The Animal Kingdom Yeti
Spoiler Alert: If you've never ridden Expedition Everest and have no idea what it's like you may want to avoid this article until after you've ridden it to save the surprise.
As you probably know, Disney is all about storytelling. One of the characteristics of Walt Disney World that sets it apart from simple amusement parks is the attention to detail and story that goes into every aspect of the entire resort. Everything from the rides to the restaurants to the resorts have a "story." In the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom, a key player in the story is the Yeti.
Obviously the place we most associate with the Yeti is the Expedition Everest ride. Many consider this ride one of Disney's most compelling achievements in any of its parks. The story behind the ride is incredibly compelling and the attention to detail is absolute.
Beginning immediately on your entry to the line area, you begin to see imagery relating to the Yeti. To the right you can see the statue where those about to begin their journey can leave offerings in the hopes that they will be spared the Yeti's wrath.
As you continue through the queue area you see more and more signs of the Yeti and suspense is built. When you reach the "museum" you find the remains of a lost expedition that seems to have met a violent end. Each of these components does a fantastic job of telling a story and eliciting a response from guests who may already be nervous about the upcoming roller coaster. Below are several more well-placed reminders to visitors that they're in the lair of the Yeti.
As you can see the Yeti is clearly the star of the show and as you might expect he makes an appearance in the climax of the ride. It's unfortunate that due to technical problems the Yeti is currently in a mode where it does little of its original performance. It mainly just stands there and tries to look more exciting by having a strobe-light shone on it. After such an amazing build-up this is quite a letdown.
The technical hurdles to restoring the Yeti must be immense given the amount of disappointment guests have expressed with the current state of affairs. The Yeti has been "broken" for quite some time and there hasn't been any timetable set for its restoration. Expedition Everest remains an amazing achievement, but it is missing the jewel in its crown.
Yetis, Yetis Everywhere
While Expedition Everest may be the epicenter of Yeti activity, the mythical creature makes many more appearances in the park. The most straightforward being the reference in the Yak & Yeti restaurant.
You'll also notice the Yeti mentioned in the advertisement for the fictitious "Yeti Place Hotel." The Yeti is a fixture in the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom and it is a shame it can't be a little more animated about it.