The weekend of August 15-16 was a tough choice because of two scheduled events that I was interested in. Since I had a scheduling conflict on the 16th with the watercolor workshop at Makerspace 125, the 15th was the only day I could do something fun and I had to choose. One was the annual Intervention Con in Rockville. The other was the 60th anniversary of the day that the Enchanted Forest amusement park opened its doors to the public, which would be held at Clark’s Elioak Farm (which houses most of the attractions that were once at the Enchanted Forest, which has long been since closed and a shopping center now stands in the amusement park’s former location).
There were two factors that helped me make my decision. One was that I attended Intervention Con for one day in 2013 and all three days in 2014 (see Day One, Day Two, and Day Three). I looked at this year’s schedule and I found that they were repeating some of the same panels I went to last year and I wasn’t really interested in the other panels and events that I was less familiar with. As for the Enchanted Forest celebration, this year is the 60th anniversary, which is a milestone. I still have fond memories of when my parents used to take me there as a child. And I liked what Clark’s Elioak Farm did with the old attractions. So I chose the Enchanted Forest anniversary event instead.
The only downside of my decision is that it was the usual hot and humid weather that permeates August in the Mid Atlantic Region. (In contrast, Intervention Con is held inside an air conditioned hotel.) I later learned that the temperature reached a high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I made the best of the situation despite the hot weather.
It turned out that there was more to this celebration than just the 60th anniversary of the Enchanted Forest. Earlier this year I read that Kimco was prepared to get rid of the last vestiges of the old Enchanted Forest amusement park that still reside around the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center. (Yes, the theme park is now a suburban shopping center.) Last October I took this photo of the shopping center. Old King Cole continues to point the way to what is now the shopping center. Directly behind the sign is the Enchanted Forest storybook sign. Right next to that is the castle that was both an entrance and a gift shop.
Here’s a closer view of the castle, along with the lute-playing dragon on top, in its original location.
I managed to get a telephoto shot of the Gingerbread House that was behind the shopping center.
The only shot I didn’t get from that prior trip was Cinderella’s Castle mainly because it was placed so far into the property that I would’ve had to risk arrest for trespassing in order to photograph it.
Basically the castle and storybook sign were moved to Clark’s Elioak Farm while the Gingerbread House and Cinderella’s Castle were completely razed. (The two buildings were too big to move to the farm and both structures had rotted so much that the shopping center’s owners felt that they had become a liability.) These days Old King Cole with his finger pointing now remains the only reminder of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center’s theme park past.
Even though I left for Clark’s Elioak Farm early in the morning, the parking lot was already filling up to the point where I had to go to the overflow lot. When I arrived I saw that there were not one, but two castles.
This castle is a replica of both the original castle and the lute playing dragon. Rapunzel standing on the balcony is the only one that came from the original castle. Like the original this one also serves as a combination entrance and gift shop.
When I entered through the replica castle, I noticed that a few new items had been added near the ceiling.
Both the original castle and the storybook sign had been moved to the entrance of the pine maze (where some of the Enchanted Forest attractions are located).
This is definitely a contrast to what the entrance to the pine maze used to look like. (I originally took this photograph in 2013.)
This next photo shows a panoramic view of the storybook sign, the original castle that now serves as the entrance to the pine maze, and the castle replica that serves as the entrance to the entire farm. You can also see the crowd that had gathered to a formal ceremony celebrating the move of the latest items to the farm.
Here’s a closeup of the storybook sign.
Here’s a close-up of the castle. The door entrance to the maze was blocked by a ribbon. A portion of one of the castle turrets was covered as well.
The ceremony began at noon. The speeches and proclamations from local officials were truncated because of the very hot and humid weather and the fact that the ceremony took place in full sun. The next few photos show the ribbon cutting ceremony at the entrance to the pine maze.
Then there was a second unveiling of the one area of the castle turret that was covered.
I thought the figure under the cloth would be another Rapunzel. But I was surprised to find someone else instead.
It’s Old King Cole standing at the turret. In a way it’s fitting that he’s there instead of Rapunzel since the original is still busy pointing the way to the shopping center.
There was one more unveiling that needed to be done. There was another sign that had been hidden. It was unveiled to reveal a sign announcing the arrival of dinosaurs to the pine maze next month.
Once the ceremony ended, many people stepped through the entrance into the pine maze. Here are a couple of views of the castle from the back.
The pine maze was well shaded so it was a definite improvement over being directly in the hot sun. There was a mix of one or two new touches with the fairy tale attractions from the original Enchanted Forest. It’ll be interesting to see how the coming dinosaurs will be integrated into this.
Most of the anniversary-related activities took place in one of the barns where they served free slices of cake on a first-come, first served basis. I managed to snag this delicious slice of chocolate cake with white icing that had a digital image of what looked like the original Enchanted Forest castle. (Much of the cake had already been cut up by the time I arrived.)
Half of the barn space was devoted to an art show where local artists created their own versions of the Enchanted Forest in a variety of media. Most of the art was for sale.
The rest of the space was devoted to vintage artifacts from the original Enchanted Forest during its heyday.
There were even a few personal family photo albums on display, which showed various people of all ages enjoying the park.
There was a mini fair where local groups and vendors could set up canopies and either sell their wares or provide free information about a particular group. I purchased one item from one of the booths that I’ll write about at the end of this post.
There were a few special decorative touches throughout the farm just for this occasion.
There were entertainment for children, such as Anna and Elsa singing songs from their movie Frozen.
Mother Goose was on hand for some craft projects.
There were a few new items I noticed on the farm since my last visit last year. They were relatively minor compared to the arrival of the original castle and storybook but I still noticed them nonetheless.
This next photo shows what the landscape of Clark’s Elioak Farm looks like on a very hot and humid day with full sun.
I focused the bulk of this visit on the castle and storybook, the special dedication ceremony, and all the things in that one barn. I skipped the rest of the exhibits (including the petting zoo) because I began to feel overheated after two hours so I decided to leave. I didn’t feel too upset that I didn’t see half of the farm because I’ve seen them before on prior visits. I feel tempted to return for a visit in the fall after the dinosaurs arrive, when the weather will be much more pleasant and the leaves will turn into lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow. I would also be in a better frame of mind to visit the animals in the petting zoo.
I drove to the nearby Enchanted Forest Shopping Center where I ate lunch at this bagel place that’s located there. (I’ve eaten there last year and I really like the food.) I saw the empty spots where the castle and storybook used to be located. I didn’t take any pictures because I just couldn’t stand being out in the heat and humidity any longer. (At least the bagel place has air conditioning.) Additionally, someone announced during the dedication ceremony that there will be a special plaque commemorating the former location of the castle and storybook that will be placed there within a few weeks. So I have a reason to make another trip to the shopping center in addition to Clark’s Elioak Farm sometime in either September or October.
I purchased this gingerbread man from one of the vendor booths at Clark’s Elioak Farm. The cookie crumbled in transit but it still tasted very good. It was made by a local baker called Touché Touchet, which is located in nearby Columbia.
UPDATE (August 27, 2015): Just one day after I posted this one, I found an interesting story in Smithsonian magazine about both the Enchanted Forest and the moving and preservation that was done at Clark’s Elioak Farm. That link also includes a bunch of photos that includes vintage photos of the original amusement park, the attractions that were in various states of decay prior to the move to the farm, and what the attractions now look like in their current location.