• Carmen Milligan

Bookish Amusement Parks

From sea to shining sea, there have been (at one time for another) a number of book-themed parks. Interestingly enough, most were called a variation of "Storybook Land". Here are a few.

This handsome fella is in the Land of Oz, located in Storybook Land, Aberdeen, SD. This park is over 200 acres and is open during the warmer months. Dorothy and her friends greet you at the entrance to the Land of Oz, where you follow a yellow brick road to the rest of the park. You can live through a simulated tornado experience, See where Dorothy was raised, and take a ride on a Wizard balloon. Elsewhere in the park, Captain Hook's boat, Old McDonald, and Goldilocks await you.

Back in the day near Mt. Vernon, VA, Story Book Land was a nice day trip for kids to see Mother Goose brought to life. There was a crooked man who lived in a crooked house, Little Red Riding Hood at her grandmother's house, Little Bo Peep walking her sheep, and Humpty Dumpty before his tragic fall. However, this park has fallen into disrepair since closing in the early 1980s.

Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, however, is alive and well! Greeted at the entrance by Mother Goose, with directions to other classic stories, this park has been in service since 1955. Catering to young children and families, there are holiday-themed events, lots of rides for the kids, and a pretty conservative list of policies to ensure a good, clean time for all.

Right down the road in Hope township, NJ, is the Land of Make Believe, which caters to children ages 8 and under. There is a pirate ship, a civil war train, a pint-sized roller coaster, and a petting zoo.

Oakland, CA boasts Children's Fairyland, with close to 60 storybook sets on 10 acres. There is a puppet theater with daily shows, a Jack and Jill hill for sliding, and a huge gaping mouth of Willy the Whale.

Of course, a special shout-out to all things Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. At a cost of over $200M, this is a crazy-over-the-top book experience, bringing every aspect of the story to reality, in a BIG way.

Last, but not least, is an opportunity to build your own Hobbit House, some finished in as few as three days. Patterned after the domiciles in the J.R.R. Tolkien books, there are a number of plans from which to choose. And, if you find yourself in New Zealand with some time on your hands, be sure to visit Hobbiton, which boasts 44 permanently reconstructed Hobbit Holes, in the same fantastic detail seen in the movies.

Your adventure awaits!

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