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If the AA figure in DAK's "EE" isn't working properly, should 1 still B scared?

If the AA figure in DAK's "EE" isn't working properly, should 1 still B scared?

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Earlier today, Jim Hill sent me this e-mail from Kevin P.


Any word on updates or changes to Everest? The TV commercials show "snow" and I've had relatives ask me "they have snow on the ride"? Not sure what to tell them. LOL

I know this was a planned idea, but thought it was scrapped due to cost/complications.


Kevin P.

And then Jim asked me if I'd care to answer Kevin's question about the flurry effect that was originally supposed to be part of DAK's "Expedition Everest" ride.

Yeah. Well, about that snow, Kevin  ...

Were you to go back through the entire history of the Disney theme parks, Kevin, you'd hear stories about all these attractions that had absolutely killer effects when they were being tested at WED. But once the Imagineers took these rides & shows out to the field for installation ... For one reason or another, those killer effects never quite looked as good and/or worked as well in Anaheim and/or Orlando as they did back in the warehouse in Tujunga.

Case in point: The Haunted Mansion's Hat Box Ghost ...

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Hardcore Disneyana fans already know the story behind this infamous AA figure. How the Hat Box Ghost was originally supposed to occupy the Haunted Mansion's attic along with his Bride. And -- with each beat of the Bride's heart -- the Hat Box Ghost's head would disappear and then re-appear inside of the hat box.

As the story goes, this effect reportedly worked great in Glendale. But once the Hat Box Ghost was actually installed in Anaheim ... Either the lighting in the attic was all wrong or the positioning of the figure wasn't quite right. For whatever the reason, the Hat Box Ghost never quite worked the way it was originally intended. And while this AA figure was supposedly seen in the attic by hundreds of Disneyland cast members who took part in the Haunted Mansion's test-and-adjust period ... By the time this New Orleans Square attraction actually opened to the public in August of 1969, the Hat Box Ghost was long gone.

Of course, sometimes particular effects in Disney theme park attractions are lost because of operational issues. Case in point: All of those Busby Berkeley girls on that turntable toward the beginning of Disney-MGM's "Great Movie Ride."

Back when this attraction first opened at the studio theme park in May of 1989, that turntable actually did turn. But then the mechanism kept breaking down. And -- over time -- that park's operations staff eventually decided that, rather than continuing to make repairs, that it was easier (More importantly, far more cost-effective) to just to leave the turntable broken with all of its showgirls frozen in place. And then try to disguise what had happened to the turntable by using theatrical lightning, slide projectors, scrims and even bubbles!

Of course, in other cases, effects in attractions are lost because they eventually become far too costly and/or time-consuming to keep them up & running. Case in point: That piece of the ceiling that used to come crashing down in front of your troop carrier as you were riding through Disneyland's "Indiana Jones Adventure" ride.

This particular effect was achieved by first fast-freezing a thin sheet of water. This quickly-formed piece of ice was then dropped from the ceiling directly onto a super-heated grate in the floor in front of your ride vehicle.

After your troop carrier passed over this grate, the ice would then melt. This water would then be collected and pumped straight back up into the freezing unit in the ceiling. Where the whole process would begin all over again.

The only problem was -- as quick as this quick-freezing process was -- it just wasn't fast enough. Only every 12th carload of tourists actually got to experience having the ceiling cave in on them. Which WDI eventually felt was just far too few Disneyland guests to justify the cost of keeping this particular effect fully operational.

And then we have the effects like "Expedition Everest" 's fog & snow flurries. Which -- while they are nice (More importantly, were actually part of the original plans for this Animal Kingdom attraction) -- they aren't absolutely essential for the successful day-to-day operation of this runaway train ride.

Speaking of day-to-day operation ... Given that we are now just weeks away from "Expedition Everest" actually officially opening for WDW's paying customers (Rather than remaining in soft open mode. Which means that -- between now and April 7th -- DAK guests may get the chance to experience this new attraction. But Disney World officials make no guarantees that this new ride will always be operational during park hours. Anyway ... ), the EE installation team has spent the last few days making many necessary additions & adjustments to this DAK attraction.

Take -- for example -- this past weekend, when the folks from Kodak supposedly finally got "Expedition Everest" 's image capture system up & running. Of course, in order to do that, that meant that EE's Yeti had to be temporarily shifted from A mode ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

With all of its fluid movement and theatrical lighting down into B mode ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

Meaning that this enormous AA figure was then locked down in a fairly ferocious position. And then -- through the magic of strobe lighting and a few fans -- ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

... the Yeti is made to appear as if it were still moving.

As Jim mentioned back in his February 17th "Why For" column, while the B mode version of the Yeti is not nearly as impressive at the A mode version of this immense Audio Animatronic, it still has its charm ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

In fact, the use of strobes in the Yeti's cave almost gives this creature the look of one of Universal Studios' classic monsters. You know? Like "Dracula," "Frankenstein" and "The Wolf Man." Those horror films that Universal produced in the 1930s & 1940s that were all shot in black & white?

Anyway ... Getting back to your original question, Kevin: The way I hear it, the Imagineers would like to have "Expedition Everest" 's snow flurry effect operational by the time DAK's runaway train ride officially opens to the public next month. But given that this particular special effect isn't absolutely essential for the day-to-day operation of this attraction ... Well, it might then wind up being put off for a while.

Sort of like what happened with the backside of "Expedition Everest" 's show building. Which admittedly is on a WDI "To Do" list. Just not the "This-needs-to- be-done-before-'Expedition-Everest'-officially-opens-to-the-public-next-month" "To Do" list.

Anywho ... Here's hoping that today's photos of the Yeti in B mode (And -- just so you know -- these are actually color photographs, people. It's the strobe light that makes these images appear as if they were taken with black & white film) finally proves to JHM readers that this DAK attraction is still plenty scary whenever that mechanical snowman is behaving abominably.

Photo by Jeff Lange

Jeff Lange is JHM's photographer/archivist. He has just released two brand-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, JHM suggests that you follow this link.

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