Score one for “progress”

matterhorn
Am I the only one?

Will no one else stand up to the tyranny of commercialism?

Today, I was deeply saddened to read that Disneyland will be removing the roller coaster ride from its beloved classic attraction, “The Matterhorn” (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2291769).

“Oh no, they’re tearing down the Matterhorn?” you ask?

No, they are not. They are removing the ride and leaving the building intact.

And what are they putting in the building, you ask? A store.

Not just a store, a Disney Store.

Maybe I’m showing my age, call me a relic, if you like, but I actually like the Matterhorn.

Sure, it’s old and it’s corny when the abominable snowman lights up and growls at you, but what’s wrong with some good, old-fashioned, corny fun?

When I go to Disneyland, it’s not to ride the latest thrill rides. If I want to go on a roller coaster that’s 500 feet tall and goes 120 miles an hour, I’ll go to Six Flags. That’s also where I go if I want to get stabbed, but that’s a topic for another time.

I go to Disneyland to relive my childhood. I walk under the train station and onto Main Street, USA and I am a kid again. Everything is safe and fun and the world makes sense. I see limitless possibilities laid out in front of me. Life is good.

Do I believe those are real elephants in the Jungle Cruise? No, they look fake as hell. Am I scared by any of the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion? Fuck no, asshole. I’m no pussy. Do I think I’m really in “the world of tomorrow” when I walk past Space Mountain? I’m not even going to answer that.

It’s called “willing suspension of disbelief” and to all those people out there who lack an imagination: you should try it. If you can’t take 10 hours out of your day where you pretend you’re not a miserable son of a bitch, then I truly feel sorry for you.

When I would get in line at the base of that big, white mountain, I would look up at its peak in awe. Since I don’t believe in vaccinations, I’ll never get to travel overseas and see the real Matterhorn, so this is as close as I will get. I stand there by the pine trees and breathe in their scent. The sound of yodelers fills my ears. I close my eyes and I’m in Switzerland.

The ride is old, I understand that. According to the article, that’s the reason they gave for closing it.

“‘Popa granda’ is a Swiss word for ‘grandfather’ and we believe the Matterhorn is the Popa Granda of Disneyland. Unfortunately, it just got to the point where it was no longer cost-effective to keep repairing the track, but it was important to us that we kept the spirit of the Matterhorn intact,” said Sharon Mullcahy, Senior VP of Attraction Development.

They plan to “keep the spirit of the Matterhorn intact” by continuing the Swiss mountains theme of the original ride inside the store. Whoop dee doo.

The article goes on to cite the cost of several major refurbishments in the past few years and it does seem prohibitive, I will give them that. I remember visiting Disneyland many times and seeing a big white wall around the entrance to the ride as the Imagineers fixed it, yet again.

When you ride it, it jostles you around and you’ve only got an old, frayed seat belt holding you in. It is definitely a “blast from the past” and I feel that’s why it needs to be saved. You can’t find rides like this anymore. I, for one, would be willing to take a bump in admission price if it meant saving the Matterhorn.

But, like I said earlier, this isn’t about old rides getting phased out. This is about the tyranny of commercialism. I might even buy the Disney Company Line, if not for the fact that they’re replacing my favorite ride of all time with a store.

Tear it down, make a new ride – even that would be less objectionable. Screw it up by making it “The Emperor’s New Groove Presents: the Matterhorn”. I would take all these options over the one they have now.

The last thing Disneyland needs is more shopping. May I remind the executives that this is not a mall. It’s a theme park. I understand the need for merchandising, but not at the expense of the visceral thrills that draw you to the park in the first place.

That should always be the focus of a great theme park, everything else is ancillary.

In the past, this has always been the Disney way, but now, I fear they’ve taken that model and flipped it.

If the Matterhorn Disney Store is a big hit, what’s next? “Tom Sawyer’s Nike Emporium Island”? “Peter Pan’s Magical Flight Through the Apple Store”? “Pirates of the Caribbean starring characters from the motion picture starring Johnny Depp”?

Doesn’t seem so crazy now, does it?

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8 comments

  1. Ugh. Another cool Disneyland ride screwed up.

    This sucks. Why just UPDATE the ride to make it more modern? Make the Snowman more realistic and scary looking using today’s technology?

    Hell, a lot of those old rides need updating. The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Carribean, etc.

    They are still cool but need to be updated. Especially those lame dinosaurs in the train ride that encircles the park.

  2. Sucker! This is just a marketing plot by the Military Industrial Recreational Park Industry to get people LIKE YOU all frothy and shit. Once the word has gotten out to everybody, Disney will make an announcement about how they’ve changed their mind and then they’ll introduce to the public MATTERHORN CLASSIC. Everyone will be so excited with their PUBLIC OUTCRY VICTORY that they wont notice that all the tracks have been replaced by high fructose corn syrup!

  3. Hey there, new reader of your blog. Good stuff.

    I went to Disney World as a child, and it has disappointed me quite a bit that so many of the rides I enjoyed so thoroughly are gone. I thought that maybe someday I would go back, but it feels to me like the magic of it all would not be there for me. They also are fond of selling as much useless shit as possible, not just inside the stores, but also out on the streets, like those people holding the huge bundles of Mickey balloons. Those things sell themselves to parents with bratty kids.

    The most interesting thing to me about the parks is how many horrific deaths occur there.
    It’s one of those ironically creepy things…

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