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Cultus Lake Adventure Park


Cultus Lake Adventure Park is one of the best small, regional theme parks in the world!

Cultus Lake Adventure Park Map

It all begins with an idea - a dream.

The first inklings for Cultus Lake Adventure Park began more than three decades ago. Many potential locations were considered but for various reasons it didn’t proceed. The time had to be right.

Various ideas were explored as well.  Along the way there were many versions, different themes were considered, sketches were drawn and models built. One idea kept surfacing, a theme park built around a historical logging camp. There would be a mountain in the center of the park and of course the park would feature a logging train.

Cultus Lake Adventure Park Model
Cultus Lake Adventure Park Design

While we bided our time we kept dreaming, drawing and scheming. We gathered historical photos,  learned about the business and honed the necessary skills. The perfect opportunity was just around the corner.

Steam Donkey Design

It started with a story.

The perfect opportunity arrived with the dawn of the new millenium and we were ready. The ideal property was available in the tiny resort town of Cultus Lake, British Columbia, Canada. More than a million visitors flock to this lake each summer. The half acre site was in the center of a regional park and surrounded by tall trees and beautiful mountains. 


After researching the local history we wrote the legend around which the project would be developed.  The story was about a magical place called Giggle Ridge.

Mountain Trestle Design

A long, long time ago in the wilds of British Columbia there was a little logging operation. Well equipped for it’s time, Giggle Ridge Logging Company could haul plenty of timber from the woods each working day.  Flapjack the bear, was the camp mascot. He got his name from his favourite food, pancakes, always covered with a generous layer of maple syrup of course. 

All was well in the woods until the fateful day a flash flood washed out the trestle in two places, trapping the locomotive in the process. No one was harmed, but while waiting for word from head office about repairs, the lumber market collapsed. Everything was left in the woods exactly where it was. And so it remained for many, many years.

As the new millennium dawned, the old logging operation was again discovered. By this time the area had become part of Cultus Lake Park. Rather than haul away the ancient logging relics it was decided to make them part of the new Adventure Golf. Flapjack the bear and his many critter friends were delighted to wake up from their winter nap to the sound of people enjoying themselves in the woods once again.


Fictionalized history.


The story of Giggle Ridge and the logging camp that once was reportedly there is told in an  entertaining and almost  believable fashion. While we celebrate the local history we also believe it should be a great deal of fun!

Giggle Ridge Hole Marker 15
Old Man Mountain
Giggle Ridge Steam Donkey

It started with a plan of course!

Although the park had been in our minds and dreams for fifteen years there wasn’t much time to draw the actual plans we would use for construction. In a few weeks the final drawings were put together in preparation for the build. Amazingly, with the help of an incredibly hardworking and talented team, the park was readied for the grand opening in only one hundred days. 

Giggle Ridge Logo
Giggle Ridge Logging Truck

The dream is real at last!

Starting with flat land, valleys were dug and mountains built. The area’s rich logging history is celebrated with the visual representation of Giggle Ridge. A replica of a 1930’s logging camp was painstakingly reconstructed and features a Climax logging locomotive, a timber trestle, a steam donkey, a logging truck and a host of smaller features - all in a fun cartoon style. Golfers can hear the many friendly critters giggling in diverse locations throughout the park. Tens of thousands of flowers overflow the planters at every level.

The park was successfully owned and operated by the builders to enthusiastic reviews for thirteen seasons.

Giggle Ridge Train Trestle
Giggle Ridge Main Sign
Giggle Ridge Hole Marker 17
Giggle Ridge Flapjack House

A new chapter in the story.

In 2012 we handed the keys over to the new owners confident that Giggle Ridge was in good hands. We also knew our involvement in the little park wouldn’t end there. The adventure was in fact just beginning and the little park was about to triple in size!

Handing Over the Keys to Giggle Ridge

Giggle Ridge Adventure Golf would remain but it would become part of Cultus Lake Adventure Park.

The challenge was to squeeze an entire theme park onto a site that was just under an acre and a half in size. We had just the plan.

After drawing up a preliminary plan we laid it out on the ground with spray paint. Then we went up in a lift to see how it would look from the tallest attraction, the Ferris wheel. The container below gave us an indication of the  proposed ground height through the center of the park.

Looking Over Giggle Ridge

Charting a new course.


Planning generally happened in one of three ways. We drew up many concept drawings which then proceeded to the architects and enginers. They would take a turn before we would review with extensive notes and drawings to make sure the real thing would live up to the original vision.

Once construction began, after the crews went home each day the owner and I would plan the next day’s activities, not by reviewing the drawings, but rather working to a visual standard. We simply sprayed marks and notes on the ground for the crew to follow the next day. The engineers caught up later.

Laying Out Cultus Lake Adventure Park
Cultus Lake Adventure Park Building Plans

Changing the landscape.

The original Giggle Ridge landscape was extended through half of the new park. It features orange dirtbanks and colorful rocks. On the western section of the park this transitions to a desert landscape with more angular rockwork. The deeply grained woodwork throughout ties everything together.

Extensive plantings and the original forest also worked to further unite the happy landscape. Warm and cool colors were mixed to provide a pleasing balance. Water also is a unifying element.

Signs that entertain as well as inform.

Before we designed the signs we first considered the story. Who were the characters? What role did they play? How does the attraction fit into the park as a whole?
Then we created the characters and finally designed the perfect sign to suit.


Signs set the flavour.

The signs were designed to speak for themselves. All are fully dimensional.


Designing on the fly.

On occasion inspiration would strike and planning would happen on the fly, literally. We took a trip to the IAAPA convention in Florida to explore ideas. A gold panning adventure was discovered but we had to fit it into the theme. On the long plane trip home, somewhere over Nebraska, at 30,000 feet I did up this sketch and presented it to the owner. 
He approved the idea on the spot. The final rendering was done the next day.


Getting there is half the fun!

While the trains are the primary mode of transportation at Cultus Lake Adventure Park there are many other exciting ways to get around. A giant hot air balloon is the perfect way to take a flight of imagination or take a fun group picture. Elsewhere you can ride a horse drawn wagon. Two old fashioned trucks await. Each features an interactive hand lever which every kid instinctively knows to crank to turn the engine over. Flapjack the bear also rides a pedal powered unicycle on the bicycle rental sign.


Don't take the train!

Two trains are featured at the park. The first is a geared Climax logging locomotive. It sits trapped on the log high trestle. The second is the 0-4-0  Porter 
locomotive precarious leaning off the mountain.


You have arrived!

The park is carefully designed to provide a dramatic view as guests apporach, building anticipation in the process.


The hard way to build a fence.

One of the things that separates Giggle Ridge from most other theme parks is it’s fencing. You will find no straight lines here for all of the fencing undulates happily both vertically and from side to side.

The first kind of fence is what we affectionately call Giggle fence. This features rounded stone and dirt banks on the bottom along with cartoon woodgrain on the posts. On the western side of the park the rock is more angular and the woodgrain on the posts is a little more weathered. 


Two signs of the beaver.

The first attraction signs visible to our guests entering the east gate are for Bucky’s Bumper Boats and the Wave Swinger. Bucky is featured on  both of these award winning signs. It is common to witness guest’s cameras pointed upwards towards the signs all through the park as they capture them as part of their memorable visit.


The high and the low.

Bucky’s Pond is tucked into the south east corner of the park facing the warm sun, an important consideration for guests can get very wet on this ride. The Wave Swinger is situated overhead on a peninsula that juts out into the pond. The cue for Bucky’s Bumper Boats winds around the base and under the Wave Swinger platform. By elevating the swing ride we made it much more exciting for the older kids and yet retained a 36” height requirement which allows our younger guests to still ride. The warm and cool colors interplay beautifully both day and night.


Story telling details.

Another fun detail is in the area around Bucky’s pond. Those who are observant will be rewarded with the sight of the posts which have been gnawed by our illustrious host - almost to the point of jeapardizing the integrity of the structures. It is of course an illusion for the engineers took special care to design the  hidden steel posts plenty strong.

Landmark signs.

On the other side of the walkway two large features dominate the lansdscape. The hot air balloon is a photo opportunity for guests. The ancient wooden water tower provides a water source for the gold panning below.


Trading Post Mountain.


The Trading Post building serves many functions and looks very different depending on the angle. From the east much of the building is hidden by a mountain with live plants at every level and even a waterfall flowing tumbling into the pond below. ‘Mother Tree’ looms overhead and you can see her face from the north. 

The other side of the building has a distinct western flavor with false fronts and a wide veranda. The posts holding up the porch roof are twisted logs. 

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Trading Post signs.

The signs of the Trading Post are more for the purpose of story telling and entertainment than information. They offer the history of the businesses that once graced the western boardwalk.

The signs that do inform guests about pricing options remain in character and yet still do their job perfectly.


Wilderness Trail.

The Wilderness Trail is a play area for parents and young children. It features a myriad of activities for energetic kids including rope bridges, netting climbs, winding trails,  balance beams, a wading pool, two lookouts, climb-through logs, a maze of caves, gold panning, a barrel bridge, a tree fort and a whole lot more.


Get active!

Kids roam free in this area, staying at each feature as long as their attention span allows. Each location is an invitation to get active. Children instictively know what to do at each stop along the way. Parents are often the only limiting factor in their play.


The Cultus Caves.

Tucked under the main walkway coming into the park is a one hundred and thirty foot long maze of caves. Kids love exploring this hidden laberinth. The cave was largely built with the top off to allow safe welding of the structure. Miles of steel and many hundreds of hours were used in the building of this popular feature. 


Gold fever!


The excitement of kids and their parents is palpable as they try their hand at panning for ‘gold and gems’, often for the first time. The old wooden water tower, hollowed log water trough and the ancient mining car add authenticity to the experience. Each element of the experience is designed to draw guests further into the park.


Carousel and Ballon Adventure.


For those young at heart there are two classic rides. The colorful, double row Carousel features both horses and an assorted menagerie of other critters. 

The spinning Balloon Adventure is a gentle ride unless the riders decide to twist the handle and give their gondolas a spin. Some get going in circles very, very fast and feel the inevitable consequences at the end.


Custom fencing.

To satisfy strict Canadian safety regulations we installed  a factory-made fencing around the rides which differed from the wandering ‘happy’ fence throughout the balance of the park. The relatively plain regulation fence was dressed up by adding custom made icons symbolizing each attraction. These were cut with a cnc waterjet and then powder coated to match the fence.


Western gate.

Most of our guests enter Cultus Lake Adventure park through the memorable western gate. Here they leave their everyday world and enter a happy place where lifetime memories are created with family and friends. It is a land of high adventure with seven attractions visible as soon as they enter. The big question is which one to enjoy first! 

Happy Horse Saloon.

No western town would be complete without a drinking establishment. Nestled in the tall trees is the Happy Horse Saloon. The architecture of the building is in keeping with the Trading Post with twisted log posts and a wide veranda.

No hard liquor is served on these premises but instead only family rated fare. They also offer passes to the fun which is visible at every turn.


Wagon Wheel.


The Wagon Wheel is the iconic attraction in the western side of the park. Golly the gopher sits atop the sign welcoming all guest to ride the fifty-five foot tall wheel. In the evening hours the lights on the giant wheel are a beacon of fun to all who drive nearby.

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Windmill Drop.

One of the prettiest cues for the attractions is not visible from the main walkway. Guests waiting to ride the Windmill Drop wind their way past the old working Pelton water wheel and into a hidden canyon. They thread through a rock arch and then circle back towards the ride that towers above.


Blastin' Barrels.

One of the highlights of the Blastn' Barrels attraction is the cue. The line winds through a cave, one corner stacked to the roof with dynamite. A lantern sits on top. Overhead a Porter locomotive hangs precariously, the rails blasted and twisted. The resulting runaway train ride roars behind.


Blastin' Barrels - the ride.

The Blastin’ Barrels attraction is a small spinning coaster with custom molded cars. What is unique about this ride is that it winds its way trhough a forest and is tucked under the big Runaway Train Coaster. It is an expremely tight fit but still respects the ride envelope.


Buckin' Bronco.

The Buckin’ Bronco appeals to our guests who love a thrill. Hold on tight for this eighty foot long attraction will give you the ride of your life! It spins wildly (in both directions) while you travel back and forth along a horseshoe shaped track. The attractions proximity to the tall trees and neighboring tall steel adds to the ride experience exponentially!

It is all about the details.

A story best told is all about the details. The wagon is a great example. Guests who look closely will notice one wheel on the wagon is a different colour. Why? In the olden days there wasn’t a tire store  on the trail. If a wagon broke a wheel the only solution was to improvise. In this case the owner of this fine rig borrowed a wheel from a similar but different coloured wagon.


Runaway Mine Train.


The Runaway Mine Train is a family coaster which offers an exciting and rapid trip through the park at tree level. With each steeply banked turn a new section of the park is revealed. The ride circles or encouters six other attractions along its exciting journey.


Roll out the Barrels!

To facilitate the installation of the Runaway Mine Train coaster seventy massive concrete pillars were poured in place. The challenge was to add theme work around these giant pillars and conserve real estate in the process. Our solution was to wrap them in barrels, many with a label to tell what they were used for prior to this. This barrel theme was extended to the ticket booth as well.


Pedal Power by the Hour.


For those guests seeking a little more excercise and something a little less exciting there is a bicycle and quad cycle rental just outside the gates. Guests can explore the quaint village of Cultus Lake, peddaling through the streets or along the scenic lakeshore. The quad cycle can handle a family on a single vehicle.


The design and creation of Cultus Lake Adventure Park has been the fulfillment of a long held dream. So much has been packed into the boundaries and yet it feels anything but crowded. Cultus Lake Adventure Park is a visual Delight and sets a world class standard for small, regional theme parks.


This park will be enjoyed for many years to come and families will create lifelong memories in this happy place.