Enchanted Forest (Maryland)

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Enchanted Forest
Location Howard County, Maryland
Coordinates 39°16′49″N 76°51′24″W / 39.28028°N 76.85667°W / 39.28028; -76.85667Coordinates: 39°16′49″N 76°51′24″W / 39.28028°N 76.85667°W / 39.28028; -76.85667
Theme nursery rhymes and fairy tales
Opened August 15, 1955
Closed 1995
Operating season summer
Visitors per annum 300,000
Area 52 acres (210,000 m2)
Entrance to Enchanted Forest Amusement Park in 1987
The Sliding Board in 1987

The Enchanted Forest is a now-closed theme park in Ellicott City, Maryland, on U.S. Route 40 (Baltimore National Pike) near the intersection with Bethany Lane. Other theme parks with the same name have since opened elsewhere.

History[edit]

The Enchanted Forest officially opened on August 15, 1955, following a preview party the afternoon before — one month after Disneyland Park's opening. Appealing mostly to families with small children, the park had a nursery rhyme theme. The park featured fairy tale buildings and characters, but no mechanical rides originally. Track rides were added later, including the Alice in Wonderland ride with teacup-shaped cars, a Cinderella's castle ride with mice for the cars, the "Little Toot" boat that took children to Mount Vesuvius for giant slides, and the Jungleland Safari which was driven by open Land Rover-type vehicles. Children's birthday parties were often held in the picnic areas among the attractions; many local teenagers worked as ticket-takers at the park. Unlike many other attractions of the time, the Enchanted Forest was integrated from the day it opened.[1]

Admission was one dollar for adults and fifty cents for children. At opening, the park was 20 acres (81,000 m2), but it later expanded to 52 acres (210,000 m2). At the height of its popularity, the Enchanted Forest welcomed 300,000 children per summer season. After its original owners, the Harrison family, sold the park for $4.5 million to JHP Development in 1988, the park closed for the first time in 1989. After turning more than half the land (primarily the parking lots) into the Safeway-anchored Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in 1992, JHP Development reopened the park for the 1994 summer season, predominantly for children's birthday parties.

Willie the Whale in 1972

The park was permanently shuttered from 1995 to 2005, when active preservation began. Much of the theme park sat undisturbed yet neglected behind a chain-link fence. On June 30, 1998, the post office opened the Enchanted Forest branch onsite.[2] In 1999, the Friends of the Enchanted Forest was formed with the goal of reopening the park and then in 2003 the Enchanted Forest Preservation Society was formed with the long-term goal of reviving the Enchanted Forest.[3] Their work focused on preventing the artifacts from being lost forever.

The owner of the land, Kimco Realty Group, agreed in 2004 to allow most of the fairy tale structures and figures to be moved to nearby Clark's Elioak Farm for display and preservation. Moving and restoration began in 2005. Contributions were still being welcomed in 2011, although many of the exhibits had been restored and returned to service at the farm. In 2013, the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning approved Kimco to build a bank next to the castle site and wetlands by rerouting the stream that ran around the base.[4]

Appearances in popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Amoss, Marianne (December 2007). "Storybook Ending". The Urbanite Magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-14. : "Unlike Baltimore’s popular streetcar amusement parks—Gwynn Oak, Carlin’s Park, and Bay Shore—the Enchanted Forest was integrated from the beginning."
  2. ^ "Checklist of Maryland Post Offices". Smithsonian National Postal Musuem. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Enchanted Forest Preservation Society
  4. ^ Yeager, Amanda (5 November 2013). "New construction on site of Enchanted Forest". The Baltimore Sun. 

External links[edit]