The Art of Storytelling (Part 1: Memories) | Tower of Terror

Today, I wanted to try something different. A few weeks ago, I read this article about Pixar offering free lessons in storytelling through Khan Academy. I was simply ecstatic when I found out since I wanted to improve my writing and my storytelling skills – what better way than to practice? I’ll be uploading all my outputs and thoughts here on my blog’s journal section. The first activity was to express a memory. I thought about it for a few seconds and found the perfect memory.

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[Now, this is the part where I write about my fears and personal life – and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited to actually post it. After just two short lessons, I’m filled with the inspiration to share my memory. Warning: This is going to be a bit long. I’m about to bare my soul.]

My memory would be the time I went to Tokyo DisneySea with my friends while I was on an exchange program in Japan. I had this incredible fear of heights and roller coasters simply because I have thanatophobia, which is the fear of death or the anxiety I feel thinking about death. (I accept death on its own, but I’m anxious about painful death, extreme sickness, and torture in particular. It’s really exhausting.) (I’ve been struggling with this for a few years on my own – since I’ve had trouble receiving support from others.) Anyways, when we arrived in DisneySea, we immediately headed for Indiana Jones’s Temple of the Crystal Skull ride. I was really scared but I made a vow to myself that I would ride it since I wanted to spend the day with no regrets. My friends all encouraged me and calmed me down while we were lining up. The ride was done in what felt like seconds, and I ended up enjoying myself! The ride was really beautiful and I loved the feeling of adrenaline rushing inside me. Feeling extremely confident, I headed for the next ride…where I quickly lost my confidence. This ride (Raging Spirits) had a loop. I closed my eyes the entire time, crying as I did so as I felt my body go weightless against gravity. When I ride was over, I was shaking and attempted to brush off my fears in a nonchalant way despite me not being able to speak for a few minutes. I begged my friends if we could ride something very “harmless” so that I can calm down and stop shaking. They agreed and we rode Jasmine’s Flying Carpets. Fast forward to several hours later, my friends and I lined up for the Tower of Terror. I got an idea on what the ride will be since one of my companions actually rode it some years ago.

First, you’ll learn the backstory of the ride (which scared me even more):

“The scenario involves the adventures of the hotel’s famous builder and owner, Harrison Hightower III, who went on many expeditions throughout the world and collected thousands of priceless artifacts. Most of these artifacts were stolen for personal gain and stored in his hotel. After one such expedition to Africa, he brought home an idol with the name of Shiriki Utundu.

Hightower claimed that the natives were angry to have their beloved god taken, and that they threatened that the idol would curse him. Hightower boasted about how he acquired the idol and denied claims of it being cursed. Just as he left the party, he mocked the idol, using its head to put out his cigar. Around midnight, he entered the elevator to retire to his private apartments in the hotel penthouse. As the elevator neared the top, the idol came to life.

The idol’s immense rage and power caused the elevator to plummet and crash on the ground floor. When the doors were pried open, only Hightower’s hat and the idol were recovered. The hotel was abruptly closed and condemned for more than a decade, rumored by locals to be haunted. In 1912, following pressure to demolish the hotel, a New York restoration company reopened it because of its historical significance. The company now offers paid tours of the building. It is on these “tours” that guests embark when they enter the hotel.” (from Wikipedia)

So basically the guy plummeted to his death from a great height. After hearing the story, you’ll be strapped to a seat in a room with other people.

From the name “Tower of Terror” you can probably guess that – yes. It IS a tower:

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(Photo is not mine!)

The ride goes like this: the room will first ascend in darkness until you come across and open window. There would be a flash of green light and the last thing you’ll see is the entire DisneySea (and Disneyland too, I think) before the room would drop suddenly. If you want to get a clearer explanation or an idea on how terrifying it was, you can watch the POV video here (my palms turned cold watching the video HAHA).

The ride was so popular, we waited in line for two hours. My nervousness dissipated BUT when we were standing outside the room I had a panic attack and started hyperventilating. I didn’t want my friends to worry, so I told them that “Since I waited for two hours, I might as well do this. I have to face my fears. I can do this.” I literally took the plunge. I sat as stiff as a board and clung on to my seat for dear life. I cried so much while the ride was going on – in fact, I think the wind dried the tears from my face as the ride plunged down. When I got out of the ride I started sobbing – I was a mess and couldn’t speak for a while. An hour later, I was beginning to talk and smile again – it was really traumatic. I felt angry and disgusted at how weak I was – and I also felt sad because I know that I would never be able to enjoy doing things others enjoy doing like cliff diving or bungee jumping or some other extreme sports. Later on, we went to other rides and I kept thinking “This ride is nothing like The Tower of Terror.” I don’t regret riding it, though, because now whenever I have problems or when I have issues thrown at me, I just repeat “This is better than the Tower of Terror” in my mind and feel better. There’s just no way I’m ever riding that again.

After that, we rode some other rides and stayed in DisneySea until closing hours. It was so much fun (not to mention I can finally tick something off my bucket list: stay in Disneyland or DisneySea from opening hours until closing hours).

So in a day, I experienced extreme fear, sadness, disgust, anger, and joy – what a roller coaster ride of emotions! I don’t regret a single thing, though, and I’m happy that I came out stronger and wiser than I was before. (I think I’ve finally reached the point where I can look back on the events and laugh – BUT I’m confident that I’ll never set foot in the Tower of Terror ever again.)

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