Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start

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I remember the first time I visited Fairyland with my kid and being positively shocked that Disney hadn’t sued the quaint but much smaller, less ostentatious venue for some kind of copyright infringement… and then I learned that good Ol’ Walt had ripped them off first.


Looks like each borrowed from the other. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came out in 1937, Children’s Fairyland opened in 1950, Disneyland opened in 1955.

As far as IP goes Disney would probably have a stronger claim (harder to argue “you can’t build a fairytale castle!” than “you can’t use our copyrighted character designs!”) but I’m glad Disney seems to have refrained from doing so.


Granted on the character art designs, but Walt ripped off public domain characters from ancient folk tales. Not that it would matter under our IP regime.


Disney’s take on those characters was pretty distinct though. The dwarfs of the folktales didn’t even have established names, let alone distinct personalities and appearances.


And most of them were far more violent, terrifying cautionary tales than Disney’s.

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Probably less matricidal overall, though

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I don’t remember many details, but it was a pretty wonderful place to visit during my childhood in the east bay.


Fairyland is an enchanting, homespun place. Just don’t get stuck in the Jolly Trolly when you are 7mos pregnant!


I am now sad I didn’t know about this place when taking a road trip down the coast from Seattle to LA and back when the sprog was 5.
Now I would have to wait for an adults day or win lotto to book a private BoingBoing mutants only event.


Absolutely wonderful place. A little run down last time I was there (easily ten years ago). Lots of interesting gems and odd tableaus. Great fun.

One of my animation students made a short film a couple of years ago that was an odd little homage to Children’s Fairyland:


Ping me next time you’re in Oakland. I’ll give you a tour!



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My sister in law lives in Oakland so we took our daughter there on a visit last year. She loved it more than actual Disneyland because she’s 3 and more things are her size. It’s a little dated, but for the most part, pretty timeless and reasonably priced.

Totally neat little park.


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