Back in Asia, in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, stands Mt. Everest, and you are invited to conquer it. As many times as you want! Expedition Everest – The Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is one of the most popular attractions at Walt Disney World, and for good reason. Quite frankly, it’s awesome. Opening on April 7, 2006, Expedition Everest is the tallest attraction at WDW, standing 199.5 feet (Disney keeps all of their attractions below 200 feet to avoid having to put airplane beacons on the tops of them, hence ruining the illusion). It is also the tallest Disney mountain in the entire world. The ride is set in Nepal, and the queue has a stand-by line and a single rider line (it also has a fastpass return lane, but Disney is not offering fastpasses at this time). The queue starts in the office of the Himalayan Escapes Travel Agency. From here, you continue into a tea garden. The trains of the ride are modeled to look like tea trains, because Himalayan Escapes Headquarters used to be a tea plantation, and the trains were used to carry tea from the mountains down to the base camp.
From the tea garden, the queue then enters an equipment room that displays equipment used in successful expeditions. You then proceed to the “Yeti Museum,” that showcases artifacts and photos from Yeti Expeditions.
Expedition Everest was designed by LEGENDARY Imagineer Joe Rohde, who was the lead designer for both Expedition Everest and Animal Kingdom. He was also the lead designer of Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, located in Hawaii. Joe joined Imagineering in 1980 during the development of EPCOT, where he worked as a model designer and scenic painter of the Mexico Pavilion. Following the creation of Aulani, he was tasked with designing Pandora: World of Avatar. He also led the team that transitioned the Tower of Terror in Disney California Adventure into the Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout ride. He retired in 2020.
Joe Rohde did a lot of really awesome, groundbreaking things at Disney Imagineering, but people will never let him forget that we’re still waiting for him to fix the Yeti! (I kid, I kid. I love you, Joe!!) When the Yeti, Disney’s largest and most complex audio animatronic EVER created, actually moved, it required the same force as a 747 jet engine. FOR EVERY RIDE TRAIN. That is incredible. No WONDER it stopped working so quickly!! Until 2019, this was the most expensive roller coaster in the world, costing $100 million. (Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure replaced it)
Now, about the ride: the ride features a first-of-its-kind “proprietary silent chain lift” hill. This is designed to make it seem more like a real train expedition and less like a roller coaster. It features WDW’s longest ride trains, with 17 rows. This gives the ride a lot of potential and kinetic energy. PHYSICS!
The trains reach 55 MPH, making this the third fastest attraction at Walt Disney World! There are two track switches that create the 180 degree switch to go backwards and change paths. The ride does NOT go upside down when you’re going backwards in the dark. The darkness and backwards motion is designed to trick your brain and make you think you’re going upside down, but you’re really just going down a spiral track, closely resembling the track going outside down the final hill.
So there you have it: Expedition Everest! I LOVE the rides that have incredible stories attached to them, and this one does NOT disappoint! Have you conquered the Yeti?