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.
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]
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.)
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.
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.
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 …
…and a little flower of hope blossomed inside me.
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.)