8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Expedition Everest

by | Dec 11, 2019 | Animal Kingdom, WDW Blog

In our January 2020 issue, we are covering your three favorite mountains at Magic Kingdom… but there’s one more mountain we just love to explore!

Since it opened in 2006, Expedition Everest has been a fan-favorite ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But do you know all there is to know about the Legend of the Forbidden Mountain?

Expedition Everest thrills with speeds up to 50 miles per hour and a drop from 80 feet. Maybe you already know that the attraction is a steel roller coaster that can take 2,050 people up the mountain per hour. But what about some of the lesser-known tidbits about the legendary ride?

1. Expedition Everest is a Giant Hidden Mickey

If you were to fly over Expedition Everest from above, you would see that the entire structure of the ride makes one giant Mickey Mouse head! Humans can’t fly on their own, but luckily we have things like drones and Google Earth to help us see this kind of hidden magic.

Google Earth Expedition Everest

An overhead view of the Expedition Everest ride. Image courtesy of Google Earth

The mountain isn’t perfectly circular, but it creates the body of the Mickey Mouse head. Two spirals of track come out on either side of the mountain, making Mickey’s ears. The image is slightly askew, so if you need to, cock your head to the left and you should see the Hidden Mickey! (Don’t worry, you don’t look that silly with your head tilted like that).

2. There’s A Shrine That’s a Mini Version of the Mountains

As you’re walking into Asia, There’s a shrine positioned across the lagoon from Expedition Everest. There’s often a Photo Pass Photographer in this area to grab an awesome shot with the mountains in the background. But if you stand back just a little, and maybe bend down a tad, you’ll see that this shrine is the exact shape of the mountains behind you! If you stand in the right place, you can cover the whole mountain with the tiny shrine.

Expedition Everest Shrine

This shrine is a mini replica of Expedition Everest! Photo by Rich Ramos

3. The Big Mountain isn’t Everest

The mountain you’re “climbing” on the ride isn’t actually Mount Everest. It’s a mountain called the Forbidden Mountain (as the name of the ride suggests). Mount Everest is seen on the ride, though! It’s a smaller mountain to the right and slightly behind the Forbidden Mountain. Remember that shrine? Right next to it, there’s a telescope. It’s trained on Mount Everest.


This telescope will show you Mount Everest! Photo by Cliff Wang

Even though Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, when you look at the Himalayas, Everest doesn’t usually look taller than the mountains surrounding it, because it’s so far behind them. So even though it’s right next to the Forbidden Mountain at Disney World, the Imagineers made it much smaller to give the idea of distance and a more real-life feel!

4. Imagineers Brought in TONS of Plant Life

In order to make the ride feel more like the real Himalayan Mountains, the Imagineers brought in plant-life native to or similar to the agriculture in Nepal and Tibet where the mountain lies.

Plants at Everest

Take in the plants growing all around the mountain! Photo by Cliff Wang

In total, over 900 bamboo plants, 10 different species of trees, and 110 species of shrubs were planted!

5. The Totem Poles Are Authentic

Imagineers go above and beyond to make their rides as authentic and accurate as possible. Just as they brought in plant-life, they brought in artwork from Nepal.

The totem poles outside Expedition Everest were carved by Nepalese woodcarvers.

6. The Light Fixtures Aren’t Actually Light Fixtures

As you walk into the queue through the first building, you’ll notice some interesting light fixtures hanging from the ceiling above you. Those aren’t actually meant to be lighting! They’re repurposed tea leaf-drying lamps – which fits right into the story that the building was once a tea warehouse.

7. The Steam from the Train is an Illusion!

As you’re waiting to board the next train to the summit, you may notice steam rising from the boiler on the back of the train car. This is pretty typical train behavior, but the boiler isn’t filled with water… so where’s the steam coming from?

Expedition Everest Trains

The boilers on the backs of these trains aren’t really filled with water. Photo by Judd Helms

It’s actually not coming from the train at all! The steam is rising from underneath the boiler, under the tracks. They just want it to look like it’s coming from the boiler!

6. Don’t Worry – The Yeti’s Not So Bad

If you pay attention to the details in the queue and exit, you’ll realize the Yeti isn’t really a feared, scary creature. He’s actually honored and revered among the locals.


Maybe the Yeti is not-so-scary after all! Photo by Cliff Wang

He’s just doing his job and protecting the mountain! Maybe you shouldn’t have been trying to encroach on his territory…

Sources: Secrets of Walt Disney World, Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World

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Subscribe to WDW Magazine for more thrills! You won’t want to miss our coverage of the three mountains of Magic Kingdom in our January 2020 issue!

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Posts by Leah Sikes

Leah Sikes is a graphic designer and contributing writer for WDW Magazine and Dad's Guide to WDW. When she's lucky enough to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, you catch her hanging out with the 999 Happy Haunts. She also loves running in the parks (when it's allowed at the marathons).

Authored by
Leah Sikes

Leah Sikes is a graphic designer and contributing writer for WDW Magazine and Dad's Guide to WDW. When she's lucky enough to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, you catch her hanging out with the 999 Happy Haunts. She also loves running in the parks (when it's allowed at the marathons).
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