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Amusement Parks: Children’s Fairyland – a Potted History

Children’s Fairyland USA is an amusement park located on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.

The inspiration for the amusement park came back in 1947 when a man called Arthur Navlet visited a collection of small buildings based upon nursery rhyme themes, whilst on a trip to Detroit. His vision was to create an amusement park featuring similar themed buildings, but on a larger scale, that children could climb into and interact with.

Navlet hired a specialist architect, William Russell Everitt, to design an initial 17 models and the amusement park was officially opened in 1950.

This amusement park is reputed to be the first to be specially created in the USA for families with small children. One of its earliest attractions, the Open Storybook Puppet Theatre which opened in 1956, is still in operation at the amusement park today.

Sadly, by the early 1990s, the amusement park had fallen into a state of disrepair and was in danger of being consigned to history. However, in 1994, the local Lake Merritt Breakfast Club took up the cause and proposed to the City of Oakland that the amusement park should be restored to its former glory and run as a non-profit organisation.

This proposal was accepted which meant that the amusement park became eligible for grants and could seek donations for restorations, improvements and new attractions.

Today, the amusement park thrives and has won several industry awards. In addition to its unique whimsical themed sets, it also hosts puppet shows, live entertainment, friendly animals and gentle rides, especially designed for toddlers. 

To encourage families to visit regularly, the amusement park has recently offered annual family memberships which covers adults and up to three children.
The amusement park also caters for birthday parties, summer camps and summer sleepovers, field trips and other special events. 

See also:
Aquariums: Birch Aquarium at Scripps – a Potted History 
Aquariums: Aquarium of the Bay – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Fairytale Town – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Sky Venture – a Potted History

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