Category Archives: Animal Kingdom

Inside the Magic – Expedition Everest

Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.IMG_1761

Expedition Everest is one of my favorite atractions in all of Disney World! 

The adventure begins in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom,  join the Expedition Everest team and embark on a trek through Anandapur. The trail leads visitors to the village of Serka Zong, which means “fortress of the chasm.” The Royal Anandapur Tea Company shipped its tea by train from Serka Zong through the Forbidden Mountain pass. The railroad was closed after several mysterious accidents, rumored to be from the hand of a Yeti. Today, the village of Serka Zong is thriving again thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneurs. The Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions company has partially refurbished the railway and now offers transportation for adventurers to the base camp at Mt. Everest.

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Imagineers traveled to Nepal and surrounding areas to research local culture, architecture, food, and the legend of the Yeti. This massive feat was accomplished by building the ride track and the mountain completely independent of the other. The track and mountain never touch and were both built with superstructures that do not dependent on each other. When the attraction opened, the Yeti was the biggest, most advanced audio-animatronics figure to ever be created. He stands a whopping 25 ft tall and has the potential to move his entire body an astounding 5 ft horizontally in a few seconds flat. The figure was constructed to sit atop a 46 ft tall independent concrete base meant to hold its weight while allowing the beast to swoop down on passing train vehicles, terrifying riders and confirming the legends’ truth. Of couse, he hasn’t worked as he was meant to since that firt year, 2006. No explanation has ever been given as to why and stobe lights and fans to make his fur move have been put in place as a Plan B. 

The queue for the ride is pretty incredible itself, try to take in as much detail as you can. The statutes featured outside, the flags hanging, the clothing in the cases, even the currency in the photos is all spot on with the Indian culture that exists at the base of the real Everest.

Building a Thrill Ride

Intestesting documentary on the building of Expedition Everest.

Fun Facts

  • The Forbidden Mountain’s rocky peaks and distinctive face are based upon the actual northwest face of Mount Everest.
  • More than 2,000 handcrafted items of wood, stone, and metal supplied by artisans in Asia are featured in the attraction.
  • At 199 feet, Expedition Everest is the tallest mountain at any Disney park.
  • The steam rising from the train after it pulls into the loading area actually comes from steam vents underneath the train station! These create the effect of an actual steam powered engine but the steam isn’t water-based to prevent rusting.
  • Expedition Everest reaches a top speed of 50 mph!
  • Notice the many hairbands thrown on the mountain when you stop at the broken track! It’s a weird tradition to throw hairbands here.

 

Climb aboard, let’s go to the base of Mt. Everest!

Flight of Passage

The latest greatest attraction in Orlando since the opening of Pandora, the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is in my opinion, Flight of Passage.

 

The lines are long with this one!

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Flight of Passage is a thrilling ride (with a 44″ height requirement) on the back of an animatronic banshee wearing 3D glasses. It’s far from just another simulator ride though. The experience starts in the queue itself. It meanders through rock formations, past waterfalls, interesting landscapes and into what appears from the outside to be a gigantic rock. Inside it’s nice a cool and continues its meandering ways. There is plenty to look at and makes the long wait, not quite so bad really.

 

The two pre-ride videos explain that the conflict between the humans and the Na’Vi aliens has ended and now humans can experience this amazing thrill that is a rite of passage for the Na’Vi. The ride is a flight simulator perched in front of a 65-foot wide, 90-foot tall 3D screen. As you enter the flight room, after you’ve been matched with your banshee, you get your first glimpse of the motorcycle like contraction you’ll be riding. But this isn’t a motorcycle, it’s a living breathing banshee! Put on your 3D glasses and FLY!

The thrills are strong with this one!

You’ll fly through forests, past waterfalls avoiding animals and a tsunami! The wind blowing, the sights, and sounds. It truly is an incredible attraction.

It’s Soarin on Steroids!

I managed to ride this 3 times in one day on a busy September day. Arriving at park opening with the crowds all heading there, the line started right about where the sign is telling you what the wait time is. It said 2 hours. But the crowds were still filing in, filling in the queue and we pretty much walked steadily, slowly without stopping. It took about 45 minutes to get to the first pre-ride movie. The second time was with a Fastpass, took about 30 minutes even with the Fastpass. The 3rd time we just waited. The sign said it was a 90-minute wait and we had some time to kill. It took 60 minutes. But this time we got to see the entire queue which we skipped the first 2 times through.

Flight of Passage is definitely the best use of a Fastpass at Animal Kingdom, but even without one, with a little planning and some patience, it’s well worth the wait.

Twenty Years of Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom turns 20 this year. This truly unique park opened on Earth Day 1998, April 22, 1998. A month later, I got married and spent part of my honeymoon at Disney World and we both enjoyed our day at this brand new park immensely. It was great then, but 20 years later…it’s so much better!Animal Kingdom

The newly added Pandora, World of Avatar land is a must see even for non-Avatar fans. Just the visuals, pictures don’t do it justice, you have to see it in person for the full effect. Mountains suspended in the air, waterfalls descending into pools seemingly on the rainforest floor, the colorful plant life and at night it all takes on an incredible luminescent glow.

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This area brings with it two new attractions, one of which is hands down the best attraction in all of the Orlando theme parks according to me at least. Flight of Passage takes you on a Banshee ride! You fly…on a banshee! It is the best simulator I’ve ever experienced. It’s even worth the long lines. There is a height requirement of 44″ on this one, but the Na’Vi River Journey is family friendly. It’s a leisurely boat ride through the bioluminescent forest of Pandora.

 

Animal Kingdom has extended their hours and are open into the dark hours now adding a nighttime show, Rivers of Light which is also worth a look and don’t miss the projections on the Tree of Life after dark.

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Of course, one of my favorite rollercoasters of all time is Expedition Everest, it wasn’t there in 1998, but I have since made up for that. Single rider line means no waits and the ability to ride it over and over and over again in quick

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Some of my favorite things at Animal Kingdom aren’t even the attractions though. There is just so much to see. The trails that take you into the animal habitats are wonderful. Pangani Trail brings you up close to gorillas and so much more. The Maharajah Jungle Trek bring you up close with Bengal Tigers. A walk around the Tree of Life just marveling at its carvings could take hours and there are hidden spots with animals dispersed around the tree. And of course, Kilimanjaro Safari is a classic and now available at night as well for a completely different experience.

This park has truly become a full day park.