Attraction Spotlight – Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest, the 18th mountain themed Disney attraction, stands at 199.5 feet and takes guests on a wild train ride around Mt. Everest. One of the three major attractions at Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest opened in 2006, 8 years after Animal Kingdom opened, and is listed in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive coaster ever built. The attraction is also home to the most complicated audio-animatronic that Disney has ever built, the Yeti.

Standing at 25 ft tool, able to move 5 ft horizontally and 18 inches vertically via 19 actuators (in “a-mode”). The Yeti is the most impressive audio-animatronic Disney ever built, unforetunately, nobody gets to see it move like it is supposed to and have not since a few months after the attraction opened and has been in “b-mode” ever since. For anyone wondering, “b-mode” has been dubbed “Disco Yeti,” because they use a strobe light to simulate movement as the coaster rockets by. The problem is a framing split that risks a catastrophic malfuntion in full operation. Disney has tried several things to fix it, however, none have worked. Due to the attraction design, it is likely to remain that way until it goes down for a major and likely extended refurb. In short there is a massive concrete tower it sits on surrounded by the completed building structure. The only real way to get at it to fix it is to take the building apart, at least partially.

Being that Animal Kingdom doesn’t have that many thrill attraction, Disney is reluctant to take it down that long. Though it has been promised to be fixed, eventually. In fact, the whole “B-Mode” thing led to a fan based blog written as the Yeti (here), complete with a rather amusing song (here).

Anyway, Expedition Everest has three lines: Stand-by, FastPass+, and Single Rider. The Stand-by line winds around starting at Himalayan Escapees and goes off to a temple, a tea garden, to room displpaying equipment from a successful expedition, and finally to a Yeti Museum. The FastPAss+ line goes thru some of this as well, and the single rider line skips it. The single rider line moves fast, I’ve literally rode it 7-8 times in about 20 minutes one day. If you don’t mind splitting up or are by yourself, you can save yourself a long wait or using a FastPass+ here and practically walk on.

Once thru the lines, you board the coaster train in a replica Nepal village and start your journey thru the Himalayas to the base of Everest. You have a short drop as you wnd around and begin the first real climb. You drop of the climb winding around a bit and come to a dead stop with a torn up track in front of you. Note if you are front row you have an amazing view!. You hear a roar, some sounds that are actually the track changing positions behind you and then you’re off….backwards down and around the mountain. You zip along until you come to another stop and this time you can see a shadowy Yeti ripping up the track. Then you are zipping forward down into a mountain tunnel. This is where your photo is taking as you exit into the daylight. You continue zipping around and wind back down and thru the mountain passing the Yeti as you go. Note it’s actually easy to miss as you fly by the first time or two. After passing the yeti and zipping along you return to the village, where you can get a souviner and se your photo.

Stats:

  • Top Speed: 50 mph
  • Drop: 80 ft
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches
  • Duration: 2:50
  • Capacity: 2050 riders per hour
  • It can have 5 of 6 trains in operation at once.
  • Restraints: Lap bar
  • Inversions: 0

Fun Facts:

  • There are about 8000 artifacts brought back from Nepal.
  • Expedition Everest is often falsely thought to be the tallest moutain in Florida, that honor goes to Walton County’s Britton Hill at 345 ft.
  • It is the tallest structure in Walt Disney World.
  • Wondering why Everest, the Tower of Terror, and even Cinderella’s Castle don’t go past 200 ft? It’s to avoid having to aircraft warning lights on them.
  • It cost a reported $100 million to build.
  • The Yeti is held in place by 1000 snaps, and 250 zippers
  • The attraction is actually 3 structures: the track, the mountain, and the tower/yeti. They are all seperate and were created with 4-D Scheduling Software.
  • This is the First Disney attraction to have it’s trains travel forward and backwards.

Expedition Everest is one of the most innovative thrill ride designed by Disney and personally my second favorite to ride. Hopefully, one day they will restore the Yeti to “A-Mode,” perhaps sometime after Avatarland opens and there are some other attractions to share the load at Animal Kingdom. If you love roller coasters you should definately hop on the train up the mountain.

 

Patrick

 

 

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