[Intro by Jim Korkis]
Disneyland Park's Matterhorn has an Abominable Snowman lurking in its interior, but the creature is not as elaborate or impressive as its cousin that threatens guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Expedition Everest.
When the Expedition Everest attraction opened officially in June 2006, the Yeti was the largest and most complex Audio-Animatronics figure ever built by Walt Disney Imagineering.
It is 25-feet tall and is controlled by 19 actuators working together that can allow it to move 5 feet horizontally and 18 inches vertically, literally making it able to lunge in threateningly toward the ride vehicles.
Soon after the attraction opened, the Yeti figure's framing split and, because the 46-foot-tall platform it is on was sealed within the mountain superstructure, it would be expensive and time consuming to access and repair it—especially since it would be impractical to shut down the attraction that was drawing so many guests to the park.
A Presentation From Joe Rohde
We went all over the Himalayas. Did research all over the place, but we chose a very specific style of architecture to evoke because when you look at these buildings, it's obvious that something is going on that is more than just the functional use of the building and that it's something you don't necessarily understand. And all of that is part of building a mood and building a story in the village that is consistent with what we're trying to move forward in the story of Expedition Everest.
The Yeti mandir (Hindu temple) is very…uh, it doesn't look like anything else—hopefully that makes people look at it—and then the whole mandir. In particular this structure, this mandir structure, which is about 35-feet tall and almost the entire exterior—the bronze work, the carved woodwork, everything you see—came from Nepal; was designed and built in Nepal for us by these traditional woodcraft guys. I'm sure their hearts would be broken to see how we distressed and aged it with, like, jackhammers and, you know, sandblasters to make it look old but it was designed and it was deliberately designed to incorporate all these images of the legend of the Yeti.
So, it is the Yeti as a fierce protector of the mountain. The Yeti as the destroyer of yaks. If you look at the thing, it's Yeti, Yeti, Yeti, Yeti, Yeti. Everywhere you look there's carvings of Yeti, so it is the Yeti mandir.
And then, within it, is the little inset kind of shrine area and that has a bronze of the Yeti. Once again, while this belief in the Yeti, this idea that the Yeti is the defender and protector of the mountain definitely exists. There's not a lot of actual visual design to go along with it and that has to do with really complicated kind of Tibetan…the way they think of things, in the sense that they believe in the Yeti as a real creature—he lives out there in the forest, he comes down, he eats my yak, he's a real animal—but sometimes he's also the divine protector of the mountain and we have a picture of the divine protector of the mountain over here. It doesn't look anything like the Yeti. But when the Yeti is protecting the mountain, he's this guy.