Don’t Settle for the Amusement Park Ride – See the Real Matterhorn

MatterhornSome of you have probably been to Disneyland Park, the world-renowned theme park built by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.   Opened way back in 1959, it may have been the world’s first-ever theme park.  Disneyland Park (known simply as “Disneyland” for many years and still called that by many of the millions of visitors it has every year) is directly responsible for popularizing the whole theme park concept, which is still on a roll today.

About now, you might be saying to yourself something like “What in the world does all this have to do with the Matterhorn?  That’s in Switzerland, near Zermatt, halfway across the world from California!”

Well, one of the earliest and most popular attractions at Disneyland is centered on a made-made mock-up of the real Matterhorn.  The attraction (called the “Matterhorn Bobsleds” or simply “The Matterhorn”) consists of two intertwining steel roller coasters which wend their way around and through the man-made mountain, exiting and re-entering through holes created in its exterior.  The cars of the coasters are the “bobsleds.”  To add a little Alpine character, people (and sometimes Disney characters) dressed to resemble Swiss mountain climbers can be seen ascending the rocky peak during the daytime hours.

It’s all pretty exciting, especially if you’re a roller coaster fanatic.  But of course, The Matterhorn ride at Disneyland isn’t all that much like the real thing.  For that, you’ll have to go to the Zermatt Matterhorn.

The real Matterhorn is one of the most famous mountains in the world.  Its jagged, iconic shape is easily recognized by countless millions of people from all throughout the world.  The village of Zermatt sits at the mountain’s base and has become what is probably the most famous ski resort in the Swiss Alps, which explains why there are so many Zermatt hotels.

Because the cold Alpine climate makes skiing possible even during the summer, Zermatt is an incredibly popular year-round resort.  Plus, with the Matterhorn (and almost 30 other peaks of 13,000 feet or higher) so near, the sightseeing in the area is virtually unsurpassed.   And the village itself is quaint and charming, with pedestrianized cobblestone streets and friendly, helpful residents.  It’s not a big place (its full-time population is about 5,500), but a large number of Zermatt hotels have sprung up to accommodate its many visitors.

Without a doubt, The Matterhorn ride in California’s Disneyland Park is an exhilarating experience, but it pales in comparison to visiting the real thing – the Zermatt Matterhorn.

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