Remember when

Remember the amusement park that your parents used to bring you to when you were a kid? If you were lucky they drove you down to Florida to experience the wonder that is Disney World. Otherwise, you were probably subjected to the small, dilapidated, family owned amusement parks of the past.

One such park was Fairy Tale Forest, located in my hometown in New Jersey. The place was built by a German immigrant and his two sons in 1957. The park was filled with storybook cottages each depicting fairytales like The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Ridding Hood. I am sure in its heyday it must have been a wondrous site. By the time I was a a teenager and had excepted a job there, the park had started to show its age.

When my girlfriend and I were hired, the owner Paul was 90 years old and insisted that everyone call him Opa (German for grandpa). Every once in a while Opa would wander across the street and attempt to fix up some of the displays. At this point the only thing that could clean it up was maybe a bulldozer. But still, the kids came. It wasn’t all sugar coated sweet or so clean you could lick the bathroom floor. It was a down and dirty sort of place. Most of the displays had cobwebs growing on them. The taxidermied animals in “The Rabbit School” were downright creepy. But that was part of the charm, wasn’t it? When you are five, you don’t care if the Candyland train is up to code; as long as it was fast you were a happy camper. So what if one of Snow Whites drawfs looked a little like the devil himself? You got to run free through the park and loved every minute of it.

Fairy Tale Forest closed its doors in 2003. The front facade still stands, but behind it are a bunch of storage buildings. Yesterday, Joe and I took Leah to another local park. OK, it wasn’t quite as dilapidated as Fairy Tale Forest, but they did have some poor guy dressed up like Santa, sitting in a hot, dimly lit attic handing out cookie cutters. Leah loved it, and so did I.


13 Responses to “Remember when”

  1. 1 K. July 23, 2006 at 12:39 am

    I love parks like these! So few of them even exist anymore, but I have memories of a few from my childhood.

  2. 2 Elise July 23, 2006 at 1:16 am

    I remember a place like that when I was a kid…I am sure it not around anymore either, but this one looks pretty nice and quaint.

  3. 3 Connie July 23, 2006 at 2:00 am

    That’s the kind of place where memories are REALLY made. I had more fun in those kinds of places than the ‘upscale’ parks to be quite honest.

    Oh, and I can’t resist, poor bunnies!

  4. 4 Joannah July 23, 2006 at 2:49 am

    I can remember a couple places like this that my parents and grandparents took us to. Neither of them are around any longer. Now we have to pay the big bucks and go to Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm.

    The coolest place to visit, if you’re ever in Northern California, is Children’s Fairyland in Oakland. My aunt and uncle took us there when we were kids and it was so cool. As I grew older I almost thought that I must have imagined the place, because I couldn’t recall it’s name or where it was.

    Then, my best friend and her husband were living across the street from Merritt Lake in Oakland. She and I went over there for a walk and we stumbled across Children’s Fairyland! All those memories were validated as we stood there looking in. Unfortunately, we coudn’t enter and really enjoy it because you must be accompanied by a child. We were so bummed!

  5. 5 Glo July 23, 2006 at 3:37 am

    For us it was a little park similar to your pictures here called King’s castle. I loved to go there. it was gone though by the time I had kids of my own. But yes we have done the Disney world thing.

  6. 6 asiangarden July 23, 2006 at 4:04 am

    We have a park like this…called Story Land…and of course you saw my post about Santa’s Village…I just love ammusment parks!

  7. 7 Katie J July 23, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    I must admit, my parents took us to Cedar Point as a kid which, for lack of a better word was more “upscale”. However, there is a park called “Dutch Wonderland” fairly close to us that I’m guessing is similar to this one. Thanks for the pics!

  8. 8 Tammy July 23, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    We used to go to Lenape Park, probably similar to Fairy Tale Forest. As a kid we thought it was awesome – probably not a ride in that park could pass today’s inspections.

    Funny post! I can just picture the cobwebs & the evil dwarf.


  9. 9 Ann July 23, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    There was a place like that that my parents took me to in Maine when we lived there, it was Santa Clause Land, it was great. They would let reindeer run loose. I rode my first roller coaster there. Leah will have great memories from her trip.

  10. 10 Kim M. July 23, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Looks fun! We had a place here in Maryland just like that. It was called the Enchanted Forest. Boy I miss that place.

  11. 11 Nicole (the great) July 23, 2006 at 11:26 pm

    I think our Santa’s village looked a lot like that. But our’s was a little creepy for kids.

  12. 12 Juliet July 24, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Looks like something out of some creepy horror film. haha

  13. 13 Pendullum July 25, 2006 at 12:00 am

    Yes… I remember a whole slew of parks like the one you mentioned… and I too feel like a have to relive my past…
    But you gotta admit the wolf with little red riding hood looks pretty creepy… for that matter so does little red riding hood…

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