What’s to Love: While Oaks Amusement Park in Portland provides a multitude of toddler rides, the Enchanted Forest Theme Park is the next logical progression in amusement park fun, and provides far more than thrill rides. We’ve been visiting this park at least once per summer for the past six years. It’s always the same, which is a good thing in this case! Super clean, well-maintained, friendly staff members, and a bunch of surprises that never seem to disappoint. This magical and quirky destination is an absolute must, especially during the summer months.
While this may seem quite a distance from Portland (exit 148 off 5 South), it only takes about 1 hour to drive down there, and I found it well worth the car ride. The “Storybook Lane” is a collection of classic children’s stories with actual interactive-structures, so children can experience the story.
For example, “There was a Crooked Man,” had his “crooked house” built on a hill with sloping floorboards, which made walking through a challenge! We had a blast strolling through these stories and experiencing their tactile nature. Make sure you give yourself time to walk through this section slowly, either at the beginning of your trip or the end. Many of these stories have mazes and/or underground tunnels, which add to the magic. The kids always have a great time exploring these passageways.
The journey continues upward through “Western Town” and “English Village.” Both have interesting stops along the way. I recommend “Mondor’s Challenge,” which is an interactive, fantasy-type ride. The music and characters are both well done and entertaining, even for adults. Although we didn’t get to stay for it, the “Fantasy Water Light Show” seemed like a good way to close out a fun day at the park.
Next up the path, you’ll find “Ice Mountain” – an exhilarating rollercoaster for children at least 34″ tall. This coaster features some fast twists, turns, ups, downs, and banking-turns, but lacks that huge, anti-gravity downhill, which makes it perfect for kids ages 4 and up. Older kids and adults will also enjoy this ride. Although I’ve been ridden Ice Mountain probably 50 times, I always have a great time on that ride!
After you’re done with Ice Mountain, continue up the hill to the “Big Timber Log Ride.” This log ride is one of the best I’ve experienced with a big drop at the end. You’ll climb, then coast through a gentle stream, ride some rapids, take a speedy up-and-down hill, and end with a plunge that will get you wet! Luckily the park has ponchos available, if you don’t want to get completely soaked. In my opinion, this is definitely the best attraction at Enchanted Forest. One day when it was pretty slow, we’d get off the ride, race around to the beginning of the line, and ride again. We probably rode it six or seven times in a row with no wait!
Finally, if you have kids 5 and younger, you may want to head all the way to the top of the hill for the “kiddie rides” (Frog Hopper, Kiddie Ferris Wheel, Bumper Boats, Bumper Cars, and a Happy Train Ride). I thought these rides would bore my 4 year old son, but he loved the Train, Bumper Boats, and Bumper Cars.
Every visit has been fun for our family! Days and weeks later, my kids keep talking about it. They want to know when we can go back again. It’s one of those places that becomes a family tradition. It’s probably in our top five destinations of all time, and I know we’ll keep visiting in the years to come. Here is an updated (2013) video clip!
Caveats: Trying to find a caveat is extremely difficult! There are designated smoking sections along the walkway, and I’d like to see them ban smoking altogether, especially with so many kids visiting the park.
While I believe their rates are fair and worth the cost, this much fun will cost you. If you plan on visiting with several kids and buy ride bracelets, you may be looking at a $100+ day, which is similar to a skiing trip up at Mt. Hood. See “Family Tips” below for some ways to save money. Check the Enchanted Forest website for prices.
Website: Enchanted Forest Theme Park
Distance from Portland: The park is about 60 miles from downtown Portland, and it will take you an hour in light traffic. Fortunately, you’ll be able to drive 65 for most of the way. Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: All ages! This is a great destination for the whole family. Ages 5 and younger will probably enjoy the kiddie-ride-area the most.
Parental Stress Factor: Despite the chaos inherent with amusement parks, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the calmness of this place, especially during the week. The weekends are busier and the lines for rides longer; however, most attendants agreed that the most popular attractions rarely take over 20 minutes to get on board, even on busy days.
Physical Difficulty: The Enchanted Forest is built on a hillside, which makes accommodations for wheelchairs impossible for every ride and attraction. However, many of the attractions are accessible, and the staff will help provide the necessary assistance to make your visit easier. They have dedicated a page on their website to accessibility information. Most folks will find the walkway doable. It may tucker some kids out, but if you’re on the ball, you’ll have a carrier or jogger ready and waiting.
Family Fun Factor: Extremely High!!! Your entire family will have a great time here, even if they are not big on rides. There are plenty of other things to do.
This was one of my favorite destinations I’ve reviewed for Portland Family Adventures! With rising gas and energy costs, places like this are difficult to maintain and keep open for our enjoyment. Please make a trip over to the park, and give us a report in our comments section.
Pet Friendly: No dogs. This would be a terrible place to drag around a dog.
Weather Considerations: The weather often determines how many people will be in the park. If you don’t mind a little rain, you may get more of the park to yourself! The park is shaded enough to make even the hottest days bearable. However, I recommend visiting on a day where the temperature will not exceed 80 degrees.
Check the park schedule to see when it’s open!
Insider Info: VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Credit/Debit cards are accepted at all locations except Haunted House, the smaller food service areas and on the rides. Specifically, credit cards are not accepted at rides, Panner, Haunted House, Theater Snack, Timber Treats Food Cart and Village Snack Bar. They are accepted at Entrance, Exit, all stores, Main food service, the Ice Cream Parlour, Jolly Roger Inn, and Ticket Booth.
Presently, the only ATM is at the Entrance, which is at the bottom of the hill. So, if you do need cash, make sure you get some before entering the park. There are concessions and games where you might need it. Also, I’ve been informed that by the end of June, the park will have a second ATM machine located in Western town.
While the pathways are primarily shaded, you may end-up in a sunny area with a sleeping child in a backpack carrier. Therefore, if you do plan on bringing a backpack carrier, make sure you have a sun shield/blocker. Personally, since the paved path is wide with plenty of parking, jogging strollers are your best bet for kids who may need a break now and then.
Family Tips: Of course, it’s always cheaper to bring you own food from home, and fortunately, this park offers plenty of places to sit down and have a snack or some lunch. We enjoyed our lunch on some benches near the kiddie rides.
Don’t plan on saving money by buying tickets for rides (alle carte), unless your kids are under age 3 and/or under 36″ in height. Your kids will want to ride the Log Ride and Ice Mountain again and again. My son rode each of these rides at least 5 or 6 times! These charges will add up quickly; therefore, I highly recommend going with an unlimited bracelet, even though it seems like a lot of money up-front.