Thursday, June 8, 2017

Summer Bucket List ~ Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest (1) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Adventures two days in a row!

We hadn’t been to Enchanted Forest for eight years! This little gem (you are either in the love it camp or the hate it camp) is just over 15 minutes from our house.

It was homeschool day, so we enjoyed half-price admission. We arrived early, were the first in the park, and practically had the place to ourselves for a while. It got busier in the afternoon, but was still fairly empty. The weather was in the 70s. Perfection again.

You can learn about the family that built this park by hand in the late 60s (it’s a fascinating story). It opened in 1971, a few years before I was born. I visited it several times as a kid and have fond memories. Visiting as an adult is incredibly nostalgic. Our kids (Holly and Ivy joined us) had an absolute blast. Only Luke was ready to leave after more than four hours of play.

The theme park is built into a forested hill, so many of the pathways are rather steep. My legs were tired at the end, even with all our previous hiking.

Even with all the real foliage, the park is kept neat and clean. There is great attention to detail (the notice boards and various signage are hilarious, the garbage cans are either themed or cleverly hidden). Yes, some of the displays are obviously vintage which means they are kitschy or aged (and fighting against moisture and other natural elements). Roll with it. [grin] In general, the park is well-maintained, however, and we were surprised at how perfectly aged some things appeared (moss and ivy on everything, but trimmed and structurally sound).

Here is a map for reference.

Let’s begin in Storybook Lane with Snow White’s Castle.

Enchanted Forest (2) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It’s difficult to take pictures inside most of the structures because the lighting is low. Most contain window vignettes and animatronics. Music and voices come through speakers for ambiance. Many of the structures have narrow passages made of cement. In the castle, you can walk through a few narrow passages and walk down to the dungeon.

Along the lane are little storybook and nursery rhyme displays. Jack and Jill. Miss Muffet. Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater. The Gingerbread House (you can walk in that one and see the witch with Hansel and Gretel).

Crawl through the rabbit hole (it’s a rather long tunnel that goes under the pathway and comes out through a keyhole on the other side).

Enchanted Forest (3) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Then the cottage of the seven dwarves. Through the lower window you can see Snow White sweeping the floor.

Enchanted Forest (6) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Through the upper window you can see the beds of the seven dwarves.

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The forest has grown around and in a canopy over the path.

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The cabin of the three bears.

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If you climb the steps, you can see Goldilocks sleeping upstairs.

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The dwarves’ mine is my favorite. Walk through narrow cement passages to view otherworldly “underground caves” with fountains of vividly blacklit colored water. The last scene shows the dwarves mining for gems.

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Climb into the witch’s mouth, tunnel up through the passages and use the slide to exit from the side (the smallest of three fun slides in the park).

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It’s a strange sensation to walk through the Crooked Man’s House.

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I missed getting a picture of the Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe slide. It’s the best. I think Lola went down it about 20 times.

Enchanted Forest (13) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After Storybook Lane, head up to the Mining/Western Town.

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The displays here are hilarious. Jail, Barber, Dentist… you have to read all the signs.

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The Haunted House is nearby. [It costs extra and the kids enjoyed it without me.]

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After the Mining Town is Fort Fearless. Climb up into the fort and exit by way of the curved slide. But, the best attraction in the park is the Indian Caves. You cannot tell from the pictures, but it is a network of cement passages and tunnels that provide hours of play (and, indeed, is where my kids spent a good portion of the day). Go high and peek out the skull’s eyes, or go low and tunnel across the main path, exiting from a hole in the middle of a teepee on the other side. The passages are either poorly lit or completely dark, so it’s quite the adventure. Lots of screaming.

Enchanted Forest (16) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Above the Mining Town is the Big Timber Log Ride [also costs extra and we didn’t ride because we didn’t want to get wet].

Enchanted Forest (20) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Higher still is the ampitheater with covered stage. Slapstick comedy storybook plays are featured here twice a day. We watched Snow White and the Seven Dorks. [Kiddie rides are at the end of the trail past the theater. We didn’t spend time there.]

Enchanted Forest (21) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Before entering the Old European Village, enter the challet to ride the Ice Mountain Bobsleds [costs extra, but we all rode (except Levi) because it’s a nostalgic imperative].

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And, finally, the Old European Village.

Enchanted Forest (17) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Another ride is featured here (an inside, slow-moving interactive target-shooting ride called Challenge of Mondor), but we didn’t go on it. We wandered through Pinoccio’s Playhouse, watched the animatronic Blackbird Pie show, and enjoyed (as always) the Fantasy Fountains water and light show at the Jolly Roger Inn.

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I think Enchanted Forest may be Levi’s new favorite place on earth. Yes, he is an overgrown kid.

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I originally thought this was a good time to permanently mark Enchanted Forest off the bucket list since the kids are all at the perfect ages now, but I think we may have to go every year on homeschool day!


Jill Foley said...

I've never heard of this place but I want to take my kids. Is it generally pretty crowded?

Heidi said...

Jill~ I hadn't been there for a long time, so I'm not sure what the crowds are usually like. You're definitely better off going on a weekday and starting right when they open if possible.

Mia White said...

Too funny-- I'm convinced we must be neighbors! We were just there recently again, too, after a long break. It's such a Willamette Valley icon! I'm impressed your kids did the Haunted House. ;)

Heidi said...

Mia~ How fun! We must be neighbors! :) We're about 15-20 minutes south of Enchanted Forest.

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