Exploring The Unknown: Expedition Everest

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing little known facts about some of our favorite Disney attractions.

Exploring The Unknown: Expedition Everest - Frontierland Station

Photo credit: vmpyr_david / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Since opening in 2006, Expedition Everest has been thrilling guests of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This massive attraction takes guests on an exciting runaway train excursion and even brings them to a close encounter with the mysterious yeti. Let’s take a look at some of the little known facts about one of Animal Kingdom’s top attractions.

  • The Expedition Everest attraction was announced in 2003 at the 5th anniversary celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • From planning and construction, it took a total of six years to complete the attraction. Expedition Everest opened on April 7, 2006.
  • With a reported cost of $100 million, Expedition Everest is listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records book as the most expensive roller coaster in the world.
  • The attraction is made of 5,000 tons of structural steel, 38 miles of rebar, and 10,000 tons of concrete. The mountain consists of 1,800 tons of steel and is covered with 2,000 gallons of paint.
  • Coming in at six inches taller than Tower of Terror, the 199.5 foot tall Expedition Everest is the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World. If the attraction were six inches taller, it would be required to have a red FAA airline beacon on top.
  • When the train pulls into the station, you will notice steam seeming to come from the engine. Steam vents were placed under the train to give the effect the trains actually are powered by steam. In order to prevent rusting of the track, this steam is not water based.
  • Expedition Everest was the first Walt Disney World attraction to feature trains which travel both forwards and backwards.
  • Your runaway train will reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour as you explore the Forbidden Mountain.
  • Josh Gates, host of Syfy’s Destination Truth television show, filmed an episode of the show focused on the search for the mysterious yeti. Together, he and his team traveled to Nepal in search of scientific evidence of the creature’s existence. While they did not find conclusive evidence of the yeti, Josh and his team did make a cast of an unusually large footprint they found. Upon having the footprint analyzed by a leading evolutionary morphologist, they learned the anatomically correct footprint did not belong to any known primates. In 2008, Josh presented the footprint cast to imagineer Joe Rhode. The cast can now be seen on display in the queue for Expedition Everest.
Exploring The Unknown: Expedition Everest - Frontierland Station

Photo credit: Raul654 / Foter / CC BY-SA

  • The mountain itself, the roller coaster track, and the animatronic yeti are all independent structures which reach down to the ground. None of these structures touch the others. After the track was constructed, the mountain was built around it.
  • When the attraction opened in 2006, it featured an amazing working animatronic yeti. At 25 feet tall, the yeti animatronic is the biggest Disney animatronic. It is also the most complex, featuring 19 actuators to control the yeti’s movements. The yeti could move up to 5 feet horizontally and 1.5 feet vertically. The life-like yeti was spectacular to see!
  • The imagineers used input from the locals in Nepal to design the animatronic yeti.
  • Unfortunately, the yeti’s framing split within a few months of the attraction’s opening. The animatronic could not longer be operated to its full capabilities. The yeti now stands inside the mountain near a strobe light to give the effect of motion.
  • Because the yeti is an independent structure with damage at its concrete base, repair of the animatronic will be a time consuming task. Though Disney has tried several things to fix the yeti, it will most likely take a long refurbishment for the attraction before the yeti is once again fully functional. Joe Rhode has promised he will make sure the yeti is someday returned to its fully functional operation.

Do you known any other interesting fact about Expedition Everest? Share them with us in the comments! Also, be sure to check out the other stops aboard Magical Blogorail Red for more Disney trivia.

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Kimberly's love of Disney began at an early age and grew even more when her family won a Walt Disney World vacation from a local radio station. She grew up visiting the parks every one to two years and is fascinated by Disney history and trivia. Whether at the parks or at home, Kimberly is constantly looking for hidden Mickeys. She enjoys sharing tips and helping others plan their Disney vacations. In addition to Frontierland Station, her writing can also be found at The Magical Blogorail, Sand 'n Sea Adventures, and Blogsprout.

  • Wow! What a great list of facts! Thanks for sharing them.

    As much as I really WANT to love this ride, I just don’t. I’m not sure what it is about it, but I have just never really liked it all that much. I love the area of Asia surrounding it, though; so I like to explore while my family waits in line and rides!

    • I would love to explore the themeing around the attraction more. Honestly, I’d be perfectly happy looking around the queue for a while too! So many neat artifacts! I’ve only ridden Expedition Everest when I have a Fastpass, so I haven’t gotten a good opportunity to take in everything in the queue.

      • There have been times – like once when we visited in September – that my girls were able to go on it over and over again with NO lines. It was insane! So, Ian and I had plenty of time to explore the area surrounding the attraction. For obvious reasons, I like Asia – so I find the Asian area of the park particularly endearing!

  • This has some neat facts. I will show Brook and Noah. I am too scared to ride it. I have a bad back and I’m afraid it would hurt it. Also I don’t really like anything too scary. It looks fun and I’m envious of those that can ride it and enjoy it. I’m like Heidi. I will just watch it from afar!

    • Skipping it because of your back is probably a wise decision. It’s not the smoothest ride. I’m sorry you’re not able to ride it, but at least you can take in all of the details around it. There are so many neat things to look at in Asia!

      • Yes I like the ambiance in Africa and Asia sections.

  • Great list of facts Kim… I was lucky enough to ride during Annual Pass Previews in early 2006 – The Yeti was incredible, but went by quickly. I ting a Yeti similar to the new one installed at Disneyland Matterhorn would be perfect… maybe not as large, but they looks and sounded great! Can’t say enough about the queue, theme is perfect!

    • I was able to ride before the yeti broke too. It was amazing!! I can’t wait until the day he is in proper working order again! Yes, a similar yeti at the Matterhorn would be great!

  • Rosanne Mottola

    When I was doing my college program in 2004 they were building this attraction and it was a pleasure watching it “grow” every day. I love it. It is well themed, not movie based and clearly researched well. Fun story: the first time my brother and I rode he swore it went upside down. We rode it several times before he realized the g force is what made it feel that way but that we didn’t actually go upside down!

    • How funny! It does have quite a bit of g’s!

  • Ok, Josh is one of my TV crushes. I have many photos of myself with that photo of him in the queue. Sad I know – but true.

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