Sunday, January 16, 2022

Vintage Story Book Forest Postcards

I have a collection of postcards from Story Book Forest in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and I thought it would be fun to compare them with modern photos. A time capsule to the past, this attraction has survived to the present day. Opened in 1956, it originally was a stand-alone walkthrough but was operated by the same family who owned the adjacent Idlewild amusement park. Merged with Idlewild in 1983, Story Book Forest continues today as a classic example of a roadside storybook park.
Story Book Forest remains largely the same as when it opened. Once commonplace, storybook parks which opened in the 1950s and 60s were all built around simple displays in a forested setting.
I love the entrance to Story Book Forest. The original artwork was maintained for years, but it was sadly replaced with an ugly re-skin a few years ago.
You see Mother Goose once you enter the book before entering the peaceful woods. The park tries to keep up with painting the buildings, but you'll see that some displays are showing their age after 65 years.
The Little Red Schoolhouse is the first building you see. Inside are desks, a chalkboard, and a figure with a "dunce" cap.
Here's the exterior of the schoolhouse today!
The Crooked Man's House is one of Story Book Forest's most memorable displays.
The floor inside is level, but the furniture is all crooked.
You can see the Crooked Man standing outside the house in the postcard, but now he's resting in the back.
The Jolly Old Miller's house was a snack bar for years, but now it just serves as decoration.
These little footbridges aren't as detailed as they used to be, but the flowers were recently painted back on. It's the thought that counts!
The Frog Prince is gone now, so RIP giant mushroom.
The focal point of Story Book Forest is a lagoon with a windmill on an island.
There used to be fountains in the lake, and as you can see, they're very missed!
I don't know what happened to the Three Men in a Tub.
The Good Ship Lollipop whistles "Sailing, Sailing..." it'll stick with you forever!
I think the once-picturesque lagoon is becoming a swamp!
The Three Bears' House has been upgraded since this postcard. I didn't even know that this small house existed previously.
This structure was originally a restroom building themed to Hansel and Gretel. Now, it's Gepetto's Workshop.
Lastly is this view of Story Book Forest's long-lost castle. During an expansion of the adjacent highway, it had to be removed.
We're only halfway through. Look for part two next month!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Conneaut Lake Park - Requiem

I did a post almost exactly a year ago about Conneaut Lake Park. I must have jinxed it, as one unsuccessful season later, the park has become a shell of its former self. I saw the park's demise coming for months, but still, the loss hurts immensely. Conneaut had seemingly been on the upswing before 2020, but a year-long closure hurt the park to the point it needed to be sold in whole for it to survive. The person who bought has failed to recognize its potential as a historic amusement park, and with the exception of a few rides, everything that made Conneaut Lake special has been removed. Here are some photos of my family's visits from 2013-2019 in remembrance of the amusement park that has finally run out of its nine lives. 

This is the entrance. Free admission, free parking... ride all day, $10
I did a lights-on tour of the Devil's Den darkride in 2018. This 1968-built ride still stands at the park, its future uncertain.
The beloved Tumble Bug is missed by me more than anything else. At least Kennywood still has its Turtle.
During our first few visits, there were perhaps less than 100 people in the park. That was a very bad thing. The park avoided a sheriff's sale by declaring bankruptcy in 2014 and was finally beginning to turn a profit again (though some inside reports say otherwise). However, important bankruptcy payments and all positive momentum were halted in 2020.
My longtime Blogger avatar was me in the back seat of the Blue Streak.
Sadly, this unique, 1938-built coaster has now been demolished.

After surviving an auction in the 1990s, fires that destroyed major buildings in 2008 and 2013, and complete closures in 2007 and 2008, the park couldn't survive a ruthless Philadelphia developer who said he was going to "save" the park and instead tore most of it down. I wrote this in 2019: 
The quiet of this wooded amusement park feels strangely serene, with the peculiar silence only interrupted by the roar of a roller coaster in the distance and the music of a carousel organ. Just beyond this scene is one of the largest lakes in Pennsylvania. If you look beyond these things, however, you get closer to the story of Conneaut Lake Park. Tree roots are fighting to escape from the aged pavement of the midway, and more than a few of the buildings look desperately in need of a coat of paint. In the end, thoughts of visitors to this scene can range from regret to nostalgia, but with a little time, you will realize that there is still lots of fun to be had – even at such an aged amusement park.                 

That's it. Welcome to 2022.

Maybe I'll put up a happier post next Sunday.