Oakland’s Once-upon-a-time land

Could this place have inspired 'Disneyland?'
Fairyland, Oakland

Once upon a time in the United States of America, a carousel ride was the ultimate thrill ride for kids. Then in the late 1940s, a group of people in Oakland, California are said to have worked on a local businessman’s vision of creating what is today known as a Theme Park.Β The idea was to create a park with structures from popular children’s story books and nursery rhymes. It was planned to have some farm animals too. Soon Oakland became home to Children’s Fairyland, a 10- acre fantasyland that came to break a path for many more theme parks to mushroom on American soil. According to the park, it was from this Fairyland that Walt Disney himself got the inspiration to build his Magic Kingdom that would go on to gain international fame. (The in-house magician tells us Mr. Disney even employed a couple of people who worked on the creation of Fairyland.)

Fairyland with its many scenes from children’s classics, is set up beside Oakland’s Lake Merritt and is within Lakeside Park.

Some time ago, when a friend of mine was in town, we planned a trip to this theme park called Fairyland, hoping her daughter would like the storybook sets. (What kid wouldn’t like to go to a place called Fairyland?) After we entered Lakeside Park, we were trying to figure out where the entrance to Fairyland might be. We followed the road looking for a board to direct us and there wasn’t one or we missed it because we soon found ourselves driving out the other gate of Lakeside Park. When we re-entered, we decided to park close to the place where colourful kiddie-structures popped out of hedges, and just walk around and look for the main gate.

We were soon greeted by a big book with a bookworm sticking out of it and the old lady who lived in a shoe. As we entered, there was Aladdin sliding down a roof. And not very far away was a large shiny lamp and a larger blue Genie. Abu couldn’t be far away I thought. I looked all around and there were no signs of the little monkey. But as we walked further into the storybook-themed park, we saw little children trying to skate and slide down Jack-and-Jill-hill, the white rabbit that led Alice to Wonderland, a maze of cards, Peter Rabbit’s place,Β Rapunzel letting down her hair from her prison tower and the three little pigs and their brick home. And whom did we see behind their little home — the wicked villain who threatened to huff and puff and blow down their cozy abode. We even saw Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall (near the restroom πŸ˜‰ ) among other famous characters.

Fairyland is a fun place for kids who are sure to be fascinated to be where several of their favourite story book characters live. And for adults it is quite a walk down memory lane. There are a few rides and a few live events depending on the day of the week you chose to visit the place. It’s a pretty cute storybook land. (Methinks that Storybook Land would have been an apt name for this kiddie-land.)

Oakland's Fairyland
Oakland's Fairyland

See also:
San Jose’s Happy Land
Winter Wonderland
Tilden Park

You may also like --
Kids' Destinations

48 Comments on this post.
  • Desi Traveler
    21 March 2013 at 4:30 am

    Seem like a fun place to discover one's childhood memories… and based on the history it is the mother of all theme parks….

    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 1:45 am

      Sounds like it is the mother of all theme parks. It still has that old-fashioned charm.

      What I found a bit strange was that I hadn't seen brochures of this place anywhere. With a history like this, you'd think they'd promote it like crazy, and everybody'd be talking about it, right? But then the place was far from deserted when we visited. So I guess they don't really have to do all that marketing. I guess I'm just surprised it took me a while to hear about it. πŸ˜€

  • R Niranjan Das
    21 March 2013 at 5:01 am
    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 1:48 am

      It's quite a cute place. I had a pretty good time, I guess that was because of the company, mostly. But it was fun walking down the fairytale memory lane. πŸ™‚

  • Rahul Bhatia
    21 March 2013 at 6:24 am

    A fun place Divya:) Am sure your son had great time here:)

    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 1:50 am

      He did have fun. But this time he wasn't really looking at the sets and enjoying them. He had a friend with him and he was happy playing with her. πŸ™‚

  • jaish_vats
    21 March 2013 at 6:42 am

    Seems to be a very nice ace Divya πŸ™‚

    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 1:50 am

      It was an interesting place, Jaish; quite different from the modern theme parks.

  • jaish_vats
    21 March 2013 at 6:45 am


    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 1:58 am


  • Kusum Sanu
    21 March 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Must be an exciting trip for the young one! Oakland is one place in Bayarea I never visited, looks cool!

    • dNambiar
      22 March 2013 at 2:02 am

      It's a fun place for kids.
      Oakland's got a really good zoo. That's a place you might want to visit.

      In San Jose there's another kiddie place called Happy Hollow Park and that place is really a happy place. It's so bright and colourful and lively that even adults who visit find themselves feeling really good. They call it San Jose's own Disneyland. πŸ™‚ Great place, that.

  • Arti
    22 March 2013 at 8:59 am

    A place promising enough to take me back to my childhood, sounds so much fun! Would love meeting the storybook characters – Alladin and genie especially, too bad Abu missed out on a seat though πŸ˜‰

    • dNambiar
      25 March 2013 at 1:18 am

      Yeah it's an interesting place for a nice walk. If they had some walking, talking characters like they do in Disney, it would have been great for the little ones.
      However the story book sets here are cute and they take the center-stage, that makes this place unique in a way.

  • Kishan P
    22 March 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Looks like a place right out of Fairyland…. Oh wait, it is indeed Fairyland πŸ™‚

    • dNambiar
      25 March 2013 at 1:21 am

      Yup. πŸ™‚
      And you could hike up Jack-n-Jill hill. πŸ˜€

      Been trekking recently, Kishan?

  • warnerwriting
    24 March 2013 at 1:57 am

    What a fun place to play and remember childhood stories!

    • dNambiar
      27 March 2013 at 2:51 pm

      Yes, it is. πŸ™‚
      Welcome here.

  • Anil Nair
    24 March 2013 at 3:06 am

    I hate you, you know that right. But switching to a more serious tone, I do like your travel blogs, it is very simplistic, no… utilitarian in it's presentation. None of the Intellectual high mindedness and so easy for us plebs to understand.

    I would like to travel to one day. It is just that I am a college student surviving on a shoe string budget. I mean, finances are always a concern, especially in terms of travelling internationally.

    Plus, i am too lazy. I mean what excuse other than that do I have for not exploring the South Island in New Zealand?

    Keep up the good work.

    • dNambiar
      28 March 2013 at 4:58 pm

      Haha! What dya hate me for now? Because I've been roaming around? πŸ™‚

      Thank you so much. Those words means a lot to me, Anil. That's exactly how I wanted it to be; something for everybody. (Journalism shaped my mind that way.)
      My idea really is to take my readers to the places that I go to. (Especially those who have never been and may never visit these parts of the world.) πŸ™‚
      Anil, see as much as that shoestring budget will allows you. Make use of this opportunity to see as much of NZ as you can. There'll be nothing like it.

      It's been a while since I visited your blog. I've been a little caught up. I'll come by soon. You take care.

  • belleplante
    28 March 2013 at 3:24 am

    I am sure this place is meant for kids but I sooooo want to visit it !! I LOVE fairy tales. The little girl in me ceases to go away; I love Disneyland and such theme parks even today..

    • dNambiar
      5 April 2013 at 12:25 am

      Don't chase away that little girl in you. I'm sure she keeps you young at heart.
      Fairyland is a small place. It's fun and it's interesting but may not be as happening as Disneyland. It's an old-school theme park, if I may say so.
      The part I like most is that of trying to recall the stories as you see the different sets. πŸ™‚

  • Panchali
    30 March 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Oh, that's such an interesting place, Divya! Wonderful pics…love that Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall….Very amusing place for kids indeed!! Thanks so much for sharing…

    • dNambiar
      5 April 2013 at 12:26 am

      Humpty Dumpty was one of my favourites here. I liked the Three Pigs' house too; so cute!

    • dNambiar
      5 April 2013 at 12:27 am

      You're welcome, Panchali di. πŸ™‚

  • Sneo
    4 April 2013 at 8:53 pm

    yayyy.. i love the Fairyland

    • dNambiar
      5 April 2013 at 12:28 am

      Already? Wanna check it out the next time you're here, Sneha? πŸ˜‰

  • S. Anupam
    9 May 2013 at 5:34 am

    Wow! Mesmerizing:)

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you for the visit, Anupam.

  • mysay.in
    9 May 2013 at 6:31 am

    wish i could go back to my half pant days πŸ™‚ .. nice photographs !

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Makes you want to do that, right? :)It's a cute place.
      Thank you, MySay.

  • Vishal Rathod
    9 May 2013 at 11:05 am

    Lovely place . Good pictures and wonderful write up .

    Travel India

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Thank you Vishal.

  • aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar
    9 May 2013 at 1:36 pm

    nice place

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Yeah it is. Thank you for coming by. πŸ™‚

  • umashankar
    9 May 2013 at 3:45 pm

    What a treat! Instant transportation to childhood. Guess you had memorable times reliving your childhood. Thanks for providing us a glimpse!

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:37 pm

      That's what it was. It was fun trying to recollect those books and rhymes. But there were some not-so-familiar sets too. πŸ™

      There was also the experience of seeing a really old theme park as opposed to the more sophisticated and hi-fi places that have come up in recent times.

      My pleasure, USP. πŸ™‚

  • Arumugam Easwar
    9 May 2013 at 4:13 pm

    seems an interesting place.like the pictures.

    • dNambiar
      9 May 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Pretty interesting. It really is a 'different' kind of a theme park; one with an old charm to it.

      Welcome here. πŸ™‚

  • magiceye
    10 May 2013 at 12:56 am

    Wow would be such a nostalgic trip for all those who grew up reading these fairytales!!

    • dNambiar
      11 May 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Quite a nostalgic trip, Magiceye. πŸ™‚

  • readersheaven.org
    10 May 2013 at 4:29 am

    Heaven for kids ! you have captured small details very nicely !

    • dNambiar
      11 May 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Thank you, Readersheaven.

  • Rajesh
    10 May 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Nice shots of the place. Fun for all.

    • dNambiar
      11 May 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Thanks Rajesh. πŸ™‚
      There was more to show rather than tell. Hence this many pictures.

  • Anjan Roy
    10 May 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Thought my age doesn't go with fairyland but am really excited when i hear anybody going to any…and this really reminded me of my childhood days…!!!

    • dNambiar
      11 May 2013 at 11:17 pm

      When you have kids, you'll find yourself going to places like this. It really is a way to re-live your childhood too. πŸ™‚

  • Ercotravels
    14 June 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Interesting colorful picture galley! Great enjoyable place for kids!

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