A Trip Down Memory Lane, The Enchanted Forest



Enchanted Forest Castle

If you lived anywhere near Maryland during the 50’s and 60’s you will probably recognize this fairy tale castle.

The Enchanted Forest opened in the summer of 1955. Unlike Disneyland in California which opened the month before, The Enchanted Forest  was low-tech featuring fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

“There are no mechanical rides in the park,” Howard E. Harrison Jr. told the Baltimore News-Post in an article that ran on the Enchanted Forest ‘s opening day, Aug. 15, 1955 . “Instead, we hope that the children will enjoy the make-believe figures that are before their eyes.”

“I say children, but actually, we think that many grown-ups will enjoy seeing the famous old figures that they knew when they were children,” he added.

When the park opened, admission was $1.50 and what started out as 8 acres grew over the years  to 25 acres. In the late 1970s and into the 1980s  the admission price was $2.10 for children and adults and the park drew 350,000 to 400,000 visitors from May to October.

I remember entering  the park, walking over the drawbridge and thru the castle gates.  (I also remember being kind of disappointed in the castle which just held the ticket counter, what kind of castle was this anyway?)

Eventually visitors would climb through Cinderella’s castle, located further inside the park, ride through the caves of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and take a teacup ride. On a large man-made  pond, they rode the Little Toot tugboat and visited Mount Vesuvius and Jungle Land.

With high-tech rivals such as Kings Dominion and Hershey Park, the crowds dwindled and in 1988 the park was sold to a developer.  Much of the parking lot and some of the park were turned into what is now known as The Enchanted Forest Shopping Center.  The castle and dragon are still there but you can’t go inside, it’s just part of the entrance to the shopping center now.

Humpty Dumpty The Enchanted Forest

In 1994, the park reopened for just one season with no rides but you could still see some of your favorite mother goose rhymes.  I think it was more fun for the reminiscing adults than it was for the kids.

We didn’t know at the time that this would be the last time the park would ever open but we did manage to visit during that 1994 season.  These are my kids posing with the famous egg.

Enchanted Forest Humpty Dumpty

This is my older brother visiting Humpty Dumpty in 1958.  

I probably visited sometime around 1965…couldn’t find any of those pictures.  🙁

Enchanted Forest Ugly duckling swan ride

The Ugly Duckling and Swan Ride. No roller coasters here!

Enchanted Forest Little old lady who lived in a shoe

I remember this as being one of my favorite ‘rides’.  It really is just a slide built into The Old Lady who Lived in a Shoe’s, house. Here it is in 1958.

Little Old Lady who lived in a Shoe Clarks Elioak

There is a semi-happy ending with the park.  While much of the park was left to decay, many of the main features were moved a few miles down the road to a local farm known for hay rides, a petting zoo and farm produce…Clarks Elioak Farm.  You can read more about their Enchanted Forest area here.

This is what the little old lady’s shoe looks like today in it’s new home and with a new paint job.

Enchanted Forest Crooked Old House

This was the home of the crooked old man who walked a crooked mile back in 1958.  I was reading where the angles of the Crooked House were so odd that one carpenter decided that the structure wouldn’t stand and walked off the job.  You can find a little more of the personal history of the park here.

Enchanted Forest Crooked Old House

Here is the crooked house today with his new rainbow paint job at the farm.

Enchanted Forest Willie the Whale

This is my Grandma and my brother at the Willie the Whale attraction.  You can tell it was the 50’s.  Grandma is in her best June Cleaver dress and heels.

Enchanted Forest Willie the Whale

After years of neglect, Willie was dug up and moved to Clark’s farm in 2005.

Enchanted Forest Willie the Whale

Willie looks totally happy in his new home.

Overgrown Enchanted Forest Castle

As for what happened to the rest of the park…this is what I found when I ventured back in 2014.   While most of the attractions had been moved or had deteriorated, the castle still remained. Now it really seemed like an enchanted forest.

Upon closer inspection, the  castle was really just a shell,  some of the walls were falling down, stone veneer was falling off  and Rapunzel was not in any of the turrets.

Enchanted Forest demolition

A year later, hubby and I are having dinner across  the street from The Enchanted Forest.  At some point I mentioned that while most of the attractions had been moved from the area, the castle was still standing.  Totally cool…it was sort of like finding a gingerbread house in the woods.

After dinner we ventured over. As you can see, it was not a pretty site and definitely not a gingerbread house.  My enchanted castle was now an enchanted dump.

Even with a scavenger’s eye, I didn’t see much to salvage.  

I did pick up one lonely orange board for my tribute to The Enchanted Forest.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

My scavenged board was only 4.75 inches tall.  Laid out on the computer using the font  ‘ Aharoni’, my lettering is exactly 4.75 inches tall, I wanted my lettering to be as tall  as possible with as little waste as possible.

Print and cut out your letters.  

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

Trace around the cut out letters.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

Use a jigsaw or table top scroll saw to cut out the letters.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

The paint started out pretty peely. To keep it from flaking off even more I painted on a coat of watered down wood glue.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

I’m using a  large piece of reclaimed wood as my background.  I was lucky, where the wood was split was a good width for my  backer board.  Cut with a circular saw.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

The orange was kind of bright,  but I toned it down with some vintage wax.  I also applied the wax to the freshly cut edges of the lettering.

Just paint on the wax and rub the excess off with a rag.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

The lettering was attached with finish nails and a nail gun.  I bought this PORTER CABLE Finish Nailer/Compressor Combo Kit for my husband for Christmas one year (I use it all the time).

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

I cut the remainder of the backer board into strips to use as a frame.

Since my lettering was kind of small, I wanted to bulk up my sign.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

Of course those newly cut edges of my frame didn’t quite match the rest of the aged wood.  A little taupe paint, vintage wax and water comes pretty close to a color match.

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

DIY Vintage Sign, Enchanted Forest

I thought I was all finished and I look at the thing…I wish there was a little more contrast between the lettering and the background.

Enchanted Forest Vintage Style Sign DIY, reclaimed wood

Since I couldn’t change the color of the lettering, that would sort of ruin my Enchanted Forest history, I decided to whitewash the background. I really wish I had made that decision before nailing on all the lettering.

Enchanted Forest Vintage Style Sign DIY, reclaimed wood

Enchanted Forest Vintage Style Sign DIY, reclaimed wood

Enchanted Forest Vintage Style Sign DIY, reclaimed wood

Enchanted Forest Vintage Style Sign DIY, reclaimed wood

LIVE BAITS Sign - Fixer Upper Style

My Enchanted Forest sign copies the style of my Fixer Upper copy cat  Live Baits sign from March of last year.

LIVE BAITS Sign - Fixer Upper Style

This is how Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper used the sign in her decorating….just to give you a little inspiration.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Enchanted Forest Ugly Ducking, Beautiful Swan

Before I leave you,  I have one more blast from the past.  Remember the low tech duckling / swan ride?  They also made the trip to the farm.  For some reason they are sitting in the woods with a dinosaur.  Pretty sure the dinosaur was not from the original park.

Shared at Metamorphosis Monday,

DIY Salvaged JunkFarmhouse Friday,

9 Comments

  • Celina Wood says:

    Very cool. My daughter, son-in-law and grandkids were out there last Fall. It was nice to see some of the attractions again. Here is link. Thanks. for article.

    http://www.clarklandfarm.com/enchanted_forest.html

  • Steph says:

    Very Cool. The 1994 version of Humpty Dumpty looks way more evil than the 1958 version, those little boys are pretty cute though!!

  • Ann says:

    Great job on the story and the sign!

  • Barb says:

    My family and I visited this place when I was about 10 yrs old (1960!!!) I am so glad you put this article on your blog. I couldn’t remember where it was, but that day was so magical for me and my sisters! Thanks for bringing The Enchanted Forest back to life for one day in my memory!

  • CraftyHope says:

    Oh wow. What a shame such a magical place didn’t last. I completely understand how competition drove them out, but it is a shame for sure. I’m so glad so much of it was moved and getting some love, but that beautiful castle. How sad! It’s wonderful that you were able to salvage something from it.

    As you described the place and showed pictures, it reminded me of a scene from a movie I liked as a kid. I don’t know if you ever saw “Cry Baby” with Johnny Depp, but it looks like they based a scene on the Enchanted Forest. Oh, I just did some research. The scene WAS the Enchanted Forest, but they had to film at Hershey Park. Ah well.

    Thanks for sharing your memories and pictures of it!

  • Fonda says:

    When I was very young, there was Oglebay Park near Wheeling, WV. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it certainly wasn’t what I had been told about the early experience. It was also more of a “town” of little houses and Mother Goose characters. I don’t remember it at all, so I was probably around 4, which would have been around 1960. I don’t know much more about it. It looks like you had a blast at your park!

  • Ann says:

    What a great way to preserve fond memories! BTW…my husband would have yelled at me for wearing sandals to walk through that scrap pile – but I would have done it anyway!!

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