Prince Edward Island’s iconic former amusement park goes up for sale
NEW HAVEN, PEI — Many of the much-loved attractions that once made up Fairyland and its successor, Encounter Creek, exist only in the memory of adults who flocked to both parks as children.
The towering waterslide (rumoured to be the tallest on PEI), the elephant spraying water from its trunk into a pond, the Fairyland Express and the White Castle, with two red turrets and a double red door, which was the gateway to a child’s magical world.
However, some of the infrastructure remains and, for the right price, someone with an entrepreneurial flair and, possibly, a penchant for nostalgia, can bring it back to life.
“It was an iconic gathering place for young children in the 70s, 80s and 90s,” said Hamish Redpath, who runs Redpath Realty based in Flat River, PEI. property listing agent. “It’s an incredible site right next to the Trans-Canada Highway. Over the past few weeks, I can’t believe how many people I’ve talked to about this who have responded with huge smiles and a smile when I mentioned I was selling Fairyland.
During a site visit with SaltWire Network on June 29, Redpath walked through one of the two remaining main buildings, right next to the old parking lot, where there are still some reminders of the park that operated under two names: d first as Fairyland, from 1965 to the early 1990s, then as Encounter Creek, from 1997 to the early 2000s
Outside, he pointed to the wave pool installed by the owners of Encounter Creek, Redpath said the mechanical room that operated the pool was still in working order.
“Somebody could definitely refurbish it and operate a wave pool…or maybe use it like a conventional pool,” he said.
The walkway people used to enter Fairyland Forest is still there, with a toilet inside that Redpath says is still working.
However, much of the forest is gone, along with the long winding paths that took families to visit Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Little Red Riding Hood. The provincial government purchased part of the land in 2012 to make way for the new Trans-Canada Highway.
The station – home to the Ferryland Express which traveled on a track through the forest – is also still standing but in disrepair.
The remaining two main buildings on the 16.8-acre site — a 4,000 square foot metal-roofed structure that was once a restaurant and gift shop and a 2,000 square-foot metal-roofed building that was an arcade — were built when Ray and Robin Chace of Crapaud acquired the property in 1997 and turned it into Encounter Creek.
The property is currently owned by Red Door East Inc. The owner declined to do an interview, except to say the grounds have been maintained and renovations have been done in the past year.
A lot of memories
Many islanders have fond memories of both parks, with some equating them with Rainbow Valley, the Cavendish park that closed in 2005.
Joanne Vessey from Belfast, PEI said that when she attended Belfast Consolidated School as a child, they took trips to Fairyland.
“We would ride the train through the station and all around the castle,” Vessey said. “It was always a happy time and a great day away from the classroom. We would also like to (go) with the family. Memories of Fairyland and when it became Encounter Creek with the wave pool are as clear as my days in Rainbow Valley (in Cavendish). It’s a shame kids today don’t have an old-school theme park like Fairyland.
Adam Affleck of Hazelbrook, PEI, said his parents used to take the family to Fairyland on a day trip.
“It was great to take a break from the chores (at the farm) and have a hot day (at the park), especially when it changed to Encounter Creek and there was the wave pool,” said Affleck. “At the time, every kid in Prince Edward Island had to take a trip on that train. It was epic.”
Keith MacLean from Stratford, PEI said he grew up in Montague and used to visit Fairyland on school trips.
“I remember the train and the castle,” MacLean said. “Everyone in my generation has amazing memories of Rainbow Valley and Fairyland…and when Fairyland became Encounter Creek, it had the only wave pool on the island. Good times and good memories. My daughters would have loved that.
New Haven resident Steve Pollard said he hopes someone can restore the site to its former “legendary” status.
“It’s definitely nostalgic,” Pollard said. “It will be great to see the property carried over and brought back at least to some degree from what it was in the various years of its history.”
Redpath said the property had just recently been listed and there were no formal offers yet.
With multiple working septic systems and wells, Redpath said he thinks the property would make a great combination campground and amusement park, but he adds that’s just his opinion.
“I’ve spoken to some business people in the community who have ideas about this,” Redpath said. “I’ve also had a few recent screenings. I think someone will come soon who has the nostalgia and sees the potential. From the people I’ve spoken to, this property has a special place in people’s hearts that is equal to Rainbow Valley.”
In one look
Here is information about the old New Haven Amusement Park site:
• Fairyland was opened on Saturday June 19, 1965 by a farmer who lived on the other side of what was then the Trans-Canada Highway.
• It survived until the 1990s before closing.
• Ray and Robin Chace of Crapaud purchased the site in 1997 and renamed it Encounter Creek. The couple spent over $2 million adding things like a wave pool, as well as constructing two buildings that would serve as the new main entrance.
• Encounter Creek would last only a few years before closing.
• In 2012, the Government of PEI. purchased the land that was once Fairyland Forest for the purpose of building a new addition to the Trans-Canada Highway.
• The site now has an area of 16.8 acres.
• The site is currently for sale. The asking price is $849,000.