Storyland welcomes families, new exhibits

Madison Mcloughlin

A second line, snowballs and princesses harmonized with astronauts, Candy Land and classic fables at the re-opening of Storyland in City Park.

The iconic children’s paradise hasn’t seen a renovation since the early 80s, according to Bob Becker, chief executive officer of City Park. However, on Sept. 28, a revitalized Storyland was opened up to the public after several months of closure and renovations.

“It was time,” he said. “It was time to refresh everything, and that’s why we did it.”

Most of the exhibits underwent a fresh coat of paint, while many received new interactive aspects for educational and entertainment purposes, including musical pipes, steering wheels that control pirate ships in the lagoon and an empty tortoise shell that can be crawled through.

“We wanted to completely revitalize them, refresh them and introduce some new exhibits here that can focus on interaction and having the children discover, learn and interact with the exhibits,” Becker said.

STEM was also a big focus of the revitalization, according to Becker. An entire exhibit is focused on Charles Gordon, the first African-American astronaut and head of the NASA agency. Many children enjoyed poking their heads through an astronaut cut-out for a photo next to the cow on the moon.

As the children explored the new exhibits as well as their old favorites, a second line wound around the famous characters while free snowballs were handed out from a cart. Princesses Tiana, Moana and Cinderella greeted the children while parents took photographs. Legos that were larger than many of the children were stacked into creative new structures.

“I love all of it,” Steven, a seven-year-old attendee said. However, he did admit that the CandyLand exhibit was his favorite.

Hartley Crunk and her three-year-old daughter Elsie had been to Storyland several times before the renovations. Crunk said that the best part of the opening was, “just seeing the revitalization and bringing new life back to one of our old favorites.”

Elsie, on the other hand, loved, “all the princesses,” especially Cinderella.

The other two new exhibits that were revealed were the Crawgator exhibit which featured many colorful interactive instruments, and a version of the classic Candy Land board game that many children grew up with. The fourth new exhibit, Jack and the Beanstalk, will be finished and revealed in the next couple of weeks.

Becker has big hopes for the new-and-improved Storyland.

“I hope (families) come here and have fun. I hope they interact with the exhibits, learn and play, and I think they will,” Becker said. “Storyland is iconic in New Orleans, and almost everybody who grew up here as children came here at some point in time. I think they’re going to really enjoy the new exhibits.”