Timeless family fun to come this summer at Storybook Land

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Jessica Panetta has been surrounded by the vibrant colors and nostalgic sounds of Storybook Land since she was born.

"When you walk in, it kind of takes you back to when you were a kid," she said.

Panetta, now the Director of Operations at the amusement park, is the granddaughter of John and Esther Fricano, who founded Storybook Land in 1955. The concept harped on nursery rhymes like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "Snow White," which still create a timeless experience for guests 66 years later.

"We have a very old school kind of design and vibe here. Nothing much really has changed," said Panetta. "Just very simple, old-fashioned fun."

Storybook Land still stands tall on the Black Horse Pike with its ivory castle and ornamental flags. It became a popular roadside attraction for beachgoers traveling back and forth from the Jersey shore. Even though additional roads were built to lead to the Atlantic Ocean, it still brings families back after generations.

"I love my old-time guests," said Annette Licari, a 20-year veteran of Storybook Land who works the snack stand. "They really hit my heart because they raised their kids here and now they're bringing their grandchildren."

Licari's favorite time of year at Storybook Land is July, when the antique car show rolls into the theme park. She also brags that her workplace is home to the best Santa Claus experience come winter time.

"I couldn't have found a better place to spend my retirement," she said.

Michael and Debra Czechowski have also been visiting the park for the better part of two decades.

"It's just so nice and relaxing for, especially, grandparents with their grandchildren," said Michael, who came from Absecon, New Jersey.

The Czechowski's grandchildren enjoyed rushing for rides like "Tea Time" and "Bubbles the Coaster."

"I haven't experienced it in a long time," said Emma Czechowski. "It's just so much fun being with your family and like bonding at the amusement park."

In addition to more than 18 rides, Storybook Land has also opened its wet area, Storybook Seaport, for the summertime. Guests can also look forward to beating the heat thanks to the tree canopy that covers much of the park in shade.

But for Panetta, the real relief is now being able to operate without the restrictions that the COVID-19 pandemic placed upon the park.

"It's just so much fun to see the park operating at full capacity, seeing everybody's smiling faces for the first time," she said. "We've made it this far, we're not going anywhere or changing."

Starting today, the park is open from 11:00am to 5:00pm on Wednesdays through Sundays. To learn more about the park's hours or to reserve tickets, visit their website.

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