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Lost Theme Parks: The Enchanted Forest – Ellicott City, MD

in Theme Parks

Nursery rhymes and fairy tales brought magic and wonder to Maryland’s “Enchanted Forest” when it opened on August 15, 1955.

Featuring fairytale inspired structures and nursery rhyme characters; the park was designed to appeal to families with young children.  The 20 acre amusement park did not have mechanical rides at the time it opened.  Picnic areas were a popular place for parties celebrating children’s birthdays.  Admission, then, was one dollar for adults and half that for children.

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Added later, were rides like Alice in Wonderland (with tea cup shaped cars), Jungleland Safari, Cinderella’s Castle (with mice shaped ride vehicles) and a boat trip to an area with various slides. The Enchanted Forest would work its magic, uninterrupted for thirty-four years.

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Before it was sold in 1988, the park had more than doubled its footprint (52 acres) and was seeing an average summer attendance of 300,000 visitors for the summer time operations.  The new owners, JHP Development closed the park the following year.  It was not until they had converted much of the parking area into a shopping center that the park would see visitors again.  After that construction was complete, the park was re-opened for one summer season in 1994, and would close permanently in 1995.

For a decade the park remained shuttered.  In 2003 a non-profit preservation group was formed to try to save the iconic fairy tale structures.  They were given permission by the owners of the land (then Kimco Realty) to move the historic items in 2004.

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The next year Clark’s Elioak Farm started seeing several structures moved and restored on their site.  For the next six years many of the Enchanted Forrest’s elements were brought to the farm owned by Martha Clark.  It was not an easy task, as some structures, like the Old Woman’s Shoe, stood over 20 feet tall and weighed 30,000 pounds. The last building, the Castle entrance structure and dragon, was relocated in 2015.  Sadly both the Gingerbread house and Cinderella’s Castle were destroyed.  The total cost for this transfer and restoration was estimated to be around half a million dollars.

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Most (some say all) of the original Enchanted Forest features can still be enjoyed at the Clark’s farm.

Do you have a memory of visiting the Enchanted Forest?  Weave your tale of magic and wonder in the comments below.

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Images and Source: Wikipedia, Howard County MD News, Smithsonian.com

6 Comments

  1. Ellicott City Native

    Ellicott City has two “t”s not one (as it’s spelled in the title). Thanks for featuring this gem!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Fixed. Thanks!

  2. Bill

    I never got to visit this park back in the day, but my family makes it there at least once a year. A few times we’ve even had our daughter’s birthday parties there. The buildings and figures have been beautifully restored and while there are no amusement park rides, adding this to the farm makes for a great mix for the kids. They get to experience all these old buildings and scenes while seeing all the farm animals and going on the hay ride. We love it there.

  3. ChnnaBlue

    I’ve never been there, but I remember seeing it in John Waters’ movie Cry-Baby. Here’s a part of the scene filmed there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDYSsntMVsQ. I’m glad to see they restored and moved some of the pieces.

  4. Kim

    I went there many times when I was a little girl! Loved it!!

  5. Bruce Jackson

    Yes, Mom would load us up (six of us) into the ’62 Ford station wagon and take us there for the day. There was lots to see and I enjoyed climbing on everything.

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