TRYING TO SURVIVE THROUGH COVID
The Enchanted Forest theme park in Oregon is created, owned and operated by our family, including our father, creator Roger Tofte, now 90 years old, with 3 generations now working in the park. Prior to Covid we were a thriving business and had no debt. Then Covid hit and now at the end of our season, we are in debt and that debt will continue to rise quickly until Covid has passed and business returns to normal. We will celebrate our 50 year anniversary August 8, 2021 and are determined to make it to celebrate our 50th year anniversary. It is time to ask for help.
During the first half of our 6 month 2020 season, by state mandate we were not allowed to open in any capacity. We were disappointed that any of our safety plans, even private family tours, were not considered because we were classified as an amusement park. When we were allowed to open for the last half of our season, we were only allowed a capacity of 250 people including employees. Our park’s capacity is several thousand guests, so 250, including employees, does not begin to pay our bills.
We have been very responsible, with temperature checks, sanitizing rides between each rider, extreme sanitizing, even outside, closing areas of the park where proper social distancing or sanitizing cannot be maintained, online reservations to control and document capacity and much more. We have worked hard to cut our operating expenses in less than half, but even so, that small capacity leads us further and further into debt.
We are trying to be creative and exhaust all possible sources of income. We have put more items on our online store and started to auction off our father’s paintings, prints and memorabilia. This is why we have started our GoFundMe...to keep Enchanted Forest open to be enjoyed long after Covid is gone.
THE ENCHANTED FOREST STORY
In the 60's, Roger, father of four young children, realized there was very little for a family to see and do together in Oregon. He formulated the idea for a theme park where he could use his creative talents and though he had very little time or money to make his dream a reality, he persisted anyway. He purchased the original 20 acres of land off Interstate 5 for four thousand dollars, in monthly payments of fifty dollars and began construction in 1964. He worked full-time at the Oregon State Highway Department. However, to finance his dream, he repaired watches and took extra commercial art jobs in his spare time, buying one sack of cement at a time. He worked on building the park after work and on weekends. The Tofte's own backyard became filled with storybook figures and small buildings as Roger also used every spare second at home to work on his dream.
Everyone but Roger thought it was foolish to think that this idea could work. Roger's friends and co-workers used to tease him about his work on "Idiot Hill." That also seemed to be the bank's idea. Close to opening, Roger and Mavis needed $2,000 to put on the last touches to the park in order to be able to open, but had run out of every last dime. Their own bank would not loan them the money, because, of course, the Tofte family didn't have any cash. Only one bank took the chance on them and loaned them the money.
Roger originally thought it would take only two years to build the Storybook Trail, which was the first section that he needed to complete before the park could open. Finally, after seven years, at 2:00 on Sunday, August 8, 1971, Roger and his wife Mavis hung up a piece of butcher paper saying "OPEN" on the fence and the first visitors entered the park. Admission was one dollar for adults and fifty cents for children and the starting wage was $1.65 per hour. There were 75 people the first day and 1,000 people the next Sunday. Roger's dream was finally a reality with Roger as the creative force and Mavis as the business head.
Roger’s wife Mavis was the business head of Enchanted Forest until diagnosed with cancer and handed off the day to day operations of running the business to daughters Susan and Mary when they were young adults.
Through the years, Roger and his family have been adding to his dream with new additions to the park. The Tofteville western town was built the second year, and the Haunted House opened in 1974. The Comedy Theatre was built for daughter Susan, who writes and directs the outrageous musical comedies based on fairy-tales and composes all park music.
Money was continually put back into the business creating more to see and do. Over the years many more attractions were added, the Ice Mountain Bobsled Roller Coaster, The English Village, the Fantasy Fountains water-light show, the Big-Timber Log Flume ride, kiddie rides, and the interactive target shooting ride, The Challenge of Mondor.
Now, Roger Tofte, though still the ringleader of Enchanted Forest, has successfully incorporated 2 of his children into the business, Susan and Mary, 2 of his grandchildren, Derek and Tim, Roger’s brother-in-law Dale and Tim’s wife, Ashley. According to Susan, this arrangement has worked out quite well, "We're very lucky. We get along because we're each in charge of different projects and our areas don't overlap much. We work very well together."
With three generations of the Tofte family working at Enchanted Forest, the tradition and creativity will be carried on for many years to come with your help. Roger can still be seen almost daily out working in the park. If you see a man in his 90s riding around on a moped or repairing cement, it is probably Roger! As Roger says, " We believe in attention to artistic detail. We want to offer our visitors something unique, with a lot of variety. We strive to be the hidden gem that people discover as their own special place."
Our goal right now is to save the business and survive through Covid so we are here for future generations to enjoy. We have cut our operating budget to less than half of what it would be during a normal year, but even so, with a capacity of only 250 mandated by our our state, this does not begin to cover costs to keep us in business. We will keep working hard and use all of our creativity, but we have decided this is the time to ask for help.
For more information about Enchanted Forest go to:
To see the video interview with family member and park Co-manager Susan Vaslev with Aaron Mesh from Willamette Week go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbi6RbVxmlM&feature=emb_logo
CONTRIBUTIONS OR GIFTS TO ENCHANTED FOREST, INC. ARE NOT TAX DEDUCTIBLE. Any contributions received shall be considered gifts to Enchanted Forest, Inc., which is a for profit corporation. Contributors will not receive any good or services in exchange for their gifts. At the discretion of Enchanted Forest gifts received will be used to cover Enchanted Forest’s ongoing costs and expenses in an effort to help Enchanted Forest survive and provide family fun and adventure to future generations of Oregonians to come.
Creator Roger Tofte in front of the iconic Snow White Witch's head, created in the 60s.
Creator Roger Tofte today at 90 years old, busy cementing.
Roger's great granddaughter, running through the streets to the Tofteville western town. The western town was built the second year the park was open in 1972.