Seven miles south of Salem off I-5 on Exit 248 is the Enchanted Forest (8462 Enchanted Way, Turner, 503/371-4262, www.enchantedforest.com), one man’s answer to Walt Disney. An enterprising Oregonian has single-handedly built a false-front Western town, a haunted house, and many more attractions.
In the 1960s Roger Tofte, the father of four young children, realized there was very little for a family to see and do together in Salem. He formulated the idea for a theme park where he could use his creative talents. Although he had very little time or money to make his dream a reality, he was able to purchase the original 20 acres of land off I-5 for $4,000 in monthly payments of $50. In 1964 he began construction.
Finally, in 1971, Tofte officially opened the Enchanted Forest. Over the years, Tofte has successfully incorporated three of his children into the business: Susan (co–operations officer and artistic director), Mary (co–operations officer and chief financial officer), and Ken (head of attractions development and ride maintenance).
Whether it’s the old woman who lived in the shoe, the seven dwarves’ cottage, or Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole, these and other nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale re-creations will get a thumbs-up from anyone under 99 years of age. One of the most inventive attractions is an old English village that features a life-sized Geppetto and Pinocchio telling stories punctuated by animated characters popping their heads out of windows.
The Enchanted Forest has a few schedule quirks; it’s best to check the website if you are going to be visiting 5–6 p.m. Basically, it is open 10 a.m.–5 or 6 p.m. daily March 15–March 31; weekends only in April; daily May–Labor Day; weekends only in September; closed October–March 15th. Admission is $9.95 for adults, $8.95 for seniors and kids ages 3–12, $0.80 extra for some rides.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel