Everything You Didn’t Know About Desperado Plunge
A unique history of our popular flume ride
Desperado Plunge has delighted families at The Great Escape since 1979, back when the park was still known as Storytown USA. Following the enormous success of other flume rides, it was clear when the park was being designed that a log flume was to be included.
Desperado Plunge has a unique journey through the treetops. The log flume voyage takes riders through a themed ghost town and an indoor portion that features animatronics at work in a saw mill. This set piece concludes, of course, with the ride’s splashing finale.
Our log flume had a previous, short-lived life on the West Coast. For a few years, the log ride operated in Van Nuys at a park called Busch Gardens. That park closed most of its rides at the end of the 1976 season and focused on other areas of the park, such as the gardens and bird aviary. Thankfully, the log ride lived on by being relocated to the beloved Lake George theme park. It is a family favorite even to this day.
The World’s First Log Flume
When theme parks were rare, new ideas on a grand scale were needed to separate them from the typical amusement parks with carnival rides. The concept of a log flume was a perfect fit. In 1963, Six Flags Over Texas debuted the first ever log flume ride in an amusement park. To say it was a success is an understatement. In fact, it was so popular that the park felt the need to add a second flume in 1968. As theme parks started appearing in the 60s and 70s, log flumes continued to be the “must have” attraction. In the days of Storytown USA, the management took notice and added a flume to its lineup in 1979.
A History of the Log Flume
Historically, log flumes were used in the latter half of the 1800s to transport logs and lumber down the side of a mountain where it would be received at a sawmill. Flowing water was the method of transportation, and it efficiently helped the transport of the wood over ravines, cliffs, and gorges. Some records indicate that one particular flume spanned over 62 miles in California in 1890. On occasion, workers would climb aboard a log and take a ride to make sure everything was flowing well, and quite probably, for the thrill. While that kind of riding would have been dangerous in the 1800s, it was the origins to the great family fun of the well-known log flume ride.
*Tim Baldwin – editor of RollerCoaster! Magazine, staff writer at Amusement Today and Communications Director for American Coaster Enthusiasts – contributed to this article.