Enchanted Forest opening for 50th season pushed back due to storm

TURNER, Ore. – The Enchanted Forest, the beloved theme park located near Salem, Oregon, has faced many trials and tribulations over the last year since the coronavirus pandemic struck the world in March of 2020. Founder, Roger Tofte and his daughters-turned-managers, Susan Vaslav and Mary Tofte had no choice but to shut down. When the park was able to be open, the revenue was below 10% of what is a typical season and thus the parks early closing was the result.

This caused the park to suffer financially and the Tofte's realized it was time to ask for help. They reached out to the Willamette Valley community via Facebook and sought their support. 

With the initial help from more than 6,500 donors and the several fundraisers the Tofte family had run, they were able to raise enough to open for the 2021 season starting on March 19. However, due to the most recent ice storm that hit the Pacific Northwest on February 12, the Enchanted Forest sustained a significant amount of damage.

“Saturday morning, I knew we had damage,” said Vaslav. The collapsed trees around the property made it the biggest destruction that the park has faced to date. A local roofing company was out the next day to help clean up the park from the storm.

Vaslav, however, did not see the storm as that much of a push back. Of course, it set the parks opening date back, but the pandemic was the biggest burden financially.

“We’re in survival mode until COVID gets under control,” said Vaslav. Thankfully, according to Vaslav, a lot of the damages caused by the ice storm were covered by insurance – but the family did have to dip into the GoFundMe Vaslav had started in 2020 just to get the park in a working position.

The Tofte's had also started the 'Buy a Brick' program which allows park goers to purchase custom brick to be permanently placed on the grounds. The program began at the beginning of December of 2020, and the purchase of an engraved paver stone helps them bring in additional revenue to help Enchanted Forest survive through COVID. 

As of right now Vaslav and the rest of her family believe that they could reopen for the 2021 season coming up, but not at the initial date and time that they were thinking of. “This is just my guess, but [the park] could open at the very end of April,” said Vaslav.

The 50th anniversary approaching in August was projected to be one of the biggest events in the parks history but now it’s looking like it could be something slightly different with the event spanning over the week. However, with what has seemed like nothing good could come out of the chaos there has been some positives. 

Approaching a business and family milestone within one of the biggest pandemics in global history, the outpour of support from the patrons and community members who love the park to help keep it afloat was amazing. The community came together at the peak of the pandemic and then again after the ice storm and donated 30,000 more dollars to the already donated 390,000.  

Through the fundraisers and online forums, many people have donated to the beloved establishment both financially and with fond stories with their memories with the park. Vaslav said that it’s a “magical feeing to know that people care that much.”

The Tofte’s are keeping their heads up and powering through as the 50th season approaches with the hope things will return to normalcy soon. The park does plan to be open for the eagerly anticipated 50th anniversary celebration in August.

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