As you look back on a year spent in as much isolation as you’ll ever experience (hopefully), what do you have to show for all that time at home? Did you learn to cook? Master an instrument? Clean out the garage? Whatever it was it probably wasn’t as gung-ho as the LaRochelle family, who put us all to shame by building a miniature replica of Disneyland’s Matterhorn ride in their backyard.
Not being able to visit your favorite theme park is probably somewhere near the bottom of the list of inconveniences and hardships inflicted by the ongoing global pandemic, but instead of protesting the closure of Disneyland as many park devotees have, the LaRochelles channeled their disappointment into something more productive. The result is a magnificently scaled replica of the famous Matterhorn ride (which itself is a scaled replica of the famous Matterhorn mountain in the alps straddling Italy and Switzerland). They even went so far as to recreate the animatronic Yeti that surprises guests while riding the attraction at the park.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone build a functional rollercoaster in their backyard—some have even managed to build miniature inverted loops in their scaled-down thrill rides. What sets the LaRochelles’ creation apart from the rest is the miniature mountain their coaster races through, which looks like it’s almost as tall as their actual house. Not only did they have to design and build the steel tracks the coaster rides on (and the ride vehicle itself), but they also had to sculpt the surrounding mountain (using untold rolls of chicken wire as a base) creating the dark caves and tunnels that add suspense and mystery to the ride—the same techniques Disney’s Imagineers use to make rides feel larger and more elaborate than they really are.
The ride itself is over in a little more than 30 seconds, and that includes a brief power-assisted climb to the top of the mountain and the coaster’s first hill. From there it’s a series of tight corners and ups and downs that looks like it takes quite a toll on the rider who, from time to time, appears to benefit from strategic and well-timed head ducks as the coaster races beneath low-hanging faux rock archways. Unlike the rides at Disneyland, however, after the 30-second thrill is over the rider doesn’t have to go to the back of a three-hour line to ride it again.
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