Storybook Land – A Retro Childhood Delight!

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Just popping in with a very quick update to let you know about the first ever Enchanted Kiddieland guest post over at Retro Roadmap! Check it out but be sure to also pay a visit to the rest of Mod Betty’s site! If you like the kinds of things we post on this site, odds are pretty good you’ll find yourself loving hers too!

Happy exploring everyone!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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?

Storytown USA

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.

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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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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.

Pinocchio: The Wooden Puppet who Dreamt of Becoming a Real Boy

You know the story, The old woodcarver  named Gepetto makes a puppet, and the mischievous marionette wants nothing more than to become a real boy. He gets in a lot of trouble, tells a lot of lies, and learns some valuable life lessons . He gets a little help from a blue fairy and a talking cricket…who may or may not be killed by Pinocchio with a mallet (depending on the adaptation you’re most familiar with)  and eventually the boy becomes an upstanding citizen, and is allowed to fulfill his desire to be a real boy…or does he? In the original serialized version of text, Pinocchio is gruesomely hanged for his sins and lies and he dies at the end of the story.  Later when published as a children’s book, and at the request of the editors, a happier ending was substituted whereby Pinocchio gets his wish granted by the blue fairy and becomes a real boy. Really- I wouldn’t lie to you about this, my nose might grow!

Naturally a tale like this is perfect fodder for any story book park, and the Walt Disney 1940 film adaptation of this already canonized tale cemented the characters in American Children’s subconscious for all time. We’re going to take a look at  a few images of Pinocchio at parks from his Florentine roots to his familiar Disney appearance, and beyond, including those that are unofficially “inspired” by the look of the Disney version of this famous character.

Anyone that has traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando with kids has probably felt that moment of panic at the Magic Kingdom when the kid’s pizza alarm goes off. There’s only one place in the park to get pizza, and if you use your Disney logic you’ll realize that since pizza is Italian, and Pinocchio is from Italy…OF COURSE-pizza can be found at Pinocchio’s Village Haus! The decor inside is themed like a small Italian cottage and is so charming featuring frescoes inspired by the film, and intricate wood cuts of the characters. (Bonus-if you sit near the windows you can see Small World boats pass by beneath you as you enjoy your meal!) I love the costumes worn by cast members and especially the little Pinocchio puppets held outdoors conveniently located at kid-height to lure you inside.

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Further North, Pinocchio can be found at Storybook Land in Egg Harbor, NJ-But you have to know where to look. Although impressive, this giant Pinocchio statue is only visible from the train, so all aboard for a sight at this giant puppet!

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Also in the Northeast, our friend Pinocchio can be found at the Enchanted Forest in Old Forge, but I want to you prepare you for the nightmare fuel that follows. This one is special as he takes his look from the literary world rather than the films. He is quite disturbing, not unlike some of the illustrations from the text. It doesn’t help that it was a gloomy rainy day when I visited him. Oh man, is he coming toward us? Don’t make eye contact.

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Ok, let’s try to get that image out of our heads for a moment, and go back to something a bit less unsettling. At Storybook Forest (Ligionier, PA) tucked in the forest of Pennsylvania, you may come upon a small house in the trees. If you’re lucky a peek inside the windows will show Gepetto’s workspace, along with his beloved Pinocchio, and a blue fairy doll hanging from the rafters with fishing line. Hey-I think its pretty awesome! The details inside are classic PA with real antique sewing machines and furniture, and a large bound copy of Pinocchio sitting on the desk.

Storybook Forest

 

While we’re on the subject of wood carving, we can’t forget about the larger than life wooden Pinocchio at Storyland in NH that we covered in a past post about bootlegging Disney.

Pinocchio Storyland NH

Or the one we SHOULD have covered when talking about Whales, because-Pinocchio Sitting on Monstro in New Orleans-Duh.

Seems like everywhere we look, we see the little puppet boy. Here is is in a dark arcade in the middle of the day-probably skipping school, we also found him hocking his  70th Anniversary Blu Ray release, and climbing on top of a bakery roof in NJ (WE TOLD HIM NOT TO DO THAT!)

Pinocchio

One thing is for sure, we don’t expect to see him fading into the background any time soon. At Disney parks, you can still meet up with Pinocchio, Gepetto, or Jiminy Cricket for photos. They appear in giant shows like Fantasmic, and Jiminy even narrates the popular “Wishes” fireworks display at the Magic Kingdom. I caught up with the crew earlier in the summer at the brand new Festival of Fantasy parade which premiered at Walt Disney World in March 2014. Despite the parade spotlighting mostly new Disney princesses like the wildly popular Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Merida from Brave, and Repunzel from Tangled, our boy Pinocchio is holding his own. Here is is sitting proudly atop a Monstro float in this brand new parade, which leads us to believe he’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

Festival Of Fantasy

Pinocchio, seriously stop that. Stop kicking your feet like that. Do you even know how high that is? We told you not to do that! You’ll fall…man, this kid really never listens!

Tiny Kingdoms

When Walt built Disneyland, his imagineers used an optical illusion called “forced perspective” in order to make Sleeping Beauty’s castle appear much larger than it actually is. All this means is that the foundation is larger than the turrets, and as you walk down Main Street USA toward the castle, the buildings get smaller which in turn makes the castle appear larger from a distance. From the entrance gate it looks like a huge castle, but once you are standing next to it, it’s really not much taller than a large house. Disney liked  this optical illusion so much that it was used in every park that followed, including its other castles! Next time you are in Walt Disney World, note the windows on Cinderella Castle-they are actually incrementally smaller the higher up in the tower you go. This tricks our eyes and makes us think the building is much larger than it is. You can also see it put to good use in the recently erected Beast Castle in Fantasyland.

Some parks force this perspective a bit more than others, and the result is, at times, comical. I think it is fair to say that a good number of these quirky castles are more the result of limited space and resources than an attempt to create a dazzling special effect.

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Standing in a fountain (but we like to think of it as a moat) at the Great Escape in New England is the heart of what was formerly Storytown USA . This tiny castle is not much larger than a very elaborate doll house, but its charming pastel palette is very well maintained. This structure is a 2010 rebuild of the of the original Storytown castle, and we think its a very important gesture that the park re installed it after purchasing the land in 2006.

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Atop a stone hill sits a comparatively drab castle at the Magic Forest. This one does have an impressive amount of turrets and flags, so as tiny castles go, it’s not too shabby! There is something oddly majestic about this pint-sized kingdom!

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Storybook Land’s small castle is the epitome of 1960s kiddie park roadside kitsch. The exaggerated angles, the primary colors, and the overall strangeness of this castle makes it a favorite of mine. Goosey Gander’s Castle is put to good use as a home and pond for several geese to swim…and apparently poop.

Goony Golf (3)

While we’re on the subject of 60s style, check out Sir Goony’s Castle at Sir Goony Golf in Lake George. A fair maiden looks out hoping you’ll make the shot as the drawbridge opens and closes on the green!

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She’s thinking “You’re totally not going to make this shot, and I’m going to die in this tower.”

Storyland

Wrapping up our architectural study of zany mid-century angles, we’ll make a visit to Cinderella’s Castle at Storyland. I’ve saved the best for last. Not only can you look upon this castle in all its 1960s glory, but you can also see a bit of forced perspective in action! You can see this castle from just about every point in the park, and it looks magnificent perched atop a winding hillside. You might be asking yourself, “How do I get to a castle high on a hillside?” Why, in your PUMPKIN COACH, silly! PumpkinCoach

That’s right-you can ride an electromechanical horse drawn carriage up the hill to the castle in a faraway land. Once you arrive, you might even be lucky enough to find a princess, and her famous glass slipper inside!

Pumpkin Coach

Even if you don’t have a thing to wear to the ball,  We highly recommend hopping into this pumpkin coach, as it’s going to offer you a breathtaking view of the rest of the park! Some might even say it is a view fit for a king, a tiny king, but a king nonetheless!

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