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Robert Niles
Editor

2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Published: February 23, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Theme Park Insider readers have selected Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom as the fourth seed in the Best Themed Ride bracket of the 2010 Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest won the Theme Park Insider Award as the year's Best New Attraction when it debuted in 2006. Built upon a custom Vekoma track, Everest is not simply a roller coaster, but more a themed ride that happens to use a roller coaster track. (Thus, its inclusion in this bracket.)

You're set for a train expedition up the famed Mt. Everest, but what are those warnings you read in the queue? It seems that some folks who've been this way before tell of an unspeakable horror within the mountain - the feared Himalayan Yeti. Of course, your guides assure you that all is well, and you have nothing to fear.

So you board, climb up the mountain, and then... (say it with me now!) something goes horribly wrong.

Expedition Everest features a mid-track switch which simulates a derailment, sending you off in reverse through the mountain, before switching back again to forward motion. The highlight of the ride, during that plunge through the mountain, is supposed to be an encounter with the Yeti itself.

But, in a bit of an ironic twist, something really did go wrong with the attraction, and the Yeti has not operated in its fully animated mode for years. Instead, Disney's use stage lighting effects to "animate" the Yeti during your encounter.

Still, even with that one element subdued, with a strong theme and thrilling ride, Everest continues to draw some of the highest reader ratings among all attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Let's hear your thoughts about Everest's chances in the tournament, in the comments.

Replies (24)

Sylvain Comeau

Published: February 23, 2010 at 9:11 AM

When the Yeti was in A mode, this ride was one of the very best themed coasters in the world. Now that the Yeti is in disco mode, it's still an excellent attraction, but not quite a favorite in this tournament. It does make a difference. Disney, save the endangered Yeti!
Wes Lindquist

Published: February 23, 2010 at 10:00 AM

After riding this when it first opened and again last month, I say Everest has lost some of its WOW factor. 4 years ago it was so thrilling and fun with the original working Yeti. 2 years ago the Yeti was at least "viewable". Last month I noticed the strobe lights hardly let you see the Yeti. Still like the ride but this doesn't rate as high without a working or viewable Yeti.
Lindsay Murray

Published: February 23, 2010 at 11:27 AM

I have loved Everest ever since the first time I rode it the year it opened. The themeing is just so immersive that I can't help but get wrapped up in the story. The coaster element is tame but just thrilling enough. I especially love the view of the WDW resort fromthe top of the "broken" track. It is sad that the Yeti has been neglected (it was so awesome when it used to swipe at you!).

I would have to say that my least favorite part would be the bells in the que that people obnoxiously ring for the entire time you wait in line.

All in all, though, Everest is a great ride!

67.224.137.70

Published: February 23, 2010 at 12:02 PM

4-4 I also rode it when it open in 2006 went to A.K. mostly for that, went trough a 2 hour line( no fast pass that day) . Actually haven't been there since, cause i live in Puerto Rico. My question i guess is how much is or isn't that good anymore. I mean if it was a 10 by disney standard, what is the grade know I'm asking?

Plus i think it most be a terminal problem on the jetti right, i don't think disney would neglect something that important if they could do anything about it. Right?

I also remember seeing something in one of those Expedition Everest specials about the jetti being to big to take out of the mountain. So I'm guessing they don't know the answer, or the design it's faulty or it will take major surgery not only on the jetti but maybe on the mountain too.

Manny Barron

Published: February 23, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Expedition Everest is fun. The queue really does a good job of setting up the story and the ride itself is zippy, my favorite part being the going backwards section. Yeah the Yeti not working properly is a bummer, but seriously it's not that big of a deal.
Joshua Counsil

Published: February 23, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Where is our resident Yeti-basher, Mr. Rao? On that note, isn't it funny that Vekoma has built James' two favorite attractions: malfunctioning Everest and the boomerang.

Without the proper Yeti, this receives an 8-Commendable. The theming is really well done, and the backwards-traveling section provides enough lateral G's to keep me coming back.

luis gonzalez

Published: February 23, 2010 at 1:50 PM

went on it in 06, the yeti was the most impressive thing i had seen in all of disney. without the yeti this is a slightly cooler thunder mountain, with usually twice the wait. its only the second best ride in animal kingdom, next to dinosaur. Overall its a good ride, but its not better than the mummy in universal which also goes backwards. they really need to fix the yeti because its the coolest animatronic ever made, hands down.

word to the yeti!!!!!!

James Rao
Writer

Published: February 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Sorry, Josh...working!

All I have to sing is: Y-E-T-I!!!!

Because of the inanimate animatronic, Expedition Everest remains the #2 themed coaster in the nation (Revenge of the Mummy at USO sets the current standard). Disney: fix the Yeti and you move back to #1!!!

As for the Vekoma link...hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while!

97.100.83.30

Published: February 23, 2010 at 5:08 PM

No truth to the rumor Toyota designed and manufactured the Yeti.
Rod Whitenack

Published: February 23, 2010 at 5:17 PM

The last time I was at WDW, Expedition Everest was scheduled to open soon and I just missed it. I've wanted to go back and ride it ever since, but now that I know the Yeti isn't working, I don't think I want to ride it anymore. That would be too disappointing to deal with. Can't Disney build a new Yeti off site, program it off site and maybe only be closed for a day or so to install it?
James Rao
Writer

Published: February 23, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Just a quick clarification: the Yeti animatronic is NOT broken at all, however the concrete fountain on which he is mounted has become irrevocably cracked. He can move, but if he does, he could take a plunge, and the lawsuits (like Drew Brees) would come marching in...

You can read all about it in this old discussion thread.

I still think Everest is a great attraction, I just refuse to let WDI off the hook until they get the Yeti back into A Mode operation.

Anthony Murphy
Writer

Published: February 23, 2010 at 6:29 PM

I think Dance Party Yeti is still pretty thrilling and would be scary to anybody who has never been on the ride while he is moving. I still give it very high marks for Theme!
James Rao
Writer

Published: February 23, 2010 at 6:45 PM

I share your love for all things WDW, but ya can't let them off the hook, Anthony. We gotta keep the pressure on until someone, I don't care who, does something to make the Yeti whole!
Anthony Murphy
Writer

Published: February 23, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Perhaps I got low expectations about the current situation about the Yeti, but I thought it was better than I imagined. I am not too upset with Yeti's situation because I try to think from the standpoint of a first time rider. If you have no idea how it used to be, I still thought the Yeti was scary and thrilling to them. But yeah, the Yeti should move more.

But how is Disney going to close the big ride that gets people to come to Animal Kingdom? While AK has become a very solid park, people still come for this ride and pretty much thats it. I would think AK would need to get another popular ride or expansion to allow them to close Everest to fix it.

Then again, I think there are many other attractions that need to be changed or royally fixed. Its good to keep the pressure on, but I do not think Disney really cares because the first time riders are not going to complain.

How do we let it known? I went to guest relations at AK last time (unrelated to the Yeti) and it really is a thankless job with guests that are close to being insane. Yours and mine complaint about the Yeti might fall on deaf ears there.

Joshua Counsil

Published: February 24, 2010 at 1:21 AM

Anthony - I share your love of Disney, but I gotta agree with Mr. Rao on this one.

I can't remember who told the story, but back in the day, when Walt was supervising construction in Disneyland, some workers took ten (or so) hours to plant a tree. When Walt strolled by, he thought it looked good, but could be better if it was six inches to the left. Sure enough, they re-dug the hole and moved the tree.

Perfection is the goal. Blowing people away is the bonus. Anything short of 100% effort is against the point.

Rob P

Published: February 24, 2010 at 4:07 AM

Maybe Disney got ahead of themselves with the animatronic Yeti. It's obviously a serious design flaw if the foundations were unstable so soon after opening.
So if they had started with the strobo-yeti in the first place we wouldn't be focussing so much on that part of an otherwise excellent ride.
We were "fortunate" enough to have ridden Everest when it was still relatively new and thought it was the best around including Revenge of Ma ( which seemed a bit too "head-banging" when we rode it ).
I still think that the theming on Everest is extremely well thought out and the ride has enough elements in it to make it different from the others in the field.
Saturday Night Yeti doesn't ruin this attraction at all.
James Rao
Writer

Published: February 24, 2010 at 4:37 AM

If they had started with the B-Mode Yeti, Rob, all of us would be saying stuff like: "wouldn't it be sooo cool if that thing moved???!!!" Not having a lunging Yeti on Everest is like not having icing on cake. And what sane person likes his or her cake without icing??? Having "touches" like an animatronic Yeti is part and parcel of what sets Disney apart from the Six Flags of the world. In fact, the animiatronic Yeti is exactly the type of immersion we generally call Disney Magic.

Anthony, believe me, Disney has someone out there trolling the web... and comments like ours in this thread today do not go unnoticed. We may be a small voice in a vast ocean of lines and circles, but WDI is well aware of the problem, I assure you (Show Mode, anyone?).

However, I do agree that there are a lot of fish to fry at WDW, and the Yeti is just one more on a list (Wonders of Life, anyone?). And without another big-time headliner attraction (Beastly Kingdom, anyone?), how do you close down Everest for an extended refurb without killing attendance levels in a park that has actually trended up in a down economy? I go back to a previous comment I made in another thread: "shame on Disney for building a park (DAK) with so few headliner attractions that a single ride closure could become such a huge customer service nightmare." Yep, and shame on them for slashing DAK's initial construction budget and not erecting Dueling Dragons when they had the chance!

At some point, WDW just needs to bite the bullet and beef up the attraction selection at DAK (you know, wipe out Chester & Hesters Abomination Land and build something worthy of the Disney moniker), then and only then do I see Everest getting the downtime it needs to fix the Inanimatronic, Dance Club Yeti once and for all.

Sylvain Comeau

Published: February 24, 2010 at 5:15 AM

AK does need a new attraction or two. I'm sick of the budget cuts and the cheap, penny pinching at Disney. They're the ones who would benefit the most from creating greatness, and all they seem to care about is squeezing every buck out of us while spending as little as possible. Shame on them, indeed.
Alfonso Giordano

Published: February 24, 2010 at 6:46 AM

I Rode this 2 times before the grand opening and barely saw the Yeti, I wasn't impressed at all but did not realize it must have been broken/not turned on yet that day. Went back again a few months later and WOW!! (A mode) Went a few years later and back to like the first time but with strobe lights, not impressed. Actually I wish I never saw it in A mode because it makes all the difference, it really is impressive.
Don Neal

Published: February 24, 2010 at 7:11 AM

I rode Everest for the first time last year. I had read all the comments and opinions about the ride over the past few years and really looked forward to it. However nothing really prepared me for how much fun it was. I love coasters of all size and shape. Everest has found a real sweet spot that delivers on fun and is perfect for the entire family. I didn't walk away disappointed or in pain. But most important I walked out the exit looking for the entrance again.

We rode Everest a total of four times last summer and I enjoyed every single one as much as the last. My kids still haven't stopped talking about Everest. It's not the tallest, fastest, scariest, loopiest, most intense coaster I have ever ridden but it's in my top 5 just because of how much fun it is.

67.224.137.70

Published: February 24, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Agree with Mr. Rao 100%. This is Disney people!! With all the magic and the beauty. It's not your local theme park. They should know better and i don't think people should settle. Don't settle people, Disney still great!! But i think it shouldn't be, touches like the jeti are what makes Disney amazing. It should be amazing!!
James Rao
Writer

Published: February 24, 2010 at 5:33 PM

^^Thanks for the support, anonymous poster!

BTW, in one of my earlier posts in this thread I wrote:

"...the Yeti animatronic is NOT broken at all, however the concrete fountain on which he is mounted has become irrevocably cracked."

Of course I meant "foundation" and not "fountain." Sorry for the confusion.

71.228.4.57

Published: February 24, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Could you make a six flags just north of ottawa, peru lasalle spring valley illinois our metropolitan in lasalle and bureau county in illinois?
Rod Whitenack

Published: February 25, 2010 at 8:42 PM

I think I speak for all of us when I say, "Fix the Yeti, already!"

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