I didn’t think I’d find myself in Disneyland this year, but my wife was invited to the park. So, we decided to make it a family trip. One of the rides that I was most excited to ride was Matterhorn Bobsleds. I knew it was an important roller coaster as it was the World’s first tubular steel track roller coaster when it opened in 1959. I’ve ridden classic wooden coasters, but a landmark steel coaster would be a nice feather in my cap before I retired from updating the site regularly.
This was a family trip, so I spent the majority of the trip with my kids and Jenn. One evening, I had a chance to slip away and ride something solo. I darted for Matterhorn Bobsleds.
I’ve covered Disney very little over the years and leading up to the trip I made a conscious effort to not research Matterhorn Bobsleds. Right away I noticed there were two tracks. I entered the queue on the right since the event we were invited to gave us a pass to the front of the line on that side. In short order, I boarded the toboggan-style trains. They have three seats in each bobsled with two cars linked together for a total of six riders. The trains (pictured right) were updated in 2012.
I got situated and before I knew it, even before I even figured out the buckle, we advanced forward. Thankfully, we just moved closer to the lift where a ride op gave us one last check. There, I figured out the buckle and was all set. I sure didn’t feel like a seasoned coaster vet.
A Mountainous, Monstrous Journey
We began our climb up the lift and into the dark of the mountain. After reaching the top we were greeted by a loud roar and red eyes that glowed in the darkness. The train rounded a corner and we passed through an icy cave with large crystals. We picked up speed and flew by the abominable snowman. This time he was fully figured, with another roar and flashing red eyes.
The next minute was spent weaving out, in, and through the structure of the mountain. It was night, so there were these awesome views of Disneyland lit up at night interspersed between these cavernous, icy-themed sections. All the while I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of another train on its own wild path through the mountain. To add to the adventure, the snowman made one more appearance. The out of control feeling with the rocky terrain, reminded me of the mine cart scene from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.
At one point, you pass by a waterfall that’s constantly flowing down the side of the mountain. And once the train reaches the bottom, there’s a splash-down pool that provides an unexpected thrill while also slowing the trains down. I might have been sprinkled by a little bit of water, but this section’s not meant to soak the riders. Then the train headed into the station.
A Little Bumpy but Bearable
The Matterhorn Bobsleds were built in 1959 and I’d heard comments from people I’d met that it felt old. While I’d agree, there’s no way a roller coaster of this age would feel modern, but it was by no means too rough or painful. Wikipedia, lists the ride’s top speed at 27 mph, but I’d have to say that it felt faster. The ride vehicles and all of the structures that you whiz by likely add to the perception of greater speed.
A Family Coaster, But Maybe Not for All Young Riders
I would classify Matterhorn Bobsleds as a family roller coaster. The layout most reminded of a modern mine train roller coaster since there weren’t any sizable drops; just a lot of well-placed curves that successively take you further down your path. However, the seating is more like that of a bobsled coaster, with one rider in front of another.
I’d heard another guest say it was a difficult ride for their child because of the inline seating. Since her boy wasn’t riding next to her, she couldn’t grab onto him to help him through the ride. You better make sure your kids are ready for the adventure. My daughter’s 7. She took on her first looper, California Screamin’, the next day and loved it, but the abominable snowman (at night especially) would have freaked her out. All kids are different, but I thought I’d mention these considerations in case you’ve got a timid, young rider in your family. If so, I’d go with something else.
A Landmark Roller Coaster that Still Holds Up
Overall, I was impressed by the sheer scale of the ride and the fact that it still delivered a very enjoyable ride after more than 50 years. I know that this was an important ride from a technological standpoint, but I’d have to imagine that the theming blew away what other roller coasters could offer for quite some time.