Thursday, May 02, 2013

Matterhorn, 1959

You've seen literally hundreds of pictures of Disneyland's mighty Matterhorn on GDB (thanks for your patience); but today's first image is a real beauty that still makes me smile and remember how excited I used to get when I could see that snow-capped peak in the distance. Perhaps it's the fact that the mountain is bathed in brilliant sunshine, and set against a clear cobalt-blue sky. And I still find the li'l round Skyway buckets to be charming!

Of course the Matterhorn was brand-new in 1959. Here it is from the other side (from Fantasyland). 

It's a shame this picture turned out blurry; but it was still worth including to give some of you a sense of what it was like to move through those large caves, high above Tomorrowland.


Nanook said...

If this series of images doesn't convince its viewers of the sheer perfection this version of the Disneyland Matterhorn offers, I don't know what will. If it could only look this majestic today.

Thanks, Major.

Chiana_Chat said...

Ah, the fresh alpine-y scent of dream realization. It sparkles. Although it looks like there was severe alpine warming in those days. It must have taken a while for the snow packs to build up to ensure plenty of water happy to fall around the place.

Amazingly, after weathering over 50 years of incredibly massive success and popularity, we are still able to see and ride it sort of like it was, for only ~$100 per person.

Thanks for including the 3rd pic, yes it's blurry but still a delightful view we can't see today.

Chuck said...

I know exactly what you're talking about, Major. I can still remember that feeling of excitement at seeing the Matterhorn in the distance from the 5 when I was six. My parents hadn't told us where we were going, but I remember seeing that mountain and thinking "holy smokes - we're going to DISNEYLAND!"

Raimundo said...

The late architect Charles Moore was a big fan of the Magic Kingdom and called the Skyway passage through the Matterhorn "one of the most exciting, revealing, and moving moments in all of Disneyland, or anywhere".

K. Martinez said...

All angles and views of the Matterhorn are exciting. Unlike Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest and Cars Land's Ornament Valley you can do a complete walk around view of the mountain.

@Raimundo - I'd have to agree with Charles Moore on his assessment of the Skyway passage through the Matterhorn. It was the ultimate Disneyland experience for me.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, I sometimes wonder if the Matterhorn looks less majestic now just because I am taller, or if the lack of a Skyway is part of the reason.

Chiana, the Matterhorn was recently closed due to some sort maintenance issues, and I haven't heard that is has reopened yet, so maybe we *can't* ride it. Hard to believe, since it is down for refurbishment so often.

Chuck, wow, if my parents took us on a drive without telling us where we were going, and we wound up at Disneyland, it would have seemed like the greatest day ever!

Raimundo, I would have to agree with Charles Moore. And now the Skyway is gone, ARG.

K. Martinez, I never thought about the "walk around" aspect of the Matterhorn, but you are right; if it had been built at the edge of the park, would Walt have finished it on all sides anyway? My guess is that he would have (partly because the rider sees the outside from the bobsleds periodically, of course).

JG said...

I agree with Charles Moore too. Come to think of it, what a great person to tour Disneyland with. That would have been a riot.

The first glimpse of the Matterhorn was the moment you knew it was real and that you would be visiting Disneyland. I'm still that way today.

The Skyway pass-through was just one more of the inspired "layered" transportation effects that set Disneyland apart from other amusement parks. You just don't see the rides intertwined like this at Six Flags or the Pike. Each one is a set-piece and not part of an immersive environment where every piece plays a part.

Sadly, Disneyland is becoming more like those other parks.


MRaymond said...

My favorite thing about the old Matterhorn was the view you got at the top of the lift hill, before they enclosed it. I posted a few of my favorite Matterhorn pics on Micechat a few days ago. Remember the hollow mountain. OSHA would have a field day if it was still like that.

Snow White Archive said...

Even blurry, that's a pretty cool shot.

Nanook said...


You hit the nail right on the head. Although that inspired design may have been more out of necessity (lack of 'acreage'), than true genius - but either way - look what a great experience it created-!

Major Pepperidge said...

JG, it's a bummer that you can't see the Matterhorn from the freeway anymore (or at least I wasn't able to a few weeks ago)… those huge "sound barrier" walls block the view. And the intertwining of the rides in Tomorrowland (especially when the Peoplemover was operating) was pretty incredible.

MRaymond, I remember when you could see inside the mountain! You've got a couple of rare views, not many people took photos inside the Skyway caves.

Snow White Archive, thanks!

Nanook, I can't help wondering if anyone ever told Walt that layering all of those Tomorrowland rides would be more expensive (than just building things so that they didn't weave in and out)? Obviously Walt didn't care.

Matterhorn1959 said...

Great views of my favorite attraction, and opening year even...swoon!

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced that the interweaving was purposeful, since it wasn't just Tomorrowland, even though that is the best example: Autopia, monorail, peoplemover, submarines and motorboats all swirling around.

Casey Junior and the Canal Boats are one example, using one set of dioramas to tell similar, but different moving stories. Economical in a way, build one landscape and get two rides.

The original Mine Train, including the mules and the wagons, 3 different modes of transportation circling the same landscape, different views from each, none quite the same. Similar to Storybook Land.

Rivers of America, again multiple boats, ships, rafts, canoes, circling the same set pieces, yet every viewpoint is different.

The Jungle River even provides a backdrop to the original Tahitian Terrace and Tiki Room, although there is only the one boat ride in the water. I think canoes would be great in here.

The later dark ride Pirates even is layered into it's environment, with the restaurant inside.

It isn't until we get to Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain where the "set-piece" independent rides where the only way to experience it is to go inside and nothing in there is visible until you come out.

I discount the old Fantasyland dark rides a little in this, since they are really only slight amplifications of other amusement rides of that time, although Alice and Peter Pan are a real 3D step forward. They dont interact with anything, though.


Vonrollskyway1 said...

As a Skyway historian,i never saw this shot at all.Never before seen Sheave drip pans on the roller batterys.very interesting.

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