Thursday was an eventful one at Knott’s Berry Farm, where they held two opening ceremonies for a beloved attraction and a brand new area aimed at families!
Though it was open to guests earlier this week (as covered in In The Parks at this link), the Boardwalk was “officially” opened with a “taffy cutting” ceremony early Thursday morning. Presided over by pop culturist Charles Phoenix, this new area is aimed toward families, and has a wonderful atmosphere. Joining Charles in opening the new area was a lovely family of four from Dayton, Ohio (part of Knott’s “street-mosphere” characters), and, of course, Snoopy!
But the big story of the day was the log ride. After a lengthy refurbishment, Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm was set to open in grand style. Unfortunately for us, due to complications mostly beyond the control of the staff of Knott’s, the ride did not open (though we waited for is ALL day!). But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at what was done to the ride itself.
The ride, originally opened in 1969, has gone through a massive overhaul. Cedar Fair, who owns Knott’s Berry Farm, has spent over $5 million dollars on this project, and it certainly shows. Garner Holt Productions created 40 human animatronics, and countless animal figures both animated and stationary, to replace the old (and kind of creepy) originals. The refurbishment has been going on for almost 6 months, and as you can see in these photos below (some from Tuesday and some from Thursday), they were rushing at the last minute to get everything done.
Earlier this week:
Thursday morning brought a re-dedication ceremony, hosted once again by pop culturist Charles Phoenix, to the popular Knott’s staple. Knott’s Vice President and General Manager Raffi Kaprelyan was on hand to read a statement about how important the ride was to the park’s history, and how much it meant that it was being updated.
Also on hand was the Mayor of Buena Park, Elizabeth Swift, who brought a decree that officially declared May 30th, 2013 Bud Hurlbut Day. Hurlbut was the mastermind behind the original ride when it opened in 1969, as the Calico Log Ride.
When the ride first opened, John Wayne, and his son, Ethan, were there to help dedicate it. Though John has since passed, Ethan, along with his nephew Duke, were here today to fill the same role his father played years earlier.
Check back later for video of the entire opening ceremony!
Though the ceremony began at 10AM, and was over by 10:30, the rest of the day went rather slowly. Unfortunately, the ride wasn’t ready when the ceremony was over (as evidenced by the lack of water in the flume), so guests were free to explore the rest of the park, and the Boardwalk area.
During the time, we checked out the exhibit that Knott’s had set up in the dance hall, detailing the history of the Log Ride. It showcased original models that Hurlbut used to help sell his idea to Walter Knott, along with original concept sketches, photographs from opening day, and even an original prop!
Periodically checking in over the next few hours, guests continued to be told that the ride was still being worked on and going through its final checks, but they were unsure as to when it would open. Maintenance workers could be seen going in and out of the various openings, adjusting things as they went along.
But even with the ride not functioning yet, the views it afforded were spectacular!
However, by 5PM, things were beginning to look up. Announcements meant for the team members of the ride could be heard by guests, letting them know that they were about to fill the flume with water. A little after 5, this is just what they started to do. When word of the water filling the flume got out, guests flocked to the ride. By 5:30, a massive line formed along the outside of the queue (they weren’t allowed in the queue itself, but a make-shift line was formed along the outside).
Around the same time, cries of triumph began to erupt from the crowd, as the first few logs began to head out of the loading area for testing. Everyone was confident that the ride would open soon.
Raffi Kaprelyan, along with two others, got into a log to test it out for themselves; the very first people to ride the attraction since its refurbishment. However, it was then that something unexpected happened… Just as the log was leaving the load area, it got stuck. A team member had to physically push it out of load, in order for it to continue on its way. What we thought was a fluke turned out to be the norm; almost every log with people in it (all of them park or Garner Holt employees) that left the loading station got stuck just after load.
The exact nature of why the logs were getting stuck is unknown to us, but they seemed to be getting stuck on metal grating. This is a simple fix, though, and one that can probably be done overnight. However, because the ride was just opening, and needed to be completely tested, it still remained closed.
Just after 6PM, team members came out of the loading area to inform the massive crowd of people waiting to get on the ride that unfortunately, due to technical difficulties and having to still be checked out by the State of CA, the Timber Mountain Log Ride would not open it to guests that day.
Though we were disappointed we were not able to ride the Timber Mountain Log Ride on opening day, we do understand why we couldn’t get on. You can’t open or reopen a ride in California until the State approves everything, and there were minor things on the attraction that the state wanted to see tweaked before it could open to guests. As of Friday morning (5/31/13), the ride is now open (check below for more details and a video ride through!)
Here is a great on-ride photo from Thursday of Raffi Kaprelyan, and his two ride companions, taking the final plunge of the first official ride since the refurbishment. Many thanks to the Knott’s PR team for providing it to us!
Also, Knott’s was kind enough to send along some of their publicity shots, so you can get a peek of some of the things that await you on the ride!
Thankfully, on Friday morning, the ride finally opened to guests. And man, was it worth the wait!
Before we share our thoughts, here is the first, exclusive ride-through of the completely re-done attraction!
Did you like it?
I certainly did!
The park opened Friday morning at 10AM, and by 10:30, a pretty decent sized line was forming, despite the attraction not being open yet. However, at 11AM, they allowed people into the queue, and started loading the logs right up.
My initial thoughts are that the ride looks incredible from start to finish. Knott’s by no means had a Disney-sized budget for this refurbishment, however, they managed to knock it out of the park, and deliver Disney-sized entertainment. Everything looks, sounds, and even smells wonderful! From top to bottom, this was a job well done.
The animatronics look and move fantastically. I was really impressed with the work that Garner Holt Productions did. They brought the human characters to life, and gave them all distinct personalities. Not only do their human animatronics look great, but so do the animals, as well! Some were so realistic that I found myself questioning just how the heck they pulled it off! The ride has so many animatronics that I was noticing new ones on my second ride through. I’m sure I’ll be surprised by a few more the next time I go on.
Overall, the ride is an absolute delight, and most definitely worth a trip to Knott’s to see. Long time fans will be happy to see their log ride treated with such love and care. New fans will enjoy what the ride has to offer.
Kudos to the entire Knott’s team for making a beloved attraction even better. If you haven’t been to Knott’s yet this summer, now is the time to go. With a brand new area to explore, and a wonderfully refurbished ride, Knott’s is sure to be a hit with the crowds this summer. Do yourself a favor, and get over there today!
Knott’s Timber Mountain Log Ride is THE attraction of summer 2013!
A big thank you to Andy Castro and Captain Phoebus for taking many wonderful photos throughout opening day, and all of their hard work!