Yesterday, April 7, marked the 15th anniversary of Expedition Everest-Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The original attraction opened in 2006 and it well known for it being a fantastic attraction, that’s very photogenic, has a broken Yeti animatronic and has a collection of hair tie “tributes.”
Expedition Everest was done by Walt Disney Imagineering with the famous Imagineer Joe Rohde being the lead designer. The attention to detail is fantastic. Until Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened in 2019, Expedition Everest was the most expensive coaster in the world.
The attraction is absolutely beautiful and one of the icons of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the tallest “mountain” at Walt Disney World.
One of the coolest aspects of this ride is the queue. While in the queue you pass through a temple, a tea garden and then my favorite, the Yeti Museum. It’s full of fun information about the legendary yeti, complete with a molded foot print that Josh Gates made on an expedition to Nepal in 2007. The adventure was aired as part of the Destination Truth television series.
The Yeti in the room
Even if you haven’t ridden the attraction, you’ve likely heard about the broken Yeti animatronic. It’s infamous.
When the attraction opened it boasted that largest animatronic at Walt Disney World, a 25 foot Yeti.
Originally the yeti worked great and it’s arm would swing out above the track when you rode by it. Sadly, the intended “A Mode” had to be shut down due to a crack in the framing. Now it stays stationary but Disney has tried to do various things to give it the illusion of movement, from fans, to the strobing “disco yeti” effect.
There are actually clips of the yeti in motion on YouTube so you can see what “A Mode” looked like.
The yeti has been one of the most requested repairs at Walt Disney World. Inevitably it always gets brought up when the attraction is mentioned. However, it isn’t that easy. Joe Rohde indicated that they have been attempting to fix it. The problem is it’s location.
The animatronic is in the middle of the show building. It isn’t like they can just go in and take it out to repair.
Here’s what Rohde said at the D23 Expo in 2019:
“You have to understand, it’s a giant complicated machine sitting on top of, like, a 46-foot tall tower in the middle of a finished building. So, it’s really hard to fix, but we are working on it. And we continue to work on it. We have tried several ‘things’, none of them quite get to the key, turning of the 40-foot tower inside of a finished building, but we are working on it… I will fix the Yeti someday, I swear.“
The yeti is huge!
We got a great look at the size of it when “urban explorer”/ Youtuber Matthew St. Cyr, broke into the attraction and filmed it for his channel MattSonswa. If you would like to see it you will need to visit the video on YouTube. I’m honestly surprised it’s still up given the trouble he got into for it.
I have to admit, it scares me and I find it incredibly creepy.
The attraction itself is just full of amazing details and hidden gems that make it indicative of Walt Disney Imagineering and Joe Rohde in particular.
Fans are very protective of the attraction and they even called out ex-Disney CEO, Bob Iger, when he seemed to diss it.
Back in early 2019, Bob Iger did an interview with Barron’s where was going on about IP again. For Iger his ideas are mostly focused on IP, and he seemed to slam on Expedition Everest:
Barron’s: “You’re putting a lot of money into the parks. How confident are you about the return there?”
Bob Iger: “The acquisition of these brands and the creation of intellectual property behind them have had a tremendous impact on growing our returns at the parks. When you have Star Wars to market at the parks…Avatar is a good example, Cars Land, We’re building a Frozen Land in [Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Paris Parks], the interest among the potential audience is higher. It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster, somewhere, that’s maybe [themed like] India or whatever.” No, you’re going to Arendelle and you’re going to experience Frozen with Anna and Elsa. Or you’re going to fly a banshee into Pandora. Go to Cars Land. We build Radiator Springs. You’re with the characters in that town.”
Fans were not happy. Even Joe Rohde called him out for that one.
Then Iger issued an apology tweet that said:
“For the record, I love Expedition Everest & the whole land around it, and I never suggested otherwise. It is distinct, not nondescript, as it’s popularity suggests.”
Yeah he totally slammed on it. Then he even had Barron’s redo the interview comment to take out the wording “That’s maybe India or whatever.” from the interview.
Yesterday Imagineer Zach Riddley posted an anniversary post for Expedition Everest on his Instagram, but forgot to mention Joe Rohde. Or maybe he isn’t allowed to?
View this post on Instagram
Either way. Happy Birthday to Expedition Everest–Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Thanks to all the Imagineers that worked on it and thank to Joe Rohde who made it amazing!
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