I have to go with the crowd on this one. Matterhorn is almost too jarring for me, even though I still ride each time. I love the experience, but my lower back hates me for it. I should bring some rapid relief next time...
It's funny because my long time girlfriend (now fiancee) used to really love the ride when it was doubles and use to think I was just complaining like a child. Yeah..... now she has her own seat.... now she fully understands.... I look her straight in the eyes and tell her, 'I ain't yo or no body's cushion no'mo...."
My vote goes to BTM. If the Horn was smoother they'd be a tie in my book. Love them both. Hate the pain.
I prefer Matterhorn. I adore the mountain itself; towering over everything, visible from Main Street, and photogenic from every angle. It tickles me that WED built the thing in 1959, setting the precedent for concealing the bones of large-scale thrill rides within gigantic faux-natural structures.
The coaster itself is such a delight. There's something magical about the clunky way the trains pick up speed as the track weaves through the structure. I've ridden so many times and yet the layout remains unpredictable (and totally bizarre). Bob Gurr says he taught himself trigonometry in order to design the Matterhorn... um, it shows.
Its only shortcoming is its lack of any real drops. It Matterhorn had just one moment where riders turned a tight corner and suddenly dropped 30 feet (which would be quite a surprise amongst all the turns), the coaster experience would be unimpeachable, IMO. If Imagineering ever bulldozes and rebuilds the thing (because, as Jim Hill has put it, the current structure is supported by folding chairs and rubber bands), this would be my only recommendation.
I love the music in the loading area, and the sounds of the waterfalls and "wind." I love the absurd single-file coaster trains. I love the cast member outfits. I love the thematic dissonance of the Monorail passing by. I love the mystery of what exactly is happening within this mountain. Okay, this is turning into an unsolicited dissertation; my apologies. Perhaps I miss Disneyland more than I realized.
I'll add that I don't find Matterhorn prohibitively rough. I'm a coaster fan; perhaps I've built up a tolerance for painful thrill experiences. I'm also a big fan of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World (and find it much more thrilling than Disneyland's version), which shares some DNA with Matterhorn. Perhaps I just find the bumpy, single-file ride experience more thrilling than the super-smooth, super-safe feel of Disneyland's recently re-tracked coasters.
My somewhat hot take is that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain at Disneyland are both fine attractions, but they're nowhere near the top attractions in the park, and they pale in comparison to their East Coast counterparts due to their smaller scale. For the "mountain" attractions, size/impressiveness is critical; there's something awe-inspiring about riding the Liberty Belle past the towering rockwork of BTMR and watching the coaster train speed down toward the river -- and something equally unimpressive about Disneyland's BTMR's lack of height/elevation. Disneyland's BTMR earns points for its queue, outdoor load area, and truly fantastic third lift hill, but ultimately I find the attraction somewhat less immersive and thrilling than its WDW counterpart, and less fundamental than the Matterhorn.
No losers in this poll, but I had to choose Big Thunder Mountain. There is so much that goes on in your journey of a few minutes and I have to give a special mention to the redone finale that is dynamite in all senses of the word. The track is so well designed that it really feels wild with all its twists and dips. There are also portions where it seems to take you away from Disneyland into the rugged west. Many coasters have been created around a runaway mine train experience, but in spite of that saturation it's hard to think of others that bring so much to the table.
Could you imagine walking into Disneyland and not seeing the Matterhorn? I do think however that these days more people have good memories and positive feeling towards BTMRR than they do the Matterhorn. Also the abominable snowman’s legendary growl is gone so it’s kind of a tough call.