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10 Fun Facts About the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland

Updated on March 13, 2012

One of my favorite rides at Anaheim's Disneyland theme park is the Matterhorn Bobsleds- a two track roller coaster that weaves through an artificial re-creation of the Matterhorn. Aside from being a huge fan of roller coasters, I love anything associated with the Alps... and think that the Matterhorn Bobsled's uniforms are Disneyland's cutest uniforms by FAR.

My latest visit to Disneyland inspired me to do a bit of background research on this iconic ride. As it happens, the Matterhorn Bobsleds has quite the interesting backstory! Here are my ten favorite Matterhorn facts. Here's hoping we both find ourselves whizzing down this roller coaster someday soon!

About the Actual Matterhorn

The Matterhorn is an actual mountain in the Alps that lies on the border between Italy and Switzerland. It first became really famous in 1865 when a team of men led by Edward Whymper made it to the summit... and then experienced disaster (and the death of four men in the party) upon descent. Walt Disney visited this area and was inspired by what he saw- hence the Disneyland reproduction... though there’s more to it than that.

The Origins of the Matterhorn Bobsleds

Before the Matterhorn existed, there was, in its place, was a pile of dirt, which resulted from the excavation of the moat of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. They decided to call this area Holiday Hill and embellished it with benches and paths to make it a sort of picnic area (though it actually became more of a lover’s lane, which the Disney folk didn’t exactly approve it). Originally, Disney wanted to turn the hill into build a toboggan ride on this hill using real snow, but that idea was quickly shot down. They decided, instead, to build a toboggan-themed roller coaster ride on the site.

Innovative Design

The Matterhorn (which made its debut in June of 1959) is the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster. It has two tracks- one referred to as the Fantasyland Track and the other referred to as the Tomorrowland track.

A Crafty Illusion!

The Matterhorn utilized forced perspective to seem larger than it actually is. Trees situated at its base are smaller than trees located higher up, which makes them seem farther away.

Evocative Developments

The mountain was originally hollow inside; the tunnels were added in the 1970s and add more realism to the ride.

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Buckle up. Seriously. The two tracks feeding into the base of the mountain
Buckle up. Seriously.
Buckle up. Seriously.
The two tracks feeding into the base of the mountain
The two tracks feeding into the base of the mountain

Death on the Matterhorn Bobsleds

Two people have died on the Matterhorn. The first casualty was in 1964; the second took place 20 years later. Both are said to be a result of not buckling up, so... make sure you listen to Jack Wagner, the voice of Disneyland, and “remain seated with for seat belts fastened, keeping your arms, feet, and legs inside the bobsled.”

The Abominable Snowman... or SnowMEN!

There are actually three of these on the ride (in addition to a pair of scary red eyes that appear in the lift). They were also added to the ride later for a more theatrical effect.

The Skyway Goes Bye Bye

Before the Matterhorn existed, a ride called the Skyway used to go through the area, and the mountain was constructed, in part, to conceal one of its large supports. The Skyway continued to travel through the mountain until it was closed in 1994.

What about you?

Have you ridden Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds before?

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Highly Useful Splash Down Pools

On the ride, you’ll splash through a couple of pools. In addition to be exciting, these pools also help to act as brakes, and cool down the cars’ braking fins.

The Matterhorn... Basketball Court?

A basketball half court used to exist beneath the mountain as a recreational brake area for climbers who make an appearance on the side of the mountain. It was taken down in 2001, but there is still a cast member break room inside the mountain.

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