TIL – Matterhorn

Today is July 31, 2014, and I am standing outside of the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

It is late at night and the fireworks spectacular has already happened. Our large group of extended family members of the Sandosen name (my parents, my siblings, their spouses, and all of their kids…including the five members that make up my immediate brood) are taking one last stab on the bobsleds.

Well, not all of us.

I grew up in Southern California and Disneyland was like a third or fourth home to me. I can remember a time when the Star Tours ride was Monsanto’s Adventure Through Inner Space. I remember when Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters was the theater showing the film America The Beautiful in a full 360 degrees. I remember when Big Thunder Mountain was the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train.

I can also remember a time when the Bobsled ride was comfortable. In 2012, the designers at the House of Mouse thought it would be a darling idea to replace the seats on the ride that could fit two people with seats that only fit individuals. I heartily agree with the line in this article that says, “…many riders have found them [the new seats] to be a bit too cramped for comfort.”

I would be one of those riders.

I had experienced the bobsleds earlier in the day and my knees and back were still reminding me that they did not enjoy the cramped spaces of the updated seats. So, I decided to take a pass when our large group wanted to take a second, and final, crack at the roller coaster that features a Yeti.

However, our group – and everyone behind them – was never able to scream on the Matterhorn because…

TILHow to shut down the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland.

For reasons of privacy, liability, and because he is my brother, let’s call our protagonist in this story Mr.X. Our hero, the aforementioned Mr.X, dutifully waited in line and when his turn came, he stepped into his individual seat at the front of his bobsled. He was not riding alone as he had taken it upon himself to enter the Matterhorn with an inflatable, light-up thunderstick. For those who are unaware and are too lazy to click on the previous link, a thunderstick is an air-filled plastic cylinder that is used to create noise by banging it against another thunderstick. After climbing aboard the bobsled and ensuring that his seatbelt was securely fastened, the sled with Mr.X entered a tunnel and also climbed upward along its tracks. This is when Mr.X thought it would be smashing idea to wave his thunderstick over his head.

This is when the ride stopped.

In the history of the Matterhorn, there have two deaths and that has been two too many. So, to stop a third fatality, the designers have embedded a series of sensors in the ride to determine if anyone stands up or extends an arm or a leg outside of a certain safe zone. Mr.X’s thunderstick tripped this sensor causing an automatic stop to the ride. From what I can deduce, D-Land protocol then called for everyone to be evacuated off the ride and then for personnel to walk the length of the tracks to ensure that no person was left stranded. Since this occurred around 10:15pm and since it would take about an hour to complete this safety procedure, the cast members dressed in lederhosen announced that the ride was closed for the remainder of the night.

While our family members were disappointed at the loss of another spin on the bobsleds and while some were sheepish over the fact that they were the cause of the ride stoppage, it’s still a good day when you learn something new.

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