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Joe Rohde Expedition Everest
All Images Credit Disney

Former Imagineer Says One Part of Expedition Everest Was “Really Controversial”

When you think of Walt Disney World Resort, you may think of things like the monorail, Cinderella Castle, Mickey pretzels, and fireworks. Disney World has four incredible theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom — each with its own unique feel. While a Park like the Magic Kingdom is always a popular choice, one theme park has been gaining in popularity in recent years — Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Some consider the Animal Kingdom a little out of the way, but it offers experiences unlike any other.

Tree of Life

Credit: Disney Parks

The creative mind behind the creation of Animal Kingdom is none other than Disney Legend and Imagineer extraordinaire Joe Rohde. Rohde began his career with The Walt Disney Company in 1980, when he worked as a model designer and scenic painter at EPCOT’s Mexico Pavilion. Rohde worked his way up and became the lead designer of Animal Kingdom and the reason that Guests can ride one of the best roller coasters, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.

Expedition Everest

Credit: Disney

If you have ridden Expedition Everest before, then you know that the ride has you board a train at the Everest base camp. You ascend the mountain, ready to explore the Himalayas — home to the legendary Yeti — when, suddenly, you encounter a torn-up track. You then shoot backward into the mountain, after a brief pause, you see the Yeti’s shadow and your train gets out of there as fast as possible. From there, you drop down a fun, steep hill and the excitement doesn’t end until you arrive safely back at base camp.

Expedition Everest

Credit: Disney

For many people, the best part of the ride is when the train goes backward and pauses while you watch the Yeti. What you may not know is that the choice to pause the ride was apparently a controversial one. Rohde shared that little-known fact on Twitter when someone commented on how much they love the pause and how it makes the ride.

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

Expedition Everest is not the only exciting ride that Rohde and his Imagineering team brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you are looking for a wild ride down a raging river, then you can take a ride on Kali River Rapids. You can also take an incredible journey on the back of a banshee if you head over to Pandora – The World of Avatar, which was also created by Rohde and opened in 2017. If seeing animals like elephants and rhinos are more your speed, then you can take a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

What is your favorite experience to have during a day in Animal Kingdom?

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!