Seeing the Fun Forest for the trees

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.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    Just for old times’ sake, I think I going to go for one last visit. I’ll eat myself silly on cotton candy and hot dogs and throw-up on the side of the Center House, just like I did in 6th grade.

    However, if there was really any sort of demand for it, the Fun Forest wouldn’t be facing the bulldozer. I can think of so much we, as a city, could do with those dozens of acres other than subsidize an aging theme park that people don’t go to anymore.

  2. 2

    Tlazolteotl spews:

    Goldy,

    You might try taking your daughter to the Arboretum with a backpack with a birding book or two and a cheap pair of binoculars. There is some great birding as you walk over Foster Island, and then you can visit (for a short while longer) MOHAI.

    [full disclosure: I was a tomboy as a kid who loved observing and interacting with nature but always hated rides and rollercoasters]

  3. 3

    Deb spews:

    Will, you are probably right … there’s much that can be done with those acres …

    But I’m going to second Goldy’s POV. The trip to the Science Center, lunch of beignets or a corn dog and juice, and a couple of rides … yep, within the family budget … it’s served us well over 30 years, through three kids and now with two grandkids. Just last weekend, even with the cold weather, this was a necessary stop in a day of downtown Christmas shopping …

    I fear that the replacement will not be kid-friendly nor affordable.

  4. 4

    spews:

    Tlazolteotl @2,

    We’ve been on hikes through the Arboretum and elsewhere many times. But that’s not the point. There’s a place for rides too, just as there’s a place in most children’s lives for (gasp) TV and video games.

    My daughter’s already been to the Sculpture Garden a couple of times, but again, it ain’t no roller coaster.

  5. 6

    Jenny Durkan spews:

    I am with you Goldy.

    OK — so I am living in the past and wish they still had the bubble-ater. But it is a tried and true destination of choice in our house.

    Watch for it: “public-private” partnership where they upzone for a small highrise. “Family” gathering place on first floor and basement, and posh condos above. Developer gets the condos in return for public benefit of the “gathering place”. They probably really set the hook by proclaiming it a “hands on learning center” on climate change.

  6. 7

    weryhknx spews:

    Oh cry me a fucking river. Get your elitist ass out of your armpit and take the brat to Enchanted Village.
    Crist on a crutch the “fun center” was a broken down wreck back in the 80′s and has been barely patronized since. Clearly you prefer your whine over your brats safety.

    Fucker.

  7. 8

    spews:

    Dan Savage said this:

    My kid loves the Fun Forest. We go seven or eight times a year. Seriously. And we almost always have the whole thing to ourselves.

    Posted by Dan Savage | December 11, 2007 10:33 AM

  8. 9

    Spike spews:

    One would think this might be an issue people might agree on regardless of politics, but no. Goldy will be taken to task for his wishing that we might put the pleasure of little kids before the need for profit. No, the Enchanted Village is not convenient for people with families in this city. The Fun Forest is just the right size for little kids to get a bumper car ride and for families to spend a couple of hours at the Center. We did it with children and grandchildren. This bit of the Center was a gift to our smallest citizens from our city.

    But it doesn’t make enough profit. So there is another reason not to go to the Center, though profit will be made.
    Remember when we had a world class carousel at the FF? Not profitable enough. Sold and dismantled and sent East. No need for a carousel experience for our children. Remember when we had one of two statues of President Harding at Woodland Park? A piece of history of the old incompetent taking boy scout oaths on his trip west to die? Not profitable. Smash it up; profit before history, definately.

    Shame on the Council that not one of them voted with a sense that there is some kind of “profit” in providing this little piece of land to our children. And shame on posters here who cannot see what Goldy is writing about, whose values are so skewed that nothing ever cracks their antagonism to values other than their profiteering points of view.

    We lose another family, human-oriented bit of the sweetness of Seattle. And while families find no real reason to go to the Center, the profiteers will be contented.

  9. 10

    Linke spews:

    Just think of the size of the public bathroom we could build there in its place. Why we will be able to attract Republican congressmen from all over the country. Oh what fun!

    And I’m sure they will welcome children of all ages to play with them.

  10. 11

    fgqjweo;uir spews:

    No, the Enchanted Village is not convenient for people with families in this city.

    BULLSHIT

    Have you ever heard of I-5… it runs straight down to EV.

    And for the greenweenies that you all are, take a fucking bus… If I remember correctly your fucking bus riding trumps convenience. OOPS there’s that ass hypocrisy again!

    Or is it just the suburbs you elitist fuckers loathe and fear?

  11. 12

    Spike spews:

    I have a little bit of trouble with the logic of no.11. The writer thinks that hauling small children down to Auburn is no big deal and as convenient as going to the Center? And s/he thinks that saving a spot for small children at the Center is “elitist”? How does one get elitism out of the FF?

    Not to mention that no.11 us foul-mouthed, angry, insulting and utterly unable to participate in discussion that isn’t based on invective.

  12. 13

    dlfkjawerklj spews:

    Wait.

    You morons think nothing of asking the rest of us who think with our brains to drag our kids to doctors and the grocery store on buses. You think nothing of asking the rest of us to splash around on bikes to make you feel better over your gore induced guilt.

    Do you happen to remember any of those arguement you koolaid drinkers made?

    Now you’re whining about taking kids on a FUN trip to Federal Way???

    Do you even recognize your own hypocrisy?

    As for the foul languse: dude, I’m giving you exactly what you get from others here, at Kos and at Huffington.

    It seems that your whining about getting bitch slapped with the same foul language your asshole buddies employ is ALSO massive hypocrisy.

    you fuckers are too easy.

  13. 14

    YLB spews:

    hateful right wing dunce @ all

    You’re a loser.

    Goldy, please delete all of that hating moron’s comments and delete this one while you’re at it.

  14. 15

    Spike spews:

    No. 13, do you think before you attack? Do you try to argue with reason? I have never said anything here about buses or bikes, so your random scattershock attacks have nothing to do with this topic insofar as you respond to me. No, however fun a trip to Auburn might be, it is NOT the same as a quick jaunt to the Center for a ferris wheel ride, something that could be connected to other family activities. And, no, Dude, I don’t swear at you, and I don’t appreciate your random foulness at someone whom you do not know. I don’t have any buddies here, by the way, and wouldn’t have you for one, in any circumstances.

  15. 17

    cdvlm,qeiopf spews:

    so le’t translate spike: “don’t pick on me”

    Boohoo

    let’s translate the YIPper: “I don’t like when you use me tactics against me – CENSOR”

    Liberals: easy asses… aka whores

  16. 18

    correctnotright spews:

    @13: Troll: Please crawl back into the hole or sewer you came out of.

    this topic was about as non-partisan as you can get. some of the allure of the Seatttle center was the fun forest – for kids.

    Yeah, it was old and had no upkeep, but some of the old rides are less scary for little kids.

    I guess profit is the most important motive now…
    Maybe we could get the sonics to play in the FF?

  17. 19

    michael spews:

    “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.”

    Does this mean you’re not pro light rail or pro density any more?

    You can’t build a zillion condos and not build a way for the people who live in those condos to get around. It was either the 52M trolley or even more cash in massive road improvements.

    I agree that it’s sad to see the fun fair go.

  18. 20

    Spike spews:

    No. 17, you are a bad translator. It translates as “Let’s discuss or argue like adults rather than have a slanging match like fifth graders on a playground.” You don’t want to discuss like an adult, so….

  19. 21

    spews:

    No offense, but are you people serious?! I am 22 years old and I remember coming to the Seattle Center from Bellingham from 5 – 15 and ALWAYS thinking: why the hell is this nasty, chinese-factory-built, “forest” allowed to stand in the Seattle Center. Im sure all of youre children are entertained by spinning around in circles (paying no doubt!) but its not for the Seattle Center. The goal of the Center is to promote fun and entertainment that is Seattle Oriented. (hence why they should NOT remove Memorial Stadium) The fun forest does not provide that. Not to mention that they will probably be keeping the ferris wheel for you whiners anyway. There are many better uses that the Seattle Center can provide. If you want to go to a one-of-a-million mental and plastic “park” then take your minivan and head down to Auburn, you can stop at McDonalds on the way and entertain your kids with the new Bee Movie on your portable DVD player.

  20. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 Except Bite of Seattle and anti-war demonstrations, of course. But those aren’t regular attractions. They occur only a few days a year. And the best demonstrations and riots are downtown, anyway.

  21. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Streetcars lose money, so the city is building (and will operate) a streetcar line. Ferries lose money, so the state owns (and operates) the ferry system. Light rail loses money, so light rail proponents want to raise taxes to pay for it. But if Fun Forest can’t pay rent, the city council puts them out of business.

    Somebody’s got their priorities fucked up.

  22. 25

    Broadway Joe spews:

    I’m sad to see it go. And the troll fouling this board just doesn’t get it. Yeah, the Forest was cheap and more than a little shoddy. But I loved it. When I was a kid, it was my favorite place to go. Even into high school, a band trip to Seattle from Port Angeles wasn’t complete without a ride on the old Mad Mouse and playing videogames I knew I’d never see in PA. And to be quite honest, Enchanted Parks sucks ass. You’d think that since the place is owned by Six Flags, they’d drop a little money on the place, but years of driving up and down I-5 by it shows that they’re not doing much. And it’s barely ever open!

  23. 26

    Spike spews:

    21. For what it is worth, your disappointment is just part of your personal history. My ten year old granddaughter still asks to go to the FF with regularity and has loved it all her life. I did not see this thread as a topic about the upkeep of the FF, but it would be interesting to see how its essential abandonment has harmed attendance. (Sort of how the Seattle School District fails maintenance so regularly that they have to spend $100 million totally to replace a high school.) The FF has been a part of Seattle (for kids) since 1962, so by definition it is Seattle oriented. And it seems to me that no one here wants the kind of park you describe; just the opposite. We can go to Auburn, when it is that kind of day. But the FF offers its unique, easy, inexpensive pleasures to little kids who love it. Why is this gift to them so easy to discount?

    And of course they should not destroy the stadium, but it too has been the victim of poor maintenance. I see the powers that be totally setting it up for destruction. Why? There are more profitable uses for that land than a place that serves teenagers involved in sports. Little kids don’t need bumper cars; teenagers don’t need a stadium. More profit available, you know.

  24. 27

    YLB spews:

    let’s translate the YIPper: “I don’t like when you use me tactics against me – CENSOR”

    Sorry hater. Unlike you, I believe in and defend our Constitution. Feel free to spew your hatred at the appropriate outlet – like (un)SP.

    I support your right to be a complete idiot – as long as you don’t harm anyone.

  25. 28

    wes.in.wa spews:

    Goldy and Dori agree on this one; I’m thinking the City Council’s in a heap of trouble if they don’t reconsider.

  26. 29

    Puddybud spews:

    Hey y’all wait a minute. Goldy post sumtin interesting but as always he stops where the going gets rough. It is political. BIGTIME

    Who votes these Seattle Council clowns in year after year? You do

    Who complains they don’t listen to you? You do

    When the polls open in 2008 and their names are on the ballot who will vote for them? You do

    Who cares less about their constituents because they know they are rubber-stamp elected? Seattle City Council

    What will you lefties do about it? Vote for the same clowns in 2008

    Sorry but no matter how y’all lefties spin it, this is a lefty issue!

  27. 31

    Puddybud spews:

    I remember a thread on the Seattle Sonics and how the city complained Clay Bennet didn’t negotiate in good faith. Well who votes for the people who decides the negotiators? You do

    Who brags FUWA is a blue state? You do

    Who brags you own King County? You do

    Who brags you own Seattle? You do

    It’s your political toilet, and you won’t flush it.

    Have a great day!

  28. 32

    czechsaaz spews:

    My grandpa used to take me to Fun Forrest. My brother and I played miniature golf and rode the roller coaster a couple-three times a year. I’ve been back in the last year and visited the world’s crappiest mini-golf course. But my 3-year-old thinks it’s great. My newborn may never see it.

    While we’re at it, can we just do a controlled implosion of the Space Needle. It’s just a crappy relic of the Worlds Fair right? Think of how much the land is worth on the open market.

  29. 33

    Puddybud spews:

    I see Whackmandinojab has a blog. Maybe you can complain on his blog about the evils of the Seattle City Council!

  30. 34

    czechsaaz spews:

    @21

    Wow, you’re like 22? You know aaaaaallllllll!!! I’m in awe.

    If at some point in your 30′s or 40′s you catch the awestruck look in your child’s eye when he/she sees something you have discarded as stupid (say soap bubbles, a crappy stuffed bunny you win for them at whack-a-mole, or the torchlight parade) you will understand. Not to go all “why when I was your age” on you, but you know nothing yet. But you will, someday.

  31. 35

    2dflas;jiosd spews:

    Boohoo they are taking my toys!

    Grow up.
    the place is unsafe and you fuckers would be the first to sue the city if your precious brats got hurt.

    The place is a blight.

    An empty decaying blight.

    YOU chose to make Seattle kid unfriendly.

    YOU chose policies that drove families out.

    Now live with the consequences of your choices.

    And stop fucking whining

    God, you disgust me.

  32. 36

    YLB spews:

    PStupid – you don’t live here in Seattle, I do. Buzz off ignoramus.

    Same with you hater. We disgust you? Great. It’s an honor.

  33. 37

    Spike spews:

    I hate to say it, but puddytat has a point, in a way. This is a council we have elected, and it repeatedly votes as a block on issues such as this one. Instead of seeing the virtue in something like the FF, it sees the dollars in the “profit” issues as more important than the kids who love the FF. Yes, we did elect them, and the pity is that we don’t have a viable alternative. When election day comes, we will re-elect them, because the alternatives (from puddytat’s party) are FAR worse and utterly sold out to the profiteers. It is a real dilemma. I want a council that will listen to the needs and will of the people, but he is right that we don’t get that; we get the worst of both worlds. My wife and I have already decided that we will not vote again for Mayor N, no matter who runs against him, and sometimes we have to bite the bullet in issues like this.

    I think it’s okay to be 22 and to have an opinion, and his opinion, though wrong, is valid. The man doesn’t enjoy the FF. Truth to be told, though, most little ones LOVE the decrepit FF, and shame on our city council that they have let it go to pot. I also want the Harding monument back, and the carousel and the Green Lake Bowling Alley hamburgers and the Leilani Lanes, to get current. Also the Twin Teepees. We can’t stop the private owners, but we ought to be able to put a halt to the destruction of the FF (and to Memorial Stadium).

  34. 38

    Now we have to save the Fun Forest too? I"m still working on reviving the monorail spews:

    I used to leave in Lower Queen Anne and passed by the FF several times a week. It’s hard to think of a place a young, non-rich family can go for, um, fun. And that’s mostly the type of folks I saw there: young and not apparently rich (and hey, while we’re at it, coincidently often non-white too). Fun games? No cover? Convenient? A nice addition to the park, fountain, and center house? Yeah, fuck it, can’t have any of that. Something that pleases the masses instead of the uber-wealthy? Can’t have that, either!

    That’s why this is closing down: the people who go there don’t vote, and their interests are represented on the city council. Simple as that.

  35. 39

    Piper Scott spews:

    The Fun Forest is necessarily tacky; every city needs some tacky in order to keep the hoipoloi out! Who wants every place to be only for the clean, well-off, technophile or professional urban cave dweller with no kids?

    Oh…that’s pretty much what’s on the seattle city council, isn’t it, save for James Madison’s only surviving niece, Jean Godden.

    It’s a crying shame to first choke off support to the Fun Forest, then bitch when the choking produces results. It’s like a guy who murders his parents asking for leniency in sentencying because he’s an orphan.

    I’ll bet the common folk, left, right, center, would support a city-wide initiative to retain the Fun Forest and, as a part of the package, put the seattle city council collectively in the dunk tank!

    What’s next? Making the Sanitary Public Market sanitary?

    The Piper

  36. 40

    Puddybud spews:

    Spike: Today you are not that much lightweight in mind or thought. Tomorrow may be another story. But I have a full point, just admit it!

    Of course you voted them in and I am glad you actually thought the argument through. Expect to be torn apart by the drunkards when they come back from slapping each other on their wee-wees when they stumble in from Drunken Libbies.

    Now to your argument about People Whom Think Right Running for Seattle Council, no one commits political suicide by running for this position. We’ve already seen what happens when you run against McDimWitt. Seattle libs are not aggressive in their politics so you all pay with FF.

    See ya!

  37. 41

    Harold spews:

    Holy smokes Goldy. You finally got one right. Must be that this time of year brings out the goodness, even in a collectivist, progressive grinch like you.

  38. 42

    Puddybud spews:

    YLB – The Clueless One (TM) @36: When did discussing out of district politics become an anathema?

    You do it all the time calling for the coronation of Darcy Moonbat! Burner, your rubber stamp candidate.

    As usual, when I identify the customary and irrational voting traits of liberals, YLB – The Clueless One (TM) enters his idiot gene apoplectic mode.

    Keep up the good work YLB – The Clueless One (TM). You make your side proud every day you visit. You are a proud recipient of the HorsesASS Dull Knife Debating Award (TM). How is that Daily Kos addiction coming?

  39. 44

    horsesasshole spews:

    Amen. The City Council is killing everything that made Seattle interesting, funky and unique. That said, the City officially was castrated long ago when the Rainier “R” was replaced with the Tully’s “T”. Skid Row and all it represented is but a sad, distant memory.

  40. 45

    mr. rcguy spews:

    Maybe it’s been said ,,, but if you’ve truly spent any time at the FF lately you know that it’s kind of scary. Gang activity. Super aggressive pan handlers. I haven’t been able to take my kids there for years after 4pm (you know meet the family after work). To much swearing, screaming, fighting even.