My earliest memory of a theme park is The Enchanted Village in Federal Way, Washington State. It was a magical experience to a kid who’s typical ride experience was the Ferris Wheel at the county fair. I can remember walking down a path towards the Scrambler, riding on a mini roller coaster and walking through a fairy tale forest.
Of course, these are the memories of a mini me. In 2023 the Enchanted Village doesn’t quite exist as I remember it. Lets take a walk down the path of some theme park history.
The Enchanted Village
Byron Betts opened the Enchanted Village in 1977. Before deciding to build this $800,000 theme park, he operated the Point Defiance Park merry-go-round. The park was built on 12 acres (48.5 square meters) of land and opened with the following eight rides:
- Bumper Cars
- Ferris Wheel
- Enchanted Railway
- Red Baron
- Kiddie Boats
In 1984, the park expanded and put in a water park. The name changed from The Enchanted Village to Enchanted Parks at this point.
The parks would go through a series of changes over the years. New rides and slides would be added, at times guests could buy tickets for only the water park or the dry theme park. In 2000 Six Flags bought shares of the park, however, the park wouldn’t ever end up on the official Six Flags roster.
By 2016, with even more sales, acquisitions and changing hands, the parks would be renamed to Wild Waves Theme & Water Park. To date (as of 2023), this is still the name of the park.
The Enchanted Village in the 1980s
I’ve got to say, trying to find anything online about Enchanted Village is nearly impossible so we’re going to go with a first hand account. Please remember that these memories are from the little me, someone who was between 4 and 10 years old.
The thing that I remember most vividly about Enchanted Village is the storybook forest. I found a vlogger by the name of The Disneyland Beat who went to the Enchanted Village in 2022. In their Enchanted Village video, they mention that they could see some remnants of a storybook forest.
So I’m pretty sure I’m not misremembering Humpty Dumpty or Little Red Riding Hood. Unfortunately, my family wasn’t ever really big on taking photos on vacations or special moments like visiting this theme park. So I don’t have anything of my own.
The only ride I have a really vivid memory of going on was the Scrambler. I absolutely loved this thing and I’m pretty sure my mother was glad when I got to the age where I could ride it alone. There was also a kiddy roller coaster that I faintly remember riding as well.
I remember when the water park was added. My mother, who used the Enchanted Village as a school shopping bribe, was not a water park person. We had a water park in the middle of a desert city in South Eastern Washington State that I only got to go to a few times. So every year I got to go to Enchanted Village after the water park was opened, I begged my mom to go.
It was 1986 or 87 when my mom finally gave in. This was my very first experience with a wave pool and I loved it. There were only a few slides that I was allowed to go on, so I spent a majority of time with mom in the wave pool.
I don’t remember when my last time at Enchanted Village was. It was likely somewhere in the late 80s because the tickets to the park became more expensive.
A Theme Park with a Lost Past
It’s kind of sad that nobody has really recorded the early history of Enchanted Village. There are literally no pictures of the storybook forest or the early rides. I was able to find an obituary of the founder, Byron Betts, in the digital archives of The Seattle Times.
I guess a lost past is the fate of a small, little known theme park in the United States. It makes me wonder how many other states had parks that kind of just faded out of memory?