Arto Monaco (1913-2003) was a theme park designer and owner, a toymaker, and--according to his friends and family--a child who never really grew up. He is probably best known for his designs for theme parks, which include Santa's Workshop (opened in 1949) in Wilmington, NY; Storytown (now Great Escape) in Lake George; and the Land of Makebelieve (his own theme park lasting from 1953 to1979) in Upper Jay, NY. Characterized by child-sized buildings and plenty of room for free imaginative play, Monaco's many parks were innovative designs which helped inspire the massive parks of today.
Monaco's Land of Makebelieve theme park was a local and a regional legend. Family members and friends stated that many local adults volunteered there just for the fun of it. And local children had their own special entrance, where they could enter the park without paying-though they were encouraged to visit during the less-crowded days to make room for paying customers. Monaco designed postcards and many other souvenir items for sale at the park. His designs for the park logo appeared on bumper stickers and giant matchbooks, while his cartoon sketch of his beloved castle could be found on shot glasses, mugs, and charms. He also drew coloring books for many of the places he visited during his lifetime. All were for sale at the Land of Makebelieve gift shop.