It isn't uncommon to see fans creating scale models of Disney princess's castles or pristine replicas of Captain America's shield. Less common? Somebody literally doing a cover version of a Disneyland ride. But that's exactly what theme park enthusiast Sean LaRochelle has done, recreating Disney's Matterhorn roller coaster in his back yard in Napa, California. With nothing else to do while locked down in Napa, LaRochelle decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of building his own theme park ride, beginning the project in March and reportedly completing it in July. It has attracted a great deal of media attention this week after LaRochelle uploaded a video of the ride on YouTube.
Presented as an unveiling, LaRochelle's video is very much like the kind of ride-through video that theme park superfans frequently post on social media. Of course, most of the time the ride in question wasn't constructed by the person holding the camera.
"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?" LaRochelle told his local ABC News affiliate. "I always wanted to build a ride and Disney rides are always special to me because they're themed, they tell a unique story."
You can see it below.
As you can see in the video, the two-story roller coaster stands nearly as high as the house it's built next to, and includes a sculpted mountain, a functional track (suitable for a small, one-passenger cart), animatronics, running water, and more.
The project was also pretty clealry a family affair; if you stick around for the credits, you'll see how many LaRochelles are involved with the making of the Matternorn Alpine Escape (clue: it's a lot), and relatively few other names. That makes a kind of sense, given that the same pandemic that prevented LaRochelle from visiting Disney likely also made it harder for him to find artisans and workmen who would come out to his land to build a theme park attraction.
Designed by legendary coaster designers Arrow Development, the "real" Matterhorn bobsled ride was constructed in 1959 and has been a mainstay at Disneyland, although it has never made its way to Walt Disney World or any other Disney parks around the world. The Abominable Snowman, seen replicated in the video above, was added in 1978.