Take a Look, It’s in a Book
Storyland revitalization planned for summer months
For more than 60 years, Storyland in New Orleans City Park has attracted children and families with its larger-than-life playground installations of fairy tale characters and their abodes. Now, like a lot of people who have surpassed the age of 60, Storyland is getting a facelift.
Storyland will close July 8, 2019 for an $800,000 revitalization that will update 18 classic storybook sculptures and add new exhibits. It will reopen in early fall 2019. The grand reopening date will be announced later this summer as construction progresses.
“Storyland is a treasured part of New Orleans. Generations of children have memories of the dragon slide and three little pigs,” says Bob Becker, CEO for New Orleans City Park in a press release. “This true gem in City Park will be revitalized this year, restoring the existing site and adding new additions creating an environment that will bring deeper interaction with the fairytales through fun, play and education.”
Longtime favorites including Pinocchio and the Whale, Hey Diddle Diddle, the Storyland Castle and the Puff the Magic Dragon slide will all benefit from some TLC over the coming months and go on to bring joy to future generations of New Orleanians. New exhibits planned for the enchanted playground are Jack and the Beanstalk, Humpty Dumpty, Tortoise and the Hare and Boudreaux the Zydeco Gator.
A strong focus on inclusive play and STEM curriculum guided the plans for this revitalization, as well as increasing ADA accessibility to the exhibits. Hey Diddle Diddle’s rocket ship will be brought to the ground with a space seat for children to climb into and parents to snap photos. Educational panels are being installed about the solar system and Earth, as well as information highlighting the gender and racial diversity of NASA.
At Humpty Dumpty, children and parents can go inside the structure and use large connecting blocks to build Humpty’s wall (not a political euphemism). And if anyone remembers the real fish tank from the 1950s at the back of Pinocchio’s whale’s mouth—long replaced by a fish prop—there will once again be moving fish inside the whale’s mouth, but this time they’ll be digital. A touchscreen is being installed for children to tap and make “fish” swim away.
According to Amanda Frentz, director of public relations for New Orleans City Park, the revitalization of Storyland was imagined with today’s families in mind.
“Storyland was a playground where children would play and parents would watch,” said Frentz. “We tried to incorporate some new aspects so everyone can play together, both kids and adults.”
The importance of family-friendly activities is clear. New Orleans was recently named as a “Top 10 American City for Family-Friendly Travel” by Forbes(https://www.forbes.com/sites/sandramacgregor/2019/06/06/top-nine-not-to-be-missed-american-cites-for-family-friendly-travel/#566425f1c55d), and Storyland was cited as being among the best family travel activities in New Orleans.
The funding for the much-needed revitalization was entirely sourced from private donations, and City Park prioritized hiring local companies for the job. Of the work involved, only 10 percent of it isn’t being done by local companies.
Upon reopening, admission to Storyland will slightly increase from $4 to $5 per person. Children’s birthday party packages(http://neworleanscitypark.com/birthday-parties/storyland-birthday-parties) can be booked today for dates beginning in the middle of September. Watch City Park’s social media accounts for photos and updates during the construction.