Joe Rohde comments on Expedition Everest's broken Yeti animatronic

Jun 29, 2020 in "Expedition Everest"

Posted: Monday June 29, 2020 8:56am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Expediton Everest creator Joe Rohde has again commented on the condition of the broken Yeti audio-animatronic which has now been out of order for more than 13 years.

In response to a Twitter post suggesting maintenance access to the figure was a problem, Joe said, "It’s not an issue of maintenance access, they were part of the design team and set the standard. In fact, it was seen as a model collaborative process. It’s an unexpected and unforeseen set of issues, very complex, with no easy or timely solutions as of yet."

In a follow up response to a poster saying that in other words, it was "messed up" Joe replied with, "Not “messed up.” These guys did not ignore something or botch it. Innovation is like physical exploration of unknown spaces. There is stuff out there that you didn’t know, and you only encounter it by exploration. But then....there it is."

Joe Rohde is a Portfolio Creative Executive with Walt Disney Imagineering, and was the creative lead on Expedition Everest and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The Yeti, Guardian of the Mountain, is a mammoth-sized Audio-Animatronics figure with a potential thrust, in all of its hydraulic cylinders combined, of slightly over 259,000 pounds force -- potentially more instantaneous power than a 747-400 airliner.

The animatronic's motion was switched off less than a year after the ride opened in 2006 due to what is believed to be various unspecified structural issues around the figure.

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Dragonman6 days ago

“Bird on a Stick” actually first returned back in 2014 and then again in 2017 if you search the bird up on YouTube.

Cesar R M8 days ago

Maybe this is why they made Rodhe leave. Aka he made an ultimatum to let the yeti go, and that it would never get fixed because of "costs" and executive pay. Thus they said no.. and thus he left.

Model3 McQueen8 days ago

Sorry all, this is Chapek and D'Amaro we're talking about. Iger nor Chapek care. Rohde might have unless Rohde just outright lied to everyone when he kept saying they'll fix the yeti. SMH.

Cesar R M8 days ago

Somehow fits..

Master Yoda8 days ago

EagleScout6108 days ago "Unfortunately the closure will not see any improvements to the show, or a repair of the Yeti animatronic figure"

Model3 McQueen15 days ago

I hate to say it but bird on a stick is more meaningful than baby jack-jacks on a stick.

Beacon Joe22 days ago

Thanks for posting that since the post previous to yours made my head hurt. And yes, seeing a vulture up there was actually meaningful. Is there any element that bears Rohde's touch that doesn't have a purpose either to reinforce the set / location or to pay respects or at a minimum make a nod to some ethnological point? Based on what I can sort of infer about Rohde, I expect he personally wanted it as a ride element for a few reasons I can think of off the top of my head: 1) Habitat - these are high altitude birds. If you see one, especially that close, you're way up in the Himalayas. Disney and Rohde do stuff like this to reinforce setting. 2) Local Factor / Paying Respect - Obviously, I don't know this for sure, but given that I've seen Rodhe's cultural and artistic interests tend to overlap some of mine, I would bet he's not only well-read on and fascinated by sky burials that these vultures are central to, but also bet that he had watched some of the same documentaries I have on the subject. So on the face of it, if he had this cultural practice in mind, on its face, there's a "creep factor" (that also translates to the West), but really there's a much deeper cultural meaning here. Again, just my conjecture, but I would bet that he wanted to pay homage to these birds' revered status as something he learned about in his travels. 3) What's the whole ride's theme again? What's the context regarding deforestation that is established for the riders? What's the yeti upset about? You know what else in the natural world in this biome would be upset, since locally it's traditionally looked upon as protector and cleaner of the land? Yup, you guessed it, gyps himalayensis.

DoleWhipDreaAug 04, 2021

Life and death were a major part of the conversation when Animal Kingdom was being created. The park had to be realistic, and in that way, it would have to acknowledge the non-fairytale aspects of life and our world, and would therefore have to be a lot different from the other parks. Not that it's always gone over well with visitors... By comparison, the ripped up track and flying vulture are pretty tame. Looking at the image above, going a bit further in reading the symbolism of the scene, it's interesting that the track is ripped up just after the flags, which are hung up as a form of protection. They literally mark the end of where it is "safe."

networkproAug 03, 2021

Bird on a stick. To the left of the ripped up track at the summit.

cjkeatingAug 03, 2021

Oh I love it when DAK goes dark.

999th Happy HauntAug 03, 2021

Wow Animal Kingdom has some really dark elements here and there

DoleWhipDreaAug 03, 2021

I didn't get to hear Joe talk about the vulture, but when I think of vultures, I think of them as a symbol of death...when they circle around, they are zeroing in on a carcass to feed on. The ripped up track could indicate that just a bit ahead, others that tried to make the journey through the Forbidden Mountains lost their lives to the yeti, and the vulture could be feasting on the remains. Or the vulture is circling because they believe that soon, you as the rider will be left as a carcass for the vulture to feed on...

lazyboy97oAug 02, 2021

A company could try using a patented process in secret but that opens them up to liability. You’d have to keep that illegal behavior secret. That means you have to get everyone on board so it’s going to be easier done by a smaller organization than a massive one like a theme park that is also working with a lot of third party contractors and vendors. Other companies also have their own patents they want protected. There’s actually a somewhat famous story of a guy who offered to sell Pepsi Coke’s trade secrets and Pepsi called the FBI because they weren’t going to get caught up in corporate espionage. A court would not necessarily force a company to undo work that used the patented process but they could force the company to pay licensing fees and damages. Patents are also about specific processes and not ideas. The development of the sewing machine is actually really interesting in this regard as it’s a lot of very specific, often singular, improvements to established patents. That specificity is also why Disney has a patented flying theater ride system (Soarin’) but the manufacturer of that ride (Dynamic Attractions) also sells a flying theater to anyone who wants one. The way the Disney flying theater and the off-the-shelf flying theater work is different.