Children’s Fairyland


So I’ve lived in Oakland for three years now and somehow just this week managed to visit Children’s Fairyland? Built in 1950, Children’s Fairyland was the first “themed” amusement park in the U.S., the first designed specifically for children, and one of the direct inspirations for Disneyland. According to Wikipedia, it also features “the oldest continuously operating puppet theater in the United States.”


It’s a delightful little park. Its vintage character has been faithfully preserved, and its small scale combined with a slightly shabby veneer and the vague weirdness of last-century design makes the whole place immensely charming. Mostly it consists of stationary playsets built to various fairy-tale themes: favorites on our trip included Alice’s rabbit hole, Captain Hook’s pirate ship, and the “fairy music farm.”





The music farm I thought was particularly wonderful. It’s this echoey tunnel built around a pretty courtyard and fitted with various kinds of instruments—percussion, string, wind—that the kids can play with. All the noise echoes together and creates a really interesting soundscape. I thought it was great design.


Another big hit was the “Jolly Trolly”:



We bought a year-long family pass so we’ll definitely be back. This place is a treasure!


3 Responses to “Children’s Fairyland”

  • Maike Says:

    Yes! We went a couple of times when Happy Hollow (the San Jose version of FairyLand) was being renovated … We loved Fairyland- especially the Espresso stand at the entrance 🙂 Enjoy.

    Our very renovated Happy Hollow is still a great place to visit for kids but it no longer has the charm or nostalgic vibes that Fairyland has- or decent coffee.

    Our kids usually end up going to Happy Hollow about 6 times a year- usually with visiting family and friends. I end up going about once a year … I went the last SuperBowl and it was the fullest I had seen it- mostly Russians and Western Europeans 🙂

  • Nina Says:

    You’ll have to take us when we come out there sometime! It looks wonderful.

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