BY SPEROS MARINOS / November 2015
From 1958 to 1980 Cumberland Township was the home of Fantasyland Storybook Park. This park was south of Gettysburg, sandwiched between Taneytown road (Route 134) and Baltimore Pike (old U.S. 140). Prior to the Adams County 911 street numbering program Fantasyland had an address of R.D. #1, Gettysburg.
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Dick lived in a house directly adjacent to Taneytown Road at the entrance to their park. Three daughters were raised in this house. Fantasyland’s owners always said that the storybook park was not an amusement park.
The 35-acre site was home to the world’s largest talking Mother Goose. This 32 foot tall work of art had an audio system. Chat allowed an employee to converse with the park visitors from a concealed location. Other attractions at the park were Santa’s workshop complete with animated elves; The “Cannonball Express” was an 1862 rniniture model train large enough for children to ride; over 50 animated displays; many costumed characters and the iconic I ‘Mr. Muscleman’ with his larger than life Mussleman apple.
A heavily air conditioned indoor ride was named “Winter Wonderland.” This display had many winter scenes with mounds of simulated snow. This was a cool ride on a hot summer day. Three large ponds were positioned between the trees in the wooded area of the park. A puppet theatre was added after the park had opened.
“Fort Apache” was constructed at the southern end of the property. Cowboys and Indians would stage battles around and in the fort. It was constructed using rough wooden logs. A beautiful Fairy Princess was available to grant wishes to the children that visited. The Old Woman who lived in a shoe slide was popular. The wooded area was named The Enchanted Forest.
Many Adams County kids worked at Fantasyland during the summer vacation season. A few of Gen. Eisenhower’s grandchildren worked at the park. President Kennedy’s family visited the park because of the close proximity of Camp David, the presidential retreat.
The Dick family worked very hard to construct, operate and upgrade this unique park. Ken Dick used his experience as a United States Marine during World War II to ensure the success of the family business.
Two popular and unique features of the park were Santa’ s live reindeer and Little Bo Peep’s live sheep. I know of at least one instance when the sheep got loose and the employees had to wrangle them back in.
The gift shop was nice and stocked with all manner of merchandise. Interesting post cards showing photographs of the park could be purchased. Fantasyland bumper stickers could be seen on many cars in the lot.
Fantasyland closed in 1980. The Gettysburg National Military Park bought the land. The new visitors center driveway uses the old Fantasyland entrance. Cumberland Township’s world famous park is no more.
Learn more about Fantasyland by attending the Cumberland Township Historical Society quarterly meeting on Dec. 7. Jackie White will present a photographic tour of Fantasyland. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren, 1710 Biglerville Road, north of Gettysburg. The meeting is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Speros Marinos is a member of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.