Secrets of Disneyland’s Matterhorn
The manmade mountain, 14-stories tall, is hollow. What’s inside?
Believe it or not, near the top of the Matterhorn above the bobsleds roller coaster is a regulation basketball half-court.
On a recent trip, when the Matterhorn Bobsleds were experiencing a malfunction, a Disneyland manager told the tale of the origin of the strange basketball court. When Walt Disney conceived of the Matterhorn in 1956, he learned of an Orange County zoning ordinance that limits the height of amusement attractions. But by including a basketball court, the structure could be classified as a “sports facility,” exempt from the height limitation.
But according to urban myth buster Snopes, which shows a photo of the basketball court, the story of the zoning loophole is only fanciful fun. Orange County lacked height ordinances for structures before the 1970s. It turns out the basketball hoop was set up for climbers to pass the time.
The Matterhorn also served to camouflage the central pylon of the bucket-shaped Skyway tram ride (← click to see video) which passed through the center of the mountain through cave-like holes connecting the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland sides. Skyway riders could see down into the Matterhorn’s interior as they glided through.
In 1978, along with ice caves, the Matterhorn got a new tenant, an Abominable Snowman by the name of Harold.
There are actually three Harolds, three similar Audio-Animatronic figures that roar at the bobsledders.
Following the closure of the Skyway in 1994, the cavernous holes through which the Skyway buckets had traveled were partially filled in, making way for a glowing crystal grotto.
Since internal access to the mountain remains locked for safety reasons, the Matterhorn basketball court was accessible only to the mountain climbers who can play between climbs.
The Matterhorn basketball court was relocated slightly to install Tinkerbell’s flight equipment and dressing room in 2005 prior to the Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration. The hoop and playing area remain intact. There is a cast member break room inside the mountain at the base.
So there you have it, the secret basketball court in Disneyland’s Matterhorn is real.
Here’s a useful secret when you ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds
The Bobsleds run on two separate tracks; one is slightly longer (2:26 minutes) than the other (2:07 minutes). As you face the entrance get in the line for the track on the right and enjoy 19 extra seconds of riding the Matterhorn. Warning: The left track ride is shorter because it goes faster!
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