2006: Expedition Everest
Editor’s Note: This post is part 36 in a forty-part blog series in celebration of Walt Disney World Resort’s upcoming 40th Anniversary. Please welcome to The Window Seat Chris Gildea, Walt Disney World Moms Panel Guest Author.
In 2006, Expedition Everest opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Let’s head to Asia to get a closer look at this high-speed roller coaster train – but beware, you may experience an “up-close and personal” encounter with the infamous guardian of the mountain: the Yeti.
“Mountains” are no stranger to visitors of Walt Disney World Resort. They are as much a part of the visual landscape as Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, the Tree of Life or the Sorcerer’s Hat. From blasting through a space one, to splashing down one, to thundering around a big mountainous one, guests have enjoyed Walt Disney World’s mountains for generations. A particularly ominous one lies just inside the boundary to the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is inhabited by one particularly ominous resident – the elusive, yet infamous, Yeti. His domain is none other than the replica of the Himalayan Mountain Range that encompasses Expedition Everest, Disney’s latest (and greatest) addition to some of the most exciting mountains in all of central Florida.
The mountain is not a reproduction of Mount Everest per se, but rather the fictional “forbidden mountain” guarded by the Yeti in the attraction story created by Disney Imagineers. Mount Everest is represented by the barren background peak on the far right, which is meant to suggest it is far in the distance. The attraction’s concept is that the roller coaster is a passenger train offering a speedy route through the Himalayas to the base of Mount Everest. It is also the first Disney “coaster” to go BACKWARDS, and at a speed of 30 mph (I didn’t expect THAT on my maiden voyage!).
Offering some of the most intricate visual elements of any Disney attraction queue (that means “line” to you and me), Expedition Everest taunts guests as they meander their way through the exquisitely detailed pre-show. What starts out as more of an informative grouping of displays with facts, figures, artifacts and photos of “expeditions” past and the history of the Yeti, quickly morphs into a real-time nightmare of a campsite recently ravaged by the aforementioned “legend.” And then they expect you to board the train?
Officially christened on April 7, 2006, Expedition Everest has been thrilling Disney guests of all ages since it opened. As Walt Disney World Resort heads towards its 40th Anniversary of sprinkling pixie dust and spreading magical memories, I know of one hairy guy who is hard to see, but easy to hear, and he is just waiting for you to conjure up the guts to explore the newest, fastest, fanciest, highest and “thrillingest” of all of the mountains in the Walt Disney World range. See you there!
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2003: Disney’s Pop Century Resort (The Window Seat)
From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.