Long-Shut Enchanted Forest Still Casts Spell
Theme Park's Pumpkin Coach Up on eBay, Frustrating Fans Who Want Attraction Revived
By Susan DeFord
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2004; Page C04
By the time Debbie Burchardt got the pumpkin coach, its roof and floor had collapsed and its exterior was cracked and flaking. Still, she saw something in the fiberglass shell that once carried visitors to Cinderella's Castle at the Enchanted Forest, a beloved but now-defunct theme park near Ellicott City.
After weeks of painstaking restoration, the coach, bright orange and winsome, was the toast of a gala charity dinner last month -- and brought in $2,300.
Now Cinderella's coach is for sale again: Its new owners, two Baltimore businessmen, are offering it on the Internet auction site eBay, with a starting bid price of $6,000.
"Only one ever made for the Enchanted Forest," reads the promotional material for the coach, which carries a 10-day listing that expires tomorrow.
Burchardt, for one, is dismayed by what has become of her handiwork.
"This whole thing has troubled me," she said. "Looking back on it, we wouldn't have worked so hard to save this."
Burchardt isn't the only one who's upset. Enchanted Forest fans say that the coach's appearance on eBay foretells the piecemeal dismantling of the crumbling park, which they want to see reopened.
"It's a matter of time and we're going to lose a Maryland treasure," said Monica McNew Metzger of Annapolis, who has started an Internet discussion group about the Enchanted Forest.
Elby Proffitt, who owns the pumpkin coach with friend Scott Shephard, said the reaction in e-mails and phone calls to the eBay listing has been overwhelming.
"Me and Scott went to a charity event and paid money to help a charity and got a pumpkin," he said, "and now everybody wants to stake a claim to it."
If the eBay listing draws no takers, he said, they will consider offers from several businesses in Maryland.
"I never imagined how this pumpkin is bringing us attention," Proffitt said.
The Enchanted Forest theme park, off Route 40, has been closed for more than a decade, but it still exerts a powerful pull on its former patrons. When the park opened in August 1955, it was an instant success, even though its father-and-son founders, Howard E. Harrison Sr. and Howard E. Harrsion Jr., had deliberately avoided the sort of whizzing mechanical rides featured at California's new Disneyland, which also opened that year.
Instead, the walking paths through the 20-acre park led to fanciful fiberglass and sprayed concrete creations from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, which children could walk into, touch and explore. The Harrisons' artistic designer, Howard Adler of Baltimore, delighted in whimsy. The house of the Three Bears, for example, displayed a stuffed hunter in the sitting room. A tall shoe house beckoned with a slide, a bonnet-clad Big Bad Wolf lay in wait for Little Red Riding Hood, and a gingerbread house hosted children's birthday parties.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
The restored fiberglass pumpkin coach from the old Enchanted Forest theme park in Ellicott City was recently auctioned off for $2,300 at a charity event. Now it's listed on eBay, with a starting bid of $6,000.
A July 25 article on the shuttered Enchanted Forest theme park near Ellicott City incorrectly said that Monica McNew Metzger started an Internet discussion group about the park. She is a participant in the group, not its founder.