Expedition Everest @ Walt Disney World

Back in January, I had the opportunity to face the dangers of Walt Disney World’s newest (and biggest) attraction, Expedition Everest: The Legend of the Forbidden Mountain on the second day of Disney Cast Member Previews. The following was my initial thoughts on the journey…


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Reviewing something like Expedition: Everest is not easy. It’s actually so painstakingly mindboggling difficult to describe my complex feelings towards this attraction i almost didn’t even bother. But here i am anyway. But i’m gonna keep it vague.

There are a number of things one has to keep in mind when appraoching the answer to the question, “How is it?”

You can’t just say good or bad. There are so many factors at play here that it is entirely possible for this attraction to be both amazing and disapointing all at once.

Is it awesome and fun? YES.

Does it exceed expectations? NO.

Were Bergspectations beyond reality? Could it have been above these very high expectations? YES…yes and very easily.

Let me explain.

When DAK (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) premiered in April 1998, it opened as in the same manner as Disney/MGM Studios did in ’89…with more shows than rides. Still – the Kilimanjaro Safaris were so amazing..so sprawling…and so unlike anything they had done to that point that it almost didn’t matter. The park was more about being in it and appreciating it’s design (as well as animals) more than riding rides. But, while that might work for Chroniclers of Awe such as myself, it doesn’t always play well with the masses. When Kali River Rapids was stuck in so fast and “on the cheap” it almost made no difference…offereing little more than a chance to get completely soaked and not even have fun along the way. Nahh…give me the scenic vista of the Tree of Life and It’s Tough To Be a Bug any day over that.

Attendance wasn’t pretty…and finally, they knew what they had to do – something that should have been done before it opened….create an E-ticket thrill ride and give this place the equivalent of what Tower of Terror did for the Studios back in 1994.

The reason why Expedition: Everest is so exciting is that it’s the first 150 million mega-attraction on this level to be an original story…sure the Yeti is not original…but the whole concept is not derived from any Disney source materiel such as an animated classic or existing live-action film. Original things like this used to be common at Walt Disney Imagineering, yet these days have become a rarity. And when it does happen, it’s usually on a much smaller scale (like the California Adventure attractions). So when something this enormous and original is being created…over the course of three years…it leaves a lot of time for your mind to wander.

At face value, you would naturally think this to be Disneyland’s Matterhorn for the next generation. The potential is just so great, i almost get chills thinking about it, as though it’s still coming…as though i didn’t ride it yet.

Another thing about Everest is…it is ENORMOUS. It dwarfs all the other Disney Mountains in size. This is not only a mere ride…they constructed an entire mythical village around it and leading up to it with Yeti warnings everywhere you look.

OK, so….. The whole village of serka zong is great. I love the details of all the notes and pictures tacked up everywhere.

The Que. A great line with lots to keep you occupied while you wait. I spotted something new on the line in each of the four times we were on it during these exclusive cast member previews. Still, that feeling of wanting something more began to creep in on the line. Now, don’t get me wrong — having a Yeti museum you get to walk through really wets your appetite. It’s just that…oh..i’ll explain later…

The ride itself. Ok…here’s where things get difficult. First of all, if you’re looking for this to be a really scary roller coaster…you’re gonna be upset. Six flags does that. Universal does that. Bush Gardens does that. Disney is about story more than thrills and while i would say this is a scary ride, it leaves rock n rollercoaster in tact as the scariest and most thrilling “coaster” in WDW. Which is fine. I wasn’t looking for this to be the scariest thing in the world. In fact, i could care less how fast or slow it went. Space Mt and Big Thunder Mt don’t actually go all that fast — it’s the experience of what those mountains offer that makes them such a good time.

So, okay…here it goes. I love this ride! I love it a lot. In fact, i cant stop thinking about. There are moments in it that i am replaying in my head. i want to be on it right now! BUT – there are an equal amount of moments playing in my head that are NOT ACTUALLY in the ride. Things that seem like no-brainers that just don’t happen. You know how Jurassic Park: The Ride is FUN but you know it could be SO much more? That’s sort of how i felt on this. Now, this is much much better than JP (which is not saying much, i know) so i’d even say i like it more than the classic big thunder mt and the matterhorn.

But – there are just so many opportunities in this thing for greatness to set it apart and make it a classic experience that you’d want to ride over and over and over again. i don’t wanna go into details as i am avoiding spoilers…but i guess my mind is my own worse enemy. Everytime we went on everyone is cheering and clapping when we get off and i’m the only one sitting there deep in thought, trying to figure out why this or that didin’t happen. Stuff that seemed like it was supposed to be there but almost missing.

Still – i know this sounds like a bad review – but i really do love it at face value and in any other non-disney park it would be one of the best rides ever…its just frustrating – i know you all know the feeling – when you know something could even be better. and it’s not even like the stuff i’m wishing is so out there- in fact – Disney has already done stuff like it on Indy and the new Space Mt Mission 2…so it just seems like all the more of a no brainer that it wouldn’t be here. Then again – this is just an very advanced cast member preview, designed to work out kinks even before regular preview audiences get to ride it before it’s opening in March or April…so who know’s what’s ahead. There were even missing signs in the enterence area with notes on what will go up there..so things are still being fleshed out.

And the animatronics …jeez…the animatronics are at a level were i think its safe to officially call these things alive. Just amazing when i think about it….ok i am officially closing my eyes and pretending i’m on it…….

So yeah. There’s my vague review. i love it and i also am a little frustrated by it at the same time. Yet i cant wait to go back on…….

Yeti I can’t wait to go back on…

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