Looking forward to riding Disneyland’s iconic Matterhorn Bobsleds? Before you hurtle through the dark on an alpine sled here’s what you need to know (and some fun facts) about this iconic ride.
History of Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland
Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds ride is modeled after the real Matterhorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps. It is a fast-paced roller coaster composed of two sets of intertwining steel tracks. (The two tracks are almost identical but the left side is a little bit longer and a little bit rougher). The Matterhorn was the first “tubular steel continuous track roller coaster” ever constructed, opening in 1959.
Fun Facts About the Matterhorn:
The Matterhorn was the first roller coaster in North America to have linked cars.
The Matterhorn at Disneyland is 1/100th the size of the actual Matterhorn mountain in the Swiss Alps.
Changes to the Matterhorn Bobsleds over the Years
Several updates have taken place to the Matterhorn Bobsleds over the years. Here’s a look at just a few of those changes.
The Matterhorn Bobsleds open.
In 1978, the Abominable Snowman was added to the ride. Legend has it that Walt Disney had always dreamed of adding an Abominable Snowman, but his vision did not come to fruition until nearly 20 years after the ride opened.
In 2012, the Matterhorn closed for several months and underwent a major renovation. This included repainting and restructuring parts of the mountain’s façade. This was also the first time the Matterhorn was completely covered in scaffolding since its initial construction in the 1950s.
The Matterhorn received new bobsled cars at this time – the ones currently still in use – replacing the original car design where two people sat together with the front rider positioned between the back rider’s legs. The new cars feature a modernized one-rider-per-seat design.
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After months shrouded behind construction walls, the new and improved Matterhorn ride finally reopened on May 22 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Unveiled in conjunction with the park’s 60th Diamond Anniversary Celebration, this revamp upped the ante giving riders three new scream-inducing encounters.
New Abominable Snowman Encounters on Disneyland’s Matterhorn
The first is just an ominous glimpse. The ride’s initial uphill climb features a brand new icy wall of video screens where riders hear the Abominable Snowman growl and see him peeking out as he lurks near the bobsleds. This new facet provides an element of anticipation never before experienced on the old Matterhorn.
Next comes another new feature to the ride; the bobsleds whiz past the wreckage of an earlier mountain exhibition gone terribly wrong. (Interesting new Disney factoid: the wreckage includes one of the Matterhorn’s old sleds, mangled and wrecked).
Face to Face with the Abominable Snowman
Then riders come face to face with the brand Abominable Snowman. Featuring a wide range of body motion and detailed facial movement, the animatronic Abominable Snowman reaches toward the sleds as they speed past. This attack-mode effect is more immersive than the old version, and far more exciting!
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He appears one final time near the end of the ride, again roaring and lunging at the passengers.
The overall vibe of the newer, scarier Matterhorn is more intense, in the spirit of Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida.
The track itself remains unchanged, as do the bobsled cars. But these new enhancements add tremendous excitement to what was already one of Disneyland’s most thrilling rides.
Check out this video, shot by my son on our Panasonic A500. This wearable camera provides an amazing POV shot. It’s waterproof, too, which made that final splash down at the end of the ride worry-free!
Recent changes have dialed up the scare factor on Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds. Now the Abominable Snowman is “chasing” riders. And that takes this ride to a whole other level.