Nostalgia can be big business. Cartoons, TV shows, movies and toys once enjoyed by Gen Xers and millennials are making comebacks as parents recreate, and reinvent, their favorite childhood memories for their own children.
Story Land in Glen is capitalizing on the trend by replacing, for one night, the laughter of children with adults reliving their younger years. The 65-year-old children’s theme park is holding an adults-only (21+) Nostalgia Night on June 22. And the response has already been huge, with 2,000 tickets available for the event, priced at $17.99, selling out in less than four minutes, says Lauren Hawkins, director of marketing.
“The adult market is definitely looking for fun activities,” Hawkins says. “We know the adult summer camp concept is very popular.” She says the management team at the 35-acre park had been considering an after-hours event for the past 18 months, toying with a number of ideas, when they hit on the nostalgia theme. “Just about everyone in the New England area has a childhood memory of coming to Story Land,” Hawkins says. “This is a chance to relive that nostalgia or bring your adult children and recreate that visit.”
Hawkins says it will be a multigenerational crowd with people in their 20s to 70s. “They all have a different memory of the park,” she says. “In some cases, it might be the same group who came 15 to 20 years ago.” People are encouraged to recreate family photos as they enjoy their favorite snacks, like cotton candy, popcorn and ice cream cones, as well as beer and wine.
Visitors will see plenty of familiar sights as the parent company, Palace Entertainment, has not strayed far from the vision of the founders, Bob and Ruth Morrell, who created a village where story-book animals and characters could come to life.
Palace Entertainment owns and operates eight water parks, six theme parks, two animal parks, and five family entertainment centers across 10 states. Hawkins says each park, especially Story Land, has a unique feel.
Guests riding on Freddy the Fire Truck. Courtesy of Story Land.
Among the special appearances scheduled for the June event, with hours from 6 to 10 p.m., are Crush, a Dave Matthews tribute band; Freddy the Fire Truck, Story Land’s first ride; and the original Story Land Pumpkin Coach, which Hawkins says is lovingly maintained by local historian Sut Marshall.
The original Story Land Pumpkin Coach, circa 1969. Courtesy of Story Land.
Over the course of a season, Hawkins says the park can see a few hundred thousand visitors, so it is not surprising that tickets for Nostalgia Night sold out so quickly. She says it was hard disappointing those who couldn’t snag tickets but they didn’t want to oversell the event. “There’s a strong possibility of a second Nostalgia Night,” she says. “There are probably a lot who missed out on this one. So, we will probably do one more and then back to the drawing board for some new ideas.”