On June 14, 1959, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California opened the first tubular steel rollercoaster. The Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first rollercoaster of its kind, in so many ways. Not only was it a tubular steel track that allowed for tight twists and turns, but it had an advanced block zone breaking system that allowed for multiple vehicles to run on the track at the same time. This rollercoaster paved the way for ALL rollercoasters that we have now. With 2 tracks that can run simultaneously, the Matterhorn Bobsleds is able to run 10 tandem bobsleds on each side in an exhilarating high-speed adventure through the slopes of the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction was inspired by the Walt Disney film Third Man on the Mountain, which is based on a True Story. You can watch the full movie on YouTube if you so desire.
The attraction is a 1/100th sized replica of the real Matterhorn Mountain or Monte Cervino (Italian) in the Alps. The Matterhorn straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy. And it is absolutely breath-taking. Walt Disney himself even visited the real thing at one point in his early life.
Walt Disney was absolutely amazing. He came up with such a brilliant idea that was executed so perfectly. On a personal note…. I had the immense privilege of working as a Disneyland Resort Attractions Cast Member for 8 years and I spent my last 2 years working at the Matterhorn. It was the most fun I have ever had as a Cast Member. I loved every moment climbing through those tunnels and loading guests. I will always cherish my Matterhorn Family and I will always visit them when I come to the park.
That being said, I was told a story once that Walt Disney was the first person to ride the Matterhorn. He was very insistent on getting on the attraction even though the ponds at the end of the ride, which work as a natural breaking system to slow the bobsled down as it comes out of the mountain, were not filled yet. So in order to let him ride, the ponds were filled with hay bales. My favorite part is that after he finished the ride he asked if he could go again, No Mr. Disney. He later rode the day the attraction was opened 56 years ago.
Fun fact: The Matterhorn is also home to a half basketball court and was often seen with Mountain Climbers, including Mickey Mouse, braving the treacherous terrain in order to reach the top of the mountain.
The attraction has been through 2 major refurbishment and 1 major animation refurbishment since its opening . The first refurbishment occurred in 1978 in order to create the icy caves through which the new Skyway buckets could pass through the mountain from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland and back again. This was also the first vehicle change. The attraction went from a single vehicle with 2 riders per seat, so 4 riders total, to a tandem vehicle, with 4 seats 2 riders per seat for a total of 8 riders in one vehicle.
This was also the year Harold moved in. Harold is an Audio-Animatronic that has taken up permanent residence inside the Matterhorn. He’s the abominable snowman who appears and disappears and haunts the mountain to this day.
And yes those are pictures of me. I can share now since I don’t work there anymore. Same Harold just from 2011.
Anyways, in 1994 the Matterhorn had a minor refurbishment after the Skyway closed in order to close up the cave entrances on the Fantasyland side of the mountain. The Tomorrowland side is still open to give the guests a glimpse into the mountain as they walk past it.
The last major refurbishment occurred in 2012. The attraction experienced a technology, a vehicle, and a track upgrade, the Mountain itself got a cosmetic facelift, and some other major behind the scenes upgrades for cast member safety (THANK YOU). A new bridge was added on the Tomorrowland side of the mountain, which was named Storbeck Pass after the Disneyland Resort VP of Park Operations Jon Storbeck. He got his start with the Resort at the Matterhorn, so it seemed fitting. The height requirement was also raised from 35″ to 42″, which was quite significant and a not so welcome change for many. Oh wells, SAFETY FIRST PEOPLE!
And last but not least, just this year the Matterhorn got a major animation upgrade. Say hello to the new Harold.
Trust me. This ride is scary as hell now. Don’t believe check out this video. Then go ride for yourself. Also if you watch carefully you can see the other new additions to the show.
The Matterhorn will always hold a special place in my heart, just like Disneyland itself. Happy Birthday Matterhorn! Also, this year the Disneyland Resort is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. Therefore, it seems fitting to end this post with the most important moment in Disneyland history.
Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Walt Disney