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Ride Turns Into Trek on Matterhorn

TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than a dozen guests on Disneyland’s Matterhorn were forced to hike down the attraction Monday after their bobsleds stopped suddenly on the track.

One side of the ride was shut down as a precaution from 11:30 a.m. to 12:22 p.m. when a bobsled failed to pass an electronic sensor at the appropriate time. No injuries were reported.

“This breakdown was caused by computer sensors . . . located throughout the ride,” said John McClintock, a Disneyland spokesman. “If a vehicle doesn’t pass by the sensor at the right time, the ride will automatically shut down.”

The bobsleds hold a maximum of eight passengers each and are attached together in pairs that run along two separate tracks that wind through either side of the mountain. During the 90-second ride, the sleds reach a maximum speed of 28 m.p.h.

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Bobsleds on the second track were not stopped and continued to race through the mountain while the other side was shut down.

Sensors monitor the distance between bobsleds to make sure they run smoothly and are not in danger of bumping into one another, McClintock said.

“They’re designed to shut the ride down if there’s any type of problem,” he said. Monday’s shutdown was “certainly not an unusual occurrence.”

“I had to be escorted off the Matterhorn,” one visitor exclaimed as he exited the ride.

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Another passenger said she and her family and the other riders were stuck for only about five minutes. “They told us that it was like pulling the plug on a TV. The power just went,” she said.

Staff members helped people step off the bobsleds perched as high up as 100 feet and pick their way down to safety via a walkway located next to the track.

Four bobsleds containing at most 28 people were evacuated, McClintock said.

Two of the four cars were stopped inside the mountain. Several were on the lift going up the mountain, and the rest were on the mountaintop, McClintock said.

Disneyland’s Matterhorn is a replica of the mountain in Switzerland and is built on a scale one one-hundredth the size.

McClintock said that after passengers were escorted off the attraction, ride operators cycled the empty bobsleds through the mountain and started the ride over again to clear the problem.

“Some attractions at Disneyland have a problem of this nature occasionally,” McClintock said, adding that the Matterhorn has not been evacuated recently.

Nine years ago the Matterhorn was the site of an accident that took the life of one woman who fell out of her seat and was crushed by an oncoming bobsled.

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