Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fairy Tale Forest

Nostalgia struck me on a crisp morning. I had awoken extremely early with stomach upset and my husband thought some fresh air would do me good. So we went out for a drive and ended up exploring an abandoned children's park. This location, like Asbury Park, is special to me because I remember going there as a child in the late 1980's when it was open.

See? That's a wee Danni back in the late 80's. Fairy Tale Forest was a place of whimsy. Among it's tree shaded paths were small cottages, inside of which were life size dioramas depicting scenes from childhood fables and tales. Some cottages held things of wonder and others scared the pants off of me.

This big bad wolf caught me off guard and made me cry more than once!

Unfortunately, the simplicity of Fairy Tale Forest couldn't compete with modern technology and the likes of Six Flags. Children wanted roller coasters, tilt a whirls and video games, things which Fairy Tale Forest lacked. It closed it's gates in 2003, less than 50 years after it was built by German immigrant Paul Woehle, Sr. and his two sons.

Most of the Fairy Tale Forest's 8 acres have been bulldozed and turned into self storage units. When we went I was expecting little more than a cottage and a broken statue or two, but the town center of a childhood memory survives, tucked back in the woods.

It's heartbreaking for me to watch the pleasures of simpler days where the imaginations of children could be easily stoked and there was less need for instant gratification, thrills and grand expense go the way of the dodo. But, New Jersey's motto whenever something of greater value to its residents than its developer is being destroyed seems to be "that's progress".



For more history and photos from 1980's and 2009, visit my Flickr set.


  1. We had a similar thing that we would stop at on family trips into northern California. It had animatronic fairy tale scenes that would activate with a key that kids would get when they entered. I have no idea if it is still open, but I would be heartbroken if I knew it had been torn down.

    1. Was there around 1973. Place looked run down and shabby even then. I found it corny, and my son, who was two at the time, really didn't like being there. There was something spooky about that place. It looked so surreal, and weird. I was happy to leave. In my opinion, it should of closed down alot sooner than it did.

  2. I had a place like that when I was a kid. It stands today but is less wondrous as it used to be. They don't keep it up the same and it'll probably be out of business soon. Sad...

  3. We have a few abandoned amusement parks like this in northeastern PA as well. It is so sad to see such nostaligia go by the wayside. I remember the inexpensive fun we used to have at these parks. The hand-dipped candy and carmel apples come to mind! Unfortunately, due to "progress" these local parks are gone and replaced with expensive overcrowded amusement-thrill ride parks with crappy expensive food.

  4. were too cute!!!


  5. Wow, this brings back memories. I am from Delaware and we used to visit a similar park, but I think it was in PA...I do remember the Old Lady in the Shoe. Yes, it is a shame there aren't more parks like these nowadays!

  6. Look how cute you were!!! I like looking back and forth at the old and new pictures! Neato!

  7. Its too bad that these things could'nt be moved to a different location and be salvaged. What a shame to see that bulldozer.

  8. Hi - I just found a You Tube video of The Enchanted Forest in Rhode Island - abondoned and all overgrown - I used to take my two little boys there every week! The park had a fairy tale theme as well, kiddie rides and a petting zoo that my sons loved! We moved to VA in 97 and my boys are now grown. I am very sad it is no longer in business. I have lots of photos from there too. If I win the lottery I will open it back up again! :)

  9. this park, fairytale forest my be reopening some time in the spring of 2013
    check for a website in the near future


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.