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Adams County Pa. Related Historical Articles

Remembering Gettysburg's Fantasyland

Mike Caverly

Fantasyland opened in 1959, and was owned and operated by Kenneth and Thelma Dick on 23 wooded acres (later expanded to 35) on the east side of the Taneytown Road south of General Meade's Headquarters and the present National Park Service Visitors Center. Noted for its beauty, tranquility and cleanliness, the storybook land provided over 100 things for the young and young at heart to see and do. Attractions included an Enchanted Forest and Santa's Village; Fort Apache, which was attacked by live Indians; Rapunsel's Castle, and a dairy barn where you could slide into a haymow. All who entered the park were greeted by a talking twenty-three foot Mother Goose.

Live shows were featured daily. Besides the Cowboy and Indian Show, there was a Vaudeville Show, a Live Animal Show and a Puppet Show. Motor boats and pedal boats were rides offered on the three lakes in the park. The Cannonball Express Train, the Carousel, the Fire Engine, the Sky Ride and the Scenic Pink Tour Train were a few of the other rides available. Delicious food could be bought at eateries such as the Sugar Plum Snack Bar or the Gingerbread House.

The thousands of people who visited this nature lover's paradise every week enjoyed the sculptured landscaping, with thousands of tulips and wild flowers in the spring, colorful flowers in summer and brilliant leaves in fall. Picnic areas were available free and you could have a picture taken with live characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Santa Claus, and the Fairy Princess.

Over its years of operation, Fantasyland attracted well over one million visitors including Broadway celebrities, members of congress and foreign dignitaries. Some of President Eisenhower's grandchildren worked at the park. President Kennedy's children were frequent visitors.

The Fantasyland property was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1974 under terms that allowed the Dicks to continue to operate the park for an additional ten years. Fantasyland finally closed in October 1980. At the time of this printing, people still ask about the park, saying they have such fond memories of visiting when they were children and wishing to bring their children and grandchildren to the magical wonderland of "Make Believe".

Epilog: Fantasyland is a shadow of its former self. After its purchase by the National Park Service (NPS) and Fantasyland closed in 1980, an entrepreneur bought the attractions and moved them to his own children's amusement park in Indiana. All that remains of the Fantasyland of old is the parking lot, used by the NPS for over-flow parking in the summer time, and the large billboard-like main entrance structure. Briefly considered as the site for a new NPS Visitor Center, current plans for the center call for its construction on land adjacent to the east side of the Fantasyland parcel and the restoration of the Fantasyland site to a more natural setting.

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