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A Brief History Of Disney: Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds

A Brief History Of Disney: Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds A Brief History of Disney Matterhorn

Hey, Disney history fans! It’s been a while since we sat together for A Brief History of Disney, and we thought it was time to change that! In today’s installment, we are looking behind the curtain at the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland to learn more about how this iconic attraction came to be.

Not one of the original attractions, the Matterhorn Bobsleds joined the Disneyland lineup in 1959, along with the Disneyland Monorail and the Submarine Voyage. The new attraction would serve as the park’s first rollercoaster with a tubular steel track and an electronic dispatch system that allowed more than one ride vehicle to function on the track at the same time. The location where the attraction now stands was originally an actual pile of dirt left over from the excavation of the Sleeping Beauty Castle moat. As the area was landscaped into a picnic area between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, Walt Disney embarked on a new initiative to create a snowy experience in the form of a rollercoaster. At the time, the idea was said to be strongly opposed by Disneyland construction chief Joe Fowler, but the Disney Executives eventually got on board as new technology developed in the market.

A Brief History Of Disney: Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds peter-bromley-PvFCp_Z6gMQ-unsplash  Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@peterb945?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Peter Bromley</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/snow-covered-mountain-under-blue-sky-during-daytime-PvFCp_Z6gMQ?utm_content=creditCopyText&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unsplash">Unsplash</a>

Photo by Peter Bromley on Unsplash

The design of the structure would serve two purposes; the first was to hide the center pylon used to support the Skyway. The second came from Walt Disney’s extended stay in Switzerland, where the inspiration developed to replicate the beauty of the real Matterhorn peak. The attraction remained fairly similar to its original design after opening until a substantial refurbishment in 1978 when a number of the icy caves and tunnels were installed, giving the interior a more authentic feel. This was also when the first iteration of Harold, our beloved Yeti, was introduced. The ride would receive two more major refurbishments, one in 2012 and again in 2015, with the notable addition of the improved storyline for Harold. A destroyed campsite and two of the original bobsleds are among the interior accents, along with a replica of bucket 59 from the Skyway, which closed over ten years earlier in 1994. I love it when pieces of earlier attractions are incorporated into the stories of the current version.

The Matterhorn Bobsleds remain one of the few rides that have not been directly connected to a Disney storyline or character series. Instead, it leans on its strong history and unique storyline to remain a staple thrill ride in Disneyland Park.

Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.

Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.


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