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The Magic Forest: Land of the Giants and Diving Horses

Magic Forest is an amusement park located in Lake George that promotes itself as a park aimed at young children. Featuring over twenty five rides and a number of shows throughout the day, the park does provide everything it promises as far as children’s entertainment is concerned. There are other aspects to Magic Forest, though, that are not as well advertised. These aspects of the park appeal to those of us who enjoy oddities more than rides or games.

For starters, Magic Forest is the home of one of the world’s greatest collection of Muffler Men, which any roadside aficionado should appreciate. The term “Muffler Man” refers to a type of fiberglass statue that is found along roadsides throughout the United States. They are used primarily for advertising purposes. These bizarre statues, which generally have outstretched arms and are often holding items advertising stores they stand outside of, are undeniably eye-catching.Oftentimes, Muffler Men are painted to depict famous figures from American folklore. The figures first began appearing in the early 1960s, and have been part of the fiber of American roadside culture ever since.

Magic Forest features several of these great giants. Throughout the park they stand along trails that make their way through the woods. In addition to the often seen Paul Bunyon type characters, there is an Amish Muffler Man, also holding an ax, who facially resembles Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Newman, but with an Amish style beard. Probably most disturbing of all though is the giant Technicolor Muffler Man painted as a clown.

Besides Muffler Men, Magic Forest is also the home of the world’s largest Uncle Sam statue. This thirty-eight foot tall tribute to patriotism stands in the parking lot. Its vast array of these peculiar fiberglass monsters has to make Magic Forest the undoubted king of New York’s roadside statuary.

Make no mistake, though, statues are far from the park’s only claim to fame. Magic Forest is also the home of a genuine diving horse. The original diving horse, Rex, had been diving at the theme park since the late 1970s. Now, his son, a horse named Lightning, has been trained to carry on his father’s legacy. Without the use of prods, trap doors, or trickery, Lightning climbs to the top of a wooden platform and dives nine feet down head first into a fourteen foot deep pool of water. Lightning then

swims across the pool and climbs out, to the delight of watching children. Horse dives take place at the park twice daily.

A visit to www.thedivinghorse.com, run by the proprietors of Magic Forest, serves as an informational guide on Lightning’s diving, as well as a defense against the many animal rights activists who have spoken out against the horse diving show and Magic Forest’s continual sponsorship of it. Magic Forest fervently denies that the act is in any way inhumane. They also call out a number of celebrities who have condemned the act without having ever seen it, and invite these knee jerk animal rights activists (former Saturday Night Live and movie star Chevy Chase, television star Mary Tyler Moore, and the most golden of Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan) to come see the show for themselves before they condemn it. We strongly recommend you do the same!

You can read about all of New York’s other Roadside Oddities and curious attractions in our book Weird New York.

Weird New York


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