Real Life: Fairyland.

One of the real joys of living where I do is that I’m less than 15 minutes away from Fairyland!

What is Fairyland you ask?

I must admit, I had no clue either for the first 15 years of living in the Bay Area. I used to see the technicolor sign early in the morning when I rowed on Lake Merritt, but I finally experienced it as I should—as a parent the other weekend and had a blast. I might never have thought of going until I saw these cutie pie pictures of Wolfie going and rave reviews from Alix.

See that key that Wolfie is using?  Well, a big part of Fairyland lore and history centers around the Talking Storybooks and Magic Keys.

At every little tableau, like the Snow White one Wolfie is at, there would be a small box that boys and girls could insert a special magic key. Once the key was in the box, it would spill out some delightful little Bing Crosby-like diddy that matched the little scene. Pure vintage awesomeness. They just created a new magic key for its 60th anniversary celebration last weekend!

Oh, and the Peach had such a good time. Who wouldn’t when you see things as yummy as this:

Fairyland was built in 1950 by the Oakland Lake Merritt Breakfast Club.  Rumor has it Walt Disney even came to Fairyland often to get ideas for Disneyland.  Numerous artists have contributed exhibits, murals, puppetry, and sculptures to the park. Some of the better-known artists are Ruth Asawa and Frank Oz. I wonder who did these for these two cuties, eh?

The park opened on September 2, 1950. Admission was 9 to 14 cents, depending on age. The original guides to the park were a dwarfish married couple dressed in glamorous Munchkin-style costumes. How terrifying would that have been!

The entrance to the park was the shoe from The Old Woman in the Shoe. The entrance through the shoe was sized for children so that adults had to bend over to go through. When we went you could see that the Old Woman in the Shoe was still kicking, although her digs had certainly re-heeled and polished up a bit.

It’s amazing to see how little has changed from when it was built in the fifties.

And a few signs of the times…

There weren’t that many rides, but there were enough to keep the average six year old very happy. Check out this great Alice in Wonderland ride.

The Peach was completely entranced. Albeit a bit nervous at first…

And after a little coaxing she also was a big fan of the crooked house too.

Sadly, the Peach tuckered out before we could get to the big attraction—Willie the Whale!

When we told our neighbor, Joyce that we went to Fairyland that afternoon, she smiled and asked about good old Willie the Whale. Joyce grew up in the house next door and inherited it from her parents.  She is a long-time resident of the East Bay and went to Fairyland herself as a little girl.  She said that everyone who grew up going to Fairyland and returned as a parent always says the same thing—”I remember the whale being MUCH bigger!”

I wonder what the Peach will think of it when she’s an adult?  We plan to go again very soon!

14 thoughts on “Real Life: Fairyland.

  1. I cannot WAIT until Eliza’s old enough for that! It reminds me of the delightful Storybook Forest from my childhood, complete with the Old Woman in the Shoe, Mother Goose, Raggedy Ann and the sword in the stone!

  2. Lish, Danielle–this is totally worth the trip to the Bay Area! And Alix and I would love to show you around town. Your boys would love love LOVE Fairyland!

    And this place has Miss Pip written all over it Heather! BTW–thanks for asking about my fall. Doing much better, but a touch of whiplash made me cancel all of my disco dancing plans over the weekend. Tee hee!

  3. I’ve had the vaguest memories of this place from an elementary school field trip we took when I lived in Roseville (nearer to Sacramento) but could never remember where it was, what it was called, etc. The Rapunzel tower and whale brought it all back!!! Thanks for sharing this!

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