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Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest.jpg

Opened

April 7, 2006

Vehicle capacity

34

Ride length

3-4 minutes

Length

4,424 ft. (1,348.4 m)

Height

199.5 ft. (60.8 m)

Height requirement

44" (112 cm)

Max forward speed

50 mph (80 km/h)

Max backward speed

30 mph (48 km/h)

Drop height

80 ft.

Expedition Everest is a roller coaster attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando. The ride is based on Mount Everest, a mountain in the Himalayas.

History

Expedition Everest is often compared to the 1959 Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster at Disneyland, which also features a snowy mountain setting and an "abominable snowman" figure throughout the ride. Expedition Everest is the tallest of the artificial mountains at Walt Disney World Resort, joining Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mount Gushmore, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Mount Mayday on the list of Disney-built peaks. According to Imagineering, it is Disney's 18th mountain-themed attraction.

Although moderate in height and length by contemporary roller coaster standards, Expedition Everest is unique for having its trains travel forward and backward as a result of the yeti's interference with the journey. This is accomplished through two sets of track switches before and after the backwards segment. In its publicity material, Disney pointedly has described the attraction as a family thrill ride. This was the first Disney roller coaster to have a backwards section on it, but it was the second Disney roller coaster proposed with a backwards section: The planned runaway mine train roller coaster at the Magic Kingdom's never built Western River Expedition would have had a backwards section before it was shelved in 1972. The plans for the mine train roller coaster eventually evolved into Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The artificial mountain is not a reproduction of Mount Everest; it is the fictional "forbidden mountain" guarded by the yeti in the attraction story created by Walt Disney Imagineering. Everest is represented by the barren background peak on the far right, which is meant to suggest it is far in the distance (an example of forced perspective). 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. According to Disney, the attraction occupies 6.2 acres (25,000 m2) in the park's Asia section and the mountain itself is just shy of 1-acre (4,000 m2).

Expedition Everest celebrated its grand opening on April 7, 2006 in ceremonies led by Disney CEO Bob Iger and theme parks chairman Jay Rasulo. The attraction was first announced publicly on April 22, 2003, during an event to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Ride Description

The ride queue winds through a small Asian town and monastery and a museum dedicated to the local legend of the Yeti. Riders reach a station in which they board a train. Advertisements say the train will take them on a journey to Mount Everest, while first passing through the Forbidden Mountain which the yeti is said to guard as his home.

The vehicle departs from the station and climbs a small lift which goes into a minor drop, then the train circles around to a larger lift, carrying the riders towards the mountain peaks. On the way up, they pass through a ransacked temple with murals of the yeti, warning the riders that the mountain is his territory.

The train reaches the top of the mountain and curves around the main peak, then goes through a cave. Upon leaving the cave, the train slows to a halt before track that has been torn apart, presumably by the yeti. During this brief stop, the track switches inside the cave. The train then rolls backwards into the cave and down a new route, through a dark tunnel that spirals downward.

The train comes to a halt again in a large cave inside the mountain where riders see the shadow of the yeti on the wall as he tears up more track. During this time, another track switch activates. As the shadow moves away, the train rolls forward, out of the mountain and down the main 80 ft. drop. The train makes a banked turn and speeds back up through another cave in the mountain, in which the roars of the yeti are heard again. The train then makes two loops outside, before it is lifted back into the mountain a final time. The train drops through a cave where a large animatronic yeti reaches down to try and derail the train. When the yeti is not working for various reasons, a strobe light is fixed on it, and wind blows across it to simulate movement. Upon reaching the bottom of this drop, riders return back to the unloading dock and depart into a gift shop.

Incidents

On December 18, 2007, a 44-year-old guest was found unconscious after the train returned to the station. The guest was taken to a hospital, but was pronounced dead. A preliminary autopsy by the Orange County medical examiner's office concluded that the victim died of dilated cardiomyopathy, and that the death was considered natural.

Sources & External Links

Wikipedia

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