James’s obsession with the Tower of Terror began, ironically, when he rode on the ride that replaced it at Disneyland. I’d kiiiiiind of tricked Mike into going on the ride, and James insisted on going with him. Mike hated it (“Why would I want to go on a ride that simulates me falling to my death?” he said repeatedly after), but James? He loved it.

James is cool
Mr. Casual

After that James became obsessed with watching YouTube videos of people on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, which lead him to footage of people on the Tower of Terror. He began asking us when he could go on the Tower of Terror, and we’d always reply, “Well, that ride isn’t at Disneyland anymore, but maybe someday if you go to Florida you can ride it at Disney World.” We never thought we’d be going to Disney World, but when the conference invitation arrived in my inbox, the first thing Mike and I said was, “If we go, James can ride the Tower of Terror!”

In fact, when we told the kids on Christmas morning that we were taking them to Disney World, the first thing James said was, “THAT’S WHERE THE TOWER OF TERROR IS!”

On the afternoon we went to Hollywood Studios, James was beside himself. HOWEVER. He kept insisting that he did NOT want to go on the ride. He just wanted to see it, and meet a bellhop. Mike and I were like, “That’s fine” but privately we were like, “We’re dragging his butt on that ride kicking and screaming.” No way we were going all the way to Florida only for him to NOT ride the attraction he’d been obsessed with for months.

On the bus ride from our hotel to the park, James lit up when he spotted the tall exterior of the ride.

there it is!

As we walked to the ride, he asked Mike if he could take a picture.

taking a picture of the tower of terror

He also asked us if we’d take a picture of him in front of it. “NOT ON IT” he emphasized about thirty times.

before riding

We decided to start in the ride’s gift shop. He was thrilled to see all the different ToT merchandise and asked us if he could please get a bellhop hat (the ride is a Twilight Zone episode that takes place in a hotel). We were like, “yeah, but let’s go inside and meet a bellhop first!” He didn’t love this idea, but he’s a small child who can be picked up and taken places, so that’s what we did.

the Hollywood Tower Hotel

As we snaked through the line, he started to realize what was happening. Annie then “helpfully” volunteered, “Oh James, don’t worry, we’re going on the KID version of Tower of Terror! So you don’t have to be scared!” I was like, “uhhh, not exactly,” but this seemed to work with him…until Annabel started having a minor freak out about how it was going to be sooooo scary. At that point I was like, “WE ARE ALL GOING ON THIS RIDE AND IT’S GONNA BE FRIGGING MAGICAL, OKAY!”

When it was our turn, we sat down and buckled ourselves in. The bellhop assisting us could see James was nervous and said, “Don’t worry, buddy! You probably won’t die!” Which, yeah, didn’t go over so well with him (the bellhops are always sarcastic on this ride). Then Mike said, “I can’t believe I’m going on another death simulation!” and I thought Annie was going to come out of her skin.

But then the ride started…

There we are, in the back row on the left. You can just barely see James’ head poking through.

And there we are at the very top, right before we dropped. The hands are blocking James, but Mike and I are both looking at him yell, “YAAAAY!” And yes, Annie has her fingers in her ears, which is something she does when she’s nervous.

Both kids absolutely LOVED the ride. Annie even went on it again!

As a reward we went back to the gift shop, where we bought the kids hats.

they did it!

When Mike and Annie went on the ride again, James and I sat outside and watched the ride. His Animal Kingdom binoculars came in handy.

looking for annie and daddy

He wore the hat everywhere and proudly told everyone he met that he went on the Tower of Terror. He was even telling people while he was on other rides!

So proud of him and Annie for going on the ride (yes we forced them but STILL). It was definitely one of James’ best days ever!