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!


Major Pepperidge said...

I love these little regional parks. It seems that in the mid-1950s, amusement parks were either fairy tale themed, or western themed. SO MANY of them! I'm glad to hear that Story Book Forest is still with us, kind of a miracle considering how many of them have just petered out.

Andrew, I've said it again, but even though I don't comment as much as I should, I really love your blog!

Andrew said...

There are still a handful of these parks around (another popular theme was Christmas), yet they've all adapted in some way to survive, like Story Book Forest being combined with Idlewild to create one large children's park. But the best collection of surviving storybook parks is definitely in upstate New York. Thanks for the comment, Major!

"Lou and Sue" said...

My favorite is the crooked man with a crooked little house...as it reminds me of the 45 record I had of that song, as a little kid. "And they all lived together in a crooked little house...."

Andrew, you mentioned you don't know what happened to the Three Men in a Tub. Have you checked with Mike Cozart? ;o)

Thanks for another fun post!

Andrew said...

I think the Crooked House is a lot of people's favorite, Sue. They play a version of that song you mention, and it's pretty great! I guess I'll start with Mike Cozart in trying to find the Three Men in a Tub. ;-) I've located where a lot of Idlewild relics are today, but that one has always made me wonder.

Melissa said...

How charming! And while it may have lost some of its former glory, it's heartening to know it's still plugging along!

TokyoMagic! said...

Awwww! As Melissa said, it's so nice to know that a neat vintage attraction like this, still exists. Now go find those three men in a tub! And that giant mushroom!

Andrew said...

Melissa and TokyoMagic!, I'm really glad that it and the rest of Idlewild are still here, too. And I found the mushroom in my neighbor's backyard yesterday.