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Florida Guide > Disney Parks

Expedition Everest (1)

Animal Kingdom is one of our favourite parks, but at one time it was not popular. However, with the addition of Expedition Everest it has become one of the top parks to visit in Orlando. You cannot miss Expedition Everest, the latest attraction at Animal Kingdom. Dubbed the highest mountain in Florida, it is visible as soon as you approach Animal Kingdom, and it is truly a stunning sight. It is hard to believe that this snow capped mountain is nothing more than 1, 800 tons of steel and 2, 000 gallons of paint and stain. As usual, Disney designers and engineers have come up with an amazing experience.

Expedition Everest is located in Asia, but since its building they have added a new walkway through Dinoland, which has made the whole area far more accessible. Before this it was a much longer walk. I don’t really know what possessed me to go on Expedition Everest, as I am the ultimate roller coaster wimp, but I must have been seduced by the pictures and write-ups which described its construction.

So it was, with uncharacteristic bravery – or maybe a moment of mental aberration - that I made my way, with my son, across the new walkway into Asia. I have to admit that it is a stunning façade, and the ‘snow’ capped mountain really can be seen from all parts of the park. There is a wonderful view from the bridge which leads into Africa, and even though it really is not that tall, Disney imagineers have managed to give this mountain peak the impression that it is, in fact, huge.

I suppose I had been lulled into a sense of false security as we walked through the pre-ride area, which is fascinating and full of hundreds of artefacts. I hardly had time to think about what was ahead as I soaked up the atmosphere, inside and outside. It is truly amazing and quite stunning, and Disney has come up with a most realistic setting. Somehow I even managed to blank out the screams coming from the ride as we waited in line to board the train.

It actually started out fine as we stood on the platform, ready to board the Anandapur Rail Service train which once transported tea, as it slipped quietly into the station. I was quite relaxed as we settled into our seats and it pulled gently out of the station on its way to the foot of Mount Everest. We rolled through thick bamboo and ferns as we climbed ever higher, until we crossed a precariously positioned bridge which led into the mountain itself.

The train slowed to a halt and I glanced down at the vista below me. It was to be my last view, just before the train lurched forwards into the shimmering glacial valleys before climbing upwards through snow-capped peaks. By now I was beginning to lose my courage. I grabbed onto the rails, white knuckled, with my stomach churning. Why on earth had I been so silly as to think I might enjoy this ride? Should I not have heeded the screams?

I have to admit that from this point onwards my eyes were tightly shut. My son tells me that there were lurking shadows and silhouettes of the yeti, but I didn’t see them. The train climbed upwards at a terrifying gradient, and suddenly screeched to a halt, stopped, and, for a split second, I opened my eyes to see a mass of twisted metal ahead of us – the yeti, in a fit of rage has torn up the track so we could go no further. I hardly had time to realise that there was only one way out before the train pitched itself backwards down a terrifying slope, before racing through the dark mountain caverns.

I can only guess at the rest – all I know is that the train careered round spiral curves, plummeted down an 80 ft slope, before coming face to face with the yeti itself. Of course I didn’t see it – I have to rely on my son that it really was there. With my eyes firmly shut and my heart beating, I could only pray that it would all end soon. And it did. The train glided gently into the station and the doors opened so that we could disembark.

As for me, well I was still terrified. I literally fell out of the carriage and walked, or rather lurched towards the exit, where a concerned cast member asks me anxiously if I need a wheelchair. I must have looked deathly pale, and about to collapse. I declined the offer and staggered out into the sunshine. Embarrassingly, I am passed on the way out by hordes of excited children who have enjoyed the ride enormously.

And what of my son? Well, after making sure that I was ok, and giving me his arm to lean on, he delivered me to my concerned husband, before joining the queue again for another ride. As far as he is concerned it is one of his all time favourite rides, and he heads straight for it whenever we visit Animal Kingdom. Have I ever revisited this amazing attraction? Absolutely not! Never again! I wouId rather sit on a termite’s nest! I prefer to stop off at the Nemo show, within sight of that amazing pseudo mountain.

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Page added on: 10 January 2009
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