Not much has changed about Children's Fairyland over the past 60 years, and that's exactly why kids and their parents like it. Set on the shores of Lake Merritt, Oakland’s storybook theme park continues to provide young children with a safe place to explore their imaginations. Fairyland is far, far away from today's video culture. The interactive fantasy world is set in motion with the turn of a crown-shaped, magic key that activates the music and storytelling for each of the exhibits. Locals who grew up going to the park often return with Fairyland keys from the 1950's and 1960's says Executive Director C.J. Hirschfield. And the keys still work.
Fairyland’s pint-sized and fanciful sets were the brainchild of Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet, and with strong financial support from the community. One of the park's early visitors, Walt Disney, was impressed. Within a few years, he launched his theme park dynasty employing some of Fairyland’s ideas. Take a trip down memory lane and see photos of Children’s Fairyland from 1950.
Childhood literacy is part of Fairyland's mission. The forty plus storybook sets in the park bring classic literature to life. such as such as Lewis Carolll’s Alice in Wonderland and Edward Lear’s The Owl and Pussycat. After facing closure in the early 1990's, Oakland residents rallied in support. Hirschfield, who took the lead at Fairyland in 2002, has been a driving force ensuring the Fairyland legacy. Attendance is on the rise. The fairy tales, nursery rhymes, farm animals, and kiddie rides continue to attract visitors and families.