Former Imagineer Joe Rohde responded to a question about Expedition Everest’s broken Yeti audio-animatronic on Twitter.
A Twitter user asked about the rumor that “It was known even while under construction that if it broke, a portion of the mountain would have to be removed to get to it to fix it.”
Rohde confirmed “that rumor is not true.”
“The issue is a complex interface between finance, operations, marketing, design, timing, engineering, s narrative l [sic], and … guest satisfaction. All of these need to line up to make a viable solution. There are solutions. There are not opportunities.”
The famous audio-animatronic Yeti created for Expedition Everest was the largest and most complex Walt Disney Imagineering had ever constructed. It’s 25 feet tall and could move 5 feet horizontally and 18 inches vertically.
Unfortunately, the Yeti has been in “B-mode” for almost its entire existence. Just a few months after Expedition Everest opened, the animatronic’s framing split. If it were to continue operating in its moving “A-mode,” it could damage the structure further. A strobe light is instead shone on the figure to give it the illusion of movement, and its since been dubbed “Disco Yeti.”
Rohde was the head Imagineer behind Expedition Everest and most of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He vowed to fix the Yeti someday at D23 Expo 2013.
You have to understand, it’s a giant complicated machine sitting on top of, like, a 46-foot tall tower in the middle of a finished building. So, it’s really hard to fix, but we are working on it. And we continue to work on it. We have tried several ‘things’, none of them quite get to the key, turning of the 40-foot tower inside of a finished building, but we are working on it… I will fix the Yeti someday, I swear.
Unfortunately, Rohde retired from Walt Disney Imagineering in 2021, so he may never have the opportunity to fix the animatronic. Even if remaining Imagineers were to try to fix the Yeti, Expedition Everest would probably need to be closed for an extended period of time.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s only roller-coaster was announced on the park’s 5th anniversary, April 22, 2003. Construction began soon after and the attraction was completed three years later. It opened for previews in January 2006 before a grand opening on April 7, 2006.
The attraction is 199.5 feet tall, making it the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World and Disney Parks’ tallest mountain. With an estimated cost of $100 million, Guinness World Records dubbed Expedition Everest the most expensive roller coaster in the world in 2011, but this record was beaten by Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in 2019.
It was manufactured by Vekoma. It reaches a speed of 50 mph and is 3,884.5 feet long.