Bullwinkle family fun center returns to Upland – Whittier Daily News

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Bullwinkle’s – the amusement park, not the fun cartoon – is gearing up for a comeback.

The owners of the Upland theme park hope to reopen later this month, around 20 months after the former operator closed and went bankrupt.

The name of the park will be Family Fun Center and the restaurant will be Bullwinkle’s. These are two familiar names to longtime residents, and the operator, the Huish family, may also be familiar.

“My dad and uncle built this park in 1972,” said co-owner Scott Huish. “It’s been part of the community for 50 years. “

  • Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, stands beside the company banner that reads “Bullwinkle is Back!” Near Highway 10 at Upland on Wednesday October 27, 2021. Bullwinkle’s is preparing to reopen at the end of November. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, displays candy at the prize-exchange counter in the arcade area of ​​Bullwinkle’s, which will soon reopen in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, walks through the restaurant section inside Bullwinkle’s, which will soon reopen, in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Staff Chase Wilson inspects a kart at Bullwinkle’s, soon to reopen, in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

  • Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, walks through the dining room of the restaurant inside Bullwinkle’s, which will soon reopen in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Staff test a kart at Bullwinkle’s, soon to reopen in Upland, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • The revamped bumper boats make their way to Bullwinkle’s, soon to reopen, in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A view inside the former Bullwinkle’s indoor miniature golf course in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Bullwinkle’s is preparing to reopen in late November. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Bob Davidson, head of maintenance, tests a kart at Bullwinkle’s, soon to reopen in Upland, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A Bullwinkle fixture is seen at the upcoming reopening of Bullwinkle’s in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, walks through the arcade inside Bullwinkle’s which will soon reopen in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • A Bullwinkle cutout in an original dining chair built in 1984 is seen at Bullwinkle’s, soon to reopen, in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

  • Bullwinkle’s owner Scott Huish stands inside Bullwinkle’s original indoor mini golf course, which will soon reopen in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

At the risk of looking like Bullwinkle in his Mr. Know-It-All guise, Upland Park was first the Family Fun Center, became Bullwinkle in 1984, and was leased by the Huish family in 1998 to Boomers, who put his own name on the center in 2002. The baby boomers shut down at the start of the pandemic and his company filed for bankruptcy in June 2020.

As the weeds grew and the water in the bumper boat pool turned green, generations of customers wondered: was there still a market for miniature golf, arcade games, and go-karts, or would property become something adult and dull?

Just when all seemed lost, the founders of the park came to the rescue like Dudley Do-Right.

The Huish family, who operate five other amusement or water parks in the western United States, regained control of the 12-acre property in June.

Scott Huish, owner of Bullwinkle’s, walks through the arcade inside Bullwinkle’s which will soon reopen in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

A much-needed overhaul and clean-up of the aging theme park has begun, with a pressure wash of the walls and floors, 500 gallons of paint, fresh asphalt for the parking lot and brand new kitchen equipment for the restaurant, among other improvements.

Once health and building inspectors clear them to operate, part of Bullwinkle will reopen in the coming weeks, possibly by the end of November.

Motorists are already noticing the activity on the grounds, which abuts Highway 10. Banners along a wall facing the highway read “Bullwinkle is back!” And “Under ‘Old’ Management” – a nod to the higher standards the family intends to reaffirm.

“We honk when we are here,” Huish told me as we stood by the banners last week, freeway traffic passing nearby.

I wrote about the desperate state of the park after filing for bankruptcy, when the baby boomer signs fell and the games were out.

The Huish had refused to speak publicly while working internally on what to do with the property. Scott Huish recently contacted me to tell me that the family was finally ready to reveal their plans. I met him at the site for a tour – hoping super-spies Boris and Natasha weren’t listening.

The immediate objective is to open the bumper boats, the restaurant and the arcade, the karting track and the mini-golf courses: two indoors and two outdoors. (The batting cages will not reopen.)

Over the next few months, the two outdoor courses will be rebuilt, a few holes at a time, and plans will be made for a redesign of the central building, which will receive, among other things, 16 bowling alleys.

Once the full park is operational, perhaps by mid-2023, the restaurant and arcade will move to the main building and the westernmost part of the park will be available for others. uses to be determined, Huish said.

Now what about Bullwinkle?

A Bullwinkle fixture is seen at the upcoming reopening of Bullwinkle’s in Upland on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise / SCNG)

The more awkward aspects of the restaurant won’t return, like the animatronic characters and the water fountain show. Bullwinkle art, Rocky the flying squirrel and other figures adorn the restaurant walls, and the 1980s wooden chairs with the Bullwinkle silhouette are back.

“We love him. He’s a great character, a great ambassador for our company,” Huish said. “He’s fun. He’s what we want to portray.

The family owns the food rights to the name and characters and uses them in parks in Oregon and Washington.

“Every person in this community knows it’s Bullwinkle,” Huish said of Upland and its surroundings. When we first met he was wearing a polo shirt with the moose logo on it. When he visits paint stores, hardware stores, and contractors in this shirt, his eyes light up.

“It’s a $ 25 million project,” Huish said as we spoke near the bumper boats. “When I hear that out loud, it makes me a little nervous. But when they see this jersey they’re so excited I’m not really nervous.

Twin brothers John and Jim Huish took up miniature golf while serving in the United States Army in Europe. After their return, they built an 18-hole course in Springville, Utah, which allowed them to go to college. (Was it Wossamotta U from the Bullwinkle cartoons?)

They eventually opened seven family entertainment centers, with Upland being the third.

“Upland was on the edge of civilization back then,” recalls Scott Huish, who is John’s son. “They bought 25 acres. It was a square of strawberries. It was just part of their strategy in Southern California. They just saw the growth trend.

Part of this land was then sold. Jim passed away in 1984, and John decided in the late 1990s to sign long-term leases with the baby boomers to manage Upland and Fountain Valley parks and focus on his remaining out-of-state parks. He was still interested in Upland but had no leverage as conditions deteriorated.

“He would always show up and tell them how to make it work. They weren’t listening to him, ”Huish said. “They led it for the next 25 years. Or as I like to say, I dug it into the ground.

Scott and his brother Shane continued in the family business. Six other siblings did not and John died in March at the age of 86. “We were able to redeem our siblings and save this park,” Scott said. A cousin, Dyke Huish, is also a partner.

They have already reclaimed their old San Diego park from the Boomers and reopened it in September 2020 as a Family Fun Center.

They expect to spend over $ 15 million to improve Upland Park.

“I was 5 when my dad built this park,” Scott said. “Now I can rebuild it for him. And I am honored to do so.

briefly

A documentary on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour of singer Joe Cocker in 1970, “Apprendre à vivre ensemble”, is screened on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Laemmle Claremont 5. A special guest will be present: singer Claudia Lennear, who was on the tour and was interviewed for the documentary. She will then participate in a question-and-answer session. I will be in the audience; and you?

David “Nice Dog” Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Email [email protected], call 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @ davidallen909 on Twitter.

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