Expedition Everest, located in Animal Kingdom, recently celebrated its 12th anniversary on April 7, 2018. The ride was the first full-scale roller coaster to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and was welcomed with massive praise and success!
I love everything about Expedition Everest! You are immediately drawn into this ride the minute you step into the queue with the antique hiking tools, rusted signs and the string of flags artistically placed to warn visitors of the dangers lying ahead! Look up! That snow-capped peak is waiting for you, along with the secrets and dangers of the mountain awaits you.
However, the twists, turns, and secrets of the attraction began years before the opening of the attraction. In fact, Imagineers traveled to Nepal, as well as the surrounding areas, to conduct their research. The Imagineers immersed themselves in the local culture, architecture, food, even the legend of the Yeti in order to get their inspiration for the thrilling new attraction.
The Imagineers returned with plenty of ideas about Everest they were eager to incorporate their findings. Throughout the queue, guests will find many replicas of original artifacts found at the base of Everest, such as the statues featured outside of the attraction, the flags signaling danger, and the clothing hanging in the cases as you pass by.
All of the amazing details don’t come easily, starting with the constructing of the mountain. Fun fact: the constructing of this massive mountain consisted of 1,800 tons of steel, 2,000 gallons of paint and 4,424 ft of steel! In addition, Disney partnered with another company, Vekoma, to provide a brand new, state-of-the-art track system featured on the new attraction, making Expedition Everest the first Disney ride to feature a track that switches from forward to backward to forward movements.
Speaking of the track, did you know that the ride tracks and the mountain are two completely different feats, completed independent of one another, and do not actually touch! Both the track and the mountain were both built with superstructures that are not dependent on the other!
Spoiler Alert! Expedition Everest features a GIANT Yeti as you travel the mountain. The Yeti featured was the biggest, most advanced audio-animatronics figure to be created by Disney standing at 25 ft tall! The giant Yeti was constructed to sit atop a 46 ft tall independent concrete base that holds the weight of the Yeti while allowing the beast to scare the terrified riders on the train below.
Fun Fact: In 2006 the Yeti would actually swoop down trying to take a swipe at guests passing by. Unfortunately, the Yeti has been stationary since 2006 and instead as strobing lights and fans pointing at the monster giving the illusion that it is moving. Many rumors swirled around for the reasoning on why the Yeti no-longer moves, but Disney has not released any details on the reasoning.
Regardless of the Yeti moving or not, Expedition Everest has still proven its popularity among guests as it continues to be the second (after the opening of Pandora) longest wait time in Animal Kingdom, even after 12 years in operation. We know it is on our to-do lists with every visit to Animal Kingdom, how about you?
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