Nine Expedition Everest Secrets You Didn’t Know

Back view of Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
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Back view of Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

So many hikers taking the journey have not returned, and many secrets remain untold…

Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom used to be my husband’s favorite ride in the Disney Parks. We have been on this Himalayan escape many, many times on our past Walt Disney World vacations.

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain stands as one of Animal Kingdom’s most popular attractions. On this journey, thrill-seekers desiring to reach Mount Everest must travel at high speeds through the Himalayan Mountains to confront the mythical Yeti, guardian of the Forbidden Mountain, and escape before they face its evil wrath.

Here are nine Expedition Everest fun facts straight from the Forbidden Mountain!

  1. Cast Members Walk Up 14 Flights of Stairs – Attractions cast members have no simple task at this thrill ride. Aside from operating the ride and resolving Guest issues, cast members ascend 14 flights of stairs every day to power up the attraction and each time they need to evacuate Guests. Same goes for the end of the night as well! In 100-degree heat or cold weather, this certainly is a challenge and a workout!
  2. The Yeti Is a Girl! – Yes, that fierce creature defending the Forbidden Mountain is actually a girl, and she’s got a name! Although Imagineers designed the 22-foot-tall Yeti with a male body structure and facial features, cast members at this attraction call her Betty!
  3. Fixing the Yeti Is not Simple – As many Disney fans know, the giant Yeti animatronic on Expedition Everest has been broken for about 15 years now. While the Yeti used to reach out its arm and lunge towards riding Guests, now it remains frozen in time.
    • It turned out the actions of the disco yeti were so forceful that they cracked the foundation of the mountain.
    • To fix this mythical creature, Imagineers will need to carve out paneling from the 199-foot-tall mountain and lift out Betty with a crane, which would be expensive and a major refurbishment.
    • This massive refurbishment project could take years, and considering that almost every Guest passing through Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park will ride on this Forbidden Journey, this attraction is vital to the park.
    • Many predict that if DinoLand USA gets remodeled with some “E” ticket attractions, then the Yeti will receive the update she deserves.
  1. Some Pictures on the Queue Walls are Disney Imagineers!  – The queue for this attraction is incredibly interesting, don’t miss these crucial details! The queue line takes you through the booking office of the Himalayan Escapes Tours and Expeditions. Next you go through the Royal Anandapur tea company, an old tea warehouse converted into a Yeti Museum. All of these artifacts are authentic memorabilia from Nepal and Asia!
    • To prepare for construction of Expedition Everest, Imagineers traveled to Nepal to research Asian culture and bring back authentic artifacts to place around Asia in Animal Kingdom. If you pay attention to the walls while waiting in the queue, you will see photographs of Nepal natives. 
    • While Imagineers did take photos of actual native dwellers, some Imagineers posed for pictures as well and are displayed on the wall. If a subject is smiling, odds are it’s an Imagineer, since many natives were not familiar with cameras!
    • Walt Disney Imagineering is truly incredible!
Hidden Mickey on Expedition Everest.
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Hidden Mickey on Expedition Everest.
  1. Expedition Everest is a Giant Hidden Mickey – Did you know there was a hidden Mickey on this popular Animal Kingdom ride? To see the hidden Mickey you would need to have an aerial view of this Walt Disney World park. The train tracks make the ears and the mountain is Mickey’s face.
  2. How Much Did Everest Expedition Cost? – Expedition Everest cost 100,000,000 to build, making it the most expensive Disney World attraction and landing it in the Guinness Book of World Records.
    • Expedition Everest used to be the most expensive roller coaster in the world. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in Universal Orlando Resort broke this record in 2019 when it was built costing $300 Million dollars.
    • An attraction this expensive took years of planning. This attraction took six years of research and three years for construction before finally opening on April 7th, 2006.
  1. How Tall is Expedition Everest? – Expedition Everest stands at 199.5 feet. At 200 feet attractions are required to have a red light beacon by law to protect airplanes. Disney does not want a visible red light to ruin the view in any of the Disney Theme Park so they built it just under the 200 feet.
    • Expedition Everest is the tallest attraction in the Walt Disney World Parks. Tower of Terror is a close second at 199 feet tall. This attraction is the tallest artificial mountain in the Disney theme parks.
  2. Forbidden Mountain – Despite the ride name being Expedition Everest, the mountain was not built to be Mount Everest. The ride vehicle actually takes you to the Forbidden Mountain. 
    • The ride queue however is filled with authentic memorabilia.
  3. The Omen Bird – This last Expedition Everest fact is easy to miss! At the beginning of the ride, when the train reaches the broken track, a bird looks down from a branch to the upper left.
    • This bird is supposed to warn hikers that they’re on a dangerous path for disturbing the Yeti. A triggered sensor causes the bird to emerge into sight and caw, but it isn’t always in the mood to present itself.
    • Imagineers tinker with it from time to time, so its appearance is rarely a guarantee. Look out for it the next time you ride!
9 Interesting Fun Facts about Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
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9 Interesting Fun Facts about Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Forbidden Mountain holds so many more hidden legends! Make sure you look for the broken yeti and the interesting history of the line queue on your next Disney trip. Now you can annoy your friends & family with all of the attraction information you now know about this thrilling ride!

Do you know any Everest secrets? Tell us in the comments if you think they should fix Betty the Yeti!

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