In 1959, Disneyland California saw the grand opening of three new and significant attractions, which marked a major expansion of the park. These attractions were the Disneyland Monorail, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the Submarine Voyage, all of which made their debut on June 14th, 1959. This expansion greatly contributed to the park's appeal and solidified its reputation as a leading entertainment destination.
Disneyland Monorail System: The Disneyland Monorail was the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere. Designed by the Alweg company from Germany, the monorail's introduction was a major innovation in public transportation at the time. When it opened, the monorail had only one station and ran on a 0.8-mile loop around Tomorrowland. Walt Disney himself saw the monorail as a symbol of the future and hoped it would inspire cities to adopt similar transportation systems. In the years since, the monorail has been extended and now connects Disneyland to the Disneyland Hotel and Disney California Adventure Park.
Matterhorn Bobsleds: The Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first-ever tubular steel roller coaster in the world. Inspired by the real Matterhorn Mountain in the Swiss Alps, the 147-foot tall, snow-capped artificial mountain was designed by Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr. The roller coaster's innovative use of tubular steel made for a smoother, more comfortable ride than traditional wooden coasters, paving the way for future roller coaster designs. The Matterhorn Bobsleds also featured the first use of an innovative block brake system, which allowed multiple cars to safely operate on the same track simultaneously.
Submarine Voyage: The Submarine Voyage was a groundbreaking underwater ride that took passengers on a journey through the depths of the ocean. Featuring eight submarines, each capable of carrying up to 38 passengers, the ride provided an immersive experience for guests as they traveled through a massive 9-million-gallon water-filled lagoon. During the ride, guests encountered animatronic sea creatures, underwater landscapes, and even a simulated polar ice cap. The submarines were designed by Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr and built by the Todd Shipyards in San Francisco. This attraction was reimagined and reopened as the "Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage" in 2007.
These three attractions played a significant role in shaping the future of Disneyland and theme parks worldwide. Not only did they push the boundaries of technology and creativity, but they also showcased Walt Disney's commitment to innovation and imagination.