Storybook Gardens - Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Apparently there’s no storybook ending for Storybook Gardens. The Wisconsin Dells attraction that’s featured in countless family photo albums has called it quits.
For carloads of families arriving this weekend as the summer tourist season kicks off over the Memorial Day holiday, there are still plenty of things to do in the Dells: boat rides, roller coasters, miniature golf, go-carts, water parks, bungee jumping and other thrills.
One of the original tourist attractions in the Dells, Storybook Gardens had become dated and old-fashioned - a dinosaur park in a 24/7, instant-gratification, ever-changing world that embraces speed and adventure, not a bucolic retreat with fairy tale characters.
That means no more Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Humpty Dumpty or Cinderella for tiny Dells visitors who nowadays, if truth be told, probably never heard of nursery rhymes.
Jason Field, whose grandparents opened Storybook Gardens in 1956, admits it had become passé.
"Storybook Gardens didn’t keep up with the times," said Field, who manages the property and also owns Army Ducks, Wild Thing Jet Boats and Bigfoot Zipline Tours. "It had a pretty good run there. But if you don’t keep reinventing yourself, you’re going to fall by the wayside."
Located between Army Ducks and Noah’s Ark, Storybook Gardens featured a train ride, employees dressed as nursery rhyme characters and displays in a quiet, pretty garden. Some visitors recall Little Red Riding Hood with a German shepherd standing in as a wolf and Cinderella tapping little girls with her wand. Many of the displays were designed with photo-snapping parents in mind, ranging from grainy black-and-white pictures taken by Brownie-wielding dads to sharp, digital images snapped by iPhone-armed dads.
- Jones, Meg ”Fairy Tale End for Storybook Gardens” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - May 27, 2011
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