Good thing for the incumbents on the Seattle City Council that my daughter is only ten, because if she was old enough to have a vote, they all surely just lost it. In unanimously voting to clear cut the Fun Forest at the end of 2009, the council may have freed up some valuable real estate for their gradual bourgeoisification of the Seattle Center, but in doing so, they’ve pissed off thousands of kids of all ages.
I’ve heard a lot of talk about making the city more family friendly, but apparently, it’s all just talk. Sure, the Fun Forest was dingy and cheesy and a bit of a calculated rip-off, but it didn’t require a grueling commute to a state fair, or an onerous admission fee and a strip-search for contraband food from the pocket fleecing folks at Wild Waves. Best of all, it was just one of many attractions at the Center, and as such could be “enjoyed” in small doses — a trip to the Science Center and/or the Children’s Museum, a splash in the fountain and a couple of rides — that was a full (and affordable) day of entertainment for a family with young children.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in the EMP or Key Arena or the Space Needle or many of the other adult “attractions” the Center boasts, but the Fun Forest? Since my daughter rode her first roller coaster there at the tender age of two, it’s been a frequent destination. Sure, I sometimes kinda dread the inevitable question during nearly any Center visit, “Can we go on the rides?”… but I don’t think I’ve ever regretted caving in. And neither has my daughter.
Oh, I’m told the Fun Forest has been a money loser for years, but as a city we subsidize much stupider things, and while that shiny, new $52 million trolley might be nice, it sure ain’t no roller coaster. So before the council closes the book on this issue I urge them to take one last look at the Fun Forest through fresh eyes — the eyes of a child. Throughout my adult life I’ve been the occasional target of exasperated directives to “grow the hell up,” but it wouldn’t hurt occasionally for more folks to do the opposite.