What Big Eyes you Have!

Little Red Riding Hood, Never Never Land, Hill Island, Ontario
A barefood Red Riding Hood & Overall clad Wolf  from  the now defunct Never-Never Land in Hill Island, Ontario. (1967-1980)

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? You might be when you see some of these photos!

Ellicott City, MD
In Ellicott City, MD a vintage postcard shows a living breathing Red Riding Hood on her walk near Grandma’s House at the now defunct Enchanted Forest.

Little Red Riding Hood is a classic European fairy tale that has been frightening children since the 10th century. In it, Red takes a walk through the woods to visit her sick grandmother, and take her some food. The simplicity of the story means that despite its age, it rarely deviates much in theme and language. There is always a little girl in a red hooded cape, a basket of food, and a big bad wolf disguised as grandmother in her bed. (The implication being that the wolf has already consumed dear old grandma as an appetizer and has stolen her nightgown.)

Red enters the house and launches into the memorable exchange with her grandmother:

What big eyes you have!
The Better to see you with, my dear

What big hands you have!
The Better to hold you with, my dear

What big teeth you have!
THE BETTER TO EAT YOU WITH MY DEAR!

Most parks wisely focus on the climax of this conversation and the best ones feature a terrified red riding hood and a scowling wolf.

StorytownUSA2007RedRiding
In What was formerly Storytown USA (now the Great Escape) Red Riding Hood and the Wolf  are found in Grandma’s filthy concrete bedroom. This 2007 photograph of the scene found on The Tourist Trap almost makes it appear as though Red won the battle! A victorious Red Riding hood stares at guests as a dead looking wolf lies nearby in bed like a hunting trophy. I don’t believe this display still existed when I visited a few years later.

Storyland Red Riding Hood

Over in New Hampshire at Story Land, We are warned by signs notifying us both of the path to Grandma’s house, as well as the wolf spotted in the bed. Red doesnt’ seem to frightened in this one, as Grandma Wolf pants happily. Their eye contact and expression sort of makes it seem like they are catching up after a few weeks away from one another! Maybe we have caught her in her last moments of innocence and she hasn’t yet realized that this is the wolf in disguise.

Story Book Forest RedRidingHood
Storybook Forest in Pennsylvania has signs that also warn of a wolf in the woods,. Another (bearing a wolf illustration) recommends that we take the high road. This sign reminded me of a cartoon, as I imagine that the wolf put it there himself in order to lead Red right to his big teeth! This scene is very effective, despite featuring no Red Riding Hood figure. I believe that the viewer is meant to play the role of Red here, which thrusts you right into the story. As you approach the door of the house, the wolf inside can be seen in bed with one eye open awaiting a delicious morsel!

HolidayWorldRedRidingHood
Holiday World’s (in Santa Claus, IL) is now known as a coaster destination, but it had its start as both a Santa park and a Kiddie park! Most of their vintage fairytale figures can be seen from the train ride, so of course this is where we found Red and the wolf hiding! This simple scene is also quite effective and features an innocent looking child who appears to be unaware of the sinister wolf lurking a few steps behind her. Though they abandoned the Grandmother disguise motif, I believe that the thoughtful positioning of these two figures convey the mean-spirited nature of this story more than some of the displays with stronger attention to detail.

EnchantedForestRedRidingHood
At the Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, NY, a brightly colored house from 1956 contains this familiar scene with a smiling mannequin standing in for Red Riding Hood, while a scraggly wolf sits upright in Grandma’s nightgown and cap. The wolf’s neck is so thin, I sort of want him to get something to eat!

Storybookland Red Riding Hood

Finally, my favorite Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf are busy  terrifying children in Egg Harbor, NJ at Story Book Land. The display is newer, but I think that works to its advantage. First, take a moment to appreciate the location of Grandma’s house. Once you walk through the woods, down a winding brick path to a somewhat remote cottage (by tiny kiddie park standards, anyway!) you could be lucky enough to be the only person at the window when these two figures begin to move…that’s right. They move! Audio-animatronic figures retell the story in frightening detail. The wolf blinks, opens his mouth, and grabs at Red Riding Hood with a growl before resetting to scare the next group of kids. This display either mesmerized or horrified children and parents were seen either dragging them toward it or away from it. That alone puts it high on our list!

So, what do you think? Are you afraid of the Big Bad Wolf now?

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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.

Enchanted Forest

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.

 

HolidayWorld

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?

 

MagicForest

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.

 

Storybook Forest

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.

Storybook Land

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.

 

Storyland

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-Week 6

HolidayWorldHumpty

This week’s humpty joins us from Holiday World, where he hopes you like his fancy his prince costume, and asks that you please not bring up his pock marks.

Holiday World’s Humpty is part of the scenery on the park’s Freedom Train ride, and he’s been teetering on his wall since the 1950s when Fairy tale Goose statutes were added and the train was renamed the “Mother Goose Land Train”. Until 2012, you could still ride the original “Freedom Train” which was the last remaining ride operating continuously since the park’s 1946 opening. The original train has been retired and replaced with the Holidog Express Train, which still tours Mother Goose Land daily.

All Aboard for a Happy Hump-Day!

 

I Wouldn’t Want to Walk a Mile in These Shoes!

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 Land

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.

Storybook Forest

 

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.

Storyland Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe

Storyland The Old Woman Who Lived In the Shoe

 

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!

Holiday World

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.

Magic Forest

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!

Storytown USA

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!

GoonyGolf

 

Which one is your favorite?

Mascot Mania! Holidog

If you think mascots only exist in pro sports, you’re doggone wrong! Many kiddie parks have mascots too and today I’d like to introduce you to Holiday World’s most famous dog, appropriately  named “Holidog”

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From the moment you get into the park, you can’t miss Holidog’s presence. This superhero cape clad canine helps you remember where you parked, reminds you of the rules, and also explains the park’s fundraising efforts. Holidog’s influence is most strongly represented in the 4th of July area of the park which houses a kiddieland called “Holidog’s Funtown”. Here you’ll find attractions like Holidog’s Treehouse and the Holidog Express which takes you into a mini fairy tale park full of the park’s vintage statues called Mother Gooseland. (sure to be a feature on this blog at a later date!) You can also pose with a larger than life fiberglass Holidog statue, and ride on his custom kiddie coaster, The Howler!

Holidog puts on regular shows with his mascot pals at the Holidog All Star Theater. Aside from hanging out in the park, he’s also a regular jokester on the park’s social media sites and their “Holiblog” where he poses for photos and even texts with park staff!

Holidog

Naturally,  Holidog loves holidays, so he joins us every Christmas in the form of this classy blown glass ornament. Nice Santa Hat, Holidog! 

Holidog Ornament

There’s no doubt about it, Holidog is one hard working pup, so  he deserves a little downtime after his shift is over. We caught him here resting his dogs and trying his luck  on some of the park games. Hope you win some cool Holidog Merch, pal!

Holidog on break