Oregon’s Enchanted Forest is a very special, deeply weird place. Created by Roger Tofte, who opened the park in 1971 after working on it practically single-handedly for seven years, the Enchanted Forest is still family owned and operated, and it looks it. This is not a dig. The description on the Google map is “enduring children’s theme park” which is perfect (but it’s not just for children).
Walking through this fairytale-themed wonderland, you can see the evolution of a singular vision: from the old, creepy animatronic dioramas of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, to the mid-sized but still very effective Ice Mountain Bobsleds roller coaster, finally arriving at the thoroughly modern (and cool!) Challenge of Mondor ride. I love it all. However, when we went last summer, I was shocked—shocked!—at how much money we spent without even thinking. So I analyzed the features of the park so I (and you) could strategize for the future!
Note: The purpose of this article is not to be as cheap as possible. I support the Enchanted Forest and want it to thrive for decades to come. This is more about allocating your funds in a thoughtful matter and prioritizing what you and your family will really enjoy. Think of this as a way for you to go to the Enchanted Forest more often, because you didn’t blow your budget the first time. So let’s get started!
Arriving at the Enchanted Forest
You’re not getting in the door without paying admission: $11.75 for adults, $10.50 for seniors and children 3-12. This is also where you can buy ride tickets and bracelets. Danger Zone!
Ride Bracelets: Yea or Nay?
With ride tickets at $1 and rides ranging from two to four tickets, the unlimited ride bracelets can seem like a good deal–but check out the park and your kid’s tolerance for rides and long lines first! EF has two bracelets: a Regular Ride Bracelet for $25.95 (about 10 rides if you spent the equivalent in tickets and went on each ride once or so), and a Kiddy Ride Bracelet for $15.95 (about seven rides’ worth of tickets).
So, if your child (or, er, you) wants to go on more rides than that–or they prefer to stick to the more expensive rides (Big Timber Log Ride!), a bracelet can be a good deal. Check out the lines. Do you have enough time to get your money’s worth? Are you tall enough to go on all the rides? Go forth and spend your money! The last time we went, we bought Sid a regular bracelet without considering that 1) he doesn’t like roller coasters or log rides and 2) the line for Challenge of Mondor was really long. We would have been better off spending $8 for him to fight wizards and dragons twice.
Free Things to Do at The Enchanted Forest
If you’re on a super-limited budget (or have a goal of hitting EF every single weekend), you are in luck. There are tons of things to do at the Enchanted Forest that are free, once you pay admission:
- Storybook Lane – The old-school part of the Enchanted Forest. Visit Snow White and see the Seven Dwarves’ mine, walk through the Little Crooked House, listen to Hansel, Gretel, and the Witch (super creepy), fall (or rather scoot) down Alice’s rabbit hole, and more. This is equal parts magical and kind of horrifying.
- Tofteville Western Town – Includes a “town” with wooden sidewalks, Fort Fearless, the Indian Caves, and the Opera House gift shop (not free unless you shoplift–do not shoplift, there is a jail in Western Town).
- Fantasy Fountains Water-Light Show – A water show with pretty lights set to music! Plays throughout the day. I find this very soothing.
- Summer Comedy Theater – Each year, Roger Tofte’s daughter Susan Vaslev writes her own comedic take on a fairy tale, and high school drama kids perform it twice per day. Last year’s Emperor’s New Clothes was a crack-up (and also a musical)!
- Smooching. I’m serious (not for children). The Indian Caves and inside the Witch’s Head are primo makeout spots!
Food: Bring Your Own
The food at the Enchanted Forest is not bad: typical plain-Jane fast food burgers, nachos, corn dogs, etc. It’s just not good. The Enchanted Forest is perfectly fine with people bringing picnics, so why not just pack a lunch and buy an ice cream cone while you’re there? You won’t be missing out on much. Just remember you’ll need to carry your stuff around—a backpack is good. This is why people keep using strollers when their children can walk just fine, by the way. I know this now.
Do You Need Souvenirs?
This is a personal question that everyone must answer for themselves. I am currently in a life-or-death struggle against junk at my house, so my answer is no, I don’t need another mug or water pistol or whatever branded dollar store goods the Enchanted Forest has to offer. EF has expanded its offerings to include The Best Little Facepainting and Costume Shoppe (the name of which will never not make me laugh, hello Dolly Parton), which I think must be in response to Great Wolf Lodge’s similar offerings.
Didn’t You Forget Something?
Do not go in the Haunted House. It is super scary and I will never go in it again (the last time I was 22 and nannying two 8-year-olds and a 4-four-old, it did not go well). Stop reminding me. No I will not post a picture.