Written by Warren Crandall
Someone one said about Oakland, California: “There’s no there, there.” Well obviously this person needs some correction because right in the middle of Oakland California, concealed by trees on the shores of Lake Merritt lies what is considered by those who know, is the most influential amusement park in America. This is quite some claim as most people might say that Disneyland is the most influential amusement park in the country. Well, to prove my point we must travel back in time to 1950. Walt Disney and his employees were touring the country examining parks across the country getting ideas for what would eventually be Disneyland. They liked various aspects of different parks across the country but Disney always felt that something was missing in the amusement parks they examined.
One of those parks, San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach, was owned by my mothers uncles. Playlands owners, George and Leo Whitney were hired by Disney as advisors and Disney made a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to inspect Playland. When he was here George suggested that they cross the bay and go to Oakland to see Fairyland. They notified Fairyland that Walt Disney was on his way over there and Fairyland, aware of the publicity potential, called the local news media. The news reel photographers were there and captured Disney’s visit to Fairyland. An astounding thing happened when Disney was there and the moment was caught on film:
Disney turned to a family member
of his who was there and stated just loud enough for the microphone to pick up:
“This is it!”
But what was the “it” that attracted Walt Disney’s
Fairyland was the first themed amusement park!
. . . . Let's explore and Find out !