Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Yogi's Cave & Smurf Mountain

Since I've been on a kick about amusement parks, I thought I'd finally file this post about two of my favorite long-gone attractions from Kings Dominion.

Yogi's Cave was one of those simple attractions that a visit to Kings Dominion would not be complete without. This walk-thru experience was located in The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera section of the park. Guests were greeted by a large audio-animatronic Yogi standing outside his cave fishing. While singing the "Yogi's Cave Theme Song" he would eventually catch a boot on his fishing line. Boo-Boo made a cameo appearance hiding in the pic-a-nic basket.

From there, you'd cross a long boardwalk and enter the cave. Upon entering the cave, silly music and mysterious sound effects filled the air. The walls were covered in pastel and neon colored "gems" that glowed in the dark. There were several different paths to choose from, but they all led to the same spot in the next room. A waterfall and several singing bears and flowers awaited around the corner. Boo-Boo (seen here in a poor picture) conducted the creatures of the Jellystone park in a sing along. Following the chorus were several scenes of woodland creatures invading a cabin and making off with campers goodies. The finale of Yogi's Cave was the Ranger's Cabin. Yogi had helped the Ranger build the cabin and it was a little off-center. Basically, the whole last room of the cave was slanted and it took quite a bit of skill to walk through it without slamming your head against the wall. A great finale to a unique walk through attraction.

The cave still remains today, however Yogi has moved out and it's now known as "Treasure Cave". Why Yogi is gone is somewhat of a mystery!?! One would assume legal reasons, but the two rides that surround the cave are both still Yogi Bear themed!? Treasure Cave is an utterly pointless experience. Most of the fun of the Yogi Bear days have been replaced with left over props from The Haunted River ride that closed many years ago. I suppose there are now some more gold and skeletons from the recently closed Diamond Falls ride as well. It's still a popular place for teens on field trips to make-out in semi-private, and if you look closely on the walls you can see some Yogi hieroglyphics...but it just isn't all the same with out Yogi and Boo-Boo running the show!

Now don't even get me started on Smurf Mountain one of my all-time favorite amusement park rides! I loved the Smurfs back in their heyday so of course I was thrilled when I learned that MY local theme park was getting a Smurf ride. Smurf Mountain was visited via a very slow moving train that traveled 2 M.P.H. (tops!) The train entered the mountain and began a very steep incline. Once you reached the top of the chain-lift it was pure Smurf goodness for the next 12 minutes! The train slowly weaved through numerous slightly animated scenes of Smurfs at work, Smurfs at play, Smurfs at home, Smurfs doing what ever the Smurf they smurfwell pleased! All the while, the Smurfs chanting their "la-la-la-la-la-la!" anthem plays on and on as you progress through the ride.

Of all the useless crap on the internet, I can't find one picture of this great ride! All I could dig up was the promotional poster above, and this picture of a live stage show that debuted around the same time as the Smurf ride. I believe the theme of the ride was the four seasons, as I remember Summery scenes in the beginning of the ride and I vividly remember ice skating and Christmas scenes near the end of the ride. Between the ice skating and the Christmas scenes, the train traveled through Gargamel's castle...where you came face to face with the bad guy himself and his cat, Azriel. Such a great ride!

Smurf Mountain occupied one third of The Lost World mountain in the back of the park. The Smurfs moved out of the mountain a while after their popularity dried up. The mountain still stands, but it was completely gutted in the mid-90's and now a roller coaster winds it's way through the remains of Smurf Mountain, The Haunted River and The Time Shaft. Rumor has it that there are still a few Smurfs hiding in the mountain, but since the current ride zips along at 70 M.P.H, it's probably hard to spot them!

All the parks owned by the company that owned Kings Dominion in the 1980's had a Smurf attraction. Kings Island in Ohio had the Smurfs Enchanted Voyage which was a boat ride through similar scenes as the mountain's. Carowinds on the North/South Carolina border had Smurf Island which was a barren island with a few waterfalls, empty caves and outdoor Smurf scenes. And Canada's Wonderland in Toronto had Smurf Village which was a cross between Smurf Mountain and Yogi's Cave. Sadly, I made it a point in my younger years to visit all three of the other parks to sample their smurfy goods....Kings Dominion's Smurf Mountain was my favorite.

I'd also like to mention that they used to have a snack bar in the Hanna-Barbera area that served Smurf shaped french fries and Smurf-blue ice cream. Those were the greatest things EVER!

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