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Disneyland Article
Matterhorn Was Supposed To Be Candy Here Is The Story Of Rock Candy Mountain

Matterhorn Bobsleds
Kristen Carr
July 31, 2022
August 8, 2022
If you’ve ever grabbed a Disneyland snack from Trolley Treats as you walked into Disney California Adventure, you’ve likely been face to face with a huge piece of Disney history hidden in plain sight.

The model of Disney Imagineering’s first-ever attempt at expansion of Disneyland park, Rock Candy Mountain, which later became Matterhorn Bobsleds, lives in the window for all to see.

Trolley Treats, the confectionery store on Buena Vista Street, is home to a model of the mountain made of candy, complete with a working trolley running through it. Today, it just looks like an enticement to come into the store and buy a sweet treat — but this working window scene would be instantly recognizable to guests if the work of Disney Legend Claude Coats and other Imagineers had come to fruition back in 1957.

In Disneyland’s first year of operation, starting in July 1955, the park welcomed 5 million guests. By 1956, Walt Disney’s team was hard at work planning and creating more magic for the theme park to entice return visitors and reach even more new fans.

Rock Candy Mountain was set to be the large-scale, whimsical centerpiece to Fantasyland, originally planned to house the Casey Jr. Circus Train and be part of the Storybook Land Canal Boats. The train would have taken guests up, around and over the Rio Fudge River, through Taffy Valley and over Dew Drop Hills.

But it wasn’t always lollipops and gumdrops. The mountain's original concept was to be built completely out of crystal formations, but Walt thought it would be too difficult to keep clean and sparkling, so Imagineers restructured the attraction into a candy mountain. Walt reportedly told Herb Ryman, “With all the smog down there in Anaheim, we’ll never be able to keep that thing clean.”

Disneyland’s Fantasyland, although smaller in footprint than any other of the park’s lands, receives an outsized amount of attention from guests. The land is so important to the park experience that on any given day Peter Pan’s Flight is rumored to have more than 10,000 guests take flight, even with an average wait time of 48 minutes for a 2-minute-long attraction.

Building up this first peak in what is now Disneyland’s collective mountain range would have brought a bright, soaring focal point into the space. That's exactly what Disney Legends and master model makers Harriet Burns and Fred Joerger tried to show by building a model based closely on Coats' original design.

Burns once told the tale of meticulously gluing dozens and dozens of candies including licorice, gumdrops, candy canes and fudge to a model at Walt Disney Imagineering, which was then WED Enterprises. But the model received a less-than-enthusiastic reaction from Walt and the team took it as yet another stumbling block for the possible expansion.

Imagineers would attempt to reformulate this mountain idea many times, including a design addition where the interior of the mountain featured scenes from the Land of Oz, which Disney had acquired the rights to in 1954. The design of Rock Candy Mountain at one point included a finale scene depicting Dorothy's birthday party.

The project was finally scrapped after Imagineers presented the finished model to John Hench. He told Walt, “When you have a meal of meat and potatoes, you really enjoy a dessert of candy, but when you just see piles and piles of it, it kind of turns you off.” They all decided it would look unappealing and possibly make riders queasy.

Walt agreed, saying, “You know, you’re right. Just forget the whole thing.”

And just like that, Harriet Burns said, “we opened the door, and pushed the entire candy mountain platform outside. The blue jays came down and ate peanuts out of the peanut brittle and the pecans out of the fudge, and that was the end of Candy Mountain.”

Rock Candy Mountain did focus Walt Disney on adding a mountain of some kind to Disneyland. After the idea was permanently shelved, during filming of the 1959 live action film, “Third Man on the Mountain,” in Zermatt, Switzerland, Walt became fascinated with the Matterhorn. His thoughts shifted to how he could incorporate this inspiration into Disneyland. Rock Candy Mountain’s core idea of an attraction through a mountain eventually became the one-of-a-kind Matterhorn Bobsleds.

Next time you walk down Buena Vista Street and its beautifully showcased window displays, stop and admire the working trolley running up, down and through the mountain of candy with crystal rock formations on top. Imagine a Disneyland where this unrealized attraction is the focus of our beloved Fantasyland.

The simple homage shows that at Disneyland, even “scrapped” ideas never truly die.
Attractions Referenced

Casey Jr. Circus Train

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Peter Pan's Flight

Storybook Land Canal Boats

Lands Referenced


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