Journey 7: Storybook Land & The Land of Oz AKA Locked in a Theme Park.
You read that right. It's not clickbait. I literally got locked inside a theme park. But more on that later.
My cousin was getting married in the middle of nowhere, aka Aberdeen, South Dakota. Just out of curiosity, I scrolled through Google Earth just to see what exactly was in this particular part of flyover country. I come across Storybook Land and the Land of Oz. Curiosity piqued, I looked into the park and lo and behold, it did have a kiddy coaster. Knowing this, I began my plotting to get to the park. I realized it would be easy since my sister was currently in rehearsals for a community theatre production of Wizard of Oz as Glinda/Auntie Em. So I could rope her in to my scheme.
For whatever reason, I always get sick around the time I go to a wedding. So, I'm just sitting in the backseat of the car with a swollen head and a death wish. When we got into town, the family was having a picnic party in a park. At that point, I just wanted to stay in the hotel and sleep.
I was dragged out to the park for some family time. I grabbed a plate and sank down into a chair, just waiting until I could go back to the hotel. Some food in my belly, I regained enough consciousness to realize that Storybook Land was across the street from where the picnic was.
I excused myself from the picnic and made my way over, immediate family saying they'd follow shortly.
At the gates of the free-to-enter park.
And of course, you gotta follow the yellow brick road.
So I made my way to the ticket booth to be informed that the rides were about to close in the next couple minutes, so that if I had purchased my credit-whoring tickets, I would not be likely to get to use it before the ride closed. But that the park does remain open 24 hours. (Spoiler alert, it wasn't)
I at least got a picture of the coaster's sign, but not the ride itself. Why? There were still little kids riding the coaster with parents nearby. And I realized it wouldn't be in my best interest as a sickly looking, childless, adult male to be taking pictures of not my children.
Since sister wanted a picture with a Glinda statue, I had to find it before they got over to the park, so I headed over to the Land of Oz section of the park. And it started with a mini-walkthrough of the Gale house as it was being swept up by the tornado. And the damn thing had an honest to God jumpscare that got me.
But on the other side of it, I did find the statues I was looking for.
The whole gang
And Glinda, herself
Family got over, we got our pictures, and then decided to follow the yellow brick road through the woods. Since I wanted to go through the Tornado house again and show the family, I lead us back to the entrance of it. It was now locked. This should have been a clue that something was amiss. But since we had yet to realize we were in a 1980s slasher movie, we started walking along the yellow brick road. We passed little vignettes re-enacting scenes from the story.
Like finding the Tin Man.
I don't remember him having a house, though.
Since it was dark and late, we made plans to come back out to the park to get a good look around in the daytime. My coaster-starved self was happy about that. (spoiler alert, that didn't happen)
Some spooky old trees
They're not too happy about their apples being plucked.
The Cowardly Lion had a fun little cave.
The Witch's Castle.
Oh noes! Dorothy's been captured by flying monkeys!
Spooky ghost. (I was working with a new camera, so I was still toying around with the flash)
I wish I'd taken this sign's advice.
We finish the trail through Oz and there was no Emerald City. Bummer. Since it was dark, late, and mosquito season, we realized it was high time to head out and back to the hotel, talking about coming back later. So we get to the entrance to the park and find that the gate has been closed and locked.
What? Let's backtrack a minute here: I was told the park would remain open 24 hours. So why is the gate closed with a chain bolting it shut? We were locked in. The ticket booth/gift shop/restaurant was closed with the lights off. Did that really just happen?
On the park map, there looked like another entrance on the other side of the park. So we started heading back that way before realizing that there was no other exit. So we headed back to the main entrance hoping to spot someone that could let us out before we resorted to camping in the Lion's cave overnight or attempting to pole vault over the fence.
Luckily, we did find a member of park security on a golf cart who was able to let us out. Well, four out of five of us anyway. Somehow, dad got separated from us and security had to find him and usher him out.
After escaping Alcatraz Storybook Land we all decided that we would not return to the park on our way out of town.
P.S. Larry, if you're reading this, take what you want (if anything as this is a small park and I got no actual ride images) for the index.
CenturyFlyer wrote:Haha, trapped in a kiddie park! Was it dead enough the whole time that something didn't feel 'off'?
It was 5 minutes from closing at a kiddie park in the middle of nowheresville, South Dakota. The park doesn't exactly know what a crowd is.
Canobie Coaster wrote:
This makes me a whole lot better about posting a "normal" report of a single, childless adult at Dutch Wonderland.
I had no clue this park even existed so this was a nice report. Being locked in a park with all those figures is definitely an experience you won't soon forget.
It was 5 grown-a$$ adults, so I don't know if that makes it better or worse. And there's a whole lot of the park I didn't get pictures of, including a castle surrounded by storybook and assorted fairytale creatures.
Oh man, that's crazy! Glad that you ended up seeing the positive in it all. That said, if I ever manage to get Rikki locked inside a random kiddie park in search of some kiddie credit, I'm pretty sure divorce papers wouldn't be much further behind.
Wow! That's quite a story. This isn't the same Oz park that was abandoned for a while, was it? Either way, it is a pretty creepy park to get trapped in. Glad you got out but boy, that would have been a story if you all were stuck inside overnight!
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