Paul Bunyan is legendary in this part of the country. It is said that it took 5 giant storks to deliver Paul to his parents and he could fit into his father’s clothes by the time he was a week old. When he was three weeks old, his rolling around at nap time would destroy 4 miles of timber. Soon his parents moved out to Minnesota because the East was just too small for him. As a child, he had no interested in playing with balls and other toys. He wanted to play with axes and become a lumberjack. Today there is a whole land just for him, Paul Bunyan Land.
Paul Bunyan Land
To find Paul in Minnesota, all you have to is head up to Brainerd. There, Paul’s companion Babe will greet out front of Paul Bunyan Land. After going through the welcome center, you are greeted with the legend himself. This is where the magic begins. He says , ‘Hello’ and greets your child by name. It doesn’t stop there either. Paul will engage with the kids. He encouraged them to come closer to get a picture with him. When my daughter was too scared to go up to him to get a picture, he promised her that he would not speak while she was up there. He didn’t want to frighten her away.
Throughout the day, we would see staff actively engaging with Paul as they walked by like he was just another member of the team. Later when we walked by him, he said ‘Hi’ again and remembered our kid’s names. It was that personal touch that made this such an enjoyable and a truly memorable trip.
The theme park itself is designed for younger children. The best way to describe it is carnival style rides that have found a permanent home. We found that there were only a few rides that my oldest could not go on. She is just over 42 inches. My youngest was able to get on over half of rides as well. He is 34 inches. Both had a great time and didn’t want to stop riding even when it started to rain on us. We never found ourselves waiting in line to get on rides. According to staff, this is a common feature.
In addition to the rides, they have a small petting zoo and the Old Farm Pioneer Village. The Pioneer Village is not historically specific to any time period. It didn’t stop us from having fun looking at all the treasures. We seemed to time our visit pretty well with the light rain we had been experiencing. We were in the pioneer village when it started to come down so we had some good cover. The park doesn’t close for the rain, only if the conditions become unsafe.
Pioneer Village has been a family owned business for 37 years now. In 2003 when the popular Paul Bunyan Land needed a new home, they doubled the attraction by moving the theme park right next door. You get to go in both parks with the cost of admission. The town of Brainerd was very excited to see that Paul and Babe would stay in their town.
Paul Bunyan Land has become a mecca for a lot of unique display’s when they retire at other establishments in the community. They have acquired everything from a giant shopping cart to a heard of dinosaurs. Despite their differences, it all seems to fit in well. Along the way when new things become available, the owners jump at the opportunity to add in and grow.
The staff was all very friendly. They even saw them trying to dry the seats after the rain to limit how wet you would get. The park is open Memorial Day to Labor Day. They also have special haunting events in October and free light displays in Christmas. They also have some Holiday light display during December. If you are heading up north and have young kids, you need to check out this park. Or if you are a selfie junky, stop by to get a picture with Babe. As my daughter told everyone at daycare the next day, she loved getting to meet ‘the Bald Onion’… It wasn’t until her teacher saw the pictures before she figured out saw Paul Bunyan.