Expedition Everest

My Favorite Attractions: Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Asia

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is seemingly full of history. Most of the areas are inspired by real-life locations, and Asia is no different.

Asia was the first expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It opened in 1999, more than a decade after the park first opened. Asia is inspired by areas like Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, and Thailand and features two areas- the riverside village of Anandapur (“place of many delights” in Sanskrit) and Serka Zong, the foothills of the Himalayas. As the story goes, Anandapur was established as a royal hunting preserve in 1544 and is now a center for animal research and tourism. Throughout the land, you can see portraits of the royal family; there’s also a map of the kingdom on the wall of the Disney Vacation Club kiosk.

There are several attractions in this land. UP! A Great Bird Adventure is an animal encounter experience where one of Anandapur’s researchers educates Russel and Dug about natural bird behaviors and the effects of habitat loss plus provides some conservation efforts that Disney is doing and that you can do at home. You can also do the self-guided Maharajah Jungle Trek through the forests and ruins of an Anandapurian village where you’ll see bantengs, bar-headed geese, Sumatran tigers, blackbucks, orangutans, Eld’s deer, gibbons, large flying foxes, Komodo dragons, and dozens of bird species.

Besides the animal encounters, there’s a nighttime show called Rivers of Light unlike any other nighttime show at Disney World. There are also a couple of rides including Kali River Rapids, which is a water ride down Chakranadi River through the rainforest and an illegal logging operation, and my favorite, Expedition Everest.

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Many people mistake Expedition Everest for being a Mount Everest ride, but it is in fact called Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. While Everest is certainly challenging, the Forbidden Mountain is home to the formidable Yeti who protects the mountain.

Expedition Everest is my favorite attraction in Asia!
Expedition Everest is my favorite attraction in Asia!

Expedition Everest, as it’s often abbreviated, is a steel rollercoaster. It is Disney’s 18th mountain-themed attraction and is the tallest artificial mountain in the parks. After six years of planning and construction, it even found itself in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive rollercoaster in the world coming in at a cool $100 million dollars. The cost is so high because it’s one of the most advanced attractions Disney Imagineers ever created.

It was constructed in three pieces: the track, the Yeti and its components, and the mountain. The Yeti has different modes including one that allows it to move and one that uses just lights, which has become lovingly referred to as “Disco Yeti”. Shortly after the attraction opened, the Yeti had a malfunction rendering only the Disco Yeti usable. While the creators vow to fix the Yeti someday, the entire mountain construction would have to be removed to access the Yeti, which requires a complete and long-term shut down of the very popular ride.

As you ride through the Forbidden Mountain of the Himalayas, stay alert. It looks like the Yeti has broken the track and sent you flying backward down the mountain. Can you spot him?

Besides the ride itself, Expedition Everest has a really cool queue with lots of unique artifacts, some of which are authentic, and some neat cultural aspects. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s worth waiting in the standby line to see these cool things, which you’ll mostly miss in the FastPass+ queue.

What’s your favorite attraction in Asia?