Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Storybook Gardens in trouble

Wearing a pink train engineer's hat bought in Ely, Nevada, Fiona was alone on the Storybook ride.
Storybook Gardens is located in Springbank Park in London, Ontario. Storybook is aimed at kids, little kids, but it is having a hard go at attracting crowds and this should come as no surprise to anyone.

The list of what's right with the place is offset by a list of what's wrong. Sadly, the wrongs trump the rights.

Decades ago the park was filled with classic storybook references designed by local cartoonist Merle Tingley, well known right across Canada as Ting. From what I saw yesterday, the majority of Ting art, if not all, has been stripped from the park.

The other thing the park was famous for was its small zoo. Small, '50s-style zoos are no longer in vogue --- and that is not a bad thing. Too few animals kept in too tight enclosures often resulted in too many sad animals. Today the exotic animals are gone. Just recently the last seals were removed.

So what attracted me to the park? Why did I take my granddaughter to Storybook Gardens? Well, for one thing I wanted her to enjoy the Pirate's Island toddler play area. Fiona loves a well designed kiddy park. Sadly, we discovered the Storybook Gardens park wasn't particularly well designed. The toddler area was closed due to safety concerns.

We did find some small amusement park rides. A pleasant young woman helped Fiona make giant soap bubbles with a huge oval wand. Fiona held a pretend little tea party in a children's play house. This entertained both Fiona and another little girl.

Fiona had a good time. She liked the park. She checked out the splash pad and today with the temperature climbing to a hundred Fahrenheit we will definitely be going back. But, we are not going back because of the splash pad. There are other pads almost as close to my London home as the one at Storybook.

We are going back because I bought a season entry pass for both Fiona and me. I also bought us both passes for the park rides. The fours passes cost $140! That's crazy. The only reason I bought them was that entry to the park for the day, plus the cost of tickets for riding the park train and merry-go-round would have come to about $35. That's even crazier.

I'll take Fiona back to Storybook at least four more times in the coming weeks. We'll ride the carousel and take the train throughout the summer. But the cost of this fun leaves me a little angry. These charges are way out of line. If the city wants to charge for a first rate park, a quality facility, charge for something special, the city has to provide more, much more.

With some of the highest unemployment numbers in the country, an awful lot of London children (those with unemployed parents or underpaid ones) are being essentially denied access to a park supposedly designed especially for them.

1 comment:

BobA said...

THAT IS CRAZY!! 140 dollars to enjoy a public park or is it a private owned park? Check out Millenium Park in Chicago and the Crowne Fountain which is all free. Kids from all the Chicago neighborhoods enjoy the fountain. It reminds me of the historic photos of fire hydrants being opened on hot days.