Found: The Enchanted Forest
I’m totally getting to relieve my childhood through this week’s scavenger hunt finds. Earlier this week, I went to the newly re-opened Starry Nights at Shelby Farms, and last night, I went to the Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace Museum.
The Enchanted Forest has been a sign of Christmastime in Memphis for 65 years (as of 2018). Originally, it was at the Gayoso Hotel, and when that closed, it moved to Goldsmiths. At Goldsmiths, designer Barry Hartzog made the Enchanted Forest something really special – different costumes for the animatronic animals every year and new scenes so that the forest looked totally different every year.
Now, the Enchanted Forest is at the Pink Palace Museum, and all of the proceeds from it are donated to LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center.
There are two parts to the Enchanted Forest. The forest itself, and the Festival of Trees.
The Enchanted Forest is a winding path past retro animatronic animals frolicing in a cute, crafty winter wonderland. There are baking mice, skiing penguins, and all kinds of igloo-building, Santa-routing and present packing. The concept is very simple, but the execution is wonderful (and there are all sorts of surprises at eye-level for kids).
At the end of the trail through the forest, there are gingerbread houses made by Memphians, photos with Santa and a big model train set up.
But to enter and exit the Enchanted Forest, you’ve got to go through the Festival of Trees.
There are about 20 trees, all with unique themes designed by local organizations. There was a University of Memphis themed tree by the alumni association, a “Beat of Memphis” music-themed tree designed by the LeBonheur cardiology team, and a “What a Girl Wants” tree designed by high school cheerleaders. The Festival of Trees also has informative booths on the holiday celebrations of countries all over the world.
Last night was a special night in the Enchanted Forest – it was story time with Santa.
Pajama-clad kids gathered around to hear Christmas stories read by Santa. The kids were full of questions for Santa, most notably, “Where’s Rudolph?” (Santa’s answer – “At home, taking a nap”).
Enchanted Forest Festival of Trees (benefiting LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center)
Through Dec. 31
Pink Palace Museum
3050 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111