June 24, 2015 - 9:00 PM
REVELSTOKE - The Enchanted Forest had its new owners spellbound from the first time they saw the woodland wonderland many years ago.
The roadside amusement park located between Sicamous and Revelstoke on the Trans Canada Highway has, for the fifth time in its 55 years, changed hands, but longtime visitors need not fear any drastic changes; its new owners vow to keep the popular attraction’s heart and soul alive.
Former owners Rocky and Juliet Ehlers put the forest and SkyTrekAdventure Park up for sale this past winter for $2.7 million after lovingly running the attraction for 25 years. It just so happened that a Calgary family with strong Sicamous roots were in the market for an Enchanted Forest of their own. They asked not to be named to protect their privacy, but say the opportunity was a dream come true.
“Sicamous is home away from home. We’ve had a summer place here since I was four years old and I grew up spending time at the forest,” the new owner says.
The Enchanted Forest beckoned him back dozens of times over the past several years with his own children, and three summers ago — before the park was even up for sale — he and his wife fantasized about having a place just like it.
“Both of us from a corporate world and not loving what we were doing for professions, we started having the ‘what if’ conversation,” he says. “Quickly it became a dream where there was no way it could ever happen.”
Then, in February 2015 while visiting a different amusement park, a relative mentioned the Enchanted Forest was for sale.
“We waited in line for our ride an hour-and-a-half and immediately went back to our hotel room to check on the listing,” he says. “We looked at each other and said, I think we can figure out a way to do this. It was a no brainer, we were made to do this.”
The former ‘blue suit guy’ quit his old job and is now wearing shorts and a t-shirt, loving every second of owning the Enchanted Forest. The deal closed on April 30, and opened for the year May 1 with all its original employees. While on the market, real estate agent Steve Daschuk says interest in the park came from as far away as China.
“I love the heart and soul of the park and don’t want to change it from that standpoint,” the owner says, adding most of the work will focus on giving the attraction a little TLC.
After all, the magic of the Enchanted Forest is something that survived when many other amusement parks didn’t.
“I remember back in the 80s, there were so many one-of-a-kind, local family amusement parks around here like the Flintstone Park in Kelowna,” he says. “Most of them are gone, the only survivor being the Enchanted Forest, and it’s not only surviving, but thriving.”
Among the perks of owning a fairytale forest is the opportunity to walk through it once all the tourists are gone. Since taking over the park, one of the owner’s best memories was when he and one of his kids went to check on the sprinkler system.
“What started out as checking the sprinklers turned into us running through (them), just the two of us in the Enchanted Forest. We had some sandwiches and later sat up on top of the treehouse to eat. It was pretty special,” he says. “For me, (the forest) is an opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and go to a place that is truly tranquil. You can spend time with your family, and in that moment, that’s what it’s all about.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015