Enchanted Forest Turns 40

Roger Tofte, who founded the Enchanted Forest theme park near Salem, Ore., looks back at 40 years of fun.

Roger Tofte, founder of Enchanted Forest Theme Park near Salem, Ore., image

All for Mondor! Roger Tofte aims a harmless infrared gun.

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Roger Tofte realized a dream—and proved skeptics wrong—when Enchanted Forest, his handcrafted amusement park just south of Salem, Ore., opened to the public in 1971. A fairy-tale fantasyland under towering firs and sprawling oaks, the old-school park is a distinctive and enduring Northwestern roadside attraction. Look for a 40th anniversary party August 6–8. (503) 371-4242, enchantedforest.com.

Q What inspired you in the beginning?
A
When the kids were smaller, we took a trip and stopped at a few parks on the way. There wasn’t much to them, and I thought that with my art experience—I was working as a draftsman for the state highway department—I’d look into it.

Q How is the park special?
A
Definitely the forest. In the summer it’s a big canopy of leaves over everything.

Q Have visitors changed?
A
At first, people were a lot more innocent. Nowadays kids move at a faster pace. We’ve added bigger rides and different experiences like the Challenge of Mondor ride, where they shoot at targets for points.

Q What’s most rewarding?
A
To see families having fun together. The grown-ups can let their hair down; they even go down the Old Lady Who Lived in the Shoe slide with the kids.

Q Tips for first timers?
A
To keep costs down, bring a picnic lunch. The slower times to visit are earlier or later in the day, and Sunday mornings and weekdays. And take the log ride toward the end of your visit, because you might get wet!

Photography by Don Frank

This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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