Expedition Everest Review – Thrilling Disney World Roller Coaster

Expedition Everest and sunlight behind trees, casting shadows onto the ground

When it comes to Disney rides, Expedition Everest will always have a special place in my heart. For this Expedition Everest review, I wanted to share my own personal experiences with the Animal Kingdom roller coaster to see if you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

In April 2006 I went to Disney World for my first time. I’d seen some stuff about the new ride they were building online and on TV, and I was super excited at the possibility of being able to ride it. The name of the ride was Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Unsure of its opening date, what I didn’t realize was the weekend that we ended up going actually ended up being the opening weekend for the ride.

Located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my favorite Disney park, it’s a roller coaster that takes you on a journey through the Himalayas. The mountain itself is 199.5 feet high, which is the tallest structure in all of Walt Disney World. It has an 80 foot drop, goes as fast as 50 mph, and you even have an encounter with the infamous Yeti. It was designed by Disney Imagineering, the division of the Walt Disney Company that creates most of Disney’s theme park rides, and it was built by the Dutch amusement manufacturer Vekoma. 

The first day we were there was a Friday, and when we went to the park, we realized that the ride was not open. We weren’t sure if it was going to open, so we spent the rest of the day exploring the park and having a fun time. Then later on in the afternoon, we noticed that the ride was testing and it was actually opening up. We saw people removing the ropes, so we took the opportunity to take a ride on the brand new roller coaster. 

We actually returned to the park the next day after we rode it for the first time, grabbed our paper Fast Passes (yes, I’m that old), turned around, and saw a giant mass of people running towards us – we later found out it was the ride’s official opening day.

Storyline & Theming on Expedition Everest

I love the theme and the story of this ride – it’s extremely detailed. Expedition Everest takes place in a Tibetan village where the people have built a museum that honors and warns about the Yeti – in a way they almost worship it. Basically you are taking a trip through the Himalayas to explore what’s called The Forbidden Mountain where they think the Yeti is meant to reside. 

But this travel agency that you’re using, Himalayan Escapes, actually has started using old trains that used to be carry tea up and down the mountain. The previous company that used the trains went out of business because there was a mysterious disappearance – apparently related to the yeti. So what could possibly go wrong? 

The ride area is extremely detailed including, of course, the mountain. Off in the distance, one of the peaks is supposed a forced-perspective of Mount Everest. On this ride, you’re on the mountains surrounding Mount Everest, not Mount Everest itself.

Expedition Everest Queue Line Experience

This roller coaster has one of the most detailed queues that I’ve ever experienced. You walk through a museum which that gives you some background on the travel agency, the mountain, and the Yeti. There’s lots of artifacts and warnings in the queue about making sure you don’t explore the mountain and to respect the yeti.

As of now, Expedition Everest does have a single rider line which is really nice if you’re riding by yourself, you don’t really care where you sit, and you want to shorten your wait time in line. Plus you help fill up those empty trains! It does have a Genie+ option where you can pay a fee for the day and skip some of the most popular rides at the Walt Disney World Resort.

But I will say that this ride is a people eater. It cycles through long trains with lap bars pretty quickly, and I’ve never waited more than 30-40 minutes for the ride, even on it’s opening weekend. Plus, the queue itself is really cool, so if you end up waiting in the line, you get to look at what I think it’s one of the most detailed and awesome looking queues in Walt Disney World. 

Expedition Everest Ride Experience

The ride itself is really neat. You board steam trains in the station that actually do let off steam, which is a pretty cool effect. The coaster has both forward and backward sections, which was not something you saw a lot of roller coasters in 2006.

You get to see torn up train tracks the Yeti has ripped apart before dropping backwards into the darkness of the mountain. You get to see the shadow of the Yeti ripping more tracks apart before changing directions again, heading forwards down a great 80 foot drop out of the mountain that’s super fun. There’s lots of twists and turns, and you even get to come up close and personal with a giant animatronic of the Yeti itself.

The Yeti is the centerpiece of the ride – it’s 22 feet tall and weighs 3,000 pounds. It’s a giant audio-animatronic that actually used to swing towards riders as you zoomed by, but there were issues with it not too long after opening in 2006. Now when you go by, they have strobe lights flashing on it to make it look like it’s moving even though it’s not. So Disney enthusiasts have started calling it “Disco Yeti”, which I love and I think is super funny.

I’m super lucky that because I ended up riding this ride on opening weekend, I actually got to see the yeti running in “A-Mode”, which is the main operational mode where it actually moved towards you. It was really cool, and the Yeti definitely took a swing at you as you zoomed through this part of the ride. Seeing a giant, hairy animatronic swing at you as it roared was just a really cool experience, and I’m really lucky I got to do that. 

After I rode this ride for the first time, I was instantly hooked. I love the ride itself, I love the theming – I just love it. It was thrilling, but not too overwhelmingly intense.

I actually visited Walt Disney World again recently after not having been there since 2006, and was worried I wouldn’t find it as exciting – but I did. It’s still my favorite ride at Walt Disney World Resort. I think that even with the Yeti being broken it’s still a perfect ride, and that’s saying a lot.

Comparison to Other Rides

Expedition Everest is designed to be a family-friendly thrill ride, but it’s definitely one of the most intense rides at the Walt Disney World Resort. I put it up there with the likes of Tower of Terror and Rock ’n’ Rollercoaster. It doesn’t go upside down, but you do you go forwards down a big, high-speed drop and you go backwards in the dark, so it does have some things that may be a little too intense for really little kids unless you know that your kid is a thrill seeker like me.

If you’re looking for the most intense rides in Orlando, I’d still recommend planning a visit to the Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando resorts. However, Expedition Everest will definitely scratch an itch if you’re looking for thrills at Walt Disney World.

Expedition Everest Review Summary

I definitely recommend checking this ride out when you visit Walt Disney World. Like I said, it’s still my favorite ride at the entire resort. There’s something about it I just love – I think it’s a perfect ride.

I can’t recommend this ride enough, especially if you are a roller coaster enthusiast like me. It’s a great ride, really fun, and its theming is top notch. It just goes to show that when creatives and engineers really put their minds together, you can create rides with fantastic theming and storytelling that really enhances the overall ride experience.

I’m so lucky that I got to be able to ride it opening weekend and I’m super super lucky to have experienced the fully moving Yeti. It’s something I continue to brag about, especially to any Disney World or theme park fans.

Do you agree with my Expedition Everest review? What do you think of Expedition Everest, and where does it rank against other Disney rides? And I’m curious, would anyone else out there like to see an Expedition Everest movie in the same style as “Pirates of the Caribbean”?

FAQs About Expedition Everest

Does Expedition Everest go upside down?

No – while thrilling in its own right, Expedition Everest does not have any inversions or elements that turn riders upside down. There is only a lap bar on this roller coaster.

Is Expedition Everest scary?

How scary you find the ride depends on your tolerance for thrilling rides and roller coasters. Expedition Everest is one of the most intense rides at Walt Disney World. It is a high-speed roller coaster that goes forwards and backwards in the dark, as well as down an 80 foot drop at 50 mph. Reading this Expedition Everest review should help you decide if this ride is too scary for you.

How fast is Expedition Everest?

Expedition Everest reaches a top speed of 50 mph.

How tall is Expedition Everest?

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain reaches a height of 112 feet and features a 80 foot drop. The mountain structure the ride is located in reaches 199.5 feet, just shy of 200 feet to avoid having to put a light on the mountain to alert planes.

How long is Expedition Everest?

Expedition Everest has a track length of 3,884.5 feet. The ride lasts a total of 2 minutes 50 seconds.

Where is Expedition Everest?

Expedition Everest is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, my personal favorite theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. It can be found in the Asia section towards the back of the park. Look for the giant mountain.

What is the height requirement for Expedition Everest?

Riders must be 44” tall to ride Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.

When did Expedition Everest open?

Expedition Everest opened officially to the public on April 7, 2006 – and I was there! The ride opened for previews on January 26,2006.

How much did Expedition Everest cost?

Expedition Everest cost $100 million to build. It held the Guinness World Record for the most expensive roller coaster in the world until Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, which cost $300 million.

Why are there hair ties on Expedition Everest?

Unfortunately, when riders stop for the first time and are being prepared to be sent backwards through the mountain, many people take off hair ties and throw them onto the mountain. Please do not do this – it ruins the theming of the ride and creates more work for Cast Members who have to clean these up.

Does Expedition Everest go backwards?

Yes – Expedition Everest goes backwards once through the mountain in darkness. This is done by a track switch the flips the track while riders are held in front of it.

Does Expedition Everest have Single Rider?

Yes – as of the time this post was published, Expedition Everest does have a Single Rider line.

How big is the Yeti on Expedition Everest?

The Yeti is a giant audio-animatronic that stands 22 feet tall and weighs 3,000 pounds.

Does the Yeti on Expedition Everest work?

No – unfortunately, the Yeti has not worked correctly since shortly after the ride’s opening in 2006. This is due to the immense stress it was putting on the ride’s structure and the difficulty of fixing it – performing major repairs would require the ride to close and, if rumors are true, parts of the mountain to be removed. Today, a strobe light flashes on the Yeti, earning it the nickname “Disco Yeti”.

Where is the camera on Expedition Everest?

The on-ride camera is located right at the top of the 80 foot drop out the mountain. Once you are finished with the backwards section inside the mountain, the train will come to a stop, you’ll see a shadow of the Yeti ripping the track apart, and then you’ll begin moving forward again. The picture is taken right as you crest the hill and are about to exit the mountain.


Christian McIlwain

Christian has been a fan of theme parks since he was a child. He has over twenty years of experience both researching and working in the industry. He grew up visiting Kennywood Park throughout his childhood. Currently, he lives in Atlanta, GA where he frequently visits Six Flags Over Georgia and Orlando area theme parks.


One response to “Expedition Everest Review – Thrilling Disney World Roller Coaster”

  1. Gavin Bermudez Avatar

    I went over this site and I believe you have a lot of excellent info, saved to my bookmarks (:.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *