The Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds ride is considered one of the California theme park's most prominent landmarks with its snow-covered mountain peak visible from not only throughout most of the resort, but also from the local freeway. Besides being unique in design and presentation, it was also the first thrill ride at Disneyland.
About the Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds
The inspiration for the Matterhorn Bobsleds came from Walt Disney himself during a trip to the Switzerland to film Third Man on the Mountain. His idea was to open a thrill ride that resembled a bobsled ride down the snow-covered Matterhorn, and so he did. On June 14, 1959, park visitors were treated to the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world. The infrastructure is made from wood and steel and is surrounded by man-made rock. The ride takes you up eight winding stories and then plunges you down into the great Alpine Pond. The engineers used forced perspective for the ride's landscaping, making the trees and greenery look larger than what they really are.
Facts about the Ride
The Matterhorn has a fascinating behind-the-scenes story, including tidbits such as:
- It was designed and manufactured by WED Enterprises and Arrow Dynamics.
- It is a 1/100th scale replica of the original Matterhorn the Swiss Alps.
- The attraction inside the mountain is 80 feet tall, while the exterior is 146 feet tall.
- The Matterhorn Bobsleds is made up of a dual set of tracks so two sets of cars can "race" each other through the mountain.
- A total of six cars can race through the mountain (three on each track) at any given time.
- The duration of the ride depends on which track you are riding: The left side is two minutes, seven seconds, while the right side is two minutes, 26 seconds.
- The left track of the ride is 2,037 feet long, while the right side is 2,134 feet long.
- The average speed of the Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds is 18 miles per hour.
- Anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 visitors can pass through the Matterhorn each hour.
- A basketball court is located inside at the top of the mountain for cast members to use on their breaks.
- Water (also known as the Alpine Pond) is used at the end of the ride to slow it down.
- The whistling wind sound effects are supposed to simulate the real Matterhorn in Switzerland.
- Cast members climb the mountain daily for entertainment purposes.
- During fireworks presentations, Tinkerbell "flies" off the top of the Matterhorn.
- Originally slated to be part of Tomorrowland, the ride is officially on the map as part of Fantasyland.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds Renovation
In 1978, Disneyland closed down the popular ride for a time to make some major refurbishments:
- The bobsleds were changed from single cars that held four passengers to double vehicles that hold eight.
- The bobsleds' design was changed from the flat, luge-like, multi-colored cars to rounder, white cars with orange and red pinstripes.
- The interior, which was largely a hollowed-out area, was broken down into several small, icy caverns and tunnels.
- An abominable snowman named "Harold" was added, as was several other animatronic characters with red, glowing eyes that roar at passengers.
Other Changes Throughout the Years
Other changes at the Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds over the years have included:
- Painting the exterior of the mountain to a much warmer gray color.
- Filling in the walls of the ride after Disneyland closed down the Skyway in 1994. That ride airlifted passengers to several locations in the park, and at one point, went through the Matterhorn.
- One of the holes left vacant by the Skyway was filled with bluish crystals that can be seen from the ground at night.
Unfortunately, not everyone can ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds. While it is handicapped accessible, those in wheelchairs must be mobile enough to get in an out of a bobsled. Other requirements include:
- Guests should be in good health with no heart, blood pressure, back, neck or motion sickness conditions.
- Women who want to ride should not be pregnant.
- Children must be 35 inches tall and three years old, and all young ones must be accompanied by an adult.
- Service animals may not accompany guests on the Disneyland Matterhorn Bobsleds.
Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds are definitely one ride you don't want to miss on your next trip to the theme park. Even though the lines may seem long, with the amount of passengers that get on each hour, your wait usually isn't more than 30-45 minutes, even on the busiest of days. While this ride does not use FASTPASS, it does offer a Rider Switch Pass, which allows park visitors with small children to "switch" between riding the ride while the other adult stays with the young ones. Cast members can assist you with this pass.