So what we absolutely expected to see at Story Book Land were little houses for the Three Bears, with or without Goldilocks. Beehive mailboxes outside that. Pack of squealing kids running up to them before we could get in. Good, spirited stuff. And they had animatronics. The bears would look around, forever discovering their porridge bowls empty and their chairs tampered with. These were in good shape, too. The bears might have looked a little like they were off from the Chuck E Cheese line, but they looked like they were fresh off that. I don't know how recently Story Book Land's had renovations, or whether they just keep stuff in rather good shape all the time. They were looking in great shape, though.
They also had a building that was nothing but model trains. It put me in mind of Roadside America, which as a kid I thought was the most fantastic place to be ever, and which I'm still surprised I haven't taken bunny_hugger to. Maybe when we get to Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland next, since as Stuff In Eastern-ish Pennsylvania they're surely all close together, right? Anyway, this was several tables, at different heights, filling up what used to be a post office it looks like. And there were so many buttons to press, to make some part of a loop or a shuttle track start running. If I were ever taken here as a seven-year-old I would never have left.
Not a surprise: they have a Santa's Home, with elf statues out front and a house all decorated for Christmas. This was maybe the most Holiday World moment of the park. More of a surprise: they didn't have a Santa there. They only have Santa when the park is open for the Christmas season (something they've been doing since the late 70s) and for one Christmas-in-July event. I understand not having him around all the time, but one busy month and then one extra day seems like under-using the character. They do have some other buildings, not adjacent to Santa's Home. One is a reindeer stall with again button-activated reindeer animatronics. Another is the Workshop, featuring elves assembling toys and a reindeer animatronic that's trying to work the old-fashioned adding machine or write a letter with a pen. I guess good on Santa for not letting physical limitations keep people from jobs they like, but they don't seem like the workspace otherwise accommodates that, like, pens are gonna slip out of hooves.
Surprising, although in that way that afterwards yeah, this does seem like the sort of place that would happen: they had a chapel. It was, says the plaque and the book about the park's history that I bought, a private chapel built in the area and moved to the park in the Like 70s. They've had at least one wedding performed there. It was someone who'd had a career with the park. Whether they'd be open to letting anyone rent the park for a wedding ceremony is, to me, a mystery.
Of neutral surprise content: they've got a garage with a bunch of vintage cars and even old fire trucks, used for parades and other publicity events. Yes, they've got statues of Dalmatian fire fighters
Near all this is a fine little building, a cylindrical tower in the middle of a pond, named Goosey Gander's Castle. And there are a couple geese penned into it. This is, according to that book I got, a return to form. For years they had kept ducks there. I have no explanation for the duck interregnum. But this did serve as a warning that the park keeps live animals. That isn't by itself a bad thing; many parks do, especially ones that aim for appeal to kids. But the park did have some larger enclosures, near the back of the park, and as we approached those we would start to worry that they might keep something way beyond the ability of a small family-owned amusement park to keep well.
Utterly baffling: one of the non-animatronic statues up front is Moby Dick. He's been there for decades and is beloved by longtime parkgoers, says the history book, none of whom seem concerned by how Moby Dick isn't a fairy tale and is really nothing fairy-tale-like, in fact. I would've thought they'd at least have used the Whale From Pinocchio. It's got the air of an idiosyncratic choice that, by long exposure, has become impossible to even question. So be it. What's the point of a park like this that hasn't got odd choices in it?
Trivia: The British government declared the Continental Navy's privateers were pirates and criminals in the Pirate Act of 1777. Source: Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, Peter Andreas.
Currently Reading: Binary Fusion and the Millennium Bug, Beth Bridgman. This is one of the more genially dopey science fiction novels I've read in a long, long while.
PS: Halloweekends Friday after Cedar Point closed!
View from the Hotel Breakers of the park by night. The Power Tower is at the center; to the right, Corkscrew, and to the left, ValRavn.
Old stained-glass window that's been set up in the Hotel Breakers, near the new entrance and somewhere that it can attract appreciation.
Main lobby of the Hotel Breakers, decorated with skeletons and decrepit-looking fake horses, some of which shudder when approached. We don't know what the hotel looks like during the summer when it isn't trying to be spooky.