Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pt. 2, or Story Book Forest of Idlewild

It started because--when I was a very little girl--my mom took me to a fairy-tale- or nursery-rhyme-themed park. Beyond loving it, I don't really remember anything about it except wearing a plastic key around my neck that I could somehow insert into various structures, causing them to recite parts of  stories or rhymes.

I wanted that experience for my little girls.

My mom isn't sure which park we visited, but--as it turns out--there were several fairy-tale parks within a reasonable driving distance of my first, childhood home (Greencastle, Pennsylvania). At this point, most of them are defunct, but I learned: Story Book Forest, which opened in 1956, remains open as part of the amusement park Idlewild in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

Idlewild also offers, in a separate part of the park, a trolley ride through Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe. Suffice it to say, when Jim suggested we go away for a few days, I was quick to suggest Idlewild.

Jim loved the Story Book Forest part of the park as much as I. He was especially impressed by the live characters; we met Mother Goose, Snow White, the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, and some friends on the Good Ship Lollipop. There were live animals here and there, too: the Billy Goats Gruff; Hickety Pickety, My Red Hen; and Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit. The fiberglass and concrete structures were amazing, and our little girls--whose favorite stories and rhymes were coming to life right before their eyes--were so excited!

I took a ton of photos, but here are some of my favorites. (You'll notice an absence of boys; they took a cell phone and waterproof watch and struck out for SoakZone, in a different part of the park.)

Entrance to Story Book Forest

Papa and Baby Bear

Jim's Favorite: Jack and the Beanstalk

My Favorite: Peter Peter's Pumpkin. I want one of these in our back yard!!!

The Little Engine That Could

Wolf Dressed Up Like Grandma, Waiting for Red Riding Hood

Rock-a-Bye Baby

Humpty Dumpty

I'll finish telling you about Idlewild in my next post, but bottom line: Story Book Forest was such a magical experience for Clementine and Charleigh...and for their parents, too. I love my husband even more, having watched him enjoy it with all of his great-big heart! If you're looking for perfectly-mown lawns and perfectly-painted structures, Story Book Forest isn't going to rock your world. If you have big kids, you might want to skip it. There are no moving rides in this part of the park, so if you're looking for that, this isn't the place for you.

Story Book Forest is old school: heart, imagination. We can hardly wait to go back.

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