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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Hoppin’ Down the Bunny Trail!

Although many kiddie parks focus solely on Santa and his elves, there is another holiday friend from our childhood lurking in the magical forests out there, he’s usually found in springtime hop hop hopping down the bunny trail and hiding eggs. That’s right! Today we’re covering the Easter Bunny!  Here are some of the Bunnies I’ve met in my travels. Those pictured below hail from The Enchanted Forest (NY), Storybook Forest (PA) and Santa’s Village (NH)

Easter Various

The Magic Forest, weird as ever, has a few bunnies on property, the most intriguing of the lot is undoubtedly “Allison”. Who is Allison the bunny and why does she even exist? If you happen to know, please tell me in the comments so I can finally go to sleep at night!

Magic Forest Easter

Probably the most incredible Bunny hole of them all is tucked away in -appropriately enough- EGG Harbor, NJ (you see what I did there?) at Storybook Land .

Year round, you can peer into the windows of this asymmetrical kid sized (or is it bunny-sized?) house where a whole family of flop-ears resides. The best bunny, by far, is one very sassy lady bunny who just looks like she got off from her job as a switchboard operator circa 1965.  She’s wearing her thick frame cat eye glasses with a pink bow and a dress pushing around a cart of full of eggs. Other bunnies dressed in their Easter Sunday Best hop about inside getting ready for the big day by painting eggs and decorating their Easter tree! GAH! Since this house can’t be entered, everything inside is pristine, and there is clearly some vintage stuff well preserved in here. I’ve visited a few times and the bunnies get new outfits every year or 2 so be sure to peek inside the windows for an overwhelming dose of cuteness if you make it here! This is most certainly one of the more charming Easter Bunny houses I’ve encountered.

Storybook Land Easter

Speaking of Storybook Land, If you want a truly special Egg-sperience for Easter this park has you covered with their annual “Easter Egg Hunt with Mr. and Mrs. Bunny” This year the egg hunt will be held on April 19th & 20th from noon to 4 pm (Note, this event is designed for small children!)

Don’t fret, For us bigger kids, you can still meet the bunny and his missus on April 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20!

Easter2012

Hope you enjoyed these funny bunnies and a Hoppy Easter to everyone! No I’d better hop out of here before I make any more bad bunny puns!