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February 15, 2006

New York's Times Square Transformed Into Mount Everest

New York -- New York City's famed Times Square was transformed into the legendary Mount Everest on February 15 by Walt Disney World Resort. A 57-story spectacular brought the Himalayas to life, with dazzling special effects and the ferocious roar of the yeti, plus world-renowned aerialist acrobats performing a never-seen-before display of vertical acrobatics.

The show, "Everest in the City," took place hundreds of feet above Times Square to celebrate the launch of the thrilling new Walt Disney World attraction Expedition Everest, grand opening in April at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Project Bandaloop, featuring the world's most creative aerial acrobats, flew through the sky as they performed off a pair of towering billboards spanning two skyscrapers at Broadway and 47th Street. Serving as the dramatic backdrop, the billboards featured a runaway train racing through snow-covered mountains, just narrowly escaping the wrath of the fearsome red-eyed yeti, legendary protector of the Himalayas.

The brave climbers faced the wintry elements as they navigated the mountain while performing an exhilarating acrobatic ballet accompanied by an original musical score. New Yorkers and visitors to Times Square in February have the chance to view the incredible mountain billboard.

"Expedition Everest is one of the biggest thrill rides Walt Disney World has ever created and is a must-see addition to Disney's Animal Kingdom," said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

"What better way to communicate the drama and excitement guests will experience when they ride Expedition Everest than by bringing Mount Everest to Times Square, the crossroads of the world. 'Everest in the City' is the latest example of our ongoing push to tell compelling stories and provide strong creative content relevant to people today."

The newest attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest is a runaway train adventure that combines roller coaster thrills with the excitement of a close encounter of the hairy kind -- the fearsome yeti, protector of the mountain. Reaching speeds up to 50 mph with spiral curves and an 80-foot plummet, the runaway train speeds through a darkened mountain cavern to escape the wrath of the yeti. Peaking nearly 200 feet high and occupying about 6.2 acres, Expedition Everest is one of the 18 mountain attractions created by Walt Disney Imagineering at Disney theme parks worldwide.

Expedition Everest is currently operating on a sneak preview schedule, giving some guests an opportunity to experience the thrills during sneak "peak" season.

To broaden "Everest in the City" beyond a traditional billboard, Walt Disney World Resort partnered with industry leaders including Sylvania, Hip Cricket and AOL CityGuide. Sylvania gave the yeti his glowing red eyes using the new OSRAM LED-powered light technology. Each of the yeti's two 30-inch- diameter eyes will be lit with six OSRAM DRAGONchain(R) LED modules, making the fearsome protector's glare visible from hundreds of yards away.

While Sylvania is responsible for giving the yeti his eyes, Hip Cricket is controlling their stare. Thanks to technology provided by Hip Cricket, visitors to Times Square can use their wireless phones to interact directly and in real time with the yeti by texting the word DISNEY to the short code "4YETI", which will make the yeti's eyes flash at a specific time.

For anyone not able to view the spectacular show in person, AOL CityGuide will feature exclusive video of the event. Visitors on also can enter an online contest that will award 25 lucky visitors to the site a trip for four to Walt Disney World Resort to experience an exclusive tour of Expedition Everest.

Expedition Everest officially opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom in April.

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