Storied Past: A Family Owned Amusement Celebrates 65 years

Storybook Land, a 20 acre amusement at 6415 E Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, got its start in 1955.

What started out as a small picnic grove with a burger stand and playground in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey more than a half century ago has turned into a fairy tale come to life for tens of thousands of families who live locally or may just be passing through. The dream-turned-reality known as Storybook Land started in 1955, when John and Esther Fricano saw the idea as way to give families on road trips a place to stop and stretch their legs. Little did they know what joy it would one day bring to so many people when it became a fully operational theme park with a total of eighteen rides.

This year, Storybook Land is celebrating 65 years of family fun! While planned family friendly events this summer have been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, the parks owners are still striving to create an atmosphere that is welcoming, calm, and relaxed for the entire family to enjoy.

For Jessica Panetta, Director of Operations and daughter of current owner John Fricano Jr., providing a safe place for family fun is a year long commitment made worthwhile by the seeing the faces of the park's guests.

5 y.o. Luke flashes a smile on a ride at Storybook Land.

“You can see the joy on they kids and even the parents faces as they walk through the park," Panetta says. "We often hear that parents feel very safe bringing their children here, mainly because the park is geared towards a very specific age range - roughly one to eight years old.  It's become a tradition for many families and we're seeing three, now four generations visiting sometimes. Parents also enjoy it because their kids can enjoy the park at their own pace, it's 'just their size,' not too big or small.  You can easily spend all day at Storybook Land and not feel overwhelmed or overtired."

Locals Krista and Tony (who preferred not to have their last name used in this article) say Storybook Land is a tradition that has been in their families since they were kids. Today they're bringing their own kids to the park ... 8 year-old Tony and 5 year-old Luke.

Brothers Luke (left) and Tony (right) enjoy an elephant "ride" at Storybook Land.

“We like bringing the kids because they always have so much fun," says Krista. "The place is clean and shady. It’s usually not too crowded. The rides are age appropriate for my guys. The holiday events are great and we live close so getting season passes works great and (the passes) are totally worth it.”