Beloved and long-running Oregon amusement park Enchanted Forest has announced they are reopening to the public starting this afternoon—and with a lot of new rules for those looking for fun in the midst of a deadly statewide coronavirus surge.
In fact, the conditions for entering the park (located just south of Salem) are so lengthy, we're not going to reprint them all, but here's a taste of what they require, from their website:
• No walk up admissions, all tickets must be purchased online before the visit.
• No one experiencing any COVID-like symptoms will be allowed in, and temperatures will be taken at the front gate.
• Visitors must wait in their cars until their assigned entry time.
• Face masks are required for everyone 12 and older while indoors and on rides. (Masks are strongly encouraged everywhere else.)
• Guests are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer and water bottles (water fountains will be turned off), as well as food as offerings at the snack bar will be limited.
The new rules don't seem to be dampening enthusiasm for visitors, as all the tickets for this weekend are already sold out.
While the restrictions largely apply to entry and indoor attractions, there's a lot to enjoy in the outdoor areas of Enchanted Forest, which primarily consists of a DIY wonderland of slightly creepy fairytale tableaus that were originally designed and constructed in 1971 by park founder, Roger Tofte. (Please refer to the Mercury's "Best of Enchanted Forest" feature for a history of the park as well as a guided tour through its more interesting aspects—including an "animatronic masturbating squirrel").
The more disappointing news is that many of the indoor attractions will be (rightly) closed, as entering them would surely violate the CDC's social distancing recommendations. The indoor closures include:
• The Shoe Slide and Fort Slide (both of which are super fast, fun, and FREE)
• Crooked House (an absolutely delightful structure of slanted floors, doors, and walls designed to mimic adult drunkeness)
• The "Western Caves" (formerly known as the "Indian Caves".... hmmmmmm.)
• Alice in Wonderland Rabbit Hole (a long, winding tunnel made of rough concrete that adults have to crawl through on their hands and knees, which offers a sure-fire answer to the question, "Am I claustrophobic?")
• And one of the greatest gift shops on the planet.
Attractions that are still open include the pants-soaking log flume ride, the rickety and enjoyable Ice Mountain roller coaster, the horror-and-mold-filled Haunted House, and the funnest ride/shooting game in the universe, Challenge of Mondor (the direct cause of a decade-long feud between two former Mercury employees)—all of which now require face masks to enter.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, Marion County (where Enchanted Forest resides) is currrently fourth in the state for positive COVID-19 cases—though people travel from all over Oregon to visit this gem. While the coronavirus pandemic is laying waste to many beloved and time-honored businesses (especially the quirky ones), there are ways to support these institutions without placing yourself or others in danger: Reserve tickets for a future visit, or make a direct donation by purchasing tickets whether you plan on using them or not.