A favorite way to think of our park was summed up in San Francisco magazine in 2004. Children’s Fairyland, they said, is “as miniature and uncynical as a toddler’s beating heart.” We agree. Children’s Fairyland is, in many ways, a timeless reminder of the joys of standing three-feet tall.
The year 1948 was a prehistoric era for children’s entertainment. There was no Disneyland or Nickelodeon TV, and most amusement parks catered to thrill-seeking teenagers. The few “kiddielands” in the U.S. included a simple carousel, pony ride, and cotton-candy stand.
Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet had an idea to change all of 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 betterment (and still in operation today). They loved the idea.
With the support of Oakland’s 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.
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