Influential Knott's Berry Farm ride designer passes away
Theme park fans might not know the name of Bud Hurlbut, but the Knott's Berry Farm ride designer might have been one of the more influential people in shaping the theme park industry.
Hurlbut, who died yesterday at the age 92 according to a Knott's statement, created the park's iconic Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride.
Built 20 years before Disneyland opened Splash Mountain, Knott's Log Ride set the standard for log flume rides around the world, by incorporating a basic flume ride within a full-sized mountain, complete with theme, scenery and storytelling.
Hurlbut's Calico Mine Ride also helped establish Knott's bona fides as a world-class theme park and not simply a collection of standard amusement thrill rides.
Of course, some will argue that Knott's current owners - Cedar Fair - have moved away from the park's original model and more toward standard amusement rides. But that should in no way diminish Hurlbut's work, which has influenced and inspired designers at Disney, Universal and throughout the theme park industry.
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There was a scary charm about Knott's when I was a kid (I'm in my 50's now), and it provided a clear contrast to visits to Disneyland--it felt rugged and challenging, for one, while Disney felt safe and relaxing. Don't get me wrong--I loved both parks, just for different reasons.
i grew up going to Knott's. mine ride was a fav. since moving to Pa have only been once. missed the Knott's i remembered.
I have to say that I was always a Knott's fan growing up. Disneyland was a special once a year event while Knott's was a more frequent trip. You would park on the grass with chickens running throughout the parking lots. You had the run of the place and only paid for the rides. The mine ride was my favorite until the log ride came to be. Knott's is a great theme park milestone that has been degraded by the "bigger is better" crowd, but I still like the old haunts that still exist. Don't get me wrong, I am still a Disney fan, but my first love was Knott's.
A couple years ago I bought a book about orange county amusement parks thanks to a recommendation from a TPI member. It went into pretty good detail about Bud Hurlbut and how he was pretty much a one-man Imagineer for Knotts. He built so much more than just the Calico Mine and Timber Mountain rides. His influence actually made that park FUN for me as a kid, and as an adult is one of the few draws that still reels me back in.
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