Opened: April 7, 2006.
Location: Asia in between Kali River Rapids on the left and Finding Nemo down to the right.
Extra Magic Hours: Morning.
FASTPASS: Yes. FASTPASSes usually run out before the other FASTPASS attractions, making collecting them your top FASTPASS priority. When it’s 85+ degrees out, return times may be similar to nearby Kali River Rapids.
Type: Roller coaster.
Similar To: Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, only outside and without inversions.
Requirements: Must be 44” or taller to ride.
Scary Factor: This section does contain spoilers after the second sentence. Medium. Along with Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest is one of the most intense thrill rides at Disney World. There is a fairly substantial backwards drop through the dark and the ride is faster than any of the coasters at the Magic Kingdom. The Yeti also makes an appearance near the end of the ride, but he no longer swipes at passing vehicles. If you don’t look up near the end of the ride, you may not even notice him.
Can My Kids and I Handle Expedition Everest? More Spoilers. Expedition Everest is intense for Disney World, but not compared to most of the coasters at Universal Studios, Six Flags, or other theme parks. If you enjoyed Tower of Tower, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, or any other “big coaster” at another theme park then you shouldn’t have a problem with Expedition Everest. It is a step up in terms of intensity from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Space Mountain, but most riders enjoy Everest, even if they went in scared or weren’t expecting to enjoy it. There are no loops or inversions and the only real “uh oh” moment is when the coaster drops backwards. The other positive is that the ride is amazingly smooth. There is little jostling or jerkiness to be concerned about.
When To Go: Like all major attractions, the best time to ride is right after the Animal Kingdom opens, in the final hour of operation, or with FASTPASS. You’ll want to avoid 10am to at least 4pm most days.
Single Rider Line: Along with Test Track and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest offers a “single rider line.” This line is used to fill ride vehicles that are mostly full, but have one or two odd spaces that need to be filled. Those spaces are filled by people in the single rider line. The benefit to the single rider line is that waits are usually much shorter than the regular standby line. If the wait at the regular standby line is 40 minutes, the wait for the single rider line may still be 15 minutes or less. On the downside, it is highly unlikely that you will be seated with other people in your group. If you don’t care or are riding alone, the single rider line may be your best bet if you’re in a hurry to get to another attraction and don’t want to return with FASTPASS.
Expect to Wait: Waits usually peak at about 35 minutes in the afternoon, though they may reach 50 to 60 minutes when Animal Kingdom is busier. Waits before 10am are usually ten minutes or less when Animal Kingdom is highly recommended and the overall crowd level is a 5 or below, thanks to a healthy capacity.
Length: 3 minutes
What to Expect: Along with the newer Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest has one of the more interesting queue areas. There are many interesting artifacts that create the back story of the mysterious beast that resides in the mountain. After the queue is completed, riders are seated in one of six cars that are attached to each other to make one long train. Each car has three rows (except the last which has two) and can seat two people per row, for a total of 34 people per train. The Expedition begins and riders are taken through a number of high speed twists, turns, and drops before a final confrontation with the Yeti.
Where to Sit: The first row provides the best view of what’s ahead, but the last row provides the wildest ride. There really isn’t a bad seat on the train. When you arrive at the front of the line and the cast member asks how many are in your group, request a row number at that time if you have a preference.
Commentary: Although not on par with many of Universal Studios’ or Six Flags’ coasters as far as speed and intensity are concerned, Expedition Everest excels because of the story and the atmosphere. Disney is certainly capable of creating the world’s wildest coaster, but they simply don’t want to because it doesn’t really fit into what they do. What we do have is an excellent attraction that the entire family can enjoy. It’s not so intense that the younger crowd won’t want to ride it, but not so tame that teenagers and adults won’t be impressed. Expedition Everest is an excellent attraction and probably the second best ride at Animal Kingdom, slightly behind Kilimanjaro Safaris.