Fairy Tale Forest on Oak Ridge Road was an enchanted place for children from 1957 until it closed in 2005. But in fairytales, anything can happen, and the magical location is expected to return to life in 2019.
The park was founded by Paul Woehle, a German immigrant whose inspiration stemmed from the stories collected by the Grimm brothers in his native country. Woehle’s whimsical structures created a delightful (and sometimes scary) place that became a favorite destination for families and school groups. Kids could easily imagine themselves in the roles of Hansel and Gretel, Pinocchio, the old woman who lived in a shoe, and other well known characters as they explored the 16-acre park.
According to NorthJersey.com, the current owners are Christine Vander Ploeg – Woehle’s granddaughter – her husband, and sister-in-law. Prior to their decision to resurrect the park, a self-storage building in the back of the property covered its taxes. Now Vander Ploeg has devoted several years to restoring the handcrafted castle, shoe house, other structures, and sculptures. Family members and local tradesmen have removed debris, made repairs, and carefully painted to reinstate the fairytale fun.
The roadside building will reopen as Fables, a family-style restaurant offering a menu different from those of nearby eateries. Soon, a new generation of children will come to love the stories, while their parents and grandparents travel in memory back to their own childhood appreciation of the tales.