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Is There Really a Basketball Court at the Top of the Matterhorn?

By Bronwyn Harris
Updated May 23, 2024
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To the uninitiated, it may seem strange to see an artificial Swiss Alp rising from the concrete in Anaheim, California. Disneyland patrons, however, will recognize the Matterhorn, one of the rides from the early years of Disneyland Park. Besides the obvious juxtaposition of the faux Matterhorn in Southern California, there are many other strange facts and legends that go along with the Matterhorn and its history. One such fact is the true existence of a basketball court located atop the Matterhorn.

Urban legends about Disneyland abound, and the Matterhorn has its fair share. One popular urban legend holds that when Walt Disney had the Matterhorn built, Anaheim building codes and city ordinances forbade any structures more than a certain - usually unspecified - height, excepting only sports facilities. To get around this law, Disney is said to have had a basketball court built within the top of the Matterhorn, this way he could call the mountainous structure a sports facility and get around all restrictions on height.

The fact that is ignored by legend-tellers is that the Anaheim had no laws, rules, or ordinances regarding building or structure height until 1970. As construction on the Matterhorn was completed in 1959, any restrictions on height would not have applied. Furthermore, even Disney may not have been able to convince people that his made-for-Orange County Swiss Alp - including bobsleds - was a basketball facility.

The truth is less exciting, but still includes a basketball court. There is a small preparation and rest area inside the top of the Matterhorn for climbers that are known entertain Disneyland guests by climbing the Matterhorn in costume. In addition to the time spent preparing and changing for climbs, occasionally climbers will have to wait inside the rest area when rain or other conditions prevent them from performing outside.

Wanting a way to pass the time, one climber installed a backboard and basketball hoop to amuse himself during time spent waiting. Floor markings were added, although the area is not quite as large as a regulation half-court, so it may be more accurately called just a basketball hoop. This court is unfortunately, reported to have been removed since the break room was renovated due to dry rot, from which even the Happiest Place on Earth is not immune.

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Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Feb 13, 2014

This article just goes to show how easily stories and myths can start. Too bad they took down the basketball goal that was really there. Someone had a really good idea when they put it up. That was the perfect way to pass the time.

By Drentel — On Feb 13, 2014

That does make a good story, even though it isn't true. I think we should continue spreading it around. As we say in journalism, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

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