All aboard the 2020 Hype Train for Knott's Bear-y Tales

December 17, 2019, 2:02 PM · If movie studios can reboot their old films, why can't a theme park reboot one of its former rides?

The big reason that you don't see more revivals at theme parks is that parks - unlike film studios - are not constantly rotating in new productions. Popular, successful rides stick around for generations. It's the less successful attractions that get yanked in favor of new rides or shows. And who wants to bring them back?

Well, sometimes parks make mistakes. And other times, rides that fall out of fashion find new life when nostalgia brings them back into favor. Many Disney fans long for the return of Horizons. Universal fans pine for Jaws. And Knott's Berry Farm fans wish they could go back and get another ride on Knott's Bear-y Tales.

That last wish is about to come true. The next ride on our most-anticipated-for-2020 list is Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, a reboot of the park's 1975-1986 dark ride, Knott's Bear-y Tales. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Walter Knott's Buena Park, California berry farm, Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair will replace Voyage to the Iron Reef with a new 4D interactive production that brings back popular characters and settings from the 1975 attraction.

The original ride was a 1970s fever dream, designed by Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump. Working with a limited budget and ever-changing design parameters, Crump delivered up a cartoon animal adventure through a boysenberry jam cannery, Frog Forest, Gypsy Camp, Thunder Cave, and Weird Woods on the way to the County Fair. Here's an interview with Rolly Crump about the attraction, along with a ride-through video.

The new version comes from interactive ride specialists Triotech, which developed Voyage to the Iron Reef. "The story takes place 34 years after the original adventure and will follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair to earn the blue ribbon prize for their famous boysenberry pies, but Crafty Coyote is back along with his mischievous pups intent on stealing all the pies for themselves," the park said in its press release announcing the attraction.

Triotech and Knott's officials talked about their new plans for the ride at last month's IAAPA Expo in Orlando.

I loved the concept of Voyage to the Iron Reef more than I ended up liking its execution (and especially its glacial operations), so that tempers my enthusiasm for the revival of Bear-y Tales. But the character names "Boysen Bear" and "Girlsen Bear" keep bringing me back. If Knott's and Triotech deliver the sweet berry smell of the original cannery scene, along with images that evoke our plussed-up nostalgia for the original rather than the low-budget reality of it, they should have a winner on their hands.

Tomorrow, we continue our look ahead at 2020's top new rides with... another wild ride through the wilderness?

Knott's Berry Farm tickets Tickets: For discount tickets to Knott's Berry Farm, visit our officially authorized Knott's Berry Farm tickets page.

Previously on "All aboard the 2020 Hype Train":

Replies (3)

December 17, 2019 at 2:41 PM

Not sure how the re-skinning of a mediocre shooting gallery dark ride at a regional park ranks higher than a completely new stunt show at a destination park.

December 17, 2019 at 3:44 PM

A reboot is a more novel concept to me than another stunt show? Actually, that choice was a potential coin flip for me that I settled only after writing both posts out and recognizing that I had more in this piece than the Bourne one.

BTW, there are gaps in enthusiasm between 6 and 5, 4 and 3, and 2 and 1 on my list, FWIW.

December 18, 2019 at 1:18 AM

This one happened to pop up the same day I went to get a final ride on Iron Reef. I really hope Knott's has more in store than it appears for this one, because there is a ton of potential. If it's just a cosmetic redo, however, the new ride will likely end up a disappointment.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive