Fairy Tale Forest



Along small highways in the northeast lurks the detritus of less demanding times: amusement parks so quiet and simple that they would never have been financed (much less built) after the early 1960s.

One is Fairy Tale Forest, just off Route 23 in Oak Ridge, NJ. Built in 1957, it exists in its own special warp on the time-space continuum. Don't go looking for rides, high excitement or otherwise; there are only two, and they're designed for toddlers. Instead, the place is a wooded showcase of miniature buildings featuring tableaux of well-known tales (Snow White, Rapunzel, the Three Little Pigs and their ilk) and a lot of inscrutable choices as well. The circus exhibit, for example, features a ringmaster who most resembles Tony Curtis in "Spartacus." Eyelashes and all.

Everything's built at kid level, of course, so overgrown children have to squat or bend to peer into windows.

Signs are posted high, though, and they're a continuing source of delight, for reasons the painter probably didn't intend. (Watch where you hufe, buddy!)

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
had a wife ... that looks
suspiciously like a mannequin
of an adolescent girl.

Here's her cozy lil' home.

And here a few littler homes -- Lilliputian, even -- endangered by the mighty footsteps of Gulliver. While I was viewing this (and pondering how Jonathan Swift's book might defensibly be classified as a fairy tale), the air was filled with the recorded voice of a male storyteller blessed with an accent very much like Groucho's.

Speaking of stretching the fairy tale concept:

Robin Hood, Little John and Friar Tuck hang out in a corral.

What's this? A Christmas Village? With Santa playing the organ in his "retreat" while elves make toys and wrap presents nearby? And another white-bearded gent in a ranger's outfit feeds the animals of the forest? (It couldn't have been intended as anything other than Santa; maybe two Santa figures a few yards apart confused and concerned tiny brains.) Right next to the atomic-sized, super-elongated snowman statue is a small chapel with a creche on the altar -- and a loudspeaker that plays Christmas carols, loudly, even in the dead of summer.

I am not making this up.

Here comes Peter Cottontail!

Either he multiplied like rabbits, or someone must have really liked him, because --  just look:

The place rents out the dining room ("Hot Diggity"), complete with throne, for birthday parties. Temptation crooks its seductive index finger!
2013 addendum: Fairy Tale Forest closed in 2003. It periodically shows signs of renovation. To be continued...

Text and photos copyright Kathy Biehl 1999. All rights reserved.

To Houston weird tour.
To The Shoe House.
To The Big Duck.
To The Galleon.
To Lucy the Elephant.
To Jugg City, USA.
Back to the Cafe.

It's a skunk! It's a squirrel! It's a chipmunk! It's even a - a - whatever, on the green of a miniature golf course a couple of miles away! (Lower right)