Expedition Everest: Disney Parks History

Disney Parks History

Expedition Everest Lift Hill Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom opened with one major criticism, a lack of actual ride through attractions that caused many to call it a half-day park. Disney quickly approved an expansion of the park. Not the originally planned Beastly Kingdom, but a newly designed continent including two new rides, Asia.

Asia would open with one attraction in 1999, but this would not complete the land. In the early 2000s, another expansion was planned that would give the park its first roller coaster, and at the time the most expensive roller coaster of all time, Expedition Everest.

In 2003, Disney would announce Expedition Everest as their latest expansion to the forth park in Walt Disney World to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the park. It would be the first major expansion of the Asia area after Kali River Rapids.

Expedition Everest Under Construction Disney's Animal Kingdom

This was to be the most expensive coaster ever built, with three different independent structures constructed that made up the attraction. The coaster, the mountain, and the animatronic yet would all be designed with computer software to not connect to one another for stability both during and after construction.

The attraction would break multiple records, including being the largest artificial mountain in a Disney Park, and holding the largest animatronic ever built, or a massive twenty-five-foot tall yeti.

The ride opened in 2006 to rave reviews, raising the profile of the park and giving it another amazing unique attraction. It was the first Disney roller coaster to switch between forwards and backward motions.

But things would start going wrong quickly after opening.

It began becoming apparent that something was going terribly wrong with the animatronic yeti. Errors were made in designing and constructing the animatronic that did not full account for the force it exerted on its structural supports every time it lurched forward at the passing ride vehicles. This caused some damage to its structure, rumored to be foundation cracks, that would force the animatronic into an altered state less than a year after opening.

The solution was to place the animatronic in a permanent stationary position, with an added strobe light to give the illusion of movement, earning the animatronic the nickname of Disco Yeti among Disney fans.

This worked fine, but was nowhere near as impressive as the original effect.

Joe Rhode Imagineer in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Rumors continue to circulate on if the yeti will ever be fixed. Original Imagineer Joe Rhode has frequently spoken of how he wants to fix it, but it is a complicated problem that would involve extensive downtime and removing sections of the mountain in order to fix the problem. This was especially problematic as until Pandora opened, this was one of the main draws of the park

Other effects in the ride would also face frequent issues, including the bird on a stick effect, and occasional computer issues with the projection-based yeti attack scene.

This ride was planned at one point for Shanghai Disneyland, but would not end up as part of the final design of the park.

Expedition Everest remains a popular ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom to this day, even in its lesser form. It remained the most expensive coster ever built until the record was beaten by Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.