terror

I’ve made plenty of questionable parenting decisions in my life. In my defense, they all seemed like a good idea at the time. (Remind me to tell you of the time I broke my son’s leg by going down a slide with him because I thought it would be safer than sending him down the slide alone.) But I’m the dad of the family, and that generally means (in my family) that I’m the one who’s there to push the boundaries. To see what the kids will really do.

To get the five year old to go on the Tower of Terror.

In our last trip to Disney, DC was tall enough to go on any ride she wanted, and young enough to not have the common sense to be scared of anything. Space Mountain? No problem. Expedition Everest? Seven times in a day. And so on the last day, when it was just me and the kids at Hollywood Studios, the subject of Tower of Terror came up. As in, “Do we want to go on it?”

TRC eyed the ride speculatively. A huge drop (more than one, really–and did you know it’s not technically a free fall? They actually have a motor that makes you fall faster than gravity, to increase the thrills), scary backstory, screams echoing across the park. He’d already faced his biggest fear (caused by our last trip to Disney, when I took a five year old on Dinosaur and possibly permanently scarred him for life. (Although on this return trip, he decided he wanted to go with me on that ride and thoroughly enjoyed himself.)) So he was thinking he could do anything by that point. “Sure,” he said.

Which left the matter with the five year old. She also gave the ride a once over. “Is it scary?” she asked.

I nodded. “It’s like the Haunted Mansion, but scarier. And then they drop you in an elevator multiple times.”

She hesitated.

“Sort of like when you and TRC try to jump in an elevator to make it feel like you’re weightless,” I added. Because that’s what dads do.

Her eyes lit up. “Okay!”

And there was no Denisa to say otherwise. She was back at the hotel, tending to a sick MC.

Off the the of us traipsed to see what terrors awaited us.

DC and TRC aren’t quite as enthusiastic ahead of this ride. I wonder why . . . 

At this point in time, I have a confession to make.

I’m scared of the Tower of Terror.

I don’t like enclosed spaces, and I don’t enjoy airplane turbulence at all–which is what the Tower of Terror and other free fall rides most remind me of. I didn’t really want to go on that ride at all, but if you think peer pressure’s bad, it doesn’t hold a floating candlestick to kid pressure. There was no way I was not going to let my kids go on a ride they wanted to go on.

If you’ve been on the Tower of Terror, you know they do their darnedest to up the thrills. In typical Disney fashion, the mood and ambience is just right, and the cast members are suitably creepy. TRC and DC both clearly started to have second thoughts as we waited in the short line. (Fastpass for the win, my friends.) Outside in the day, it had all seemed like lighthearted fun. Down in the basement of the Hollywood Tower hotel, with an introduction about how the place was haunted, and the lights constantly flickering?

Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all.

That’s when my Dad Instincts kicked in. No way were my two kids the ones who were going to turn tail and run from a ride. They’d decided to go on this ride, and by gum that’s just what we were going to do. Never mind the fact that all three of us now didn’t want to. I assured them all that it wasn’t really that scary, and we soldiered onward.

In some ways, however, I think kids are like dogs or horses. They can sense fear. And no matter how much I tried to portray otherwise, they could tell Dad wasn’t completely comfortable with the ride we had picked.

DC asked to hold my hand. She gripped it tightly. And I began to second guess my Dad Instincts. “Do you want to skip this ride?” I asked them both.

And that’s when peer pressure kicked in. (There was a lot of pressure in that line. I swear.) Neither of them wanted to admit they didn’t want to be on the ride, so they both said they wanted to go through with it.

The elevator door opened, and we took our seats. DC had my hand in a death grip. The girl’s got some strength in those tiny fingers. Through the Tower of Terror our ride went, twisting and turning its way to the inevitable free fall ahead of us. And TRC and DC both got more and more tense.

“Is this it?” TRC asked the first time we came to a pause, staring at a blank wall ahead of us.

“You’ll know it when it happens,” was all I said.

DC’s grip made me wonder if she spent her evenings doing hand exercises.

Up we went. And up and up. And with each rise, my kids on either side of me realized that meant we only had that much further to drop.

What goes up, must come down.

And down we came. Once. Twice. Three times. Four times. It’s random, you know. So no one knows how many times you’ll fall. DC’s shoulders hunched in fear, and TRC kept wondering if it was over. My hand was crushed to a fine powder by the time the ride was done.

Silence for a few beats.

“Was that it?” DC asked.

“That’s it,” I said. “Want to go again?”

They both looked at me, then looked at each other. “I don’t think we need to,” TRC said.

“Yeah,” DC said. “Once was enough.”

But hey–there were no tears, and no breakdowns, and we all lived to tell the tale. I’m sure with some physical therapy, my hand will recover one day.

All part of a fun family trip to Disney World.


3 thoughts on “Taking a Five Year Old on the Tower of Terror”

  1. Ha. Took my 3 bigs in that ride. I still remember the look on Tom’s face when we dropped. It was the first time I’ve seriously wondered as a mom if I had just done something terribly wrong. Be we came out alright:). Not sure any of them will be asking to go on it again.

  2. So did either of them scream? I can never do that ride without screaming like a banshee. I am so impressed they both went through with it!

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