Fairy Tale Forest was once a popular amusement park in Oak Ridge, New Jersey. It was built in 1957, by German immigrant Paul Woehle who was inspired by his mother. She read him old fairy tales and he made it his dream to bring those stories to life for the children of New Jersey. Photos by: Justin Gurbisz/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
For decades this fairy tale based theme park had entertained young children in the most unusual fashion. The fifteen acres park contained various sets, each depicting their own fairy tale. Each cottage contained a fairy tale diorama-like “The Rabbit School”, “The Seven Kids”, “Cinderella”, “The Three Pigs”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “Pinocchio”, and “Peter Pumpkin Eather”.
Woehle created sculpture replicas of this characters and house them in authentic structures in line with those recalled in the fairy tales he heard as a child. Most of the sculptures and displays were mechanically animated and looked quite realistic. There were also kiddie rides, magic shows, story-telling and roaming costumed characters.
Inside the park, there is an abandoned town of fairy tale proportion, complete with its own miniature chapel, gingerbread houses, town square, and even a giant pumpkin.
Paul Woehle died in 1994 and the park was given to his granddaughter, Christine VanderPloeg. She renovated it for the 40-year anniversary in 1997, but sadly, the park was destined to close again in 2005, almost half a century after it first opened in 1957.
The family’s special event consultant, Jean Ward, said at the time of Woehle’s death that he had given the gift of joy to thousands of children for almost a century.
Some of the grounds have since been sold to self-storage company and used the Old Woman’s Giant Shoe to mark the facility’s entrance. Today, the park has been ransacked by vandals and the characters lie broken and shattered. Although the structures have been damaged by nature and vandalism, it’s quite surprising how much of the Fairy Tale Forest still remains.