One of the most recognizable icons at the Disneyland Resort, the Matterhorn Bobsleds recreates the Matterhorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps. The real Matterhorn can be found on the border of Switzerland and Italy. At Disneyland, it is found between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The Matterhorn Bobsleds offer guests a chance to ride aboard the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world. With two sides to choose from, there are two different experiences for guests as they careen through the mountain.
The location of the Matterhorn Bobsleds originally was a pile of dirt created when the moat for Sleeping Beauty Castle was dug. It was originally called Holiday Hill and then later Lookout Mountain. Benches and paths encouraged the area to be used as a picnic grounds. In 1956 when the Disneyland Skyway opened, Walt Disney thought of creating a toboggan type attraction on a real mountain with real snow. However, this seemed like an impossible idea by Disneyland construction chief Joe Fowler. As time went by, the use of the hill (now called Snow Hill) became less and less about picnics and more for a lovers lane at night.
Walt Disney continued to dream about a mountain for this location, that came to life, even more, when he visited Switzerland during the filming of Third Man on the Mountain. Disney grabbed a postcard and sent it to Imagineer Vig Greene saying “Vic. Build This. Walt.” This would lead to the Matterhorn Bobsleds being built as a combination of the original toboggan type ride and a bobsled attraction. The attraction opened on June 14, 1959. It used trees of varying sizes to create a forced perspective and make the mountain look larger. When it originally opened, the inside was not elaborately themed. Only the outside looked like the mountain. The Skyway also passed through the middle of the mountain.
In the 1970’s the Matterhorn Bobsleds was officially made part of Fantasyland. In 1978 the interior of the mountain received snowy and icy caverns inside. Holes in the outside of the mountain were also sealed. Also, an abominable snowman was added to the attraction during this era. Affectionately named “Harold,” this animatronic has thrilled guests for decades since being added to the Matterhorn Bobsleds.
The Modern Matterhorn
Through the last few decades, the mountain has continued to change. In 1994, the Skyway closed. The holes it passed through in the mountain were sealed. In January of 2012, the mountain underwent an extensive six-month refurbishment. During this time the exterior of the mountain was repainted. New bobsleds now offered single seats for guests instead of lap seating. Now two bobsleds that were linked together carried a total of six passengers. The exterior of the Matterhorn received special snow paint that had glass in it to create a snow-like effect. In January 2015, the Matterhorn underwent another refurbishment. This time, effects were significantly upgraded. An ice effect with the Abominable Snowman can be seen as the bobsleds go up the lift. The Abominable Snowman himself was also upgraded. In 2017, Fastpasses were added to the Matterhorn. Finally in 2018, a new queue and entrance was made for the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds is an iconic attraction that is a blast to race through at the Disneyland Resort. With or without fastpasses, it is worth the wait. It is also fun to ride aboard at different times of day and see some of the different views of Disneyland. And of course, each side offers a different experience. What is your favorite side to traverse aboard a Matterhorn Bobsled? Let us know in the comments below!