And They All Lived Happily Ever After: The Unbelievable Story of the Enchanted Forest and its Resurrection

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So much of this site sadly focuses on parks that have been lost, so a story like this one is rare. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before- A beloved children’s park that opened in the 1950s closed in the late 80s, fell into disrepair, and never opened again…We’ve told this story plenty of times.

However, in Ellicott City, MD-a truly magical thing took place when a farmer with a huge heart and a community that loved their park came together to resurrect a fallen friend. The story of The Enchanted Forest is unbelievable, but true. Outside of Baltimore, this park, which opened on  August, 15 1955 and welcomed thousands of children and families for over 30 years was all but lost until a woman named Martha Clark came along and did the impossible.crown_jpg

It started in 2004-Clark’s Elioak Farm purchased a Pumpkin Coach and the locals were delighted to see a part of their childhood saved from uncertain doom. Along with the cooperation of the Shopping Center which now stood on the site of the former park, Clark’s Elioak farm began obtaining other items from the Enchanted Forest. For the next 10 years figures and buildings  were carefully moved and lovingly repaired by volunteers and staff.  Some characters, like Willie the Whale, which appeared to be lost forever were saved and restored by the incredible and talented Mark Cline.  (See some of our previous features on Mark Cline if you like Dinosaurs and Monsters!)

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The Merry Mill, The Crooked House, and Peter Peter Punkin Eater have all found new homes on the farm.

Since that first pumpkin coach, more than 100 figures and buildings have been moved and restored to their former glory.  I first visited in the summer of 2015, after I hThe Enchanted Forest Shopping Centereard about one of the largest relocation projects in the farm’s history. They had managed to move the castle entrance gates and the beautiful Story Book signage that once stood along Route 40 to the farm. The iconic King, however, remains above the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center sign ruling over the local Safeway and Petco.
Fans of the park hope that one day he will be reunited with his kingdom.  The castle gates were finished just in time for the park’s 60th Anniversary celebration, which now also takes place at Clark’s Farm every summer.

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The Old Woman Who lived in a shoe- 1956 and 2015

During my visit, I was constantly awestruck at the care and level of detail that went into the restoration project. I walked the grounds and at times became emotional thinking about how much someone had to care to do all of this. That is what makes places like this special. They hold onto a part of our childhood and some people will do anything to get that feeling back.

Castle Gates Then and Now Humpty Dumpty Back on his wall, and the Easter Bunny back home again.

Castle Gates Then and Now Humpty Dumpty Back on his wall, and the Easter Bunny back home again.

I spent several hours walking the farm and finding statues that I recognized from my books and post-cards. I had never visited the park in its original location, but I was familiar with its history and the people who brought it back to life.

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Sleeping Beauty, Three Little Pigs, and Little Toot Tugboat-1950s and Today.

I was walking through the gift shop when I spotted Martha Clark organizing some of the souvenirs and fresh food that was for sale. I approached her as if she were some sort of celebrity (in my mind she was!) I said “Excuse me, Are you Martha Clark?” and she said “Yes.” Seeming a bit embarrassed to be recognized. I didn’t expect it, but I became emotional as I thanked her. Tears came to my eyes as I told her “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done here. This is just…amazing.” She smiled and said “Thank you-It’s a lot of hard work, but thankfully, I have so many people that help!” She went on to tell me that just that day a truck pulled up with the Queen of Hearts. She said  “I’m not sure if she’s from the Enchanted Forest or not. I’ll have to do some research, but if she is, she’ll be out next year, so you’ll have to come back and see her!” And that is how it has always gone. Slowly rebuilding the park one piece at a time. Saving bits and pieces and putting it all back together. Martha probably doesn’t think of herself as a hero, but around here, she’s a hero to us! In a world  that is often quick to bulldoze its past, she was brave enough (and maybe insane enough) to go about rescuing it.

Thank you to Martha Clark, to all of the volunteers, and the cooperation of the community, the friends and the family of the Enchanted Forest.

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Mother Goose Ride-No longer a ride, but still intact in 2015 

For decades of amazing family snapshots and some wonderful discussion be sure to join the Enchanted Forest Behind the Scenes Facebook Group!
To see what Clark’s Elioak Farm is up to, visit their site site here.
For Some of Mark Cline’s before & after work on the park-click here.
To dig really deep, check out the book: The Enchanted Forest: Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park

When Dinosaurs Fought In The Civil War

Between 1861 and 1865 the bloodiest battles in US history were fought on American soil during the American Civil War. For more than four violent years, armies fought and died after 11 Southern Confederate states seceded from the United States of America over the right to own slaves. After 750,000 American citizens died, combat finally ended with the abolition of slavery and surrender by the Confederate army. But what if something else had happened?

Try then, to imagine that 200 million years earlier (on land that would come to be known by us as a historic Civil War battlefield) massive dinosaurs walked on the same ground fighting their own bloody battles for survival.

Leave it to the imagination of Mark Cline to show us what things might look like had these two events taken place concurrently.  In his now defunct attraction Escape from Dinosaur Kingdom (2005-2012), visitors could see what might have transpired had the Union army captured and used carnivorous dinosaurs as weapons against the Confederate troops!

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Located in Natural Bridge, VA’s tourist complex, Cline had created four unique and separate attractions. Visitors could stop to his free sculptural attraction “Foamhenge” (a true to scale Styrofoam replica of Stonehenge), the could “Hunt Bigfoot with a Redneck” (I’ll give you one guess who the Redneck was!) and they could walk through his beloved Haunted Monster Museum (which turned out to be one of our most popular Enchanted Kiddieland posts!). Included with your value price 2 for 1 admission to the Monster Museum, you also got to travel back to 1863 and visit his imaginative”Dinosaur Kingdom.”

Already an expert after building more than 400 dinosaurs for roadside attractions and theme parks, Cline knew that his Dino park would need to be different if it was going to stand out. valley-of-gwangi-pic-3Lucky for us, he possesses an incredible imagination and an even more powerful sense of humor! The park’s concept is loosely based on the 1969 Ray Harryhausen film, Valley of the Gwangi, (Which pits cowboys against dinosaurs in a special effects Dynamation spectacular!)

Cline imagined a similar scene substituting cowboys with Union Soldiers as villains who use the Dinosaurs as weapons against the South (after all, this attraction is in the former Confederate state of Virginia!) Before you get too upset about the political ramifications of the south winning the Civil War, Cline has stated that he had hoped to build a second Civil War dinosaur park in Gettysburg wherein the Confederate soldiers are the bad guys. Regrettably, that dream never came to fruition.

Dinosaur Kingdom begins its storytelling through journals violently strewn about a campsite with pots and pans, and overturned wagons. By reading the notebooks, visitors can surmise that a family of paleontologists entered a cave in search of fossils only to find living dinosaurs that had escaped (and were now being used by the North to win the war!)! You can see the civilian mother and father Garrison danging precariously in the trees above the sharp teeth of a hungry carnivore.  Dinosaur Kingdom

As guests entered the self guided wooded park, they’d hear the sounds of nature; sticks cracking under shoes and birds- but beyond this, was the omnipresent laughter of children (and adults!) as they were welcomed into wacky the mind of Mark Cline for a short while. A button with a hand painted sign reading “Feeding Time” begs to be pushed, only to discover that you are standing directly beneath the motorized jaws of a hungry T Rex and a dangling deer carcass! A sign tacked to a tree warned “Don’t Look Up!”, but of course you did, only to see an angry reptile climbing straight toward you. In one scene, a herd of curious raptors surrounds farm animals who had all stacked themselves on top of one another until there was a trembling rabbit sitting on the back of a deer who was sitting on the back of a cow resulting in classic cartoon imagery. One of my favorite gags was a full sized port-a-potty that looked no different from any other, but if you were brave enough to open the door you were met with a shocked looking Yankee soldier being attacked by dinosaurs that had busted through the back walls while he was taking care of business.

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Part Wild West park, part Dinosaur Park, part Roadside tourist trap, this place was a dream come true for some road weary travelers who didn’t even know it was here. The park opened in 2005, and our visit was in 2008, meaning it was in a mostly complete state. However, as an ongoing project, Mark Cline continued to add characters and beasts as the years went on. I’m told that later iterations included Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address, and even a gorilla wearing a cowboy hat. (Hey, don’t tell me you’re getting upset about historical accuracy now!)

Unfortunately, along with the heartbreaking loss of the Monster Museum, much of the attraction was destroyed in a devastating fire in 2012. The park sat vacant for years with an online notice to “check back in 2013.” Folks like me started to lose hope, checking back not only in 2013, but in 2014, and 2015  as well finding no status change.

However, you can’t keep a good dinosaur park down, and like a Phoenix  no, like a Pterodactyl rising from the ashes, the park has some exciting news on the horizon. Last fall, the dinosaurs made a limited engagement appearance at Clark’s Eliok Farm  to terrorize some fairy tale characters (YES, PLEASE!) in the temporary “Enchanted Dinosaur Forest“.  Clark’s Farm, which regular Kiddieland readers will recognize as a sanctuary for rescued Enchanted Forest, MD figures housed the salvaged dinosaurs from September to November 2015 in a hysterical mash up of Dinosaurs and storybook characters that could only come from the off-kilter mind of Professor Cline!

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Photo Courtesy of Enchanted Castle Studios

We were so thrilled to see that many of the dinosaurs had survived, but this story has an even happier ending. According to his Facebook page, Mark Cline is planning to bring Dinosaurs back to Natural Bridge, Virginia with the opening of Dinosaur Kingdom II in June 2016! Based on this concept art, my guess is that guests may be riding through this one on by train? Oh, I am so there!

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Photo Courtesy of Enchanted Castle Studios

So don’t fret, though you may have never gotten to experience the weirdness of the original Dinosaur Kingdom and Haunted Monster Museum, it looks like this summer you may be able to marvel at these Jurrassic giants once again in Natural Bridge!

Thanks for all the memories, Mark!

Hansel and Gretel – Lost in The (Enchanted) Forest

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The holidays are coming, and soon you’ll begin to smell warm baking sweets wafting in the air.  After your delicious Thanksgiving meal, you too will want to stuff yourself with pies and cakes. But watch out – if you eat too much, you might be offered a long walk deep into the forest. Its starting to get dark early, and it’s very easy to get lost in those woods.

Such is the tale of Hansel and his sister Gretel, whose father reluctantly lured his children into the woods after being convinced by his new wife that the family could not afford to feed four mouths. Hansel, over-hearing the evil plan, cleverly decided to drop a path of breadcrumbs along the way so that the children could easily find their way back home. Poor Hansel, he didn’t account for the birds. On a night a lot like tonight, and after many days of wandering with no food, they had grown very desperate and hungry. The two children could hardly believe their eyes when they came upon a house made entirely of gingerbread, held together with icing, candies, and sweets. Just a little nibble won’t hurt anyone, right?

The Enchanted Forest in Old Forge New York opened in 1956, and at first glance,many would assume that the gingerbread house was built early in the park’s history. In the late 50s and early 60s story parks were booming and the Enchanted Forest was expanding attractions rapidly. In actuality, work on Hansel and Gretel’s house didn’t begin until 1981, and due to the complexity and size it took approximately 4 years to complete. The final cherry was put on top in time for the 1985 season, which means that next summer the house will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary! The Gingerbread house was designed by Jack Molesky who was the park artist for many years, and the level of detail and artistry are stunning to behold. The dripping rooftoops and giant candies really do look good enough to eat!

As you walk through Storybook Lane, the path winds through the ubiquitous tall trees of the Adirondacks, and when you’re deep in the woods you begin to feel as though you are lost too.  Once you reach the end of the path, the first thing you’ll encounter are the tall candy canes and lollipops among the trees, and just beyond those, you’ll catch your first views of the Gingerbread house. Plucked from a child’s dream; surreal, and out of place in nature, the house has dripping ice cream doorways, shingles built from frosted cookies, and candy cane frames. Chocolates, cookies, candy, and pretzels decorate the awnings. Its not until you look into the windows, that you realize the real treat is inside the house!

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As you approach the ice cream door, there is a tiny step for small kids to easily peek inside an open window. I can’t help thinking if this wasn’t designed deliberately to allow smaller children an opportunity to assert their independence. Surely looking in this window is a rite of passage for children eager to prove their bravery to their siblings and parents. Kids can look inside without an adult’s help. In fact, as a full grown adult I had to kneel if I wanted to look inside. I heard mom’s say “What’s in there? What’s inside?” But this wasn’t built for mom and dad. From its bright candy exterior, to the creepiness that lurks inside, the design accomplishes what the house in the story set out to do, to lure in and ultimately frighten children.

There is no sugar coating what’s behind the glass, the sweet candy house quickly turns sinister when you catch your first glimpse of an innocent Hansel held prisoner in the  back of the house, with a forkful of spaghetti and meatballs (still grasping a lollipop in his left hand). In the main room- a kitchen and across the gingham tablecloth, a scowling witch stands watch over a feast she has prepared with the intent of fattening up the lost children.

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Her green face, black pointed hat, and robe are inspired by Margaret Hamilton’s best known role in the Wizard of Oz. The archetypal pointed hat wearing witch with the green face did not exist prior to 1939, and even her angular features are reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the West’s.

This witch appears to be deep in thought, trying to decide the best way  to cook these two little morsels that have wandered into her house. Hansel’s plans don’t always work out, and he doesn’t look smart enough to hatch a scheme to turn the tables on her in this scene either, so we’ll just have to assume that the story ends well. Maybe Gretel’s got the brains in the family.

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The exterior of house was very well maintained and it likely gets a fresh coat of paint regularly. It appears to have gone through some changes over the years, but I was unable to locate any other shots of the interior in my research. (If you’ve got any, I’d love to see more!) I was able to locate a few older images of the exterior. The first shows a very natural earth tone house with biscuits and donuts. This is a vintage postcard and I’m not convinced that this is an actual photograph. It could be a miniature artist’s rendering.  Perhaps it is a model created for concept or promotional artwork.

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Another photo shows a dazzling 1980s rainbow color scheme with bright candy store reds, yellows, and greens as opposed to the current mint green and pastel pink palette used today. This paint job is straight out of Rainbow Brite’s or Strawberry Shortcake’s colorful world.

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This house became an unexpected favorite of mine when I found it at the park, and I had to be pulled away from it, like most of the kids there. It’s a little off the beaten path, and can’t be seen immediately. I didn’t expect to fall in love with it, but there was something so wonderful about the mean spirited nature of the story baked into a sweet pink candy house, that I wanted to stay for dinner too.

I hope you’ve been paying attention. If you decide to go out walking in the forest, just remember those breadcrumbs won’t do you any good. Please, be very careful whose house you decide to nibble on, or you could get swallowed up by the woods on your way home…or something worse. And if your host keeps filling your plate this Thanksgiving, make sure you’re not the only one eating. She might still be preparing her feast.

 

A Coach to take you to your Halloween Ball

We’ve talked about Pumpkins before on this site, but they seem to hold a special place in the fairy tale world. Besides being houses, they can also be transportation! Sure we could post lots of scary things during the Halloween season, but in keeping with our fairy tale roots, we’re taking a look at the well known tale of Cinderella; the poor girl whose fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a golden coach so she could attend a ball at the palace and meet Prince Charming. If you don’t think its a story about Halloween, I’d argue that its a supernatural tale of masquerades, dressing up, villains, and of course- pumpkins, so put up your glass slippers and unwrap that pumpkin spice muffin while we check out a few of the pumpkin coaches we’ve come across in parks around the northeast!

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The Enchanted Forest has an impressive coach that I could  barely fit in my viewfinder.  They have captured the action of the story with a larger than life Fairy Godmother adorned in a lavender dress, pumpkin stems swirling about as she creates a footman from a horse, and a coach from a pumpkin. The movement in this one is really stunning, and I found myself walking around it a few times to take in all the angles and the flowing fabrics. Its just gorgeous in person! Kids (and kids at heart) can climb inside for a photo.

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The Magic Forest’s Cinderella somehow managed to land herself square on top of the palace, but once you enter, it looks like she eventually made her way to the ball. Her ugly stepsisters are the highlight of the display here, with their jealous scowls captured perfectly. Since the piece is primarily indoors, the sculptures here are in very good condition (compared to some of the other spider-webs and dirt we saw on other Magic Forest dioramas!) It looks like it is in a different style than the rest of the park, so these may have been sculpted by a different artist.

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Meanwhile in New Jersey, a glass slipper guides us to a guarded coach inside a gazebo, locked behind an inaccessible gate. It may be that the park is trying to preserve the vintage coach, as you can see that it does appear to have seats for riders. If anyone has evidence of the Story Book Land coach in Egg Harbor with passengers, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to see it in action!

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Story Land in NH had one of the most advanced coaches we’ve ever seen, with two motorized horses pulling a gas powered pumpkin with a full door. You can ride the coach up the hill to the castle and back, but they have preserved their history by displaying an older  pumpkin coach (photo on the lower right). This smaller coach likely pulled Cinderella through the park  before the motorized coach was added.

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Here is a third coach we found on a 1957 postcard. The curved windows and  arched door is different from both of the above, and we’re not sure what became of this coach. Do any of you helper mice know?

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Finally, at the Great Escape (which stands on the Storytown USA land) a memory from the past has been preserved. A pumpkin coach and footman (with a full pony rig) still stands near the fontain and small castle replica of this Six Flags owned park. The coach has lived through decades at the park and can be seen as a white pumpkin in the 1956 Viewmaster Slide. (Thanks to Chuck Miller for scanning the original slide).

Have you ever ridden in a pumpkin coach? Which one is your favorite?
Happy Halloween!

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And There He Kept Her Very Well

Since its almost fall on the east coast, and pumpkin EVERYTHING is about to start showing up at all restaurants and coffee shops, I thought we’d take a minute to look in on some of the pumpkin-dwelling residents of Kiddieland in today’s post.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Something about this nursery rhyme has always troubled me (and my Women’s Studies degree), but we don’t hide the truth here at Enchanted Kiddieland so we’re going to delve into this tale of the controlling husband and his poor pumpkin-imprisoned wife.  That said, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Virginia Woolf had in mind when she wrote A Room of One’s Own.

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Enchanted Forest-A heavily medicated housewife peers out of her pumpkin prison

At the Enchanted forest, a listless housewife peers out of a tiny window in her locked up prison house. She was built in 1956 afterall, but at least she is entertained. Among the giant seeds, she keeps books in the kitchen of “207 Pumpkin Recipes”, but still has time to read her “Goose Housekeeping” magazine.  The numb smile on her face seems to indicate that she is heavily medicated, maybe to deal with the mundanity of her daily life, and  to cope with her imprisonment. Please don’t tell Betty Freidan about this.

 

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Holiday World (Call the Police)

At Holiday World, things aren’t looking much better. Here we have an inbred looking Peter with his adorable victim wife crammed in a way-too-small pumpkin house, (if you can even call it a house!) He has the look on his face that I imagine Lenny must have had when he was petting rabbits to death in Of Mice and Men. Meanwhile, she looks like a terrified horror movie victim whose motivation is “In this scene, you’re about to be baked into a pumpkin pie by a psychopathic kidnapper.” For the love of god,  can someone please help this woman?

 

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Magic Forest GUHHHHHHHH!

Alright, that wasn’t disturbing enough for you? Let’s just move on to some nightmare fodder courtesy of the Magic Forest. In this upsetting scene, our homely, green-haired, dead-eyed wife seems to have escaped her pumpkin prison, while her  husband, Peter stands half bent over in some sort of horrific gravity defying stance. Is he trying to run away from her? His ghastly mouth agape, with his disconcerting black wig barely covering a misshapen head, his hands covering his butt, all with a cross-eyed transfixed look of terror on his face. Meanwhile his wife stands by stoically balancing a pumpkin on the back of her poorly sculpted hand. Yeah, we don’t know either, but if I were you, I’d run…Something is about to go down.

 

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Storybook Forest HAAAAAY!

Now for a slightly calmer scene-Let’s swing by Storybook Forest. This wife appears to be on minimum security lockdown, as there are no padlocks, chains, or doors on her pumpkin. What a relief! Maybe that’s because she’s actually being held captive by a tiny pixie man. We photographed him twice, and he appears to have a flair for fashion, as he was spotted wearing a pastel yellow V-neck in the spring and a sassy little striped tank top in the summer. Despite the wide open doorways, there is however, a window covered with bars. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I don’t think she’s very scared of him, she’s nowhere in sight and he seems less than concerned about it. We have reason to believe that his marriage might be a farce.

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Storybook Land- Pies for Days

What’s that? Another creep?-This crooked cane-carrying Peter stands guard outside his abode at Story Book Land prominently marked with the letter “P” on the door. He wants to make sure everyone knows who lives there. “You can’t miss it. Its the pumpkin shaped house, right next to the birthday cake shaped house. I’ll be standing outside in my pimp-hat and cane.” Sure, it looks cute from the outside, but inside a disheveled doll-wife is toiling away baking pies day and night. What kind of pies? Well, Pumpkin, naturally! At least it appears that in his infinite kindness, he has built her a little extra room to retire to, so when she’s done baking pies all day long and is sick to her stomach from the incessant smell of pumpkins, she can pop next door and relax insider her…other pumpkin house. Ugh. Nevermind.

 

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Storyland Everything is cuter in New Hampshire

That’s it, I can’t take anymore of this. Where is Gloria Steinem? Quick, someone please show me some pictures of a cute little small-world-esque  character peeking out of a round pumpkin window in her adorably decorated pumpkin house with wide open doors! OH, THANK YOU STORYLAND!

Ok, Finally, one that doesn’t make me want to call the police. This sweet little abode certainly has a woman’s touch; from the actual working ceiling fixtures (ooh, aaah!), to the sweet little place settings and the complimentary colors of her stove. The sweetest thing might be the working jack-o-lantern clock molded right into the wall. She’s also got a built in extension so she can really spread out here and as for location, her pumpkin house is perched atop a charming little rock bridge. This is finally one that will let me sleep soundly at night.

Feel better, everyone? Good. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could really go for a pumpkin spice latte, and maybe a piece of pie.

Hump-Day Dumpty #13

Unlucky Number 13-It figures that this Humpty comes with a tale of misfortune.

Over the 4th of July weekend word reached Kiddieland that Humpty Dumpty at the Enchanted Forest in Turner, OR actually did have a great fall!  Heartbreaking photos were posted on the park’s facebook page of a shattered Humpty, and the only people that seemed happy about this were smug reporters who got to make jokes on the 6’oclock news about how Humpty “literally” had a great fall! Ok, I realize that I did it here too, but Har Har. Save your puns-There’s more to this tale.

Humpty was created by park founder Roger Tofte in 1968 and was added to the park in when it opened in 1970. Here’s Humpty looking cheerful atop his multicolored brick wall earlier this year.

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(Original photo courtesy of Patrick North)

And here’s Humpty after “the incident”
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(Origial photo courtesy of Enchanted Forest)

Turns out two adult men attempted to climb up on the wall to take photos with the statue. (Stay on the path, kids!) They brought the wall tumbling down along with them and Humpty fell to his death. Before you want to send these 2 to the castle dungeon, please be aware that they did offer to pay for the repairs. In a classy move, however, the park declined payment and stated on their facebook page:

“We were able to speak with the people involved with the incident a little on the day it happened, and they called back as well the next day offering to pay. There’s no monetary value for the sentimental value to our family or for Roger’s time, so we are not looking for that or anything else but rather to move on from this. Great thanks to everyone for the messages and offers to help, we appreciate it!”

All the King’s Men may not be able to help, but lucky for us, Humpty’s creator Roger can!  Two days after Humpty fell, the park announced that he was making plans to rebuild him. The 84 year old artist quickly went to work building the new Humpty. Roger can still be found around around the park on the land he purchased over 50 years ago, or selling his paintings in town at a local gallery. He admitted that it would take quite a few hours to start from scratch and duplicate what he had buit in the late 60s, and joked that he hoped he still had “some creative juices left”. Based on what we’ve seen, we’re not worried about that!RogerTofterepairs

Roger is seen left taking photos of the area on July 6th after the damaged statue had been removed, and by July 11th (just under a week from his fall) Humpty already  has a brand new wall! (Photos courtesy of Enchanted Forest)

We’ll continue to follow the progress online at the Enchanted Forest’s Facebook page. In the meantime, from all of us in kiddieland, thank goodness for you, and your creative juices, Roger! We wish you all the luck in the world, and can’t wait to see Humpty come back home!ThanksRoger

Open Sesame-Ali Baba’s Cave at the Enchanted Forest

Fairy tales are part of our shared cultural history. They seem to occupy a part of our subconscious, so it is no surprise that many parks feature derivative sculptures we’ve seen a dozen times before.  Just about every park I’ve been to has their version of a Humpty Dumpty,  Mother Goose, The Old Woman who lived in a shoe, or Jack and the Beanstalk. Most have Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, an Itsy Bitsy Spider, and a Cinderella. Every now and again you’ll see 3 blind mice and Hickory-Dickory dock. That’s why when you stumble onto something you haven’t seen before, it is so exciting! Some might even say it is like wandering into a den of thieves, and finding gold. This is how I felt when I happened upon the Enchanted Forest’s Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Cave.

“Ali Baba found the Cave” 

The cave is at the bottom of a steep incline, set back away from the crowds. I had to wonder if this was intentional, meant to be found only by true treasure hunters. The truth is, It  began to pour just as I saw it in the distance; and it made an excellent shelter to wait out the storm.

“and he beamed with pleasure.
He did battle with forty thieves
to keep the treasure.”

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The attraction itself is small-Just 3 figures are inside, along with a gold chest, and some low lighting by faux candlelight. It was built in 1956, the same year as the park, indicating that it was likely original to the property.

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Apparently, The thieves have returned since then as it appears Ali Baba used to have 4 gold Chests surrounding him based on this 1957 post card photo. It also appears that the 2 other figures may have been added to the scene later, or perhaps moved from another part of the cave.

Ali Baba Postcard

Sadly, times have changed and the Old Forge park now focuses more on its water slides and pools than its history as a Fairy Tale Park. I’m glad they have left these statues for those of us that cherish this part of the park’s story, and I hope you’ll continue to express your interest to the Enchanted Forest so we can keep these statues alive for years to come.

Maybe it was being trapped inside during a rainstorm, or maybe it was the rarity of this scene, but I was so happy to have found the cave and known the password. I’m only aware of two other Ali Baba attractions, and both are now long gone. One was at Fairyland Forest in Conneaut Lake, PA, and the other stood at the Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City Maryland. It does not appear to be among the surviving rescued statues at Elioak Farm.

Here’s another version of the now defunct Fairyland Forest version.

FairylandForestAliBaba

Do you know of any other Ali Baba dioramas out there? Let us know in the comments!