Saturday, July 25, 2009

Matterhorn Turns 50

June 18, 1959 the Matterhorn Bobsled ride was opened in Disneyland Park.

Walt Disney returned from Switzerland where they were filming
"Third Man on the Mountain," a 1959 Disney film based on James Ramsey Ullman's novel, Banner in the Sky, and set about getting a 1/100th scale model of Switzerland's famous Matterhorn mountain built in the middle of Disneyland.

When Disneyland opened in 1955, the Skyway ride from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland was held up in the middle by a large, tall structure. Walt thought the Matterhorn would be a wonderful way to conceal the unsightly "pole." So the W.E.B Imagineers and a construction company set about building the enormous mountain so that it would not only cover the pole, but also allow for a roller coaster to run throught the mountain.

When it was finished, The Matterhorn Bobsleds ride was the first ever tubular steel track roller coaster in the world.

The Matterhorn Mountain has changed many times over the years due to rennovations and improvements, but since 1959 it has remained an icon of the Disneyland skyline.

In the springtime.

In the summertime.

There are two of these impressions. This one at the front of the mountain as you approach it from the central plaza, and

And this one that is out in front of the queue. the sign below each one says:
Cast of footprint discovered by Matterhorn Expedition
South Slope
May 27, 1978

Sometimes climbers can be seen on the side of the slopes, including Minnie, Mickey, Goofy and Pluto. I have found this to be fairly rare.

Several of the rennovations have included filling in large holes in the mountain that were there for the Skyway.

The ride itself is supposed to mimic bobsled rides, and the steel tubular track really makes you feel as if you are in a bobsled sliding down an icy track.

In the 1994/1995 rennovations, the mountain got a new resident - the Abomidable Snowman!

Here are a few things you may not have noticed when you were on the ride:

See the tiny black hidden Mickey on this decorative plaque? This is in the right queue.

As you pass this icy vignette, you might have noticed the abandoned gear in the botton right corner from the Wells Expedition. This is a tribute to former Walt Disney Co. President, Frank Wells. He was apprently a mountain climber and died in a helicopter crash in 1994. During the 1995 rennovations when they took out the skyway, this tribute was added.

This one you won't notice, but there is a small basketball hoop and key within the mountain for the mountain climbers to use on their breaks. A few people other than cast members have also gotten to play here:

This is a picture of former LA Laker Vlade Divac and an LA DJ playing some on-on-one.

If you've never gotten a chance to ride The Matterhorn Bobsleds, here is a little virtual ride for you.


Susan Stringfellow said...

oh this is awesome!!! Love the photos and the info. Thanks!

Kathleen Summers said...

So, now that I'm stalking your blog and reading all the posts... would love to know what you think of the new bobselds. I've heard terrible reports that they are uncomfortable and make the ride seem more jerk-y. What do you think? Would love your review!