Friday, August 25, 2006

Enchanted Village

Enchanted Village was a theme park located in Buena Park, built on the former site of Japanese Village and Deer Park.

I don't have much information about Enchanted Village, when it exactly started, and when it closed. It all ran in the early 1980's. It had a "tiki" theme to it, and offered only a couple of rides. Our family never went there.

One of its claims to fame was that it was the home of Oliver, a normal, healthy chimpanzee that walked only on its two feet, as opposed to alternating back and forth with its fists. Oliver also had a face that looked like a cross between a human being and chimpanzee.

Chase Maxwell, who previously submitted the brochure of Arnold's Farmhouse to us, submits some scanned copies of Enchanted Village paraphernalia. Thanks Chase!

Click on each image below to see the full sized images.

Enchanted Village Newspaper Article

Enchanted Village Theme Park Map

Enchanted Village Postcard Front

Enchanted Village Postcard Back

Do you have any memories of visiting Enchanted Village? Maybe you used to work there? Please share with us what you know; click on "Post a Comment" below.

39 comments:

  1. Heck yes, I remember Enchanted Village (and Japanese Deer Park). Just barely, but I remember.

    Thanks for posting this!

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  2. I totally remember Enchanted Village! My family and I went there in the early 70's a number of times and had a blast. I even remember the Martial Arts ninja show, and the "man-thing" gimmick they did.
    It allways game me a very "hippy-groovy" vibe. But, as a little kid, I didn't care about that, just having fun. ^__^

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  3. My aunt worked there in the mid-late 70s. There was a theme song that I remember only the beginning words to: "Enchanted Village is a wonderous village and you should come to see it." I don't remember it as well as the Japanese Deer Park, though (could buy Ry-Krisp from a vending machine to feed the deer).

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  4. I am the City Clerk for the City of Buena Park, and I am undertaking a project to create a vintage memorabilia display for city hall of the city's amusement attractions. If you have anything you would like to donate or loan to the City on long-term basis, please contact me at sreynoso@buenapark.com.

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  5. I worked at Enchanted Village taking tickets at the front gate in the summer of 1976. I remember Carol Burnett coming to see the place, and commenting that she was bored! I also remember that repetitive theme song -- "Enchanted Village is a wonderous village, and you really ought to see it..." on and on and on... They even sold a 45 record of it as a souvenir. I hated it then, having to listen to it constantly, but now I wish I bought one of those records.

    Commenter OCLisa22 in the Japanese Village & Deer Park thread recalled the lyrics:

    Enchanted Village is a quiet village
    And you should come to see it
    Enchanted Village is a wondrous village
    And the animals lead you to it

    So close your eyes
    Think of paradise
    A place in which there's room in
    A happy place just to giggle and laugh
    Where the animals love the humans


    I remember the trouble they had with peacocks jumping the fence and playing on the 5 freeway, and another time when a male lion broke free from his handler and was running through EV, with a bunch of animal trainers with pith hats running behind him, trying to corral him back in. He raced around the park a couple of times. It was funny to watch, and thankfully no one was hurt. I also remember the sweet waft of the Vanilla Wafers being produced at the Nabisco plant (which was demolished just last month, sadly). Used to time my breaks by them, since the baking seemed to occur at the same time every day!

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  6. As a child, I actually sang on that Enchanted Village theme song! When I visited the park, I was surprised to hear it playing over and over. My mom bought a bunch of the 45 records (still have 'em!).

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  7. William S...

    Wanna talk? I would love to buy two of those 45's from you if possible!

    Doug Mason
    canin2@aol.com

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  8. Oh my goodness! It had a bipedal hominid? I wonder whatever became of him.

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  9. I had an annual pass to Japanese Village. When it finally closed, someone briefly re-opened the park as "Enchanted Village". They kept much of what had been there before, but changed the look with a jungle theme overlay (and emphasis on animals). Unfortunately, the new version of the park was indeed rather boring, and didn't last long.

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  10. My Birthday is on June 18th too I just need to know what year.

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  11. RE: Oh my goodness! It had a bipedal hominid? I wonder whatever became of him.

    There was a TV special done on Oliver. After genetic testing, he was found to be a normal chimpanzee. He lived a hard tough life but is still alive and now better cared for.
    For more info, search wikipedia - oliver chimpanzee

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  12. I worked at the enchanted village, security at night, I worked graveyard all night by myself, and during my security rounds I would visit all the animals, including Oliver. It was a great place.

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  13. B. Toy - Oakton, VAAugust 25, 2008 12:15 PM

    I must contradict Carol Burnett - I found the park quite worthwhile for my family, though we only visited on two occasions. The tug-o-war between elephant and kids, and the tarantula races were great fun. The shows were well produced, including a musical (very good vocalists) with a "Noah's Ark" kind of theme (with a few scantily-clad ladies to keep the dads interested.) My personal opinion is that they could not pay for such labor-intensive presentations at prevailing prices for admission. Disneyland, you will note had more mechanization and larger crowds. EV just could not push the volume of people through the park that would make it solvent. It is unfortunate is that the things that made it attractive to us (more personal interaction and human interface) likely caused it to be unprofitable.

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  14. I remember this park very well, as I was the Elephant trainer there and also was a stand in for the lion wrestling. I left there just before it closed, I believe in 1977. Every ones paycheck bounced and it went bankrupt because of very bad management.

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  15. Buena Park is a California general law city with a council-manager government system. Everyday management of city functions is directed by a professional city manager, who is overseen by an elected City Council of five non-partisan members elected at large and whose chair acts as mayor.

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  16. Working at Enchanted Village was my first job in 1976. I worked in the games area. I really enjoyed walking around the grounds on my lunch and break because it brought back fond memories of my earlier childhood at Japanese Deer Park. I could tell Enchanged Village was not going to make it as there were never many visitors.

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  17. I went once as a child, I couldn't say when. It may even have been opening day. They had Bob Denver and Alan Hale on hand, and I met them. It was great.

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  18. I remember feeding the fish there. Carp I think. And there was a ride. I boat ride. A boat took you through a cave and in the cave, there was a guy dressed up like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I was just a kid. I remember it was a lot of fun there. for a kid....and it was fun feeding the deer.

    Now, Orange County is all messed up...sad

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  19. I remember going to Enchanted Village as a child. My mother was pregnant with my sister and she was furious because the elephant handler was trying to recruit my mother to play tug o' war against the elephant! I recall her saying, "I'm pregnant buddy!". I also remember an area with hawaiian dancers with torches and flames dancers?? I do recollect a show like a Tarzan spectacular with a guy who dives into a lagoon and then battles with a creature from the Black Lagoon!! Really cool as a kid of 4 years!! Does anyone remember the low priced section of Knotts Berry Farm across from the actual park (where the parking area is now) with the kooky playground area that had the carved figure cut-outs. And they also had the train that went around the lake and into the tunnel. Anyone else remember that cool place???

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    Replies
    1. Sure do Dave. Here is a Facebook page for people that remember it, as we do!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Knotts-Jungle-Island/118288511518863?fref=ts

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    2. Sure do, Dave! And here is a Facebook page that remember it as we do...

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Knotts-Jungle-Island/118288511518863?fref=ts

      Delete
  20. I remember Enchanted Village! I loved this place. My favorite thing was the tug of war with the baby elephant. They had a long rope tied to the back of a baby elephant, and they'd get about 50 kids or more on the other end. The baby elephant always won.

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  21. I served as PR Director there for a couple of years before the park's demise. The park was only open days, but we held a charity benefit there in the evening one summer. Torches lit the park and we had boat rides. Lion roars pierced the night. One of our stage shows was based on the movie Island of Dr. Mureau with Burt Lancaster where people were turned into animals and vice versa. Enchanted Village was acutally the extension of a company that provided exotic animals to TV and film..remember Daktari?, Any Which Way But Loose with Clint Eastwood? So many others. I remember traveling with a trainer in a Ford Econo Van with Zamba, a 600 pound African lion in the back for a photo shoot at a new Red Lion Inn in Buena Park. Lots of wonderful memories from my time at Enchanted Village.

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  22. I worked at Enchanted Village the summer of 1977. I started out at the front gate taking tickets in a pink sari. After a few weeks I climbed the corporate ladder all the way up to llama walker. :>) How many people can say that? (three that I know of - my co-workers Cindy and Sue, and me). We had to groom Marc the llama in the morning, blow up balloons, and then walk him around the park, selling balloons. Marc was not overly cooperative - he would spit and try to stomp on our feet. In hindsight, can't say as I blame him...
    I remember a nice guy name Daryl who worked there - he wrote the Noah Show (a musical at the park that featured Noah and plenty of animals, as you might guess). Daryl did various other high-level stuff around the park. It was very much a mom-and-pops operation. There was a German tiger trainer and a cute young guy named Ridge who was one of the elephant trainers. Ridge also starred in one of the shows where he was stranded on a desert island with a bunch of animals in nothing but a loin cloth. I have pictures of that show but don't know how to post them here.

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    Replies
    1. OCLisa... I remember also a fellow named Jerry (Gerry?) Foti, I believe, who walked those llamas as well!

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  23. I remember the Creature from the Black Lagoon - scared the crap out of my sister and I, but also remember feeling sorry for it because it had to live in the lagoon and couldn't live normally.

    Also to Dave Nunez, that cool part of Knotts (the free area with the rolling barrel) was Jungle Island. We used to play ditchum there and the older kids would make out.

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  24. Thanks for the memories! I've been trying to remember the name of this park for years. I remember petting tarantula, spitting llamas, feeding the giraffes and being a member of a kids club that would feature special animal interactions. I had a patch from the club that was the Enchanted Village logo of the lion and the deer. I also vividly remember the Creature of the Black Lagoon show. I also have a memory of Japanese ladies diving for pearls. Does anyone else remember Japanese pearl divers?

    MB, Savanna High Class of '86

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  25. when ev closed did they sell animals and stuff to the public? i remember waiting outside in the car while my dad went inside the now closed park to buy a tortoise,he didnt buy it but this is a vivid memory. anyone know?

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  26. I had my 12th? Bday here. I think it was twelve. They had a show where you got to wrestle a bear. I seriously doubt they would allow this today, the liability would be through the roof. But at 12 years old, when they asked if anyone in the audience wanted to wrestle the bear My hand shot up and they selected me to come on stage.

    Once on stage they put a very heavy jacket on me ( to protect me from the bears claws), they then put the bears front paws on my shoulders, then I was to proceed to wrestle the bear. I still don't know what I was supposed to do, because when I pushed the bear off me they said no... do this instead. Whatever this was.

    All I do know is the bear had no teeth, and proceeded to gum me while we "Wrestled". my hair was like straw for the rest of the day with Bear saliva. My parents were disgusted, but I was a 12 year old boy, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We still have pictures of the whole event.

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  27. I remember going when I was maybe 5, going with my dad and riding on a camel and an elephant. It's such a vague memory, but it stands out as something fun.

    Heather--from Anaheim, CA

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  28. i worked at enchanted village as a young girl i was about 7 or 8 i danced in the hawaiian show there this was a fun time was able to go on all the rides i have great memories of the park

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  29. Im Brian and i used to work there. I worked in 2 shows, the musical with the horses and adam and eve. I was a hunter and a gorilla threw me off the top of the treehouse, then a swamp monster would eat me.. dont worry only hollywood blood. what great memories working there..

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  30. I remember this place, as I was looking back on what was a great Buena Park, my grandfather had a auto body shop on Commonwealth. I do remember this place, I must have been 5-7 or so, you could buy an ice cream cone that had pellets so you could feed the Giraffe. So sad to see how much we lost from BP: Cars Of The Stars, Arnolds Farmhouse, the bike shop across from the Pussycat theater. Ahh great memories.

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  31. I have a suggestion for all of the old Enchanted Village employees – let’s start a Facebook page we can all join and post pictures and stories, who knows we might even get a reunion going…
    Frank Tartaglio EV guy from 1974 – thru – 1978
    My email is ftartaglio@yahoo.com

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  32. I have vague memories of the Japenese park and Enchanted Village. I remember the pearls and I am sure I rode an elephant :) The theme song goes through my head often, which prompted me to find this site. I would LOVE one of those 45s also! kare_bears@hotmail.com

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  33. wow. You know, I think when I tell stories about my days working at Enchanted Village that people may have a hard time believing me. I worked for the president, and was an exotic animal handler in my spare time thanks to Ralph Helfer's school. I rode elephants, and loved to watch Toni Helfer make them laugh. I vividly remember my first day of work and encountering Doc and Eve and their trainers, watching the shows, laughing until we all fell on the floor watching Boone Narr take Doc through the tricks he learned for BattleStar Galactica. Doc would walk on two legs, but then he was put into a dog suit to imitate a dog. I am stunned to find all of this. I love it. So many hilarious memories. And it's also the year Elvis died and my co worker had dated him. And then the bankruptcy. sigh...
    yes, a FB page would be great. Would love to share shannonm@gmail.com

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  34. Mark L.
    I was hired as the swing dancer in the salute to the bicentennial musical. They kept giving me more jobs and at one point I was singing n dancing in one show, I was the emcee of the tiger and elephant show and Dieter would let me ride the elephants back to the barn after the last show. I also was MC of bear wrestling and played the gorilla and sometimes a hunter so I might have thrown Brian off the 30 ft ledge. It was a great place but the last summer when they gave the checks out it was a road race to their bank because only the first 30 were good. I broke my leg in the Gorilla costume a month before they closed and lost about $1500 in wages, that was a month and a half's worth. I remember this beautiful brunette that was the head trainers girlfriend and my friend Charley who owned the souvenir stands.

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  35. My aunt's parents (not blood related aunt) were Ralph Helfer and Toni and they were who started Enchanted Village. On Ralph Helfer's facebook page there is an album of just photos from Enchanted Village. http://www.facebook.com/RalphHelferBooks
    There is the link if anyone is interested! He also has a lot of photos of the animals he trained as well. Tana (his daughter) mostly runs the page but I know Ralph goes on there as well.

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  36. I worked at Enchanted Village in 1976/77 as one of the animal trainers. I first attended Gentle Jungle's "Affection Training" Classes taught by Ralph Helfer, and after completing those classes worked the camel ride (with camels Louise and Ralph) at the park. Great job working with all the Gentle Jungle people and the animals! Would love to hear from anyone from those good old days, and I agree, a reunion would be awesome! I have some great pictures to share, including a picture of my Affection Training class taken with Zamba, I bet some of you might be in that pic!! Let's stay in touch ... donhaar@hotmail.com

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