Since June 1959, the Matterhorn has been a highly visible landmark for Disneyland Park, a sign to travelers that they are nearing The Happiest Place on Earth. Now part of the Disneyland “Mountain Range of Thrill Rides” – including Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain – Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first Disneyland roller coaster. Learn more about this fantastic attraction below.
Here are 12 fun fact about the Matterhorn:
- The Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction is unique to Disneyland park and does not appear at any other theme park.
- The Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction premiered June 14, 1959, as part of the first major expansion of Disneyland Park. Other attractions opening at the same time were the Disneyland Monorail and the Submarine Voyage.
- The introduction of these big new attractions in 1959 coincided with the introduction of what soon became another Disneyland cultural icon – the “E Ticket.”
- Since 1959, the Matterhorn has been the highest point in Disneyland Park, at 147 feet. It is the second-highest point in the Disneyland Resort, behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which stands 183 feet tall in Disney California Adventure Park.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first roller coaster in the world to employ a tubular steel track and an electronic dispatch system, which enables more than one car at a time to be on the track.
- The most recent update to Matterhorn Bobsleds, completed in June 2012, added glistening new paint and “snow caps” on the outside, along with new lighting on the menacing Abominable Snowman inside. New, three-person bobsleds now allow guests to be seated individually.
- The attraction was inspired by the 1959 live-action Disney adventure film, “Third Man on the Mountain,” which starred James MacArthur and Michael Rennie as mountaineers. The movie was filmed in Zermatt, Switzerland, on and around the real Matterhorn.
- The mountain was built to 1/100th scale of the original Matterhorn, or 147 feet versus the 14,700 feet of the original.
- Scale and color were key components in the landscaping of the Matterhorn, with designers recreating the mountain meadow feel near the base of the mountain and the stark absence of growth above the timberline. Careful pruning and replacement of overgrown trees is done to maintain the proper scale.
- From 1959 to 1994, the Skyway (which opened in 1956) carried guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, passing through an opening in the mountain.
- Guests who look quickly while whizzing through the Matterhorn caverns may spot mountaineering supplies and other evidence of the “Wells Expedition.” These scenic details are a tribute to the late Frank Wells, who was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Walt Disney Company from 1984 until his death in 1994. Wells was an experienced mountain climber and skier.
- The first major modifications to the attraction occurred in 1978 when the first tandem bobsleds appeared and the Abominable Snowman began to haunt the mountain caverns.
RELATED ARTICLE: Fantasyland at Disneyland – What You Need to Know
by Chad and Cindy Nykamp
Walt Disney said, “Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic and make-believe are reborn and fairy tales come true. Fantasyland is dedicated to the young at heart — to those who believe that when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” The original Fantasyland at Disneyland Park is a very special place! Learn more about this amazing land below.
1 – History of the Land
Fantasyland, dubbed “The Happiest Kingdom of Them All,” opened as one of five original lands at Disneyland Park on July 17, 1955. The fairytale village brings to life the wonder and magic of Disney’s animated stories and characters. While the land has grown and evolved, with a significant redesign in 1983 and additions in 2013, its magic continues to attract guests of all ages. Journeys include adventures with Snow White, Peter Pan and Pinocchio; a race down the icy slopes of the Matterhorn mountain; sailing to visit children around the globe on “it’s a small world” and more.
2 – What’s New
In 2019, Sleeping Beauty Castle was refreshed with vibrant new colors, a new roof and charming and subtle pixie dust, along with other enhancements.
The team of Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones put their unique spin on the “Tangled” and “Beauty and the Beast” stories as they adapt it for the Royal Theatre. As expected, they present the tale in their own inimitable way, with a fun-filled, fast-paced retelling of the story featuring their own wacky performances in key roles, along with Rapunzel, Belle and the Faire Maidens.
3 – Attractions in Fantasyland
Fantasyland has 13 attractions, including updated classics such as the Disney FastPass attraction, Matterhorn Bobsleds, where sleek new bobsleds glide down and around the mountain and “it’s a small world” which has been delighting children of all ages at Disneyland since 1966. Guests also will find three live shows, eight shops and five dining locations in Fantasyland.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- “it’s a small world”
- Mad Tea Party
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Snow White’s Scary Adventures
- Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
- Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
- Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough
- Storybook Land Canal Boats
- Alice in Wonderland
- King Arthur Carrousel
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
4 – Entertainment
The dazzling stage show “Mickey and the Magical Map” plays at the Fantasyland Theatre. Mickey learns some valuable lessons on a musical odyssey that features classic tunes from beloved Disney movies. Fantasy Faire invites guests to visit Disney princesses at the Royal Hall, and enjoy live stage shows with Rapunzel from “Tangled” or Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” at the Royal Theatre. The Royal Hall is the home of Princesses Cinderella, Ariel and Aurora. Guests may find some of their favorite characters throughout Fantasyland, including Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow.
5 – Dining
Fantasyland has a variety of unique and tasty treats. Adventurous eaters will enjoy the jumbo turkey legs and chimichangas from Edelweiss Snacks while Red Rose Taverne offers the more traditional fare of burgers, salads and the “grey stuff.” Guests may choose to plan ahead and order their favorite food and beverages from either Edelweiss Snacks, Red Rose Taverne and Troubadour Tavern using the mobile ordering feature on the Disneyland app. At Maurice’s Treats in Fantasy Faire, guests may enjoy delicious pastry twists and the very popular Boysen Apple Freeze.
6 – Imaginative Landscaping
From topiaries to fanciful colors in the flowerbeds, the enchantment of Fantasyland is created with soft landscape based on classic European gardens. The trees provide shade while drawing attention to the architecture and floral tapestries. All the plants appear to have been “miniaturized” at the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction, while the art of topiary transforms hedges into animals and geometric designs at “it’s a small world” — all part of the living design.
7 – Fun Facts
- Fantasyland has the most “dark rides” of any land in the park. They are called “dark rides” because they feature brilliantly painted show scenes that are illuminated by black light inside the darkness of the attraction. Dark rides on opening day were Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Alice in Wonderland was added in 1958 and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey in 1983.
- Clopin’s Music Box in Fantasy Faire was inspired by the characters in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and features a unique arrangement of the song “Topsy Turvy” from the film.
- There are more than 60 horses on King Arthur Carrousel, no two of them alike.
- During a 16-hour operating day in the park, the iconic song inside “it’s a small world” is played, on average, 1,200 times.
- The Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1959 and can be found only in Disneyland. This attraction celebrated its 60th anniversary on June 14, 2019.
8 – Cast Member Tips
- For children, buy princess dresses a half-size larger than normal for extra comfort in the parks.
- For a spectacular view or a shorter wait time, ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds during the fireworks or late at night.
- Get a good seat at The Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire by arriving 30 minutes before showtime.
- Consider this the ultimate summer cooler: On a hot day, “it’s a small world” is a 15-minute ride through an air-conditioned building.
- Attention Pin Traders: Small World Toy Shoppe has a large selection of cloisonné pins.
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