That quest is what inspired Joe Rohde, creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering.
With the just-completed Expedition Everest: Mission Himalayas, the Walt Disney Company
joined with Conservation International and Discovery Networks on a cultural and scientific journey from one end of the eastern Himalayas to the other.
The team searched for new plants and animals not yet discovered in the eastern Himalayan region from China to Nepal, one of the most botanically rich temperate regions in the world with an estimated 12,000 plant species, including 3,500 found nowhere else. Rohde
joined the unique journey to investigate the powerful legend of the yeti, the environs and architecture of the Himalayas and the people and culture.His
goal was to bring a new level of authenticity to Expedition Everest, an exciting attraction opening spring 2006 at Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort
Premiering the week of April 9, 2006, on the Travel Channel, "Expedition Everest: Journey to Sacred Lands" follows the journeys and discoveries of Rohde
embarks on his
adventure to Everest.Providing unprecedented coverage of this artist's journey to reveal this complex and unique region, the special will cover the miles traveled to research and replicate so accurately the culture, architecture and customs of Nepal for the newest Disney attraction.
"Imagineers are renowned for our passionate approach to creating the legendary experiences guests have come to expect from Disney
," said Rohde
."We are going to incredible lengths to tell this story to our guests: researching cultural and spiritual legends through local people who have reported sightings of the yeti, and governments who preserve pristine lands in the name of the creature known as 'protector of the mountains.' "Rohde
is quite familiar with that part of the world, having traveled there on numerous occasions.In 2004, Rohde, Walt Disney Imagineering architect Stefan Hellwig and production manager Chris Kelly went to the Nepalese Himalayas to study the lands, architecture, colors and culture to shape their design for the mythical village area of the attraction they were creating.
"Touching the prayer wheels, hearing the tonal spectrum of animal bells, experiencing a 360-degree view from the mountaintop monastery and seeing how the local people applied color to their homes left a deep impression on us," said Rohde
Local people told Rohde
of animal carcasses tossed high in trees, yak skulls broken in half with amazing force, and tufts of bluish hair caught on branches.All these were attributed to the yeti.
interviewed the Rinpoche, a sacred man known as "the living Buddha," about Ding Guo Shan
and the yeti.
"Our yeti is like a huge scary version of one of these monkeys ... yet the size of an ape," said Rohde
.Seeing these rare animals in their native habitat provides a new perspective on the authenticity of the images the team has blended into the attraction in Florida.The work by Rohde
and the Imagineering
team to create a believable world around the exciting new attraction continues the real-life storytelling that is the hallmark of Disney's Animal Kingdom.
...Joe Rohde, executive designer for Walt Disney Imagineering and lead designer of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park, gives journalists a preview of the newest thrill ride coming to the park in 2006 -- Expedition Everest -- during a media event May 6.
...As construction on the mountain-themed roller coaster continues behind him, Joe Rohde (second from left), executive designer for Walt Disney Imagineering and lead designer of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., talks about the newest thrill ride roller coaster to be added to the park -- Expedition Everest.Joining Rohde on the tour are (L-R): Jay Rasulo, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Dr. Leeanne Alonso, vice president for Conservation International, and Clark Bunting, executive vice president of Discovery U.S Networks Group.
..."Imagineers are renowned for our passionate approach to creating the legendary experiences guests have come to expect from Disney," said Imagineering Creative Executive Joe Rohde.
2 May 2005: Joe Rohde
- A Quest for AuthenticityA Quest for Authenticity -- Joe Rohde, Executive Designer and Vice President, Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering, collaborates with a monk in Nepal to learn the art of mining the raw earth to create colors.
..."Expedition EVEREST adds a new dimension to our storytelling in Disney's Animal Kingdom," said Joe Rohde, executive designer at Walt Disney Imagineering and lead designer of the park.