After seeing visitor numbers drop due to the pandemic, the famous theme park south of Salem has warned it will not reopen without help. Fans of the park have rallied, and its grateful owners say they’ll be back next spring.
Enchanted Forest creator Roger Tofte performs in Tofteville Western Town on Tuesday, October 27. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
Enchanted Forest will remain in operation after raising over $360,000 from fans at the amusement park just south of Salem.
In October, Enchanted Forest warned it would go bankrupt after nearly half a century of visitors flocking to the park each summer to ride the Ice Mountain Bobsled roller coaster, brave the haunted house or stroll through the western town of Tofteville.
Pandemic restrictions have sharply reduced its number of visitors this year. To make up for lost income, the Tofte family, who own and operate the park, set up a GoFundMe page seeking to raise $500,000. The family explained that the money was needed to cover expenses such as payroll, insurance, taxes and ride maintenance while the Enchanted Forest is closed for the winter.
In a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday, December 2, Roger Tofte, the park’s creator, appeared with his daughters Mary Tofte and Sue Vaslev to announce that they would remain open.
“We want to thank everyone for supporting us so much,” said Roger Tofte, seated in one of the buildings in the park.
As of Thursday, December 4, the park’s GoFundMe has raised $361,043 from approximately 6,600 supporters — below its goal of $500,000.
Vaslev told the Salem Reporter that Enchanted Forest has found other ways to raise funds that will keep it afloat. She pointed out how earlier this year the park launched an online auction of old park plans as well as artwork by Roger Tofte depicting Enchanted Forest scenes and other memorabilia.
She didn’t have a figure on how much the auctions sold for, but said some items sold for more than $1,000. Auctions have slowed and the park will move collectibles to its online store which includes T-shirts, figurines, plush toys and other items, Vaslev said. The final item up for auction will be a rare vinyl pressing of music composed by Vaslev which is played throughout the park, she said.
Vaslev said Enchanted Forest promoted its online store and increased the number of items sold. Fans of the park can now pay $250 for “Buy A Brick,” allowing them to have a special message engraved on one of the bricks that line the paths of the Enchanted Forest, she said.
Between the GoFundMe (which people can still donate to) and online sales, Vaslev said the park should be able to reopen for its season on March 19. As the United States prepares to distribute Covid vaccines widely, Vaslev said it’s possible the park will continue to face reduced capacity to control the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, she said the Tofte family is grateful for the support from the community.
“It just amazed us,” she said. “Boy, I had no idea it meant so much to so many people. Looks like they’re really proud to save us.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.
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