The Expedition Everest coaster is in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (in the Asia section), Orlando Florida. To give it its full title, it’s called “Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain”.
Another heavily themed ride, as you’d expect in Disney, with the queue management area kitted out like a base-camp in the Himalayas with plenty of lore about the Yeti on the walls.
When you get to the front of the queue, you can catch a glimpse of the trains and can see that it’s only a lap-bar holding you in. It makes you wonder if this is all going to be a bit tame, but not to worry…
Expedition Everest Coaster Vital Statistics
- Type of ride: Steel ‘standard’ coaster
- Height: 112 feet
- First drop: 80 feet
- Top speed: 60 mph (forward) 40 mph (backward)
- Track length: 4424 feet
- Riders: 34 (5 cars with 6 seats, last car with 4)
- Ride time: 2:30 minutes
- Inversions: 0
- Max G:Force: 2.2 (forward), 3 (backward)
- Height requirement: 44 inches
- Opened: 07/04/2006
- Manufacturer: Vekoma International
The ride has a single rider queue as well as a fast-pass queue, where you can take a ticket and come back at a pre-determined time to ride and avoid the wait. The coaster cars are styled like a little mountain train and this is probably one of the few coasters where being at the front is a plus.
If you want the front seat, there are three ways to achieve this:
- Wait in the queue for something like 40 minutes in our case and when you get to the front, declare that you want a front seat. The operative will put you in the fastpass queue where you can wait some more for your front row seat.
- Use your fastpass ticket to go in the fastpass lane, skipping the normal wait, then wait a little for your front row.
- If you don’t have a fastpass, go in the single rider lane, skipping the normal wait, declare that you want a front seat. The operative will put you in the fastpass queue where you can wait for your front row seat.
The ride starts off with a gentle swoop from the platform off to the right, followed by little chain-pull to get an initial bit of height. Then we go down a little gravity incline and follow a gentle left hand curve into the main chain-pull incline to get up to where it all starts.
From the top of the incline, the train swoops down and to the right, but it’s not a huge drop, so you’re left wondering, “What’s going on?”. Until you go through a little tunnel and head upwards to the sight of a mangled track, where the train stops momentarily on the slope. If you’re in the front seat, you get a lovely view of the Animal Kingdom park for a few seconds. Meanwhile, behind the train, a little bit of fancy points work automatically reroutes the track, then it’s brakes off and we’re off, backwards, into a dark tunnel.
Now you realise why we needed all that height, as the train plummets backwards and into a vicious 3.0g horizontal loop – no inversions on this ride – but, given you’re going backwards in the dark, it’s hard to tell the difference. That g-force is impressive. A couple more bends and the train heads up a little incline, coming to a halt with a little bit of light in sight. We are then treated to a projected shadow-outline of the Yeti ripping up the train tracks, while another automatic points-shift, in front of us this time, sets us up to complete the rest of our journey in a forwards direction.
Brakes off again and we are treated to a mini-drop, coming out of the tunnel, followed by a couple of horizontal loops which are not quite the strength of the backwards one, but good nonetheless. Finally we head into another tunnel for a brief glimpse at the animatronic Yeti before returning to the platform.
Recommended; my 8-year old’s favourite ride in all of Florida, with the ‘backwards in the dark’ part giving something out of the ordinary for the more coaster-aware of you.