Knott's Berry Farm honors its history in reopening the refurbished Calico Mine Ride and Camp Snoopy
Written by Robert Niles
Theme park fans appropriately give Walt Disney immense credit for the creation of the theme park industry. But fans who know their history want to ensure that Walter Knott and Bud Hurlbut get their fair share of credit, too. After all, Walter Knott had his themed Ghost Town attraction open next to his wife's Chicken Dinner restaurant in Buena Park long before Disney opened his land down the road in Anaheim. And it was Bud Hurlbut's dark rides for Knott's Berry Farm that first fully demonstrated the potential of what a theme park attraction could be.Tweet
Bud Hurlbut in 1960. Photo courtesy Knott's
But even masterpieces need a little TLC now and then. Last year, Knott's owner Cedar Fair brought in Garner Holt Productions to refurbish Hurlbut's Timber Mountain Log Ride with modern animatronics and lighting. The work breathed new life into the experience, allowing young (and new) theme park fans to better understand why a previous generation fell in love with the Log Ride.
This year, Knott's turned its attention down the pathway in Calico Square, bringing back Garner Holt Productions to refurbish Hurlbut's original masterpiece, the 1960 Calico Mine Ride.
The Calico Mine Ride in the 1960s. Photo courtesy Knott's
The Calico Mine Ride elevated "dark rides" beyond flat tracks in boxy rooms filled with painted cutouts. Hurlbut built a mountain for his Mine Ride, then sent ore-car trains deep within it, where they would see and hear three-dimensional, life-sized miners working in a practical, three-dimensional "underground" space. As Garner Holt said during today's reopening ceremony, kids then really did believe they were going through an authentic mine — Hurlbut's work was so convincing.
The latest refurbishment should rekindle that sense of awe. No, there's no movie-franchise IP here. But with state-of-the-art animatronics, clear new audio, fresh lighting, and even some nifty special effects enlivening an already-engaging setting, Knott's Calico Mine Ride should regain its old — and rightful — position as one of the world's leading dark rides.
Let's take a ride:
Knott's also today honored another of its past innovations upon the 30th anniversary of the opening of Camp Snoopy, the first themed children's land in a theme park. Cedar Fair has shown its TLC for this land over the past months, too, with new decor, surfacing, and fresh landscaping throughout, plus three new kiddie rides for families to enjoy. Here are some video highlights from this morning's opening ceremony, as well as shots of the new attractions in the land:
In addition to the area improvements, here is what's new in Camp Snoopy:
I especially liked the "flipbook"-style effect on the top panels of the new Kite Flyer waveswigner ride, which animate the "kite-eating tree" at work. It's a little touch — one that many visitors won't notice — but that's the type of extra detail that long has distinguished the leading parks in the industry.
And that's not all. In his remarks at the reopening of Camp Snoopy, Knott's Vice President and General Manager Raffi Kaprelyan promised "more interactive and cutting-edge fun in 2015" in the park's Boardwalk, the site of three new family rides last year, as well as one underutilized old dark ride building that's just begging for a new attraction. Could that be the site of Kaprelyan's promise?
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Planning a trip to Orlando?
Insider's Pick: Get all the best advice from ThemeParkInsider.com in one convenient book! Theme Park Insider Orlando 2014 offers you the insight, background, and how-to skills that will help you enjoy Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando like, well, a theme park insider. Save yourself time and money by learning how to visit the Orlando-area theme parks the insiders' way.
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Features, News and Advice
"Stories from a Theme Park Insider"
Connect with Theme Park Insider