I was able to attend the park’s May 30th media event with The Season Pass crew , a day in which the park formally unveiled their new Boardwalk attractions (fairly stunning in their own right) and Bud Hurlbut’s restored masterpiece.
By Robert Coker
As you have likely heard already, logs did not start flowing until late in the afternoon, and only with park staff on board. Herculean efforts were made to have it open to the media and the public, but it was not to be. (Though it did open the very next day, to instant acclaim.)
That said, on the outside, everything is gorgeous: the freshly scrubbed and painted rockwork; the new trees, some 200 of them, imported from China; the more natural-looking dark green troughs; and on and on.
Inside, it’s even better. Doug Barnes and I were escorted through the mountain for a peek at several new show scenes, with the new Garner Holt animatronics in full performance mode, and we were both awestruck. In more than one prior discussion with Raffi Kaprelyan, the park’s GM, he emphasized that there would be no drastic changes to the overall flavor and story, but there would be some new elements and surprises that they hoped would please the many fans of this beloved ride. Mission accomplished, definitively. (The bear? Wow. Wait until you see the bear.)
They’ve even reworked some of the nomenclature to make the overall story of Ghost Town itself more cohesive: it’s now the “Calico Logging Company” harvesting the timber on Timber Mountain.
To witness the level of craft ‘ and expenditure ‘ that has been lavished on a ride more than four decades old is deeply satisfying. As a fan, I am overjoyed that one of my favorite themed attractions is in the best shape it’s ever been. More importantly, this work is just the latest and most striking example of how this park is being treated by its new caretakers. As an industry professional, I hope that other parks follow their lead.
We’re told that a similar top-to-bottom restoration of the Calico Mine Ride isn’t far off, and I cannot wait to see the results of that effort.
(Seriously, that bear, it rocks, and speaking of carnivores: try the Southwest Burger at the Coasters restaurant. Damn, that is one good theme park burger!)