Posts Tagged ‘events’

The return of Fairyland for Grownups

August 3rd, 2022
Children's Fairyland Children's Fairyland Children's Fairyland Children's Fairyland Children's Fairyland


It’s been a while since there was a 21 and over night at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, but Fairyland for Grownups returned on July 29th, 2022. Obviously I had to go. Aside from a vaccine check on the way in it felt very similar to the last such event three years ago.

The big change this year was that it was a few weeks earlier which was fine, although in retrospect the weather is usually better in August. The upside to holding it in July is there’s a little more time before the sun goes down.

Everything seemed to be in about the same condition as last time which is to say the paint was recently touched up and the gardens were in good shape, but not all of the story boxes were functioning when activated with a Magic Key.

The line to enter the park was very long and took almost 30 minutes to get through. A number of guests showed up in costume, others in light-up outfits to dance until closing time in the old west area with the DJs.

Not everything at Children’s Fairyland is open during these events, mostly the kiddie rides that wouldn’t fit adult-sized people anyway. One thing I wish they did operate during Fairyland for Grownups is the “zoo” section of the park. This is a very small section that apparently has tame animals like guinea pigs and goats during the day — so why can’t it be open for the adult’s only night? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate seeing some small animals.

That leads me to another unique aspect of these events: one might worry that a bunch adults with alcohol would be staggering around and causing problems, but that doesn’t really happen. First of all most people only stick to the two drinks included with admission, and second it only goes until 10 PM.

On the subject of the early ending time, I’m surprised there aren’t any public afterparties. There’s already a crowd that’s in a partying mood, why not offer to chauffeur them to a nearby bar or dance venue? Seems like a missed opportunity.

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Fairyland for Grownups

August 19th, 2019

Fairyland for Grownups

Children’s Fairyland is a small theme park attraction at Oakland’s Lake Merritt, and is normally only open to children accompanied by an adult. However once a year there’s a fundraiser organized by Oaklandish as a benefit for the park: Fairyland for Grownups.

On Friday I visited Fairyland for my first time ever — I’d never been to Fairyland as an adult, let alone when I was a child. I’ll have to say the park itself is pretty impressive, which I’ll get into more in a moment.

To make Children’s Fairyland a “grownup” experience it was a 21 and over event with an ID check and bag inspection out front. Inside the park there were stands serving beer and wine, as well as a couple of food trucks.

Several attractions too small to accommodate adults — most notably the rides — were closed. The (relatively new) old west town in the park was converted into a dance area with a DJ. Security guards stood around to prevent adults from climbing on attractions meant only for children.

Fairyland for Grownups

Upon entering the park you have the opportunity to buy a special key. You may also bring a key with you if you already own one. Both an affordable plastic key or a significantly more expensive keepsake metal key are available.

These keys can be inserted into keyholes throughout the park to play an old fashioned record telling a fairy tale. Small buildings, sculptures, gardens, and playgrounds near the keyhole boxes bring the stories to life. The quality of these recordings is honestly quite poor and worn out, but I found the idea of secret story boxes amusingly unique. Better yet each story has both an English and Spanish version available depending which keyhole is used, providing children a bilingual experience and the opportunity to learn a new language at a young age.

One recording that doesn’t require a key is a big googly-eyed dragon near the entrance. Pulling on his tongue plays a message welcoming you to the park.

Children’s Fairyland was originally conceived in 1948 and opened two years later. One early visitor was planning a much larger theme park of his own and was looking for inspiration. Apparently he liked Fairyland enough to poach a few of its employees.

The man’s name? You probably guessed it — Walt Disney.

Fairyland for Grownups

As for the park’s attractions they’re all focused on fairy tales, of course. The first one is a big shoe at the entrance, from the There was an Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. The attractions are often intended to be climbed on, walked through, slid down, or all of the above.

I should point out upfront that some of the attractions are in much better shape than others. The story boxes are broken at a couple of them, and a few badly need a new coat of paint.

The real standout of the park is an Alice In Wonderland fun house with big dioramas, murals, and a maze of playing card people at the end. Of all the attractions this one seems to have had the most love put into it over the years.

I also appreciated the Chinese-ish pagoda in the sky, an overlook attraction that’s reached by walking up a series of ramps. There’s plenty of benches to sit down and relax there. It’s a good place to get one’s bearings of the park’s winding pathways.

Fairyland for Grownups

For the special Grownup night costumes were encouraged. A man in a Robin Hood outfit was happy to pose for photos. At least two groups of women were dressed up with matching mermaid outfits. One couple arrived dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine.

As the night went on the vibe started to feel more like a chill house party with plenty of friendly guests. As the sun fully set the park took on an otherworldly electric-lit glow.

The night ended with most of the guests gathered around the Old West area as many danced to the music. At closing time the DJ announced “one more” song as the security guards began clearing out the park.

Fairyland for Grownups

This year the tickets went for $35 each, which included two drink vouchers. Compared to other Bay Area events it’s a reasonable price, especially for a benefit. If you’re curious about going next year, check with Oaklandish for the exact date and price. It’s about a ten minute walk from 19th St. BART in downtown Oakland to the Fairyland entrance on Grand Ave.