Jack be nimble, Jack be … Whoa! Looks like somebody lost a foot jumping over a candlestick. One of the characters up for auction.

All the kings horses and all the kings men,
Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again …

It was hard not to poke fun. The peeling paint, the classic characters with missing appendages, the cartoon buildings that held some function now relegated to storage. It was clear it had seen better days.

But it was a landmark, a tradition dating back 50 plus years. It was a pioneer attraction where stories came alive for thousands of children.

This was Storybook Gardens in Wisconsin Dells.

And so went our visit. After handing over a $13-per-person admission,  we walked around the park, exploring the nursery rhyme tableaus, waving at the monkeys and keeping the kids from wading into the ponds.

“Want to check out the playhouse? Sure, sweetie, just let dad make sure there aren’t any racoons living inside first.”

Let the kids have their fun, enjoy it for the kitsch factor. Besides, Zoltar was nowhere to be found.

The high points were feeding the giraffes and riding the train. The animal show was the best.

Sadly, that was our last visit to that Wisconsin Dells-area park. Storybook Gardens isn’t opening this year. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the characters are going to be auctioned off, and the land will be used for a new attraction. It’s purely an economic decision. I imagine the garden doesn’t bring in the crowds that it used to. A city of thrill parks, water slides and resort hotels has spring up around it, making it hard to compete for tourist dollars.

Heck, there’s even a mammoth Trojan horse at the go kart track down the street.

And, like the owner said in the State Journal article, kids today don’t know anything about the characters. We have two small books with the nursery rhymes that we read to the kids, but not too often. I even had trouble figuring out some of the displays or remembering the complete verses or explaining the plots

Still, there was something simple and peaceful about the place. You could check in and go at your own pace.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul, something, something … Hey kids, while you’re up there, how about making yourself useful and scraping some paint.

Advertisements