englishman abroad

Märchen wird erzählt

We just got back from the  Wild- und Freizeitpark Ostrittrum, which is essentially a zoo / amusement park. As well as the standard fare (animals, rides, climbing frames, junk food) they also had that curiously German detail: The Märchenwald. It seems that any family-friendly amusement park has one of these but this is only the second one I’ve seen in my time in Germany. A Märchenwald is basically a ‘fairy tale wood’, I cannot ever remember seeing one of these in Britain so bear with me and I will try to explain.

Imagine a wood with a circuitous path running through it, every few meters along this path are little spectacles often in the form of a hut with a button on it and inside some life-sized human or animal figures.

Next to the button is a sign that says:

“Please press button once. Fairy tale will be told”

We pressed the button. The figures sprang into life and a detached voice told us the story of Rapunzel, or Hansel and Gretel, or Little Red Riding Hood or another well-known fairy tale. There is something horrible, I think, about animatronic figures, something uncanny, unsettling and weird. Nonetheless, Aurelia seemed to enjoy it.

Funnily enough, I recognized most of the tales because they were mainly Brothers Grimm tales. German but well-known in the UK. There was a smattering of other fairy tales that I didn’t recognise, of course, but I was surprised to see that Jack and the Beanstalk was missing. It turns out that Jack and the Beanstalk is one of a few truly English fairy tales, ones that weren’t inherited from Germany, Scandinavia or elsewhere.

After the fairy tales, we went on a giant wooden pirate ship and lots of slides, climbing frames, swings and all sorts, Aurelia had a lot of fun and Andrea and I were kids again. We stayed at the amusement park for over three hours so I think we got our money’s worth.


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