Children's Fairyland, U.S.A. is an entertainment park located in Oakland , California, on the shores of Merritt Lake. It was one of the first "themed" amusement parks in the United States. Fairyland consists of 10 acres (4.0 ha) of play sets, small rides and animals. The park is also home to the Open Storybook Puppet Theater, the oldest continuously performing puppet theater in the United States.
Fairyland was founded in 1950 by the Oakland Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, a local service club. The park was immediately nationally recognized for its unique value, and during the City Beautiful Movement of the 1950s, it inspired numerous towns to create their own parks. Walt Disney toured many amusement parks in 1950, including Children's Fairyland, looking for ideas about what turned out to be Disneyland. He hired the first Fairyland director, Dorothy Manes, to work as a youth director at Disneyland, where she continued from the park 's opening until 1972.
The year 1948 was a prehistoric age for children's entertainment. There was no Disneyland or Nickelodeon TV, and most of the amusement parks catered to the thrilling teenagers. The few "kiddielands" in the U.S. included a simple carousel, a pony ride, and a cotton candy stand.
Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet had the idea to change all that. The well-respected nursery owner took his proposal for a storybook theme park, featuring fairy-tale sets, farm animals, and live entertainment, to the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, a group dedicated to civic improvement (and still in operation today). They loved the idea, man.
With the support of Oakland Parks superintendent William Penn Mott, Jr., the Breakfast Club and the citizens of Oakland raised $50,000 to build Children's Fairyland on the shores of Lake Merritt.
The most colorful place to enjoy children's community theater in East Bay is at Aesop's Playhouse, Fairyland 's exciting main stage. From June to October, their talented cast brings stories from all over the world to life.
For more than 50 years, Fairyland has allowed young people to create live theatre. We introduced Fairyland Personalities in 1956. In this theater program, children aged 8 to 10 portray characters from folklore and children's literature in stage productions, at community events and during visits to senior centers and schools.
Aesop's Playhouse has more than 200 people in festival seats and was financed entirely by Oakland's Measure DD, a $198.25 million bond measure passed by the voters in 2002. The structure was designed by Oakland-based Ace Architects; the Richmond Scientific Art Studio created the imaginative sculptures of Aesop and his characters.
In addition to their own children's theater, their playhouse hosted the Bay Area Children's Theatre, the Oakland School of Arts, the Pacific Boychoir, the Oakland Ballet Company, popular artists from KQED, and a host of young performers from local schools and community art groups.
This amazing landmark is just one of the many must-see sights you don’t want to miss in Oakland, California:
Jack London Square
Tilden Regional Park
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park
Chabot Space & Science Center
USS Hornet - Sea, Air, and Space Museum
All of these wonderful attractions are located just a short distance from our location located at 555 12th Street, on the 5th Floor in Oakland! Stop by for a visit anytime!