PLEASANT GROVE — It was with a hearty cheer of “forevermore” that Pleasant Grove’s fantasy theme park finally opened its doors to the public Saturday evening. Actors donned their finest fantasy garb — cloaks, capes, armors and dresses; some with wands and others carrying real-life snakes — as eager visitors shuffled through Evermore Park’s gates for the first time.
But for Ken Bretschneider, the park’s opening signified much more than a mere beginning. It was the culmination of many years of hard work and imagination.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Bretschneider, the park's founder and CEO. “It's been a lifelong deal for me. Over the last five years, I put my entire life into this.”
With the park now open, visitors can explore a world straight out of a fantasy novel. A dirt path winds through a haunted garden, a creepy crypt and a ghostly graveyard in the shadow of a stone-brick mausoleum. Running into fantastical characters along this path is a guarantee — knights, goblins, fauns, fortunetellers and witches, to name just a few.
The medieval sets, costumes, actors and props come together to create an immersive experience, offering an escape from everyday life, according to the park’s chief creative officer Josh Shipley.
“The end goal is that … you can come to this place and feel like you’ve traveled to another place and have fun,” Shipley said. “We believe in always having the ability to stay young, to play and enjoy life. So we wanted to create a place that was intended (for that).”
Evermore’s many guests seemed eager to embrace the park’s concept of fun and imagination. Some attendees gave the park's actors a run for their money with their own creative garb — including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who showed up as a “dark knight" in his fanciest armor and helmet. He took his character to heart.
“I am the son of a demigod (and) the most powerful sorceress in this realm,” Reyes said during the opening ceremonies to a chuckling crowd. “We need the gold in your pockets to continue our evil designs. And we need your souls, more importantly, to quench my insatiable thirst.”
Large portions of the park are still under construction, but Evermore intends to grow with its goal in mind: to offer an escape from life’s troubles. The park’s true magic is seen when visitors find that escapism, according to Ben Woodruff, who helps care for the park’s wildlife.
“I love seeing guests come in,” he said. “I (saw) people teary-eyed when they came in. … Jobs are hard, taxes are hard, life is hard — and I love watching people come in and escape that for a bit. It’s beautiful.”