Knotts Berry Farm Log Ride Now Open – Complete Report With Photos And Video

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Breaking News, Features, In the Parks, Knott's Berry Farm

Tagged: , , ,

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Published on May 31, 2013 at 3:52 am with 42 Comments

NOW UPDATED WITH VIDEO RIDE THROUGH AND PHOTOS! SCROLL TO THE END OF THE COLUMN! Please follow our Facebook and Twitter pages 

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!

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Garner Holt and Bill Butler of Garner Holt Productions take a ride.

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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  • DisneySarah

    This is spectacular! I can’t wait to head to Knott’s and check out all of the updated things. Definitely will be getting myself an annual pass. Disney could take a page out of Knott’s book – it’s just wonderful to see classic attractions being given the loving attention they deserve, plus the addition of the family-friendly Boardwalk rides – new attractions that the entire family can enjpy together, ages 4 to 94. Knott’s Berry Farm really makes me proud to be an Orange County resident.

    P.S. That boysenberry jacket is pretty awesome. :)

  • scarymouse

    Great article, I have been waiting for a rehab of the log ride for a long time . This was one of my very first E- ticket type rides as a kid before Disneyland, so it has a very special place in my heart. So very glad to see such a fine job by Garner and co. it looks fantastic. I can’t wait to ride the finished product. Mine ride next and more will be a huge plus for this park, its definitely worth the expense that Cedar Parks put into it , I feel its their crown jewel of their collection.

  • fnord

    It’s like Western River Expedition lite, and way better than nothing! It looks
    fantastic!

    • DarthSavage

      I was thinking that too! :)

  • jcruise86

    I was even more impressed by how clean it all looked than by the AAs. Tomorrow, Saturday, June 1, it’s supposed to be in the upper 90s–think this log ride will have long lines?

    Many who cannot afford Disneyland APs are going to be pleased with their Knott’s Season Passes.

  • Tinkbelle

    That is a bit embarrassing that the ride was not able to open that day. I like that they had John Wayne’s son come for the re-dedication. The AA’s still look a little creepy but I look forward to riding this again.

  • redrocker

    Riding with Raffi was Lara Hanneman of Entertainment (my old boss!!) and Kelly Roberts of Maint (I used to work the log ride with Raffi and Kelly!!) All three smart choices for the first ride :)

  • Jungle Trekkie

    Was the addition of real animatronics to this ride a one-shot thing or is there any word that they may upgrade other attractions with them? A re-imagined dinosaur ride with quality animatronics could be quite a distinctive attraction for Knott’s.

    • DarthSavage

      Looks like Knott’s now has a good working relationship with Garner Holt Productions, so I would guess yes!

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      We fully expect the Mine Train to also get the Garner Holt animatronic treatment. :-)

  • rstar

    Thank you for the pictures and video! The nice thing is that I can tell that the ride looks great and like new, and the new additions look great! But with the shaky video, it leaves just enough to not spoil the real thing when I get there! Perfect for me!

    I hope they do this for the Mine Ride!

  • Disneykin Kid

    The Knott’s log ride is truly one of the best classic log rides ever, even before Splash Mountain was a twinkle in Tony Baxter’s eye. I’m so gratified that Cedar Fair saw fit to put up the money to lovingly refurbish the ride.

    I’m torn about the exterior of the mountain though. I can’t decide if the sort of hokey, playdoh looking rocks help to preserve the original charm of the ride, or whether they should be redone to make them more realistic. Maybe at least they could be repainted in a future refurbishment to have different color striations.

    Also, I haven’t seen the ride in person, in the dance hall scene, is that one guy dancing, or hanging over the floor?

    • JMazz

      He looks like he’s “hanging” b/c the effect isn’t [yet] solid. He is log rolling in the foreground (dance hall in the background). He needs to be about 2 inches closer to his log, or better yet, the log needs to be a bigger diameter.

      Hope this helps!

      ~Jay

  • glowman

    Congratulations, Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Fair! You have done an amazing refurbishing of the historic Calico Log Ride (now “Timber Mountain Log Ride”) Any attraction this good is worth waiting for. I feel that the ride’s original designer and operator, Bud Hurlbut, would be pleased to see the work that Knott’s and Garner Holt have put into this great ride. I rode it Friday morning and even though I think a few things were not operating yet, it was a great ride. I can’t believe that all this was accomplished in 5 months! It’s a whole new experience. Bud Hurlbut always wished he had the technology available when he built the ride that is out there today. I feel he would be very pleased with what Knott’s and Garner Holt have done to upgrade and protect his masterpiece. Hopefully, the Mine Ride will be next. Thank you Knott’s, Cedar Fair, and Garner Holt for all your heartfelt work on this classic ride.

  • Westsider

    Knott’s Berry Farm 1-Day Tickets are only $36.99 online (3 day advance purchase).

    And if you can’t plan ahead, 1-Day Tickets are only $39.00 online (Day-of purchase).

    And if you can’t even plan ahead that far, 1-Day Tickets are only $59.99 at the gate.

    Compared to $92.00 for a 1-Day Ticket to Disneyland, that’s a bargain! For those who can no longer afford Disneyland or DCA, Knott’s Berry Farm and their wiggling manequins in the rehabbed log ride are calling your name.

  • Screwy Squirrel

    Great job by Knotts and certainly a step in the right direction. The museum display on the ride, bringing in Wayne’s son, etc shows they are at some level trying to reconnect with their past and once again have families enjoy coming there.

    Now the real test – say bringing back the Kingdom of the Dinosaurs and Haunted Shack, both updated for the 21st century – imagine a new Haunted Shack that combined some of the charm of the original with modern technology!

    And removing, hiding, anything on some of the nasty steel coaster track everywhere. At least painting it neutral earth tones….

    • DJM

      I was just thinking the same thing. A fairly easy duplicate of the old one, a couple pepper’s ghost illusions. a few surprises here and there and I think you have a really fun, low cost attraction….and keep it a walk through! Knott’s has so much to offer with it’s history.

      I’d love to see another steeple chase but with 50′s hot rods in the board walk. Again, probably can be done relatively cheaply and they’re fairly unique now. I’d also love to see another (but better) incarnation of XK-1.

  • Rex Dopey24

    good pictures thanks.

  • The Boxing Guru

    Jeff, great job covering this. Growing up in the L.A. area, I have been to Knotts many many times. I always felt that the Log ride needed something to “see”, and Knott’s has finally come through! Looks great, and I’m really looking forward to my next visit to Knotts Berry Farm.

  • victoriaskitten

    Wow! They did a great job and your coverage was so great. I wish I couid hop on for a lazy float. Haven’t been on that ride since the 80′s. Maybe I will have to make a DLR and Knott’s combo trip.