Video: Children's Fairyland (1950)

Yesteryear Travel: Children's Fairyland

Oakland, California

The idea of a kid-sized kids' theme park with colorful, crazy-angled buildings built to be climbed through, a miniature train to be ridden, and baby animals wandering around, began here. Children's Fairyland was the brainstorm of a nurseryman from Oakland, California, who convinced the city to donate 10 acres of land in Lakeside Park for the project. Architect William Russell Everritt created the weird buildings, after his original "Candyland"-style designs were rejected as not extreme enough.

Children's Fairyland opened on September 2, 1950, and was a sensation. Other towns and tourist attractions copied the idea for decades afterward.

This locally-produced promotional film for Children's Fairyland dates from soon after the park opened. In the clip shown here, a magical munchkin brings pigtailed Tammy into the park through a kid-sized door in the Old Woman's Shoe. "Fairyland," the narrator tells us, "is a really true place, transposed from a dream to fabulous reality." The munchkin and his wife, who conducted tours of the park dressed as Mother Goose, were real midgets who lived at Fairyland in its early years.

Children's Fairyland, "the wish of every child come true," according to this film, is still open, and popular, as a kids' attraction. Some of its novelties obviously haven't survived until the present (The poor live mouse trapped in the Hickory Dickory Dock Clock was freed long ago). And the narrator's insistence, later in the film, that "Adults may go into Fairyland only if they are invited by children," is a policy that stubbornly endures.

Old Films: Fascinating!

Yesteryear Travel.

The RoadsideAmerica.com Team has a special appreciation for archival films -- from family home movies to sponsored travel shorts. Senior editor Ken Smith is author of "Mental Hygiene," the definitive book-form history of America's classroom educational and industrial films. He was an archivist and cataloger for Rick Prelinger in the early days of the Prelinger Archives.

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