The long-frozen Yeti at Disney World's Expedition Everest ride can be fixed, but it won't be

On Disney World's rollercoaster ride at Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest, you'll have a frightening encounter with a Yeti. But don't worry — it hasn't moved in about 17 years.

When the ride opened in April, 2006, the animatronic Yeti figure would swing its arm down, swiping at your vehicle as it passed. But only a few months into the ride's operation, it broke, and Disney shut down the figure's movement. From DWD News Today:

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."

The head Imagineer for Animal Kingdom at the time, the genius Joe Rohde, promised in 2013 that he would fix it, saying,

"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."

But Rohde left Disney in 2021. When asked today on Twitter what it would take to fix the Yeti, he answered in RohdeSpeak: "There are solutions. There are not opportunities."

Some Disney experts say that the Yeti malfunction precludes the ride from being considered one of the all-time greats. How could it be if it climactic effect has been broken for almost all of its 17-year existence?

Yet, as disappointed as I am in that flaw, I still count Expedition Everest among the best rides ever. Its queue, evoking an Asian expedition office with posters, reference books, and displays, sets the scene perfectly. And it's a thrilling ride with an actual, fun storyline.

I rode Expedition Everest in 2006, while the Yeti figure was in full fearsome movement, and I fell in love with the ride. But I rode it as recently as March, and was impressed that as cheap as the fix is, between the Yeti's loud roar, the bright strobe effect, and the vehicle's own movement, it does simulate the Yeti's startling movement fairly well.

You're going fast when you pass it, so your view of the Yeti is pretty impressionistic, whether it's in A or B mode.

In fact, if I had any complaint, it would not be the immobile Yeti, but rather the fact that when the vehicle came to a stop at a certain point in the ride, I've had time to see in the simulated snow a rusty speaker, and some garbage, including hair ties, that previous riders discarded.

Here is a ridethrough video of Expedition Everest as it runs today. The Yeti strobe effect is too quick to be caught on video well.

And here is a video of several rides in 2006 when the Yet was in full force. You can see that even in the best of conditions, (despite the YouTube video's title screen), you don't exactly get a full, careful look at the creature and what it's doing.