If your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding today, it’s for good reason. Today is Friday the 13th, a day associated with creeps, chills, and scares. In honor of the spooky occasion, Guide2WDW is pitting Disney World’s two creepiest attractions against one another to find out which should hold the title of scariest attraction at WDW. We invite you, if you dare, to read our Friday the 13th comparison of Tower of Terror vs. the Haunted Mansion.


Tower of Terror has a gorgeous line that winds you through a lush and somewhat overrun front plaza of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Every time I walk through this a Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I bemoan how inferior the California Adventure queue is to the Disney World version. It’s picturesque and it sets the mood perfectly. As soon as you enter the hotel, you can feel a sense of unease. There are cobwebs and run down carpets. It sells that this hotel used to be very posh, but hasn’t been host to guests for a very very long time.


The Haunted Mansion takes you through the graveyard out front. Recent additions to the queue, as part of Disney World’s NextGen initiative, include an interactive music wall and a bookshelf that has books mysteriously jut out. These new additions to the queue are optional (you can skip the graveyard all together), but play into the spooky and fun tone of the Haunted Mansion. However, this place is completely different at night. On a recent Disney World trip, I decided to go to the Haunted Mansion just before Magic Kingdom closed. Just by some dumb luck, I was the only person in line. This combined with the darkness of night made for an extremely creepy experience. I definitely recommend checking out Haunted Mansion late at night for this reason alone.


The Tower of Terror’s preshow takes you into the library of the hotel. As guests look upon the ornate details of the room, the lights cut out and a video which sets the scene plays on the TV. The video does have its creepy moments (listen out for the child singing “It’s raining, it’s pouring” at an unsettlingly slow pace), but the scares are briefly interrupted by a very cheesy sequence where the family in the video is hit by lightning. The lightning effects haven’t been updated since the ride opened, and the resulting scene sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the ride.

Haunted Mansion’s iconic stretching room is one of the best pre-shows in Disney theme park history. This room has some of the most iconic visuals and quotes from the attraction, and, like Tower of Terror, features a lights cutting out moment. As far as pre-shows go, it’s really hard to top the Haunted Mansion.

Loading Area

Tower of Terror’s loading area is a stark contrast to the library and lobby areas of the hotel. It’s dark with flickering lights. Every time I walk through this area, I start to feel a sense of dread in my stomach. There’s something about seeing other guests board the ill-fated elevators that makes me think “Oh, I’m about to board one of those elevators. It’s going to get very dark, and it’s going to drop very fast.” No matter how many times I go on Tower of Terror, I still get frightened at this point.


The loading area of Haunted Mansion does not cause such dread. Guests walk through a well-themed corridor right before they get on their Doom Buggie. Very effective, but not nearly as goosebump-inducing as Tower of Terror.


The Ride

Now, to the main events. Both of these attractions have amazing effects, from the Pepper’s Ghost effects in the ballroom in Mansion to the hallway that transforms into a star field in Tower. In terms of iconic scenes, Haunted Mansion has many more rememberable moments: Madame Leota, the Escher-stairs room, the dueling specters, the Grim Grinning Ghosts, and much more.

However, as for the question of which ride is scarier, there’s really no competition. Tower of Terror’s drops provide far more screams than Haunted Mansion’s spooky effects. The moment where you sit completely in the dark, right before your elevator takes its first plunge is one of the scariest moments at all of Walt Disney World. The rest of the ride is just pure thrill, but for that one moment of anticipation, Tower of Terror can be truly terrifying.

Scarier Ride? The Verdict: Tower of Terror

I love both of these rides. A trip to Disney World is not complete without riding both of these. These are two of the most strongly themed attractions at WDW. However, if we’re just answering the question of which is scarier, I would have to say Tower of Terror wins just for its shriek inducing ride alone.

Do you agree? Which do you think is scarier? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook, or email me at [email protected].