“Abandoned Enchanted Forest: A Tale of Decay”

Enchanted Forest Ellicott City Hansel and Gretel HouseThe badly decayed Hansel and Gretel Cottage at the abandoned Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City

The second oldest theme park in the US after Disneyland (at least, according to several sources such as the book “Maryland Legends: Folklore From the Old Line State”; it should be noted that some have suggested this source is incorrect and that Storytown, USA, Knott’s Berry Farm, or Frontier Town actually predate them both), the Enchanted Forest opened in 1955 with admissions of $1 for adults and 50¢. The 20 acre park expanded to 52 acres at its peak, when 300,000 visitors came annually, then back to 32 acres. According to its Wikipedia entry, “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.”

In 1988 the park closed and part of it was used to build the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center. In 1990 it was one of the prominent filming locations for the Johnny Depp movie “Cry Baby”. The Enchanted Forest reopened for a summer season in 1994 but then closed again; several attempts were made to reopen the park more permanently but none succeeded. For years most of the Enchanted Forest remained; the castle and drawbridge entrance topped by a smiling dragon still beckoned visitors to a park that had become overgrown and was filled with rotting plaster storybook figures. In 2005, shortly before I visited, a successful effort to save the figures and structures was mounted, and many were moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm nearby. As of 2015 – Enchanted Forest’s 60th anniversary – the last salvageable remnants of the park were moved to Clark’s, including the castle and dragon at the entrance, but Cinderella’s Castle and the Gingerbread House were destroyed, which is unsurprising as they were badly deteriorated when I visited nearly a decade earlier. Old King Cole still perches atop the shopping center’s sign, and a plaque with the history of the park will be put in place commemorating it. 

Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Park Entrance
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Gingerbread House
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Cinderella's Castle
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Cinderella's Castle Turret Door
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Turnstile
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Moat
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Concession Stand
Enchaned Forest (Ellicott City, MD) | Moldy Tent

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