Once upon a time, there was a magic portal to an extraordinary realm
where adventure and playtime merged across a vast landscape of fairy tales incarnated.
This portal was, in reality, a mere ticket booth.
And the extraordinary realm beyond that ticket booth was the independently owned
family amusement park known as King's Castle Land of Whitman, Massachusetts.
Over four generations, King's Castle Land hosted and fostered the imaginations of youngsters
and the young at heart.
Through this coloring activity website, we hope to recapture just a bit of that magic and share it with the world.
A complete history of King's Castle Land is difficult to come by.
The story goes, around 1946, a fellow by the name of Joe King put up roadside attractions
alongside his King's Restaurant on Bedford Street, part of Rt. 18 through Whitman, Massachusetts.
Rt. 18 was a big deal circa the late 40s, the dawning of the great travel era,
when station wagons and road trips were fast becoming an integral part of the American lifestyle.
Bedford Street was a hot-spot on the way to Paragon Park and Nantasket Beach.
Not far from King's Restaurant was the famous Toll House Inn,
where the recipe for chocolate chip cookies originated in Ruth Wakefield's kitchen about 10 years earlier.
Rt. 18 bustled with tourists.
Property owners like Joe King wanted to accommodate them with entertainment and hospitality.
Joe had bigger ideas than his neighbors.
He wanted to stand out from the heritage related attractions like the Toll House Inn
and Peaceful Meadows Ice Cream Farm, and so flanked his King's Restaurant with big, colorful displays
of life-size models based on famous fairy tales and nursery rhymes.
Indeed, the property and its wonders would remain a hallmark of Whitman, Massachusetts, for over four decades, but just what King's Restaurant was like during the 50s and 60s is a mystery nowadays.
There are only a couple of photographs* from this era making the rounds on the internet - and not much else to go on.
What we do know is that, sometime in 1967, there was a fellow named Clarence Whitney,
the owner of a little toy store in a nearby city, appropriately called Hideaway Toys.
Clarence was eager to change his "hideaway" image when he found out the King's Restaurant property was for sale.
He happily acquired the 2.5 acres, complete with its famous attractions.
By decade's end, Clarence and his family expanded the premises to 5 acres,
supplanting the dining experience succinctly with a whole new "Castle Land" family theme park!
...and plenty more.
Joe King's old fire-breathing dragon was more famous than ever in his newly renovated realm.
King's Castle Land Toy Store hosted families from far and wide like never before.
By the time my brother and I (about us) were cutting our teeth, King's Castle Land had expanded to 7 acres.
Circa 1970s, King's Castle Land was the consummate childhood paradise - and only minutes from our home.
Needless to say, we visited King's Castle Land often.
It was bad enough, entering our early teenage years, leaving behind our appreciation for King's Castle Land,
but worse still - Clarence wasn't getting any younger and times, they were-a-changin'.
As the 1980s pressed on, King's Castle Land grew no more. Rather, it started shrinking. Decaying.
The King's toy store, once among the finest in the area, fell by the wayside among new corporate chains
who had no interest in maintaining a full scale amusement park just to enhance the shopping experience.
Tourism waned and nobody seemed to care about King's Castle Land anymore.
Finally, the glorious dragon's flame had gone out.
In its last throes of death, the old boy saw the toy store's brief resurrection as a video games arcade
before the entire property was demolished and bulldozed in favor of a Super Stop&Shop in 1994.
Here's a link to another video
interview with Clarence Whitney
the owner of King's Castle Land and Toy Store !
(We're unable to embed the video into this page)
Coloring books satisfy lazy afternoons and parties alike!
We make coloring books - and this is our growing line-up
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*About the photos in these videos:
All in all, there are enough older photos going around the internet to show the scope
and general atmosphere of King's Castle Land Theme Park and Toy Store in its heyday.
However, most photos you'll find seem to be from the 1980s when mechanical kiddie-rides
dominated the park and the older attractions were being closed off due to lack of renovation and/or maintenance.
Of course, Clarence doesn't mention that in his interviews, but that's what went down.
The toy store had to compete with new corporate chains such as Kay-Bee Toys and Toys-R-Us, mind you.
Alas, it's the way of things. The King's Castle experience was but a memory of happier times.
We just wanted to point out that the writing was on the wall in the 1980s and photos from this era
only show what appears to be your average, run-o-the mill amusement park - which is fine and all,
but King's Castle Land was truly a unique experience during the 60s and 70s.
You can find more photos of King's Castle Land (and submit your own, if you have some!)
on Instagram @kings_castle_land_whitman_ma
Many of the surviving pictures you'll find there are real gems that give you just a hint
of what King's Castle Land was like!
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