Coaster review: Expedition Everest

Expedition_EverestThe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Use your fastpass ticket to go in the fastpass lane, skipping the normal wait, then wait a little for your front row.
  3. 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.

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