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Expedition Everest

The story begins when guests are transported to a distant world of exploration and the mythical village of Serka Zong. A canopy of prayer flags, an ornamental monastery, intricately carved totems, and a garden of stone carvings of the yeti clutching the mountain immerse guests in a far-off realm. The yeti's role as protector of the sacred mountain is reinforced in this detailed environment rich in culture and tradition.

"The Himalayan culture is full of ritualized architecture encouraging great harmony and structure," Rohde said. "The colors of the village, the carved animal heads on the doors, the totems -- it's all very symbolic and authentic."

Despite forewarnings, the proprietors of Himalayan Escapes tour company entice explorers to embark on a rugged train journey to the mystical Everest. First stop is Norbu and Bob's booking office to obtain permits, and then it's off to Tashi's General Store and Bar for needed supplies for the journey.

Next, explorers pass through an old tea warehouse that houses an elaborate museum run by Professor Pumba Dorjay, a conservation biologist who believes the yeti's existence is grounded in fact. The richly designed yeti museum showcases artifacts reflecting Nepalese culture, plus a history of the Himalayas and tales of the yeti. Photos show Sherpas and others who have conquered the summit.

Aboard Expedition Everest

Now equipped to conquer the mountain, trekkers board the Anandapur Rail Service. This aging 34-passenger industrial railway, which was once used to transport tea, is now destined for the foot of Mount Everest.

As the steam train rolls through thick bamboo forests and fern groves up the first hill through a fortress, ritualized music signals riders to dangers ahead. En route, a cluster of sacred yeti totems and a massive yeti mural crafted on the rockwork gives further warning to turn back.

The train continues across a teetering bridge into the mountain, dives into shimmering glacier valleys and then climbs up through the snow-capped peaks.

Skulking silhouettes and shadows of the lurking yeti, coupled with startling special effects and climate variations, enhance the attraction as the steam train darts in and out of the picturesque mountain range.

But suddenly the train screeches to a halt near a gnarled mass of twisted metal. In a fit of rage, the yeti has torn apart the track. The thrills intensify as the runaway train moves both forward and backward through darkened mountain caverns and icy canyons and guests head for an inevitable face-to-muzzle showdown with the towering yeti -- known to some as the abominable snowman.

The train accelerates into a fog of spiral curves taking mountaineers down an 80-foot plummet to escape the wrath of the powerful yeti.

"Seeing the yeti will really startle the guests because it is so real, so convincing," said Rohde. "It is the most highly engineered Audio-Animatronics figure ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering."

About Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest, towering at nearly 200 feet high and occupying a 6.2-acre site, is located in the Asia section of the theme park. It is one of 18 mountain attractions created by Walt Disney Imagineering at Disney theme parks worldwide.

Expedition Everest features Disney's FASTPASS -- offered at no charge to park guests -- designed to reduce wait times at popular attractions in all four Walt Disney World theme parks. Expedition Everest will have a height restriction of 44 inches.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is a 500-acre theme park where the exciting worlds of wild and whimsical creatures come to life on an authentic African safari, in an Asian rain forest, on a trip back in time to the age of the dinosaurs and in other attractions and shows brimming with stories about animals and encounters with favorite Disney characters

 
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