Saturday, April 07, 2018

Enchanted Forest, Maryland - July 1959

Today I am presenting a selection of photos from "Enchanted Forest" - a defunct amusement park in Ellicott City, Maryland. These are from 1959, when the park was only four years old - it had debuted in August of 1955, just a month after Disneyland opened.

I love this shot of the parking lot and entrance; a plump king (King Midas? Old King Cole? Mattress King?) points the way to a day of happiness. Look at those beauteous cars!

Here is a 1985 photo from Wikipedia - it looks just the same as it did in 1959!

How about an antique auto ride for the kids? The tires are dirty, and the cars are on a track, so I assume that they actually were drivable. As for the rest of the park, Wikipedia says: 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.

Humpty Dumpty, you fool! Just look at that naughty expression; it was only a matter of time before he was going to get into trouble. Some eggs are their own worst enemies.

I think it is interesting that... "Unlike many other attractions of the time, the Enchanted Forest was integrated from the day it opened". Pretty progressive for 1955.

Papa Bear enjoys a fragrant pipe just before dinner, especially when dinner consists of "crunchy child". In the background, three men in a tub. 

More from Wikipedia: Admission cost one dollar for adults and fifty cents for children. The park expanded from 20 acres (81,000 m2) to 52 acres (210,000 m2). At its peak, the Enchanted Forest welcomed 300,000 children per summer season.

The crooked man and his crooked house are always good for a photo op. Never mind the giant and the beanstalk in the distance - it's just business as usual in the Enchanted Forest.

Apparently a scene from John Waters' "Cry-Baby" (showing the entrance) was filmed here, which makes sense, as Waters was based in Baltimore.

Jack and Jill want to be known for their excellent grooming, posture, and perfect school attendance, but all anybody cares about is that they fell down a hill.  

As is often the case with these charming old parks, Enchanted Forest closed forever (in 1995). Attempts to preserve what was left of the structures were not very successful - only a "cinder block castle" (was that the castle seen in photo #1?) was moved and saved, while everything else was demolished.


K. Martinez said...

I didn't realize Enchanted Forest appeared in John Waters "Cry-Baby". The "Tilted Acres" amusement park segment was filmed in Dorney Park, Pennsylvania if I remember correctly. I'll have to watch it again.

Love the Jack and Jill scene. The whole park is reminiscent of the times I spent at Children's Fairyland in Oakland as a small child. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...


Oh, for the days when these wonderful little parks dotted the landscape. They had so much charm and simplicity. And our little miss in her pink dress along with pink framed-? glasses, seems to be enjoying it all - even that smarmy-looking Papa Bear.

Now - as for those cars... It looks like the family is disembarking from a 1957 Plymouth. Behind it we seem to have a two-toned 1955 Pontiac. Then behind it is a green & white 1955 Plymouth. Then the car with the doors open is either a 1952 or '53 Cadillac. Then an obscured vehicle. But behind it is a green 1953 Chevrolet. And I think pulling up the rear is a 1959 Chevrolet station wagon.

Then, parked in front of the castle is a 1953 Pontiac 'tin' woodie station wagon, which is sitting next to a two-toned 1957 Plymouth.

Coming-up on our right, that black car just isn't doing it for me - although it should. Next to it is a green & white 1952, or '53, or '54 Ford. Then the blue & white Ford is a 1959 model. Then a red & white 1953 Chevrolet. And finally, its rear-end just jutting into frame, is a 1958 Pontiac Chieftan-!

And as for that "king" - I think it's actually 'Paul the King of Big Screen'-!

Thanks, Major, for this wonderful look-back at The Enchanted Forest.

Anonymous said...

Actually, looks like this park had a happy ending after all:

Scott Lane said...

When I saw that first picture I thought it might be Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Twp, NJ. Similar in theme and content (right down to the castle out front) It is, however, still open (seasonally) and doing well.

Patrick Devlin said...

Cool, vintage and heart-warmingly nostalgic Major. Thanks for the time and effort.

I can remember a few places kind of like this but perhaps not so elaborate between San Diego and regions North and East. Maybe it's time for some research...

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, according to Wikipedia, only a brief scene at the entrance was used in “Cry Baby”, while shots from inside the amusement park were filmed at Hershey Park.

Nanook, I knew you’d have a field day with those cars! I think I like the 1955 Plymouth. Thanks for the IDs!

Anon, well, so much for my researching skills!

Scott Lane, the park might have been hard to ID without the presence of several signs to help - there were a LOT of similar places in the 50’s.

Patrick Devlin, this is definitely the sort of place that parents would swarm with their young kids. I was recently in Travel Town in Griffith Park, and you would not believe the number of people who showed up just to ride the miniatures trains.

Jonathan said...

Oh the heady days of small Mom and Pop parks. This was a time when people wanted please families. Obviously it wasn't all about the money. The little girl personifies a very happy child, glad to see her childhood fairy tales come to life. I love these little parks because it wasn't all about the thrill, but creating a small world children could get lost in. Great pix, and thank you Major for keeping the small wonderlands alive.

Anonymous said...

Rotary Storyland is still in Roeding Park in Fresno,

The neighborhood around the park has decayed and is no longer suitable for carefree strolls or picnic, but the Zoo traffic keeps the feral population at bay in that corner.

It's sad to see childhood haunts destroyed or corrupted by neglect.

Thanks for the post, Major.


Anonymous said...

Crybaby had extensive footage of Cinderella's Castle in the park