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Children’s Fairyland

Head to the legendary Lake Merritt park for old-timey fun.


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Courtesy of Children’s Fairyland

With attractions based on classic fairy tales, Children’s Fairyland in Oakland has been delighting youngsters for decades. Open daily in July, the park’s kid-sized rides and entertainment will have your little ones ruling the day.

Origins: Children’s Fairyland opened in 1950 after businessman Arthur Navlet—partnering with Oakland organizations—raised $50,000 to build a park that would combine gardens with children’s stories. (Navlet’s nurseries sold gardening staples from 1885 until this past January, when the family sold its East Bay stores.)

Courtesy of Children’s Fairyland

Famous visitor: Walt Disney stopped by the park and incorporated ideas he saw there into Disneyland, which opened in 1955. Disney also hired Fairyland’s first executive director, Dorothy Manes, and puppeteer Bob Mills to work at his park.

Keys to the castle: Talking and singing storybooks are activated with a Fairyland Magic Key, available for $3 at the admission gate.

Courtesy of Children’s Fairyland

Puppet perfection: The Storybook Puppet Theater celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, making it the longest-running puppet company in the United States. Fun fact: Filmmaker Frank Oz, best known as the voice of Yoda, got his start as a teenager at Fairyland. Oz wrote The Dragon Who Wasn’t for Fairyland in the early 1960s. The original play will be revived through July 14.

Stay the night: Fairyland hosts four campouts every summer, letting parents and kids set up tents in the park. This year’s campouts will be held on July 16 and 30, and August 6 and 20. $30 per child, $55 per adult. 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, (510) 238-6876, fairyland.org.

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