I'm a huge fan of thrill rides, and even on the most intimidating ones I've always been what I would humbly consider a "trooper." So when I was finally coerced by my friends to go on Tower of Terror for the first time, I expected to enjoy or at least tolerate it. Well, so much for that. Maybe it was just because I'd been spending so many years looking up at the tower knowing it was one of the very few attractions I had never ridden, maybe because the most I've heard about it were horrified accounts from my best friend, who is always forced on it and ends up in tears - but from the very first moment I got to the indoor portion of the queue, I was practically shaking with nerves.
Fast forward and I'm on the ride, front row. Now, at around this point, I start finding it pretty hilarious that I'm freaking out so much, so my whimpers are mixed with intermittent snorts and chortles. The ride starts, and I can no longer tell if I'm genuinely scared or if I'm just scared because I had always expected to be. Well, the ride didn't go well. I quickly found myself in full panic mode. I wouldn't say I normally have full-on anxiety, but I've had a few panic attacks in my time, and this was a bad one. I was clutching onto my neighbors for dear life, dry sobbing, and soon... actual sobbing. I was crying! I was crying on a ride at a Disney park! I was crying, sweating, shivering, and I couldn't think straight. I couldn't believe myself. I started laughing again even though I was crying hysterically, but the experience got me thinking.
The times I have had panic attacks in the past were generally spurred on by stress as well as feelings of claustrophobia or an inability to escape. The parts of ToT that were worst for me were the very beginning, when I was feeling a little too immersed by the effects and backstory and starting thinking about the fact that it was too late to get off the ride and if anything urgent happened I would have no way out, and the blind drops in the dark, which left me feeling hopeless and frankly in complete sensory overload.
I have talked to a couple other people who have had similar experiences on the ride, and none of us have any severe phobias or anxiety disorders. I can only imagine how potentially traumatizing it may be to people who do suffer from severe anxiety.
Has anyone else had a similar experience, or talked to someone who has? Furthermore, do you think it might be prudent to consider adding warnings for people with mental/emotional disorders at the beginning of attractions, rather than just for those with physical conditions?