I wrote this a while ago when we attended the opening of Expedition everest - old news to most now - but would it still be ok to put in a review section somewhere - couldn't see where it might go?
Expedition Everest - AK
We were lucky enough to catch a sneak peek at the peak during our recent trip and rode the mountain between us (DW, DS(5) and myself) a total of 17 times in all - what follows is just our opinion of the ride and its place in the park. There is also a detailed description of the ride - so best not read beyond the SPOILER if you don't want to know.
I have a few problems with Expedition Everest.
Firstly, it looks phenomenal.
As a monolith it dominates the skyline for seemingly miles around. It looks realistic and dwarfs the former talisman of the park - the tree of life. And that really is my first problem. The tree of life, to me, is the single most impressive piece of Disney design and architecture there has ever been, it deserved centre stage, to be looked at and admired - always seeing something new. Now as you cross the bridge, instead of gazing in awe at the tree, you canít help but turn to look at Everest and gasp at the lofty snow capped peak.
Secondly is the way it will change the park.
We have always loved the Animal Kingdom as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the other theme parks. The soft strains of the African music as you wander slowly around the animal exhibits and maybe take in the odd show and ride, were, for us at least what the AK represented.
But , clearly it wasnít working - it wasnít making enough people excited - or more importantly enough money.
We were there for the CM preview weekend, and the usual calm of the park was shattered by constant screams from the coaster. Exciting , no doubt - but I canít help but feel that something has been lost.(In much the same way as EPCOT seems to be evolving)
This is obviously the first step of the Imagineers into the realm of beasts of fiction - the beginning of the Beastly Kingdom.
I hope the animal attractions continue to be the central pull of the park and it does not become all about the rides.
Thirdly, with myself
Why? Well as a result of the above feelings ,which were sincere, I didnít want to like the ride.
But, I absolutely loved it! - It is without question the best coaster on site and probably the best ride. Everything is there, narrative, thrills, technology, magic - oh and of course a shop.
I hope it 'saves' the Animal Kingdom and gets people into the park to enjoy what else it has to offer.
What follows is my clumsy description of the ride
SPOILER - DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE RIDE ITSELF
The ride is approached through a village at the foot of the mountain with a viewing area at the base of the large drop ( much like Splash Mountain).
The queue takes you through a museum stocked with literature and artifacts relating to the Yeti myth. There are even giant casts of yeti paw prints. All this twists and turns through giant glass cases until you arrive on the platform.
The train arrives, it is designed as an old train with a large boiler at the back which pours steam. Seats are arranged in pairs side by side each seat with their own individual lapbar.
The train meanders out of the station and straight through a series of gentle but quite fast curves around the base of the mountain before finally plunging you about halfway up the steep ascent. As you climb the mountain you go through a shrine that contains a painting of the yeti and you hear a feint roar as his face becomes illuminated. The view at the top of the climb is impressive - to your left you can see EPCOT and MGM in the far distance - there can be few views as far reaching at WDW.
At the top of the climb you go through a series of fast turns through dark smoke filled caves - each time hearing an ominous roar.
Suddenly the train comes to a halt near the mountains peak. All that lies before you is a twisted track. An animatronic eagle flies out and gives a soulful cry then flies back behind the rock.
Then after a few seconds of tantilising wait you train plummets backwards at breakneck speed for what seems like an age. Through tight turns that throw you left and right and down, and then very very steeply upwards (feels like going up splash mountain!!!, infact it almost feels like you go upside down (but of course you dont)
Then you stop.
On the wall in front is projected the silhouette of the yeti, roaring in rage and you see him rip the track which presumably lies in front, he roars like kong then your train plummets down the huge 80ft drop that doglegs to the left at the bottom.
Another fast roller coaster section follows though more turns and smoke filled caves - each with the sound of the yeti getting closer.
The train slows slightly towards the upcoming cave and as you enter the chamber there is an HUGE yeti holding onto the cave wall making a clutch for the train as it hurtle seemingly inches underneath.
The 'reveal' of the monster has to be seen to be believed but the tension and build up to you actually seeing the beast has been beautifully scripted.
A few more turns and you are back safe at last in the station.
Breathless and excited you won't know whether to spend a fortune in the shop or run around for another go - just to get a better peek (or peak) at that yeti!!
Enjoy - we did - many many times.