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Weird Tales of Pixieland, Central Oregon Coast History, Part I

Published 10/03/2018 at 2:44 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Weird Tales of Pixieland, Central Oregon Coast History, Part I

(Lincoln City, Oregon) - The whole tale actually begins with Pixie Kitchen, which was an enormously popular restaurant on the central Oregon coast from the ‘50s until the ‘70s, finally folding in the ‘80s. From that sprung Pixieland, a sprawling playground of Disney-esque ideals that was just outside of Lincoln City for a few short but rather legendary years.

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This is part one of this two-part series on Pixieland and its kooky tales. Part two: Kooky Oregon Coast History: Lincoln City's Pixieland Part Two.

It’s funny how time has treated this Oregon coast amusement park: it’s now more legendary and popular than it was throughout most of its short, often wobbly days.

On Highway 101, not far from the Highway 18 junction, you’ll find a plaque showing where Pixieland was. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Nature has reclaimed the 53-acre attraction completely, and that’s the way Oregon state officials wanted it.

At its heyday – which was awfully brief - it boasted a dozen or so rides, a sizable park for trailer campers next door, and a smattering of eatery booths. Rides like the Grunykinland put you in the arms of a giant bear and sent you into a dark area lit by black lights that was supposedly the home of the pixies. There was a log flume that got you slightly wet, some bumper cars, and a train that meandered around the property.

Pixieland opened its doors to much fanfare in 1969, with an appearance by Governor Tom McCall. It was on land that Pixie Kitchen owner Jerry Parks had purchased in 1966, part of a backup plan in case a proposed bypass of Highway 101 actually happened. Parks figured it would cut off the tourist throngs from the restaurant, but luckily it was never built.

So up this vision of pixies on the Oregon coast went: but cracks in it showed pretty quickly.

There are plenty of interesting anecdotes about it. Among them, that Paul Newman visited there in 1971 during the filming of Sometimes a Great Notion.

Ed Dreistadt, director of Lincoln City’s visitors center, has become a bit of an expert on the place.

He recalls Parks’ daughter, Sharon Walters, telling the story of when they were in the middle of some construction in its early days, with the help of her husband, Howard. One day, a dump truck was dropping dirt near the train trestle that the park’s little choo choo ran on.

“The driver forgot to put the bed down, and started driving out of the park and took out the trestle,” Dreistadt said. “Sharon was working at the park’s restaurant at the time and heard a horrible noise. So she had to call down to where Howard was at another end of the park and told them to not let the train leave.”

There was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism for Pixieland for even the first two, three years: even by the second year, when problems began to be evident, everyone plowed right ahead. They simply began work on fixing the various issues. One thing, however, seriously eluded them: turning a profit. The right “formula” for grabbing enough visitors to really turn things around was somehow never within reach.

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By 1971, serious cracks began to show, including Parks lowering his own salary. They slowly began trying a flurry of new things, including selling longterm lots at the trailer park and a variety of changing rides. In 1972, the Salmon River flooded parts of the complex. A Ferris wheel came and went, they began charging admission, and suddenly in 1973 Parks openly complained the operating season was too short and that the amusement park was too far from a major population center like Portland.

Dreistadt remembers a man who gave him a DVD of some home movies made there, somewhere around 1974.

“There was no one there,” Dreistadt said. “It’s like he had this whole amusement park to himself.”

Then there was the freaky monkey they kept. That and other oddities are coming in part two.

Part two of this historical series: Kooky Oregon Coast History: Lincoln City's Pixieland Part Two . Lodgings in Lincoln City - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

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Below: Highway 18, Van Duzer Corridor, not far from the old Pixieland site

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