- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) - The enchanted gates of King's Castle Land in Whitman were once the gateway to a magical world brimming with cotton candy, fire-breathing dragons, a towering 22-foot statue of Paul Bunyan and dozens of child-inspired amusements and rides.

Though the seven-acre family theme park located on Route 18 closed to the public two decades ago, the spirit of King's Castle Land and all its charm and wonder live on with the park’s owner, Clarence Whitney, 84, as well as in the hearts and minds of thousands of former park patrons.

“As I look back, I had no idea how many people we were pleasing each and every day,” said Whitney who, along with his family, operated the park from 1968 until it closed in 1994. “Everywhere I go, I am overwhelmed when I hear how much people enjoyed it.”

Following the park’s closure, Whitney retired and quietly dedicated time to preserving his theme park dream. Through the years, he created numerous King's Castle Land scrapbooks while collecting miniature replicas of the park’s rides and amusements.

In 2011, the “big kid at heart” turned the swelling collection into a “dream come true,” he said, and began construction of a miniature version of the beloved park he and his family called home for nearly three decades.

“This is a labor of love,” Whitney said as he showcased the intricacies of his theme park masterpiece.

The 12-by-6-foot, awe-inspiring replica is located in the basement of Whitney’s Plymouth home and meticulously and lovingly depicts King's Castle Land and all its childlike beauty.

While touring the miniature replication, Whitney said his list of favored attractions is long but includes the reproduction of the park’s Ferris wheel and mystical carousel, the once-gripping “Tilt-A-Whirl” ride and the scream-invoking “Dragon Coaster.”

Serving as the park’s hub is a replica of the refreshment house. Here, two Whitney family photos are draped strategically across the miniature building featuring Whitney; his wife, Paula; sons Ron, Dana, Larry and Edward and daughter, Jan, and serving as a centerpiece.

“My favorite aspect (of the park) was seeing my children grow up in the family business and their dedication to it,” said Paula, Whitney’s wife of 64 years.

Their amusement park journey began in 1968 when Whitney, owner of Brockton-based Hideaway Toy Store, purchased King's Castle Land and relocated the toy business on the Bedford Street property.

“The goal was to bring together two businesses that complimented each other and keep our staff on a year-round basis,” he said.

But King's Castle Land was not simply a family owned business, it was a homestead.

The Whitneys, a family of seven, lived onsite in one home while Whitney’s parents also resided on the property in a second home.

Each family member supported the business and fluidly weaved in and out of a variety of positions from cook and candy-maker to mechanic, ticket-taker, toy store manager and more.

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