Two giant gorillas, occupying a region of the Jungle Cruise's rivers of Africa in the early half of the 20th century, were presumably hostile and described as being roughly 600 pounds with an arm-spread of 8 feet. The gorillas used to appear right before the, "Return to Civilization", in the part of the ride now representing the Amazon Rainforest. The gorillas were removed after 1968 with the rough space it occupied.
The gorilla animatronics were repurposed in 1978 to represent the Yeti, "Harold" in the rollercoaster Matterhorn Bobsleds with new fur and a face mould by Blaine Gibson.
In 2015, this audio-animatronic was removed and replaced with a more updated model. One of the gorilla audio-animatronic was moved to Disney's California Adventure theme-park to the attraction Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT!, still appearing as the yeti.
Reemploying animation figures is common at Walt Disney imagineering; some of the audio-animatronics from Nature’s Wonderland are now part of Big Thunder, and almost all America Sings audio-animatronics are in Splash Mountain.
The 1977-78 major refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise had legendary imagineer Mark Davis working on its upgrade. Part of Mark’s new show for Disneyland included the Gorilla Camp with the tents, overturned jeep, and the family of gorillas unpacking and turning the camp inside out.
1978, the imagineers were also working on another major refurbishment: the Matterhorn. New Bobsleds were being added along with new track, and better brakes for the splash down. It was also decided to put some show in the interior, mostly for the Skyway buckets passing through the Matterhorn. The Bobsleds could see the new icy interiors and crystals as well the very famous Disneyland abominable snowman.
Riders can see remnants of the Wells Expedition, a tribute to Frank Wells, the one time president of the Walt Disney Company.
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The Matterhorn is my brother's favorite ride at Disneyland.
Making the Mountain
Walt Disney fell in love with the real Matterhorn while filming the 1959 live-action film Third Man on the Mountain.
Back at Disneyland Park, Walt decided to cover a forested 20-foot-high mound named Holiday Hill with artificial snow, add a toboggan run and rename it Snow Hill. However, Walt always dreamed big, and the “hill” soon grew into a 147-foot-tall mountain. The attraction opened on June 14, 1959.
Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first roller-coaster-style attraction at Disneyland Park—and the very first tubular steel coaster in the world. The iconic attraction is also one-of-a-kind—no other Disney park can claim a Matterhorn mountain.
There are 2 bobsled tracks: 1 on the Fantasyland side of the mountain and the other on the Tomorrowland side. During slower periods, only a single track may be in operation.
Matterhorn mountain certainly looks like its counterpart in the Swiss Alps— partially thanks to the excellent use of forced perspective. However, the peak is just a bit lower than the original—it’s exactly 100 times shorter than the 14,700-foot-tall real thing.
More than 800 gallons of paint were used to create heavier snowfall on the north-facing—just like the real Matterhorn. Glass beads on the façade glitter like actual snow!
Climb into a 6-person bobsled and brace yourself against howling winds as you ascend 80 feet up into an icy cave. Take in the sweeping views at the summit and prepare for a thrilling, high-speed ride.
Swoop in and out of shadowy caves and along jagged rocky ledges. Throttle through snowy chutes and around frozen precipices. Fly across bridges and under waterfalls before splashing down into an alpine lake.
The real peril is not snow or sleet! Stories abound of a growling creature known as the Abominable Snowman—who will do anything and everything to protect his home.
Ride time 2:30 minutes.
Top speed 27 mph
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".