Matterhorn Bobsleds – What You Need to Know

Quick Glance:

The Matterhorn Bobsleds is one of Disneyland’s most iconic attractions. Located in Fantasyland, the ride takes guests on an exhilarating roller coaster journey through the towering Matterhorn mountain. Riders board bobsled-style cars and are pulled up a steep incline before racing down the mountain’s twisting tracks.

Along the way, they pass icy caverns and encounter the fearsome Abominable Snowman lurking within. The ride zooms through the mountain’s interior at dizzying speeds before splashing down in an alpine lake. In under three minutes, guests are transported to the snowy peaks of Switzerland for a thrill ride they won’t soon forget.

Overall Review:

The Matterhorn Bobsleds delivers a fun and exciting roller coaster experience with just the right amount of thrills for the whole family. While not the smoothest ride, it more than makes up for it with breathtaking mountain scenery, encounters with the yeti, and a true sense of speed as the bobsled cars zoom through the mountain’s twisting tracks. This iconic Disneyland attraction is a must-ride for any visit to the park.

Best For:

The Matterhorn Bobsleds caters well to families with children ages 7 and up. Its moderate intensity level makes it enjoyable for tweens, teens, and adults but not too scary for younger kids. Those seeking an adrenaline-pumping roller coaster may find it mild, but most guests will appreciate the classic charm of zipping through an icy mountain setting on this one-of-a-kind ride.

Details:

Location:

Fantasyland in Disneyland

Max Speed:

28 mph

Height Restriction:

42 inches

Ride Duration:

2 minutes 15 seconds

Capacity:

6 riders per bobsled car

Type:

Roller coaster inside a mountain setting

Fun Factor:

Thrilling but not too scary for most ages

Wait Times:

30-60 minutes during peak season

Wait Tips:

Use Genie+ or visit early/late in the day

Genie+:

Available for purchase

Lightning Lane:

Included with Genie+ purchase

Single Rider:

Available to reduce wait

Accessibility:

Riders must transfer from wheelchair/ECV

Rider Switch:

Available to rest riders

Early Entry:

No

Date Opened:

June 14, 1959

Detailed Review:

The Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction begins in the Fantasyland section of Disneyland park. Upon entering the outdoor queue, guests will find the line splits into two tracks – one heading right toward Tomorrowland, and one left toward Fantasyland. Both tracks lead to the same loading area near the base of the towering Matterhorn mountain.

Riders board one of the bobsled-style cars, with three seats across in each row. A lap bar is lowered to secure all passengers before the ride begins. The cars are then pulled up the lift hill, where guests get their first glimpse of the Abominable Snowman peering menacingly at them from behind a sheet of ice.

Reaching the top, the bobsled car is released and races down the twisting tracks through the mountain’s caverns and passages. The first major drop sends the car into the path of the yeti for a brief but startiling encounter. The ride zooms through dark tunnels and around tight banked turns with impressive speed before emerging into a snowy scene of destroyed vehicles from past expeditions.

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Splash Down Finish

After narrowly dodging another attack by the yeti, the bobsled car plunges once more into the depths of the mountain. It swirls around the base before launching out over the gleaming alpine lake in a splashdown finish. Brakes slow the car as it returns to the loading platform, soaking passengers who faced down the Abominable Snowman with adrenaline still pumping.

While not the smoothest coaster, the theming and storyline of navigating an icy mountain full of dangers more than makes up for any jostling. Guests feel truly transported to the Swiss Alps as they experience thrills around every turn. With its classic charm and sense of adventure, the Matterhorn Bobsleds continues captivating Disneyland visitors nearly 65 years after first opening its tracks.

Left vs Right Track Comparisons

While the Matterhorn mountain serves as home to both tracks, riders will experience notable differences depending on whether they board the left (Fantasyland side) or right (Tomorrowland side) track. Here’s a breakdown of the key variations between the two.  The Tomorrowland track is considered the more thrilling, but also rougher ride. The Fantasyland side is smoother and longer, though with slightly more gradual hills and turns.

Speed

The right track is considerably faster, reaching top speeds of around 28 mph. It features steeper drops and tighter turns that propel bobsleds around the mountain at a quicker pace.

Smoothness

The left track provides a smoother experience overall thanks to more gradual hills and banked turns. The right track is bumpier and jostling due to higher speeds.

Length

At 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the left track is approximately 20 seconds longer than the right track which clocks in at 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

Thrill Factor

With its faster speeds and steeper drops, the right track packs more of an adrenaline punch. However, the left track still delivers exciting moments like the splashdown finale.

Scenery

Both tracks offer stunning mountain vistas as they wind through the interior. Some say the second yeti encounter is slightly longer on the left track.

Boarding Process

The left queue typically sees shorter waits. Boarding for both is from the same area near the base of the mountain.

Ride Experience

While thrilling, the right track tends to feel more intense and jerky due to higher speeds. The left track balances excitement with a smoother overall ride quality.
In the end, guests can’t go wrong with either track on this beloved Disneyland attraction. Most agree both offer memorable mountain adventures, with enthusiasts often favoring the adrenaline of the right track and families leaning more towards the left track’s gradual thrills.

Guest Tips

  1. Consider using single rider or Genie+ to minimize wait times, especially on busy days.
  2. The Matterhorn can close early during fireworks shows, so ride earlier if visiting on a show night.
  3. Motion sickness prone guests may want to take precautions like Dramamine before queuing up.
  4. Tall riders may find their knees bumping the seat in front; ask for rear seats if possible.
  5. Watch belongings on the fast, jerky ride – hats and glasses can easily fly off.
  6. Warn young kids about the yeti but don’t overhype as its quick appearances aren’t too scary.
  7. Photography is not permitted while riding. Consider purchasing an on-ride photo if available.
  8. Be sure to check out the detailed mountain scenery and remnants of past expeditions inside the ride.
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History

The concept for the Matterhorn Bobsleds originated with Walt Disney after seeing the Swiss Alps during location scouting for the 1959 film Third Man on the Mountain. Disney fell in love with the craggy, icy peaks of the Matterhorn mountain and wanted to recreate it at his theme park. He tasked designers with building a 1/100th scale replica of the famous mountain, complete with a roller coaster traveling through its tunnels and caverns.

When Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, the Matterhorn was still under construction. It would be another four years before opening day on June 14, 1959, when the Matterhorn Bobsleds debuted alongside the Monorail and Submarine Voyage attractions. It was an immediate success, becoming one of the original “E-Ticket” rides that defined Disneyland in its early years. In 1978, the ride underwent an extensive refurbishment that added the iconic Abominable Snowman animatronic and paired the individual bobsled cars into two-car trains.

Through the decades, the Matterhorn has remained one of Disneyland’s most popular rides despite the challenges that come with maintaining an aging outdoor steel coaster. Regular refurbishments keep the tracks and vehicles in top operating condition while preserving the classic alpine theming. Minor updates in 2012 included replacing the ride vehicles, while a 2015 overhaul added an improved yeti figure with more realistic movements. Over 65 years later, the Matterhorn Bobsleds continues delighting new generations of Disney fans with its thrilling ride through the snowy peaks.

Maintenance Challenges

As one of Disneyland’s oldest attractions, the Matterhorn requires constant upkeep to maintain its smooth operation in the face of extreme weathering. The concrete mountain faces are repainted every year, and the steel tracks undergo regular refurbishment and sandblasting to remove corrosion. The ride vehicles also see frequent refurbishment, with the latest replacement occurring in 2012.

Additionally, the intricate system of cables and pulleys that pull the bobsleds up the lift hill demand replacement parts. Keeping this landmark attraction pristine is no small feat, but well worth the effort to preserve the magic.

Trivia:

Basketball Court:

It’s rumored but not confirmed that a full basketball court exists inside the Matterhorn for cast members.

Inspiration:

The ride was inspired by the 1959 film Third Man on the Mountain.

Scale:

The Disneyland Matterhorn is 1/100th the scale of the actual 14,692-foot tall Swiss mountain.

Yeti Tributes:

The yeti on Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is said to be Harold’s girlfriend.

Opening Day:

The Matterhorn debuted on June 14, 1959 along with the Monorail and Submarine Voyage.

Skyway History:

The ride originally had the Disneyland Skyway cable cars traveling through it.

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