The fake mountain is based on Himalayan peaks. The extensive queue is based on a Tibetan village. Even the SUV-sized audio-animatronic Yeti is based on local lore.
Unlike fantastical Walt Disney World attractions of yore, the recently launched thrill ride Expedition Everest is based in fact -- of the sugarcoated variety.
Talking mice and pearly princesses aside, Disney World isn't just an escape from reality. It's an escape to hyper-reality. This is the vacation destination where you can check into your hotel in the Caribbean (across the street from Atlantic City), have a moonlit lunch al fresco in Mexico (indoors and air conditioned), hang glide over the Golden Gate Bridge (even if there's no wind) then fly to space (without enduring all that NASA training).
It is a small world, after all.