2020 hasn't been all bad for one California family. Disneyland has been shut down since March and, as of this writing, there is no plan with California Governor Gavin Newsom to reopen. This inspired one extreme family to build their own version of the Matterhorn in their backyard. Napa residents Sean and Michael LaRochelle wrangled up friends and family to help build the massive ride, which contains a track that is over 400 feet long. It even has its own ferocious yeti waiting to take out an unsuspecting rider, along with flames and waterfalls.
When asked about his reasoning behind building his own version of Disneyland's Matterhorn, Sean LaRochelle said, "I always wanted to build a ride and Disney rides are always special to me because they're themed; they tell a unique story." Once the public health crisis took hold earlier this year, LaRochelle decided to see some light in the situation. "They talk about all the negatives of COVID, but one of the benefits of COVID is you have all this time and you realize you know, 'what can I be doing with all this time?'"
After seeing a family recreate Pirates of the Caribbean in their backyard, Sean and Michael LaRochelle started to talk to their parents about building their version of one of Disneyland's most iconic rides in the backyard. "COVID changed everything and you know, you want to bring a little bit of normalcy back into your life and for me growing up, Disney was a huge part of that, and so I definitely wanted to bring that to my family," says the graduate student. According to Sean, his brother Michael is the "mechanical genius" of the operation.
Construction on the two-story remake of the Matterhorn started back in April, and everything was finished up by the end of July. The ride lasts about one minute, which includes being taken up the mountain in a one-man bobsled. Originally, the bobsled was going to be made of plastic, but the family decided against that and went with steel. They even have their own custom music playing through the ride, which is more than likely so Disney doesn't come out with a lawsuit. Even though the ride is much smaller than what Walt Disney commissioned, it is nonetheless very impressive.
As for how much money it took to build the custom Matterhorn, the LaRochelle family estimates that it was around $15,000, which isn't too bad. Disneyland prices have gotten pretty high over the years, so we might see more people building their own version of the rides, especially if the theme park remains closed for the rest of this year. Some people have gained weight and found unhealthy habits during the pandemic, but Sean LaRochelle and family have shown that a little imagination, and $15 grand, can go a long way. You can check out a video of the Matterhorn in action above, thanks to the Magictecture YouTube channel.