The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

What Will It Cost to Save Enchanted Forest?

Visiting an amusement park by yourself: That’s the dream. Running one without patrons? It’s a nightmare.

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.

What's spookier than an abandoned amusement park? Facing the prospect of becoming one.

That's a fate Susan Vaslev would like to avoid. This week, her family launched a crowdfunding campaign to save Enchanted Forest, the storybook land her father Roger Tofte built into a Salem hillside in 1964.

For much of this year, the Tofte family lobbied state officials for permission to operate with limited crowds in the pandemic. Late this summer, the park was allowed to open, but with a capacity of 250 people, including employees. Visiting an amusement park by yourself: That's the dream. Running one without patrons? It's a nightmare.

Now the park is closed for winter—and, as The Oregonian first reported, the Toftes are asking for a half-million dollars in donations to keep Enchanted Forest afloat until next spring. (Think of it like the campaign to save New York's bookstore the Strand—but the Mother Goose characters are sculpted from concrete, not bound between covers.) In two days, they've raised $190,000 from 3,500 people.

In this interview, Vaslev explains why a closed amusement park is so expensive to own.