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Log Ride Re-Do

Knott's Berry Farm's Timber Mountain Log Ride gets a makeover.

Working on animals for the new Log Ride

The Timber Mountain Log Ride is one of Knott’s Berry Farm’s oldest and most iconic attractions. Although it’s been much imitated since its opening 44 years ago, it wasn’t an easy sell to park founder, Walter Knott, at the time. The ride’s first multi-million dollar refurbishing and restoration by Garner Holt Productions – the San Bernardino company that has also worked with Disney – began in January as part of a project that also included installing new attractions Coast Rider, Pacific Scrambler and Surfside Glider to the park’s Boardwalk area. The Log Ride re-opened in May, with virtually every scene re-imagined and more active and detailed than before.  

Wendell “Bud” Hurlbut – was a mechanical engineer who designed and built small-scale trains for operators including The Pike in Long Beach and Santa’s Village in Lake Arrowhead. He created the Calico Mine Ride, the first “dark” ride for amusement parks, in 1960. He also created the full-scale replica of the Liberty Bell that stands outside Knott’s Independence Hall.

3 – The number of times it took Hurlbut to convince Walter Knott on the Log Ride. The original idea was a roller coaster that only seemed it was floating in a trough. It was only after Hurlbut had worked out the bugs in a stripped down version of the ride for Six Flags Over Texas and laid out a detailed proposal that Knott bought the idea. The then-named Calico Log Ride was the first fully themed log ride in the world.

$3.5 Million – The cost of building the original ride, which Hurlbut paid for himself.


Original Log Ride opening/COURTESY OF KNOTT'S BERRY FARM

July 11, 1969 –  (The day the Log Ride was launched)

35 cents – The cost of a gallon of gas

1.4 million – The population of Orange County.

25 – The number of cities in OC. The cities of Irvine, Mission Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita did not exist yet.

5 – The number of days before the launch of Apollo 11 and ten days before Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.

Earlier that year, Richard Nixon became President of the United States, the Boeing 747 made its maiden flight, Led Zeppelin released their first album and Elvis Presley began recording his comeback album “From Elvis in Memphis.”

Later that summer, The Beatles were photographed crossing Abbey Road, the Woodstock Festival took place, and The Haunted Mansion opened at Disneyland.  

That fall, Scooby-Doo, Sesame Street and the Brady Bunch TV shows premiered and Gwen Stefani was born in Fullerton.

John Wayne – Took his son John Ethan for the inaugural ride. The movie star was a Newport Beach resident and his movie “True Grit” opened one month before, eventually winning him his only Oscar for Best Actor.



Timber Mountain Log Ride specs:
The “mountain” is 75 feet tall and 300 feet long
The ride duration is four minutes
A pair of 125-horse power pumps push 24,000 gallons of water per minute through the flume.
A 350,000-gallon reservoir maintains the flow.
The logs are lifted 36 feet at the entrance, travel as slow as eight and as fast as 22-miles per hour in the flume and plummet 42 feet at the climax of the ride.
On summer days, log ride passengers can exceed the number of visitors in the park

Log specs:
Each fiberglass log weighs 450 pounds and holds four-to-five passengers
During peak times, 36 logs are in use, allowing 1,800 people per hour to ride

17 – The number of human figures in scenes before the refurbish.

40 – The number of human figures after the refurbish. All figures move. The most complicated is a logger rolling a log.

12 – The number of animal figures now on the ride. All taxidermy animals have been removed. All new animals feature synthetic fur.



Insider info on the new Log Ride:
In scene 2, one logger calls the banjo player both “Wendell” and “Bud” after Bud Hurlbut. The dog is named “Duke” after John Wayne.
In scene 6 one crate reads “Ship to B. Hurlbut, Logging Boss, Timber Mountain.” Another crate reads “Ship to J. Waite, Department of Haunts, Ghost Town” a reference to John Waite, one of Bud’s employees and a Knott’s Haunt pioneer.
In scene 8 – the Hootenanny – a sign reads “Marilyn and Cecelia’s Sawmill Saloon,” a nod to “Bench People” saloon girls in Ghost Town.
In scene 9, the logger with the hose is based on a concept for the original ride that was never built.

85 – The amount of pounds per square inch of compressed air that runs each new animatronic.

Faces – Are made of made of silicone and created new for the Log Ride. Some were taken from molds made of the original faces of the 1969 figures. Hands, legs and feet were made from the lifecasts of Garner Holt employees and friends.

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