I suppose it happened because I was thinking about a trip to the part of the state near where my grandparents lived.
I was sitting in the lounge at the bachelor estate when a word popped into my head: Fairyland.
The name conjured up images of a place to which our parents had dragged us as kids. It wasn’t meant as a punishment. No doubt they thought we would enjoy it.
I fired off a message to my sister, asking her if she remembered this whimsical, but creepy place. She replied in the affirmative, and agreed with my assessment.
Within about two minutes, she sent me a link (proving one can find anything on the internet) which brought the nightmares flooding back.
I’ll share the link here, but be warned: It is not for the fainthearted. Fairyland Park was billed as a slice of Americana, but as I have noted, it was both whimsical and creepy, with heavy emphasis on the creepy. If you dare to risk troubled sleep, be sure to check out the pdf link embedded in the post.
Imagine the scene: it was summer vacation in the later half of the last century when I was but a lad. Our parents packed us city kids amongst the luggage in the back of the old station wagon and took us to visit grandma’s house.
Our grandparents lived in the woods near a river in a beautiful part of northern Minnesota, but it was very different from the city streets of home.
Then, as a special “treat,” and probably to provide a diversion, they hauled us to this bizarre place on the edge of the highway.
A sign at the entrance promised an “enchanted forest,” “spooky witchland,” and assorted oddities and freaks, and the park lived up to those promises.
After procuring tickets from an eerie sort of ticket booth, we were forced to march along a path into the scary woods. New horrors awaited us around every turn.
There were 35 incongruous scenes spread out over several acres.
The vignettes included a bizarre assortment of scenes from fairy tales, sculptures of mutant humans, strange animals, and historical figures.
I have no doubt that a lot of work and care went into the creation and maintenance of this place, but it gave me the willies.
Many of the figures looked as though they had been deformed in some sort of horrible accident. I don’t know about other kids, but wicked witches gave me the heebie-jeebies in the best of circumstances, and finding them lurking in the shadows of a strange forest was a traumatizing experience, especially when accompanied by a creepy, disembodied voice.
It made that scene from “The Wizard of Oz” seem friendly by comparison.
The fact is, a lot of fairy tales are disturbing, and seeing them portrayed in life-size amateur statues made them even worse.
I half expected to be abducted and locked in a cage in the lair of some old hag to be fattened up until she was ready to eat me.
As I looked through the old photos online recently, I was transported back to those disturbing days of my youth. It’s no wonder I never slept well at grandma’s house. I had all those creepy images to contend with.
I don’t watch horror movies. The evening news is scary enough for me. But if a person was looking for a location to film a horror movie, this place would have been ideal. I can’t imagine what a frightening place that barn on the property must have been with all those disembodied heads, hands, and other stray body parts hanging around.
The park was in existence from 1948 to 1972. Our experiences there were in the later years, and I suspect some of the scenes were probably more disturbing because they had deteriorated over time.
Check out the photos if you dare, but remember, these are the images of which nightmares are made, and half a century is not enough to blot out the memory.