Monday, March 09, 2015

Matterhorn & Bobsled, September 1971

Here is a fairly standard view of the Matterhorn. Maybe you've heard of it? And yet, there are some nice things about this photo that make it not-so-standard. First of all, if you look very carefully, you can see not one, not two, but THREE bobsleds careening down the side of the mountain (at least one of them is very hard to see). Bobsled infestation? Call the Orkin man!

Everyone knows that three bobsleds is a very good omen, which is why I am going out to buy many Super Lotto tickets right now.

Another neat detail is that the photo was shot from the location where old Monsanto House of the Future once stood; notice the waterfalls that remained. It was renamed the "Alpine Gardens", though it doesn't look like much to love in this picture. I'm kind of surprised that they didn't do anything more charming or elaborate with this area. And by that I mean plastic flamingos. 

Check out this awesome (and not standard at all) shot of a bobsled, as seen from a Skyway bucket! It's souvenir guidebook worthy!


I should have done this anyway, but here is a closeup showing the three bobsleds. At first I wasn't sure about the bottom one, but now I have deluded myself into positively identifying those blobs of color as a third bobsled.


TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, I love both of these shots! The second one makes me not only miss the original bobsleds, but now the 1978 versions as well. I want to be able to ride the Matterhorn again, gosh darn it! I wish Disney would fix those horribly uncomfortable bobsleds!

Chuck said...

That second photo is dynamite!

I love the way the three men are dressed; they remind me of the engineers in Apollo 13. It would be unusual to see anyone so "dressed up" in the Park today. I can remember feeling overdressed wearing OP shorts and a polo shirt at Cedar Point back in the '80's.

Check out the safety restraints: nylon seatbelts and handrails outside the car. The only two fatalities on the Matterhorn - Disneyland's first death in 1964 and another in 1984 - were both the result of unbuckled seatbelts.

I had too long a break between my last ride in the original cars (1976) to my first ride on the 1978 cars (1993), so I can't compare the two, but I have read that the original cars were a much smoother ride. Can anyone confirm? And how do they both compare to the new cars?

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I agree with TokyoMagic. I am only 6 feet tall and barely fit in the new bobsled. Very uncomfortable ride, ruined the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

okay, I'm blind. Where are the second and third bobsleds?

K. Martinez said...

I'll third it about the bobsleds. Too uncomfortable for me to ride again. My #2 attraction now demoted on my favorites list.

The bobsled image is awesome! A close-up in action. It doesn't get much better than that.

Thanks, Major

Chuck - Yes, I remember the original 1959 bobsleds being much smoother compared to the 1978 version. There was only a two year gap for me between the two. I always thought it had to do with them being single-car instead of double-car and the increased weight.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

Wait, is this some kind of “the Emperor has three bobsleds” thing going on here?!? I can only see two at best. The one clearly in the middle of the frame descending into the tunnel, and the two little dark dots that are on the next level up (slightly above and to the right). I assume those are the heads of bobsled passengers, but I can see no third at all.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

OH WAIT, I think I do see the third now. It’s directly above the one in the middle, merging from just a sliver of a tunnel. Boy! You can tell, I have nothing better to do today.

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I wasn't even aware that there were 1978 versions of the bobsleds. Unless those were the tandem vehicles? I just assumed that they were the old bobsleds hitched together.

Chuck, I remember thinking that the outside handrails were weird. And yet, perfectly safe, really. In my memory, even the old Matterhorn could jolt you around a bit on certain parts of the track. Maybe I'm wrong.

Alonzo, I can't say that my last rides on the Matterhorn were the most comfortable thing ever, but I am a bit over 6 feet tall, and I didn't think it was that bad. I did sort of wedge myself in with my knees so that I would be less likely to bang around. Perhaps that was the key?

Anon.. see the added image!

K. Martinez, it seems hard to believe that the old version of the ride was smoother than the later one, but then again, we've got those bobsleds that seem to be a failure with the public in almost every way.

Monkey Cage Kurt, I only noticed the third one when I was zoomed in with Photoshop, so it wasn't fair to expect you guys to see it. Which is why I have provided the closeup.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I was referring to the tandem versions. I just assumed that those were all new bobsleds in 1978. That would be a good question for Bob Gurr....or maybe it's in his book! The tandem ones did have different interiors and they didn't have hand rails on the outside of the vehicles, did they? I guess they still could have just remodeled the old ones.

Monkey Cage Kurt said...

“Deluded” may be the right word Major (???). Not too sure about the bottom one either. I downloaded the photo and had been staring at it over and over, and I still think the emperor is naked. I see only two now, but at least I found two of em, I guess I was wrong about the two dots to the upper right.

Oh, and Anonymous Chuck, I was thinking the same thing about the three Mission Control engineers piloting that sled. The one in the middle has the glasses, and the one in the rear has something in his shirt pocket (ticket book?) that is reminiscent of a pocket protector. And they all three have the right shirts. That film had every 1960s engineer cliché in the book. Even a slide rule made a cameo appearance in one or two shots.

BTW: AWESOME photo Major!

K. Martinez said...

Major - Yes, there were some jerky moments (and not the beef kind) on the original bobsleds, but it was still smoother than the '78 and '12 models. I think when they coupled the bobsleds it changed the physics of the ride. Just my opinion.

BTW, Where's the original photo that isn't all mucked up?

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, you are probably right, they probably did redo them. Your memory of the way they looked is way better than mine! I don't have Bob Gurr's book handy, I wonder if he DID address the changes?

Monkey Cage Kurt, did you see the blowup that I added? I am quite sure that the colored blobs at the bottom are two heads (so technically, you can't actually see the bobsled itself). Of course now I see the two dots that you were talking about in the upper right of that photo, and THEY look like they could be heads as well. Hmmm. With two tracks on the mountain, I suppose it is possible that we could see four bobsleds (9or the rider's heads) at once.

K. Martinez. I will take your word for it! And the tandem bobsleds *had* to have affected the ride, for better or for worse (apparently for worse). By the way, I'm not sure what you mean by "the original photo that isn't all mucked up". Which photo do you mean?

Chuck said...

major, I support the Four Bobsled Theory. I completely missed the one at the bottom.

On my first ride on the new bobsleds on Christmas Eve '93, I remember thinking "these look an awful lot like the WDW Space Mountain rockets," which we'd ridden on our honeymoon just a few months before. Consulting Sam Gennawey's The Disneyland Story (a Christmas gift I've yet to read but that was within arm's reach), the '78 bobsleds were newly built and based on WDW's Space Mountain rockets.

Adding the tandem cars increased the ride's capacity by 70%, but the heavier load required the track to be reinforced, the replacement of the chain lift, and the addition of booster motors in key locations.

One of the original cars was refurbished and used in the 1995 Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do. Set in 1965, the car was used in the scene where a band member who has enlisted in the Marines goes to Disneyland with a couple of new-found Marine buddies. In the film, they are seen riding the Matterhorn with a CM dressed as Goofy.

K. Martinez said...

Major - Stupid me! I must've been having a brain-fade when leaving my last comment. I now see the original photo is actually above. Sorry!

Matt G. said...

The new sleds are awful! Like others, I used to love riding the Matterhorn. The new sleds aren't fun, they just hurt.