Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sledding Down the Mountain

The Matterhorn Bobsleds doesn't just occupy a special and historic spot in Disney park lore. It also holds a place in roller coaster history.  Officially, the Matterhorn is the world's first and oldest steel tubular rail type roller coaster.  Before it debuted, way back in 1959, all other roller coasters built before it had been woodies.  It was Disneyland, with the help of now-defunct coaster company Arrow Dynamics (originally Arrow Development), that created the first steel coaster. 

Incidentally, Arrow would go on to break other roller coaster barriers, developing the first runaway mine train coaster (no, it wasn't Big Thunder Mountain), the first looping coaster (Knott's Berry Farm's Corkscrew, which occupies the area now home to Boomerang), the first hypercoaster (the 200' tall Magnum XL-200 at Cedar Point), and the world's first "4th Dimension" roller coaster (Six Flags Magic Mountain's X, now X2--which probably contributed to the company going bankrupt).  But it all started with a simple bobsled ride that hurtled down a man-made 1/100th replica of the Matterhorn mountain.  Where? At the Happiest Place on Earth.

Matterhorn (left track) careening down toward its final splashdown, right as the sun is setting.

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