UnEnchanted — The demise of Baltimore’s Enchanted Forest Amusement Park


Old King Cole pointed the way to adventure... Now he points the way to high finance.

Old King Cole pointed the way to adventure… Now he points the way to high finance.

Thank god the Enchanted Forest is being plowed under to make way for a bank! Because, really what the world needs more of is less creative, imaginative play spaces and more banks… and pharmacies. We just don’t have enough of either of those.

Why, just the other day I was looking out the car window and thinking “you know what I haven’t seen in the last 2 blocks? A bank or a pharma — no wait there’s one. And there’s another. And another…”

Hmmmmmmm I guess we’re actually pretty good at the bank-to-people / pharmacy-to-people ratio after all. [I know they are necessary establishments, but I just don’t think we need to pave every bit of green space and convert every park to build one. Enough with the Bank/Pharmacy arms race, already. I think we know who already won.]

What we don’t have enough of are places where people (especially little people) can explore their imaginations and get lost in their creative whims.

Enchanted_Forest_Map medium

That’s what the Enchanted Forest was. It was a “Storybook land where fairy tales came true!” (according to a vintage ad for the theme park.) I know that was the case for this little 1960s era Baltimorean girl.

The once popular 20-acre theme park located at the corner of Route 40 and Bethany Lane hosted families for decades after opening in August of 1955. [Ellicott City Patch.com]

The Rainbow slide

The Rainbow Slide

For just $2.55 admission per person your family could explore the park all day. The rides, like the Mother Goose “train” were $.40 a piece. There were things to look at  (story book tableaux any one?) and things to do (like the awesome Rainbow Slide.)

The Mother Goose ride. I always wanted to ride on the cute little baby black duck in the back. He was the BEST!

The Mother Goose ride. I always wanted to ride on the cute little baby black duck in the back. He was the BEST!

Alas, the drawbridge entrance to the Enchanted Forest was closed for the last time in 1989 when a developer bought the property and built a shopping center on part of the lot.  “There were attempts to re-open the theme park in the 90s, and a community-led effort to preserve the fiberglass structures at the site in the woods fell short.” [Ibid]

Entropy and greed are evidently more powerful than the magic of childhood.

Restored crooked house at Coates Farm

Restored crooked house at Clark’s Elioak Farm

Some of the buildings and iconic statues were saved. The good folks at Clark’s Elioak Farm (not far from Enchanted Forest’s Ellicott City location) acquired dozens of them

In 2005, the owners of the property, Kimco, agreed to allow many of the structures to be moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City. Clark’s, with the help of community members, hauled items including Mother Goose, Papa Bear, the giant Mushrooms, the Gingerbread Man, Wille the Whale, the Little Red Schoolhouse and many others to the farm, where they are now maintained and preserved.[Ibid]

But others languished beside and behind the strip mall. Unfortunately the amusement park seemed to have used “First Little Pig Building and Supply Co.” when it constructed the buildings, and the  modern day equivalent to the pig’s straw house, fiberglass, is just not holding up. They are all suffering from neglect and age. And the mightiest of them all, Cinderella’s castle is crumbling.

My childhood dreams... literally crumbling.

My childhood dreams… literally crumbling. Cinderella’s Castle, as viewed from the front, circa 1970; and from the back, circa 2009.

The most depressing 9 minutes and 28 seconds of my day was watching this YouTube Video showing what the Enchanted Forest looks like now…

But  then I found this site that shows the work being done at Clark Elioak farms …

http://www.clarklandfarm.com/CEF%20EF%20Moving%20to%20the%20Farm.htm

…and a little flower of hope blossomed inside me.

The Three Bears House is one of the newest rescued houses from the Enchanted Forest now at Clark's Elioak Farm.

The Three Bears House is one of the newest rescued houses from the Enchanted Forest now “living” at Clark Elioak Farm.

Gate Castels

The entrance to the Enchanted Forest and the new entrance to Clark Elioak Farms.

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Please note: None of the photos on this post are mine. I found them on Pinterest. Alas they did not have identification. If you see  YOUR photo I would be very happy to give your credit. (Or, if you wish, remove it from the post.)

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

4 responses to “UnEnchanted — The demise of Baltimore’s Enchanted Forest Amusement Park

  • Lynn Reynolds

    We went there with some friends once when I was very little. It has always lived in my memory as a truly enchanted place. I’m glad the folks at Clark’s are preserving some of the buildings for today’s kids. Sad though, that the most imaginative use of the land anyone could come up with is – another bank.

    • ritalovestowrite

      I called my mom to see if she confirm the name of Cinderella’s Caste (I couldn’t remember if it was Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty), and she asked sarcastically “Why, are they going to build another BANK?” She went on to say it was either that or a PHARMACY! At that point I had to read her the top of my Blog. She had said it almost word for word.

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