Fairyland

Fairlyand-Feller Spent Saturday with Miles at Oakland’s Fairyland, a 1950s outdoor park where children’s literature is “brought to life” through fiberglass and concrete exhibits, animals, and talking story books. Sounds wonderful – and it is – but the place is also 55 years old. While it’s been relatively well maintained, many of the exhibits are falling apart at the seams, and the talking books are barely audible, scratchy old inventions.

It’s not as if no one looks after the place – there are signs of renovation all over. But it’s not particularly well-funded, and there are a lot of custom-made moving parts to keep track of and a whole lot of concrete to keep painted. Through the cruftiness, a warm magic shines, and kids don’t notice the disrepair like grownups do. My experience there is always something like one half nostalgia, one half campy bliss, one half sadness to see a fading glory struggling to keep on a good face. But we always have a good time.

Have been itching to give SoundSlides a go – the fastest path to a Flash-based slideshow with synchronized audio I’ve seen. An amazing tool (even more amazing if you’ve struggled to build similar output in Flash before). Just used music for the backing here, so didn’t have reason to try the synchronization features, and didn’t do any image captioning, but the elegance of the tool is impressive.

Fairlyland slideshow

Music: The Residents :: Angry Angakok

7 Replies to “Fairyland”

  1. hey there, just came by to pay you and miles a visit.

    what a fabulous surprise…FAIRYLAND!! i loved fairyland when i was a tot myself…still have my big red key for the noise boxes.

    thanks for the slideshow..good fun!

    ~michele

  2. There was a very similar place in Northern Virginia (I mean eerily similar!) when I was growing up in the 70’s (we left in ’78 when I was 5). By the time we moved back to the area in ’86 it was already closed down/grown over.

  3. I love Fairyland! And you’re right, the kids don’t notice the slightly tattered look. Which makes for a nice kind of perfect outing: The kids play and their parents can revel in the ironic grottiness and take great photos.

    I’m told that Fairyland was the inspiration for Disneyland, btw…

  4. i LOVE fairyland. they have gotten money from oakland to renovate. i put in a proposal for redoing thumbalina’s tunnel with some friends. we didn’t get it but i can’t wait to see what happens.

    dylan — you are right. the disney archives have maps of fairyland from before disneyland opened.

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