Expedition Everest

Attraction SignAs it turns out, the rumors of the total lack of internet access were greatly exaggerated. When I was ironing a shirt this morning, I found an ethernet cable hiding in the back of the closet, and I grabbed it like a kid opening a Christmas present.

It doesn’t make that much of a difference, since I’m still not in the hotel room enough to keep up with my usual level of internet slack time. But it does at least let me talk about Expedition Everest to an audience other than those who are jaded about Disney rides.

But first, the trip in general. So far it’s going so well that it’s unsettling. The travel itself was painless — they’d originally stuck me in the dead center of a 7-seat plane for a 4-hour flight, but just as I was about to sit down, someone asked me to trade seats so I got an aisle. And the flight got in ahead of schedule.

The weather here has been perfect. Again, to the point of feeling unnatural — it’s just not right to be in Florida and not be soaking wet from a combination of sweat and sudden thunderstorms. But it’s been clear, sunny, and cool all week. The food’s been good, the people have been friendly, the parks have been fun, and the hotel is about perfect.

So it’s just been a slacker’s vacation on Corporate Entertainment’s dime, right? Actually, no. Because we’ve got a smaller group here and because we’re far enough along in the project to know exactly what we’re looking for, we’ve gotten a lot accomplished, and the meetings have been going well. (Because I can’t say more than that on the internets, and because I don’t want to jinx it, that’s all I’m saying about that).

And because it’s been productive, there’s been more time to just relax. We went to Animal Kingdom yesterday and rode Expedition Everest two times (keeping in theme with the trip, the line was less than 15 minutes long), and went back today to ride it again (the line was a little less than an hour this time, which was actually good because it gave us a chance to see all the details in line).

It’s an astoundingly good ride, totally solid and a hell of a lot of fun. The Asia section of the park has remarkably detailed theming, and the ride fits in with that. The queue has tons of details throughout and combines a tourist center, a shrine to the Yeti as protector of the mountain, and a Yeti museum. That theming extends to the ride itself, as the lift hill goes through a temple that’s as detailed as anything you saw in the queue. And the rest of the ride crams everything good about Disney coasters into just over a minute — effects, animation, some innovation, an some genuine surprises (even though I knew the basic layout going in).

Apparently the word going around was that it was a “gentle” coaster, but it’s not. It leaves you with the same overall feel as Big Thunder Mountain, but it’s a good bit more intense, especially the section in the dark. And the Yeti (hope I’m not ruining the ride for anyone, but yeah, you do see the Yeti) is just awesome. As much as I enjoyed the ride, it was even cooler seeing groups of kids getting off clapping and cheering and running right back to the entrance to ride it again. It looks like they’ve got a hit.

Me, I got off, bought a T-shirt for it (I’d said I wasn’t going to buy any more Disney T-shirts, but this one was too cool to pass up), and casually walked back to ride it again. If the park hadn’t been closing, I would’ve tried to ride it one more time. There’s still two days left to get my chance…