Perhaps no one image epitomizes kiddie park architecture more than the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Here I’ll be looking at a few different shoe-homes in the themed lands I’ve visited!
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
At Storybook Land in NJ, You’ll find a familiar yellow shoe with a nice toe-front window, 2 ankle windows, and a protective roof. As shoe houses go, this one is pretty luxurious! They’ve got a full kitchen and bedroom, and have even put up curtains! Step inside though, and you’ll find that the kids have run amok. If that isn’t bad enough, the stork is back again to bring mom yet more trouble!
Storybook Forest in Pennsylvania seems to have used the similar layout for their shoe, same roof covered boot with laces hanging down, just enough to tempt little Timmy to climb up and harass his sister who is dangerously hanging out of the 2nd floor window. Ugh. Kids. The old woman here is played by a live actress, who frankly, wasn’t very old…but on the plus side, she did have a live baby goat in her lap! You can walk through this shoe, and as shoes over-run with kids go, this one is relatively tame.
The shoe that has seen the most renovation is definitely in Storyland. The original shoe seen below in black and white, was a lot boxier, with doors and windows for children to climb inside, and to dangerously climb to its upper windows dangling appendages out! In the 1960s, the fiberglass shoe appears to have taken it’s place (maybe built around the original structure-does anyone out there in Kiddieland know?). The shoe that stands today has no laces, like most others but it does have sweet little overhangs, and window detailing. Unfortunately, some of its best architectural details (like a white picket fence around the toe, and a stork flying overhead) are now gone. Colors have stayed relatively faithful to the vintage look, but it looks like some new shingles may have been added at some point over the years.
Next up, Holiday World (Indiana) brings us a differently shaped shoe! A shorter apartment sized boot for a smaller family of 6. Still, the smiling mama seems like she has her hands full with 2 babies, one toddler (who can’t seem to stay dressed), and 2 older kids sliding down the side and throwing balls around. Mom lives in this very tiny home with no roof, and no windows. With these troublemakers in such a small space, it’s no wonder she has grey hair!
Not to be out-done, the Magic Forest in NY has a giant red shoe in teh middle of the forest. Mom wisely sits in the top of the boot, keeping a close watch on her annoying little brats below. In an interesting choice, they have used real wigs on this figure. In 2009, she had a strange brown bob. By 2012, it looks like she let it grow out a bit, and something scared her so badly it turned her hair white. Maybe it is the LIVE SPIDERS LIVING IN HER WIG!!! Creepy as can be, and I love them for it.
Storytown USA once stood nearby in Lake George. The park is now owned and operated by Six Flags, and most of the 1960s era kiddie attractions have been re moved. The vintage postcards on the left are from the fantastic site “The Imaginary World“. (used with permission). On the right is the shoe structure as it stands today. I would have loved to have seen it in it’s glory day, but I am happy it still exists and is relatively unchanged. Steps to the upper level have been removed, flower pots are gone, and there is no more bow peep to greet you. Still, I’m so happy it remains!
Lastly, Our friends at Gooney Golf in Lake George have added a simplified version of Old woman and her kids to their 19th hole.
I am pretty disappointed in myself because I know of another giant shoe at a golf course in Ocean City, NJ, but I have somehow never snapped a photo of it! Thank goodness for the internet! I’ll make that right for you and snap a photo on my next visit!
Which one is your favorite?