What is 199 feet tall, has a top speed of 50 mph and cost $100 million dollars to build?
Expedition Everest, the most expensive roller coaster in the world, according to the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records and it can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando.
If you’ve even been to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you can’t miss the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Everest as you pull into the parking lot. The massive man-made mountain of steel and concrete is part of the extensive theming that went into making this one of the theme park’s main attractions – and my second favorite Disney roller coaster.
Like all of Disney’s rides, there is a story behind your expedition to the top of the mountain and it starts as you enter the ride queue. Passengers start off in the offices of the “Himalayan Escapes” travel agency, then into a temple, wind around into a tea garden and finally into the “Yeti Museum” home to artifacts on the mysterious creature that calls the mountain home. The museum displays actual pieces Disney Imagineers brought back from Nepal.
Once you make it to the boarding area you board a train and embark on your journey through the Himalayas en route to Mt. Everest. As your train moves along the track, it makes its way up a massive 118-foot lift hill where after a few seconds, the train comes to a stop because the track is… well, gone! It’s been ripped apart by the mountain’s most famous resident meaning the only way to continue on the journey is to go backward.
While I love this coaster, the backward part of the ride is my least favorite. The train goes full speed in reverse, up and down before coming to a stop while a projection shows the Yeti ripping apart another section of track. Suddenly the train lurches forward and you’re coasting down the ride’s 80-foot drop to the bottom of the mountain.
At the end of the ride, a now broken animatronic Yeti lets out a bellowing growl as the train rolls into the station. The Yeti has been broken basically since the ride first opened. After just a few short months, damage to the concrete base the creature sits on caused the beast to suffer damage of its own. In order to properly fix it, there would need to be considerable downtime, which nobody wants to see. So, for most of its existence, the Yeti has been still with only a strobe light flashing at him to give the appearance of motion as the train rolls by.
Expedition Everest is great in all areas. From theming in the queue line to the actual ride itself, it gives riders one heck of a thrill. It features a single-rider line, which bypasses the queue, is available for Disney’s FastPass+, and has an in-ride photo at the main drop, so smile!
One Saturday morning for the heck of it, I hit up the single rider line and rode Expedition Everest eight times in row before my stomach finally said, “enough!” Check out my video of the full ride below and share your thoughts of this Disney World roller coaster in the comments.