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DAK bulletin board cleverly sets the stage for "Expedition Everest"

DAK bulletin board cleverly sets the stage for "Expedition Everest"

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Okay. I know that there's already been a lot written about Expedition Everest. About how the Imagineers have really outdone themselves with Forbidden Mountain. Not only by giving Disney's Animal Kingdom this exciting new thrill ride but by also providing the entire Walt Disney World resort with a memorable new icon.


Photo by Jeff Lange

But me? I can't help but notice that -- what with all the talk about how terrific EE's summit looks as well as how lifelike that Audio Animatronic yeti that's hidden deep inside the mountain appears to be -- that people seem to be overlooking all of the subtle storytelling that the guys from WDI have attempted to do with this attraction.

By that I mean: All of the texture, all of the additional bits of info that you only  discover as you slowly make your way through the ride's queue. Which does a great job of setting the stage for the epic adventure that you're about to embark on.

Take -- for example -- the Shangri-La. The alleged trekkers inn & internet cafe that you pass as you make your way toward "Expedition Everest" ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

On the side of the inn, there's a public bulletin board that's loaded with posters, notecards and official-looking notices. Stuff that's supposedly been posted there by both hikers as well as the local officials ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

The next time you find yourself in line over at "Expedition Everest," be sure and go over to check this bulletin board out. You'll see that -- by posting all of these seemingly random bits & pieces -- the Imagineers have actually provided all the people standing in line with the backstory of the world they're about to enter, the attraction that they're about to experience.

Take -- for example -- this message from a seemingly oblivious tourist ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... That note establishes that "Kali River Rapids" (I.E. DAK's whitewater raft ride) isn't just some separate, stand-alone attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. But -- rather -- that KKR is a part of the whole. It's not just some ride in DAK's Asia section, but -- rather -- a part of EE's mythology. A place where brave adventurers -- who have already enjoyed a train trip up the side of Forbidden Mountain -- might then go to enjoy a quiet rafting trip down the Chakranadi River.

And then (Because this is a Disney theme park after all. And we're supposed to have fun while we're standing in line at a Disney theme park, right?) there's the obligatory in-joke ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... that Disney dweebs can then chuckle over as they slowly make their way through the front of the queue.

But then -- as you continue to read the rest of the notices that are posted on this particular bulletin board -- you'll find that not all of the information that's posted here is meant to be amusing. Some of this stuff seems rather scholarly, serious even ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... Or should I say ominous?


Photo by Jeff Lange

I mean, some of the notes that you find posted here is truly disquieting. If not downright frightening.


Photo by Jeff Lange

"I heard they are opening that train again. That could be very bad." Wait a minute ... Is that notecard referring to the train that we're now on line to ride?

You see what I'm saying here, folks? If you actually read a lot of the material that's been posted here on this bulletin board by the Imagineers, you'll have a much better understanding of the world that you're about to enter, the perils that await you high up on Forbidden Mountain.

Mind you, there is one notice posted here ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

... that's actually a quiet tribute to what might have been.

You see, when the Imagineers were initially planning Disney's Animal Kingdom, one of the concepts that they considered as a possible attraction for this theme park was actually modeled after Disneyland's Skyway.

To explain: DAK guests would have climbed inside a "sky bucket." They'd then have slowly moved through the air above various Himalayan-themed animal enclosures. Where WDW visitors would have been able to look down and see snow leopards, ibex, langur monkeys and musk ox.

This Skyway-based attraction was supposed to have come to a dramatic close as your "sky bucket" finally reached the summit. Where -- in the middle of a fierce blizzard -- you were supposed to have had a brief but terrifying encounter with the Abominable Snowman.

As you can see, as the DAK concept was reworked & refined, the whole slow-Skyway-ride-over-Himalayan-themed-animal-enclosures idea  was eventually dropped. But the dramatic finale that the Imagineers had initially proposed for this abandoned attraction (I.E. A far-too-close encounter with a yeti) ... Well, that then provided the inspiration for what eventually became "Expedition Everest."

So the real reason that this list of Himalayan animals was tacked up on the bulletin board over at the Shangri-La ... Well, that's to remind the Imagineers who actually worked on "EE" of what this attraction could have been like. Before WDW managers supposedly told them that "We think that DAK already has enough animal-based exhibits. What this theme park really needs now is a thrill ride."

Anyway ... Come back on Thursday. And I'll show you where a certain part of "Expedition Everest" 's indoor queue area actually tells this grim but darkly funny story.

Jeff Lange is JHM's own photographer/archivist. He has just released two new titles in his on-going series of Disney theme park DVDs, "Jeff Lange Remembers ... Tarzan Rocks" and "Jeff Lange's Cruise Line Classics."

For further information on these two discs as well as all of the other titles that Jeff has created, I suggest that you follow this link.


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