High atop the peak of Mt. Everest, lies a monster that Disney Imagineering has brought to life, and guests get to experience first hand all about the legend of the yeti. Expedition Everest-Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is a thrilling roller coaster experience in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that gives guests the opportunity to come face to face with the mythical Himalayan monster, the Yeti.
The premise of the attraction is that entrepreneurs, Norbu and Bob, have refurbished a steam train that was once used to bring harvested tea leaves down from the mountains. Norbu and Bob used the refurbished train to bring guests to the base camp of Mount Everest. To get there though, the train is set to use a short cut that passes through the “forbidden mountain” which is believed to be guarded by the yeti.
Expedition Everest has one of the best build-ups in all of Walt Disney World. As you make your way through Discovery Island and deeper into the heart of the park, slowly the peak of Mt. Everest starts to appear over the tree lines in the very lush park. The mountain slowly starts to become more visible and continues to grow, and before you know it you are crossing over the bridge from Discovery Island into Asia, and the fictional kingdom of Anadapur. One of the reasons why I love Animal Kindgom so much is the amount of details and story that is built into this park. For any Disney fan, I think it is necessary for them to slow down and look at every detail that is visible. While walking towards the mountain, look at the attention of detail that is on the ground, and you will realize there is a story unfolding right there. Further away from the mountain, you notice the traffic in this area is much heavier than it is closer to the mountain because the ground is covered by evidence that there are people and animals in the area including tire tracks. As you move closer to Everest, there are no more tire tracks and a lot more animal prints due to the idea that you are symbolically moving up the mountain, and the only way of accomplishing that is on foot.
The mountain itself, in my opinion, is the best host for an attraction that Disney Imagineers have ever built. At 199 feet tall, Everest looms over Anadapur below and really beckons guests in closer with its eye-catching size and appearance. It is visually stunning with its snow-capped peaks, water falls that cascade down the mountain and the ancient ruins that sit at the base. When building the area surrounding the mountain, Imagineers created the fictional village of Serka Zong, which is in the kingdom of Anandapur. Imagineers spent six years researching, designing and building Expedition Everest with many trips to the Himalayas. These trips led to very accurate re-creations of Himalayan architecture, art and cultural traditions.
As you make your way through the queue, the detail and artifacts that were built by Imagineers or directly brought over from the Himilyans, make it one of the most interesting queue’s in WDW. While winding through the queue, it is very clear the Yeti has a very large effect on the lives of the villagers who reside in Serka Zong. There are statutes of the Yeti littered throughout the area and evidence that the beast has been in sighted, including wreckage from multiple attacks by the yeti and a museum dedicated to all the sightings. The village buildings themselves are quite remarkable as well, as they have been built out of rocks, mud, and bamboo. This village, combined with all the artifacts, offers the perfect scene as you make it to the trains that will carry you through the mountains.
Once on board the steam train, all appears to be going as planned as the train smoothly starts to ascend up the mountain. While climbing, you pass through a small cavern containing artifacts of the yeti’s existence. As you continue to climb up the mountain, you get to a point where the train turns a corner, and you quickly realize the track has been torn apart and the train comes to a screeching halt. You realize something bad has happened, and the journey to the base camp will not continue, as the yeti is clearly lurking inside the mountain. With no track ahead, the only way to go is backwards, and before you know it, you are plunging into the heart of the mountain backwards. Through the darkness, a passageway appears, and it looks like the train may have a way to get out of the mountain. Right before the train has a chance to make it through, the shadow of the Yeti is visible in front of the train and tears the track apart. After seeing the damage that has occurred the train plunges down a steep drop that takes you back outside of the mountain. While flying in and out of the mountain to try and find a way to safety, the train enters a cave where up ahead, the imposing yeti stands upon a ledge trying to knock the train off the track. This audio-animatronic yeti made by Imagineers is truly eye-popping and one the most realistic they have ever made. Even though the yeti does not swing and move like it use to, due to the fact that it was tearing itself out of the mountain because of its massive size, it is still a great finish to the end of an attraction that is one of the most thrilling and detailed at Walt Disney World.
Which details of Expedition Everest do you find most interesting?
Alex Larson is recent graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a huge fan of everything Disney. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, he has loved Disney since he was born. Making annual trips to Walt Disney World since the age of three, the parks have become a very special place to him. His love for the parks is due to the memories he has had, attractions, the endless things to explore, the food and the sense of happiness every Disney fan feels while there.