Specific Type: Special Coaster Systems
On June 14, 1959, Disney opened a new, revolutionary roller coaster called the Matterhorn Bobsleds. It was the first tubular steel coaster ever built by Arrow Dynamics. But this is no ordinary steel coaster. It takes place inside an ice-capped mountain, which is a 1/100 replica of the actual Matterhorn Mountain located in Switzerland. The ride is based on the old, classic Disney movie “Third Man on the Mountain.”
The Matterhorn Bobsleds are known throughout the United States, and even around the world! The ride features 2 different tracks. Both last about 2 minutes and are a little more than 2,000 feet long. They both offer the same crazy and twisted experiences, even though they are completely different layouts. Since both layouts are just as unpredictable and crazy as the other, no one really prefers one over the other. For a while, there were rumors saying that one side was faster than the other, when in reality they are both just as fast. The reason this rumor started was because one side has inside turns, and the other has outside turns. Since sharp turns can make riders think they are traveling faster, guests assumed the inside track was faster. Some guests today still think one side is faster than the other.
In the 70’s, three Audio-Animatronic Abominable Snowmen were added to the ride. The roars could be heard over the Alpine Wind recording that could be heard in the queue. The trains were also changed to a two cars per train, as compared to the previous single car trains. The Skyway went through the mountain before, but its passage through the mountain was enhanced in theme around this time.
In 2012 a six month refurbishment took place for Matterhorn. The mountain got a repaint and repairs were made to the interior as well. The trains were also changed to two cars with three guests in each car, reminiscent of Disney World’s Space Mountain. The repaint of the exterior of the mountain was done with realism in mind. For example, more snow was placed on the northern side and less on the southern, like the actual Matterhorn Mountain in Switzerland.
When entering Disneyland, the first thing that catches guests’ eyes is the massive 146 foot Matterhorn Mountain. After walking down Main Street and going under the Sleeping Beauty Castle, guests finally get in line for the Matterhorn. The line is usually very long, since the seating arrangement is very complicated and hard to get seated in. The line winds its way around the mountain until guests finally enter the main station building. After going through a couple more switchbacks, riders are arranged into rows for their bobsled. When riders board their bobsleds, they notice the very classic seating arrangement. Guests sit in a partner’s lap in a way similar to a classic log ride. This complicated seating arrangement causes loading times to be rather long. There are 2 rows of 2 guests in a bobsled, and there are 2 bobsleds connected per train. After having your seatbelts checked by the ride-op, riders are left staring into the pitch-black cave entrance to the mountain. Finally, riders hear a burst of air, and the bobsled quickly travels into the pitch-black cave. After a short straightaway, the bobsled starts traveling up the steep lift hill. While traveling up, all riders can hear is the very loud and echoing clank of the chain. There are some lights simulating snow falling on the sides of the cave you are traveling in. When finally reaching the top, the bobsled quickly turns and the extremely loud roar of an abominable snowman startles riders. The bobsled starts to pick up speed, and starts navigating sharp turns through glacier grottos, through dark caverns, and around waterfalls. One of the tracks has a very sudden and sharp drop, offering good amounts of ejector airtime. Riders will also encounter the abominable snowman twice throughout their journey. The abominable snowman is inches away from your bobsled! The grand finale ending of this exciting adventure is a splash into an icy lake. The bobsled then navigates a few sharp turns ending with the final brake run.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds have been thrilling riders of all ages for more than 40 years. It’s just as beautiful as it was when it first opened with its towering waterfalls, icy lakes, and bushes all around the mountain. So the next time you’re taking a trip to California, make sure you visit Disneyland and meet the abominable snowman aboard the exciting and thrilling Matterhorn Bobsleds!
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