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Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest Backstory

Today BoingBoing links to a CryptoZoologist (wikipedia entry) who has done some work with Disney’s Imagineers on the next major roller coaster attraction to open at a Disney theme park – Expedition Everest. Also revealed, thanks to, is the backstory imagineering has conjured to add verisimilitude to the attraction (see below the cut).

Testing has already started, but over 6 months of operational testing time is needed before it can be opened to the public. If they double up shifts they can usually cut that time in half. The description sounds pretty extreme. I just hope it’s not so violent I can’t ride it.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

train accelerates at speeds up to 50 mph into a fog of spiral curves
taking mountaineers down a 112-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 mammoth and sophisticated Audio-Animatronics figure ever created
by Walt Disney Imagineering."

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