Enchanted Forest Comes Back to Life at Clark’s Elioak Farm
As a child, Martha Clark visited the Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City, Md., at least once a year — but she would have gone more often if she had her childhood wishes. “I always wanted to have a birthday party there but my birthday was in December,” said Clark.
The Enchanted Forest opened in 1955. At that time, admission was $1 for adults and 50¢ for children. When the Enchanted Forest first opened, the park featured fairy tale buildings and characters, but no mechanical rides originally. Track rides were added later, including an “Alice in Wonderland” ride with teacup-shaped cars, and a Cinderella’s castle ride with mice for the cars.
As the years went by and the park closed — partially in the 1980s and for the final time in 1995 — Clark realized that, for many people, visiting the Enchanted Forest was an important childhood memory.
In the summer of 2004, Clark obtained a Cinderella pumpkin Coach from Kimco Realty Group, owner of the land, and displayed it at the farm. Seeing the delighted reaction from both parents and children, Clark decided to rescue the other items, which were sitting undisturbed but neglected behind a fence. Kimco agreed to give Clark the items as long as she made every effort to remove all of the items from the park, so she began the process of moving the items to the petting farm and restoring them to their former glory.
Now, as the fairy tale-themed structures continue to be moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm, Clark is gratified by the response she hears from visitors. “I get the biggest kick out of talking to people and hearing their stories about visiting the Enchanted Forest.”
On Aug. 15-16, Clark’s Elioak Farm will host an Enchanted Forest 60th birthday party. Along with family-friendly activities, the event will feature a book signing for “The Enchanted Forest: Memories of Maryland’s Storybook Park” by Clark, who is one of the authors, along with Janet Kusterer.
The same weekend, the farm will also host the Eighth Annual Enchanted Forest Employees Reunion. “This whole weekend is a wonderful opportunity to get to know a wonderful group of people and bring them all together in a happy place where they can see all the Enchanted Forest again,” said Clark.
An Enchanted Social Media Network
Keith Kridenoff noticed that there were a few Facebook groups for fans of the Enchanted Forest — but none dedicated to collecting stories from people who worked there. So he started one — “Enchanted Forest Behind the Scenes” — in February 2015, and it took off quickly. “We are now at almost 1,800 members and many former employees,” he said.
Clark invited Kridenoff to be on the 60th birthday planning committee. Kridenoff has since created a 16-page handout for this year’s reunion with stories from people who worked at the park in the 1950s to its last year of operation.
“People have uploaded more than 1,000 pictures of the park from over the years,” he said. “People in the group are constantly thanking Martha for all the work she put into preserving our memories and I am honored to be a part of it.”
‘A Personal Thing’
Before the park closed, Norman Cavey created a video in 1987, filming each building and ride. He transferred the video to a DVD and now sells copies, drawing interest from many former employees.
But he first shot the video because he wanted to preserve his memories of a family that worked together at a park that would become a huge part of their collective history. “It was a personal thing. It sat on a shelf for eight or nine years before anybody else saw it.”
Cavey will attend the employee reunion this year, flying from Florida where he works at the Magic Kingdom theme park. “My mother was the first person to work at the (Enchanted Forest) lighthouse when they built it, and she worked there for 25 years,” he said. “My mother, my uncle, my cousins — maybe 10 of my cousins worked there at one time.”
Now, as he attends the annual employee reunion, he said he’s happy to see the original items from the Enchanted Forest brought back to life at Clark’s Elioak Farm. “They did an excellent job of it,” he said. “They put them back to the state that they were intended to be.”
Captions for photos:
A replica of an Enchanted Forest castle greets people at the entrance of Clark’s Elioak Farm.
The teacup ride was a popular attraction.
Walking through the Forest Maze at Clark’s Elioak Farm brings back childhood memories of the Enchanted Forest.