In less than 24 hours, a landmark Oregon amusement park has gone from selling out tickets for its reopening to closing indefinitely. The reason: Some park patrons issued threats about unvaccinated people being required to wear masks.
Enchanted Forest, the family-run amusement park located south of Salem, announced yesterday that it would reopen this Saturday. But this morning, the owners announced on social media that reopening will now be delayed indefinitely due to “comments and threats” the business received for its masks policy.
“Until we are confident we can do so safely, we will not be able to reopen,” reads the announcement. “Our commitment to being a place where families can spend time together free of unnecessary hate and conflict simply outweighs our strong desire to reopen our business.”
Following state guidelines, the park had announced that visitors would be required to wear masks, unless they chose to show their vaccine card and ID. The business then received a deluge of social media comments and phone calls from people who disagreed with the mask mandate and the need to show a vaccine card in order to be exempt.
“Half of the people were thrilled,” owner Susan Vaslev tells WW. “A huge portion of the people were very angry. Angry is very mild—they were outraged.”
Vaslev declined to share the specifics of the threats her business received, only that they were severe enough that the struggling business decided to stay shuttered.
“We’re desperate to reopen because we’re just hanging by a thread,” she says. “[The threats] were extensive enough that we made the decision not to open.”
Built by Vaslev’s father, Roger Tofte, in 1964, the Enchanted Forest has been closed for the better part of the past year. Last fall, the park launched a crowdfunding campaign with a $500,000 goal to keep the park afloat until spring.
Now, Vaslev is unsure when Enchanted Forest will reopen.
“We feel like the mandate that exists is clear,” she says. “We’re trying to maneuver how to operate a business but operate it safely where everyone can coexist. That isn’t in the cards right now.”