The Yeti, or "Abominable Snowman", is a cryptid said to live in the Himalayas of Central Asia.
It has appeared in various Disney media, most prominently in the theme parks and is usually depicted as a ferocious territorial beast. The most well known and recurring Disney incarnation of the creature is the one from the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction at Disneyland, known by the nickname of Harold.
Nicknamed Harold, this yeti is a resident of the Matterhorn mountain in the Swiss alps. It is unknown how or when the yeti would have done so (especially considering it is a cryptid from the Himalayas) but it is known to be deeply and violently territorial.
Over the course of its life in the Matterhorn it has seen a large number of human intruders. This includes humans in bobsleds, the Wells mountaineering expedition, Swiss natives with alphorns, and even skyway buckets pass through its domain. Many of these were violently attacked by the yeti's hand and used to decorate its lair within the mountain.
Nicknamed Betty the Yeti or theDisco-Yeti by guests, this yeti is the legendary guardian of the Himalayan mountains, said to reside in the Forbidden Mountain. It is unclear to what extent the yeti is a mythical protector and to what extent it is simply an animal, but regardless it causes harm to those which dare disturb the Forbidden Mountain.
In the village of Serka Zong at the mountain's base, an old train line originally belonging to the Royal Anandapur Tea Company was constructed through the Himalayas. However, the train lines closed in the first place due to incidents in the 1930s where the Yeti attacked the trains moving through its territory in the Forbidden Mountain.
Since this time, many journeyed to the forbidden mountain and many had claimed encounters with the feared yeti. Notably there was the League of Adventurers which tried to build passages through the mountain in the 1930s. Additionally there was the, "Lost expedition" which had its camp found in shatters with a broken camera containing blurred photos of the yeti.
The tea trains were re-opened by Himalayan Escapes, a tourism company hoping to use the trains as transport to the Base Camp at Mount Everest. However when the trains once more became active, so too did the yeti's wrath.
In real-life, the Yeti is a legendary cryptid (animal/being of unconfirmed/dubious existence) which is said to inhabit the mountains of Himalayas. It originates from the folklore and myths of the Himalayan region which have been active for centuries with it traditionally being referred to as: g.ya' dred, Yachê, and g.ya' which would later be anglicized as, "Yeti". Most traditional names referencing the creature being comparable to a bear or a legendary hybrid of man and bear, specifically the Himalayan brown-bear.
In 1921, a group of British mountaineering military officers coined the term, "The Abominable Snowman" in reference to a series of large tracks found in the snows, resembling those of a giant human or bear footprint. According to the British documents, their sherpa proposed the tracks might have belonged to, "Metoh-kangmi" which the British took to mean, "Abominable Snowman" while in reality it translated to, "Man-Bear of the Snows". The iconography of the yeti as an, "Ape-Man" was largely manufactured by Western pop-culture due to a trend of colonists altering regional cultural traditions into said caveman-like monsters (E.G., the Sasq’ets cultural practice of nomadism of indigenous Canada being reinterpreted as the monstrous Sasquatch).
Following this, interest in the yeti grew which lead to large amounts of media regarding religious objects such as a yeti scalp, yeti hand-bone, yeti fur, yeti feces and even a yeti mummy being in possession of Tibetan religious organizations. When tested for DNA, the bones came back as belonging to Himalayan brown bears, the mummy as being of a Himalayan brown-bear, most of the fur/hair as belonging to Himalayan brown-bears with the infrequent yak hair, teeth belonging to the atheistic black-bear, and the scalp being made from an elk or fox-hide. It should be noted that atheistic black-bears and Himalayan brown bears are both native to the region, live in high altitudes, have many bones virtually identical to human bones (namely their claws), and can walk on their hind-legs. Furthermore it should also be said that any observation of the yeti or any other fauna of the Himalayas would be altered by intense winds, snows, and the human brain being continuously deprived of oxygen.
The Abominable Snowman was first introduced to the Matterhorn Bobsleds for it's 1977 refurbishment. According to The Disney Mountains: Imagineering at its Peak, plans existed for the creature to be installed as part of the original 1959 attraction, but budget crunches and scheduling deadlines lead the concept to be shelved. Other historical sources have suggested that the original Snowman figures were repurposed from gorilla figures originally built for the Jungle Cruise.
New Snowman figures were installed in 2015 as part of Disneyland's 60th Anniversary. This new animatronics presented a more expressive creature with a wider, more fluid range of motion and less aesthetically synthetic design. An additional effect was added to the lift-hill where guests saw a CGI animation of the yeti following them behind transparent ice.
The Yeti built for Expedition Everest was the culmination of extensive research of the Yeti's role in Nepalese and Tibetan culture and primatology to create a believable animal. These influences included the Gigantopithecus often cited as a potential identity for large ape cryptids, as well as the snub-nosed langur, a high-altitude monkey living in the mountains of Sichuan. The animatronic figure built for the attraction's final scene would be one of the largest and most advanced Audio-Animatronics figures ever built for a Disney attraction.
Most of the figure's weight would be held up by a slide and boom structure emerging from its back. It was powered by a 3000 psi hydraulic thruster that could be recharged in 20 seconds and the combined thrust of all the figure's linear actuators working together could put out a force equivalent to a jet engine. Because of this, the support base for the figure and it's boom would be kept separate from the structures of the mountain and the ride track. However, problems with this support structure would result in the figure being kept a static "B-Mode" for years.
This B-Mode uses strobe lights and fans to convey movement, a back-up plan that has resulted in fans nicknaming the figure "Disco Yeti". Plans to fix the figure have existed for some time, but with Animal Kingdom's low guest capacity, these have been benched for some time.
A yeti appears on the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland as the main antagonist of the ride. It is sometimes referred to as Harold and it exists as three Audio-Animatronic figures to roar at the riders. One can be seen on both tracks, while the other two can be seen on their respective tracks. In addition to the figures, each track has its own set of glowing red eyes that belong to the monster.
When Harold was first introduced to the attraction in 1978, the marketing campaign focused around the mystery of the monster now lurking in the caves of the Matterhorn Bobsleds. "Fleeting sightings" of the creature put him between seven and nine feet tall, with footprints being measured to be eight inches wide and eighteen inches long, and a thunderous roar being measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. Footprint casts of the Yeti "discovered by Matterhorn mountaineers" were put on display on the queue path around the mountain.
In 2015, to celebrate Disneyland's 60th anniversary, the old yetis were replaced with new ones that move more fluidly and with a less limited range of motion. As the cars go up the initial lift hill, the Yeti also now peers at the guests through thin layers of ice. After roaring a few times, he follows the guests to the peak of the mountain. In both of his appearances as an actual animatronic, he is now hidden behind a few rocks from the waist down.
Though he was initially depicted as attacking riders unprovoked, it was stated that the new incarnation of the yeti is simply trying to protect his environment.
Pictures of the Yeti figure can be seen at Shanghai Disneyland's Camp Discovery attraction, taken from a 1930s expedition by the League of Adventurers which were trying to help build trails through the Himalayas.
In this Blizzard Beach attraction is an ice-cave containing several cave-etchings of unknown origin. One of these carvings depicts the yeti in-front of the Forbidden Mountains, attacking a pair of humans.
The Yeti is, again, the main antagonist of this rollercoaster at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Its presence can be felt throughout the queue where it is represented with statues, monuments, and even a wood carvings of its foot-print.
The Yeti Museum featured in the attraction's queue also chronicles a failed 1982 expedition to the Forbidden Mountain with blurry photographs of the angry Yeti and the battered remains of the climbers' camp. Despite this evidence and the warnings of the Yeti Museum's curator, Himalayan Escapes does not believe in the Yeti and thinks their rail service is perfectly safe.
After the train sets off, it climbs up the mountain, passing through an ancient temple with artwork of the yeti and many offerings left by the people of the region. At the top, it makes a turn to find the tracks ahead have been torn up by the Yeti. Then the train reverses into a cave (via powerful switches). After going a little ways, the riders see the Yeti's shadow as it starts to tear up more tracks. Soon another set of switches activate and the Yeti's shadow disappears as the train goes down an 80 foot drop. After the train makes a turn at the bottom of the drop, it enters a cave, where riders hear the Yeti's roar. After making two loops outside, the train is then lifted back into the mountain for the last time where riders encounter the yeti face to face.
One of the books found in the Skipper Canteen's library is Expedition Everest: The Search for the Yeti by Harrison Hightower III. Hightower being a character from Tokyo's incarnation of the Tower of Terror who is well known for his morally questionable acts of grave-robbing, colonial theft, and big-game hunting. This seems to imply that before his demise in 1899, Hightower attempted to find the yeti, likely to try and put on display in his collection.
In the meta element of the allusion, this is in-reference to Harrison Hightower III's actor being imagineer Joe Rhode who also was the lead developer behind Expedition Everest.
In this attraction, members of the Wilderness Explorers must learn about the culture of the yeti from locals of Serka Zong to gain a, "Yeti Badge". Said yeti badge depicts the Matterhorn incarnation of the yeti with additional illustrations of the beast being in the Wilderness Explorers guidebook.
A female yeti guest stars in the episode "Lost Crown of Genghis Khan", clad in jewels and featuring a very different design from the Yetis that would be used in the video games DuckTales and DuckTales Remastered. She is also a more traditionally designed Yeti in contrast to the more humanoid design from the original Carl Barks storyline that the episode is an adaptation of.
At the beginning she scares away throwing huge snowballs at Genghis Khan and his army while she was threatened to death and finds Genghis Khan's crown lying in the snow, and claims it.
A group of Yeti family is seen in the 35th episode, "Baby Yeti!". They were introduced by Minnie Mouse's nieces Millie and Melody Mouse until learned to work together after a giant snowball sends baby Yeti into the middle of a frozen lake.
In this book, the Expedition Everest Yeti is in fact a prison cell for Chernabog who is being rescued by Maleficent whilst Finn Whitman, Amanda and Jessica Lockhart tried to stop them from escaping. Finn attempts to stop Maleficent who is freeing Chernabog. The yeti grabs Finn and prepares to eat him. They escape the cavern when the coster comes through and they hop on.
According to The Art of Epic Mickey, in early concepts for the game, the Mad Doctor was to have a version of the Disneyland audio animatronic Yeti as a bodyguard. In later concepts, he was supposed to be found at Mickeyjunk Mountain and serve as a battle armor for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Despite these two possibilities, the Yeti was eventually scrapped from the game.
The Old 1977 Yeti in Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland
CGI render of the 2015 Matterhorn Yeti
2015 Matterhorn Yeti
Yeti near the end of Expedition Everest
The Yeti's shadow just before the main drop of Expedition Everest
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has an homage to the Yeti in Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities where a taxidermy Wampa is arranged in a position mirroring the Matterhorn Yeti.
Unlike most depictions in which it has white fur, the Yeti is described as having brown or reddish-brown fur.
The yeti is similar to the Thunderbird from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Namely that they are both Disney Parks characters based on famous cryptids and are renowned of legendary status to locals while being characterized as powerful protectors of their respective mountains.
Expedition Everest's depiction would be the most accurate to legend, since it is brown rather than white as in other Disney works.