The Walt Disney Company seems to be often involved in one controversy or another. Through the decades, its movies, theme parks, attractions, and characters have all been critiqued.
Lately, it seems that most controversies surrounding the company have to do with political battles, live-action remakes, and business decisions. But many years ago, another internal controversy surrounded a new E-ticket attraction being built in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Early Animal Kingdom
We are, of course, talking about Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.
When the original Animal Kingdom theme park opened in 1998, it had few thrill rides. Many considered it a “half-day” park as it didn’t offer a wide range of attractions (there was no Avatar-themed land nor Expedition Everest roller coaster).
It also closed earlier than other parks due to the animals that lived in the park. This made it a Disney Park with much shorter hours and therefore shorter visits.
It is now one of the most popular attractions at the theme park, bringing guests face-to-face with an audio-animatronic Yeti.
While waiting in line, guests travel through a queue that includes the base of operations for Himalayan expeditions and a museum and temple dedicated to the Yeti.
Next, park guests board a train that takes them up the mountain. However, once they get near the summit, the track is mysteriously torn up, and they are sent backward into the heart of the mountain.
After an exhilarating descent, the train stops as riders watch a shadow of the Yeti rip apart another piece of the track just before being sent down one of the biggest drops at Walt Disney World Resort.
The Expedition Everest Controversy
But according to legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde, the pause during the track switch was controversial. Many cast members on the team debated whether or not something should be “happening.”
Last year, Rohde responded to a Disney fan on X (formerly Twitter) who pointed out that part specifically.
“That pause in the middle was really controversial… Even people on the team were like ‘it’s a ride!!! we’re supposed to do something’ But that moment is the pivot of the whole experience and I think folks need a sec to register the tonal change. Glad it works.”
That pause in the middle was really controversial… Even people on the team were like “it’s a ride!!! we’re supposed to do something” But that moment is the pivot of the whole experience and I think folks need a sec to register the tonal change. Glad it works https://t.co/61Qg60Flpy
— Joe Rohde (@Joe_Rohde) August 19, 2022
However, that tonal change builds the suspense before sending guests on a high-speed run around the Himalayas.
Often described as the child of the Matterhorn at the and , Expedition Everest stands among other iconic Disney’s adventures like Kilimanjaro Safaris and of Passage.
All of which likely had their own behind-the-scenes debates and controversies waiting to be unearthed…