Children's Fairyland

Oakland, CA
Ages: 
Kinder, School-Aged

Parent Reviews

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Sleepover at Children's Fairyland

March 2013

I'm thinking about taking my son to the Children's Fairyland sleepover this summer and I'm wondering what other peoples' experiences have been. Is it really all the more fun for kids who already know Fairyland well (we are members) to be able to run around at nighttime and ride all the rides? Does anyone who goes ever get any sleep? I also wonder if my son will be too young to enjoy it -- he'll be just over 2 years old this summer. Perhaps I should wait another year? Amy


We've done the Fairyland Sleepovers for the past 4 years. We've been going since my son was 3. Yes, it is a terrific time, even for members (we're members too). Kids bring glow sticks and run around in the dark with them. They put on great shows (puppet and magic) and the whole thing is a lot of fun. It always seems like far fewer people than who are there in the day; there aren't lines for rides and it has a great vibe. Of course there are cons: It's expensive. No one sleeps before 10 pm. This is always a problem for my kids, who usually go down around 7:30. I figure, what the heck, a late night won't kill them, but they are exhausted every time. Some years we go to bed early (skipping the dessert and magic show) but then get reawakened at 9:30 pm when it's ''lights out'' and everyone comes tromping back to their tents. Kids are LOUD and excited at night and it definitely takes half an hour, at least, for everyone to be quiet. One year, a baby screamed in a tent all night long. Also, you have to remember that you are in downtown Oakland. You'll hear helicopters and (sigh) what I would swear are gunshots sometimes. It's urban camping! I've finally learned to bring earplugs. The 'pros' definitely outweigh the 'cons' in my opinion. We'll be going again this year! My husband and I enjoy it as much as the kids do. Camping with the Fairies


We've done the Fairyland sleepover two summers now and had a great time the first year and a sleepless night the second year. The event is very well organized, our kids (5 and 6) had a fabulous time roaming around Fairyland, dinner was fine, entertainment was good, but throughout the night we heard gunshots (in the distance) and fighting (close by). Around 3:30 we were woken by a fight just on the other side of the fence. From inside our tents we could hear someone yelling, don't shoot, don't shoot. The fight went on for some time. Fairyland promised security personnel would be patrolling the premises, but not sure where security was that night. Fairyland fan during the daytime


Our family did the Children's Fairyland sleepover when my son was 4 years old, and again when he was 5. We may do it one more time this summer (at 6). Those were pretty good ages. It was fun to run around having adventures at Fairyland after dark, plus it was a bit exciting to sleep in a tent at Lake Merritt. It is possible to get a good night's sleep so long as you are comfortable with the sleeping bag + tent experience. Do expect to hear a few cries in the night from the younger children. The first summer we did the sleepover at Fairyland, we wanted to get back to car camping camping but found ourselves lacking in time, energy, and organization, and our camping skills and gear were out of practice. The sleepover was a fine icebreaker, since it was only 14 hours long, 15 minutes from home, and meals were provided. As far as going with a just-turning-two year old: perhaps a bit young, but if your toddler naps so that he can be awake and happy past 8pm, and you think you would enjoy it, then go for it. There will be a other toddlers present, especially in families with slightly older siblings. It does get dark in certain nooks like the western town and the music tunnel, since they are not set up to be a night time venue, so bring a flashlight.


Your child is definitely too young to appreciate it. Honestly, we took our child at age 4 or so, and it was a ho-hum experience, even though we are big Fairyland fans. She didn't seem to react to it as any big deal. They run it well and take good care of you, but it is really just like any day at the park, only you are there later and get served meals. I can't see a 2-year-old noticing any difference from a normal visit, except fo getting cranky from staying up too late.

One thing to consider with a little one -- you have to schlep all the way from the camp area to the public bathrooms when you need to get there, and it is not very close. Something you don't notice when you are there during the day, but do at night when you are in a tent. Fairyland Fan



Fairyland Party Etiquette (or anyplace costing)

July 2012

Just wondering if people think it's tacky to invite guests to a birthday party at Fairyland (or any other place with an admission cost) w/o covering the admission. We are considering having a kids party at Fairyland in the winter, when they don't do hosted parties (that include admission). Thus if we did cover admission for all our guests, one of us parents would have to stand outside the gate for who knows how long with a group ticket. Not practical. Other solutions? Is it considered okay not to cover that cost? Thanks for your opinions! (Just to be clear, the party would provide food, drink, and treats for the kids!!) Party Mama


we did a non-hosted party at fairyland for my daughter's 2nd birthday. We invited 2 of her friends & their families from daycare. We met at the gate & I paid for the admission. I think it is tacky to invite people & expect them to pay. you can always picnic near a park & take your kid their solo for their special day to whatever paid location. anon


I don't think it is ok to invite someone to a party that they have to pay to get into. When I had my daughter's party at Fairyland I paid for each child and one parent because I did not want to be responsible for 20 little kids at Fairyland. I made it clear on the invitation that I would have 2 tickets for each family and I expected a parent to stay. Over 90% of the families attended, some people brought other family members and paid for the extra guests themselves. It was no problem at all, I waited outside with the tickets, most people are on time, then someone else in my family waited for the stragglers and I went in. You can always give people your cell number and they can call or text when they get there if they are late. Fairyland isn't that big you can walk to the entrance in a minute or so from anywhere in the park. We did a party package but also purchased an extra block of tickets that I believe you can purchase at any time. I think it is 10 tickets for slightly under the face price of the ticket, $75 or so. It is a great place to have a party! Miss Manners


Very tacky.
Don't do it


In my family, the person hosting the party paid for the party. They might ask people to bring a dish but that's it. I was surprised when I moved back here as a adult to be continually invited to birthday parties at restaurants where I was expected to pay for myself and for a portion of the birthday boy/girl's dinner and drinks. To me it's horribly tacky. It would be different if a group of people planned a dinner for the birthday boy/girl and then paid for it. But I have been continually stunned by people who plan their own birthday parties and then expect others to pay for it. If I do the planning/inviting then I pay. One time a friend planned one of these dinners for her girlfriend and then was upset that 1) She had to pay $40 on the bill because others hadn't paid enough; and 2) No one brought her girlfriend a cake. It was unbelievable. I told her that if all she had to pay to host a party was $40 then she got off easy.

Your question about Fairyland strikes me as the same kind of thing. You're planning the party and inviting people so you should pay for it. The logistics could be difficult which is one reason why I've never had a Fairyland party. I wonder if you could leave a card number with them and then pay the entrance fees for your guests at the end when you know how many attended? Party host pays for party


Yes, it is kind of tacky not to pay for your guests It's a party, after all, and you wouldn't ask them to bring their own (i.e. pay for) food to an event at your home.

Let guests know they need to show up on time (and of course allow for a reasonable chunk of time to wait for them). If they're late, they miss out. Shouldn't be that hard for anyone to grasp, especially as I imagine your party will only be a couple of hours.

We've done two FL parties. The first we did in party area and did wait around at the entrance for late guests and it was annoying and stressful, especially when one didn't show up. The second we held in the picnic area (open to anyone), bought tix in advance (I think when you buy a certain number they are discounted) and posted one person at the gate to give out tickets within a certain window of time. BTW, FL tix don't expire so you can use any leftovers on subsequent visits. Fairyland fan


Not OK, sorry. You're the host of the party, you should pay. One option might be to pay a teen $10 to stand at the gate for an hour giving out the tickets. After an hour, any late-arriving guests would be on their own. Not polite to charge admission to parties


I'm not sure you will want to hear this but I don't think it is right to ask people to pay for *anything* if they are invited to a birthday party. Period. This is something that always has bothered me, and I can't understand how people think it is ok. We often get invited to parties at Roberts Park and the parking fee is $5.00. Not right.

And, it's not just the Miss Manners thing. It's that people don't always have the money, and shouldn't be asked to pay for an invitation. Seriously. Choose another site or be inconvenienced and have an adult friend (or a teen you know who needs a ''job'') stand at the entrance to pay.


We've hosted a party at Fairyland. We paid for one parent and one child per family. I gave the tickets out beforehand, I didn't want to be waiting at the gate during the party, especially as we booked a party area, and we only had it for a short time. I did have to tell a couple of people that we weren't paying for siblings though, in contrast to all the people who feel they are always being asked to pay as guests, I find it incredibly rude when people bring siblings to events and expect the host to pay. I think that's up to the family who is attending if they want to bring additional guests to the party. I second the person who said it's good to have more parents. Kids fan out after the cake, so unless they are older, it's good to have parents around to keep tabs on their own, take them to the bathroom, etc. pay for invitees only


Although I'd graciously go along with it if invited to a party where I had to pay an admission fee, it would bother me a bit. I would graciously go along with it because the point of good manners is to make others feel comfortable, but I would be a little uncomfortable about it! When throwing a party, you are the host. Do what you can afford and people (including your kid) will be delighted with just about any social occasion that is a genuine celebration of the kid's birthday. Things don't have to be fancy! A few nuts to snack on and a cake in someone's small house is fine with me! I think we (as a culture) make little kids' birthday parties too overblown anyway and a sure sign that it's getting out of hand is that you're considering something you can't really afford. Nonetheless, whatever you do, I hope it is a nice party. Good luck! anon


Fairyland Birthday party logistics

May 2012

We've booked a birthday party at Fairyland, and I wondered if someone might tell me a bit about the logistics. I've had a hard time getting in touch with the person who handles the parties & forgot to ask these questions when we confirmed. So here are my questions: 1. Does the 1 hour in the party area include setting up & cleaning up or can we get there a few minutes early? 2.If you ordered food off their menu, was it worth it? I don't have high hopes for amusement park food,so would it be better just to bring our own snacks (veggie platter, sandwiches)? We'd rather not have to schlep back and forth to the car, but if the food is gross, we'll do it! 3. Did you have someone wait at the front or did you get all the tix to folks beforehand? 4. If an extra adult comes (without an rsvp) do they charge the person directly or would they charge me? I'm hoping folks rsvp, but there are always those that don't. Otherwise, any tips or suggestions would be much appreciated. Cheers! anxious fairy mama


We celebrated our daughter's 6th birthday party at Fairyland. If I recall, I mailed out tickets and/or parking passes which I paid for in advance of the party so I didn't have to wait at the gate and it's clear up front that the invite includes tickets for one kid guest and one adult. It wasn't an issue if I recall. We ordered the fairyland sandwiches, which were pretty good -- too much food, but it was nice to have the food there rather than chugging a ton of stuff back and forth. I was dubious when I got to the site b/c it wasn't clean or ready, but the staff person was surprising diligent, and did everything I requested. It's ok to get there a little early, but might have to wait, depending on whether there's another party going on or not. It was a great spot for a birthday party all in all. Jenny


Nov 2011

Re: Where to take carousel-obsessed toddler?
Fairyland is currently $8 per person, and well worth it. Great for kids up to about age 7. Annual passes available. They have an itty-bitty carousel and a quite small train ride as well as a bigger carousel (but still much smaller than the one at the Oakland Zoo, for example). Rides are free. So if you plan a full or half day of fun, it is a good deal. anon


Fairyland has two carousels, one for toddlers and one for slightly bigger kids. The big kid one does not allow adults, but the one for tiny kids allows (requires?) parents to stand alongside their kids. It is very small - maybe 6 seats, but you get as many rides as you want w/ the price of admission. We always go on weekday mornings and lines are negligible or nonexistent. On overcast days, my 2 year-old just rides over and over again.

Fairyland also has a little train - sometimes a longer line to get on, and the views from the train are pretty unspectacular, but my kid loves it anyway. Good luck! Mom of a toddler


April 2009

Re: Musical Theatre for 9-year-old son
Children's Fairyland in Oakland down by Lake Merritt runs a children's theater program: kids (ages 8-10 by Jan. 1) audition in January, and they choose a bit over 30 kids to assign to three different casts. The kids rehearse on weekends in the spring (every third weekend, both Sat/Sun, for each cast) then perform, again every third weekend, two performances each Sat/Sun, beginning June and running through October. Our daughter is in her third year, and loves it; each year they have one classic production (this year's is from Beatrix Potter), one native Americas production, and one from some other foreign culture. The new stage, opened last year, is stunning. More information here: http://www.fairyland.org/plan_your_visit/childrens_theatre_schedule.htm Stage Dad



Require parents to pay an entrance fee for party? (Fairyland)

Feb 2009

My daughter will be turning 3 in a few weeks, and I am just now starting to plan her party. I'm looking at all of the possibilities, and I remembered that she loves fairyland and you can use the picnic area for a group picnic, and pay a group entrance fee that will admit 10. That would cover the kids, but not the adults or any siblings that would be brought along.

We cannot afford to pay for the parents as well. Is this incredibly tacky? What would you think if you were invited to a kids bday party that you had to pay an entrance fee for? I'm thinking I should think of a better plan, but am sort of stuck on the idea right now and would love some advice! Thanks!


Hi, Any party that you can't afford is a bad idea. There are always extra expenses on top of those you expect especially when you go to a location like an amusement park. After several years of staging elaborate parties for my little one, I've realized that she is just as happy playing at the park with cake and friends. All of the parents are grateful, too, for not having to travel and spend loads of time and $ on the party. I know it is your darling's special day but truly everyone will enjoy it more if it is low key. former fancy party mama


Although I have never been to a party that requires admission fees, I would not have a problem with it at all! Especially in this economy! I would make it VERY clear on the invitation that you do not want birthday presents, given that they will be paying their own entrance fee. If it were me, I would include a note with the invitation, explicitly stating that you will not be covering admission, so you don't have any families showing up and being upset that they aren't getting in for free. Something like, ''In these tough economic times, we will be unable to provide free admission for your family. We do hope, however, that you will be able to join us at Fairyland...blah blah blah.'' You might want to check with Fairyland though...I know that oftentimes places (like the zoo) have ''official party packages'' in which they provide various services and include admission for the guests. That, however, might be pricey. Another Frugal Momma


Incredibly tacky. You are responsible for hosting a party you can afford (if you in fact choose to have a party). Host 5 kids with their 5 parents if you can only afford 10. Until your child reaches ''drop off'' age for parties (as early as 5; more often 6 and up) you will need to count a parent or guardian with each child you invite. (And I won't get into the uninvited siblings who may show up, despite the fact that the party may have a ''per head'' cost...) Your party, you pay


I think that it would be better to choose a party venue with no entrance fee for parents. I know that my son enjoys birthday parties, and I am happy to bring him to them, but I would be fairly unhappy if I were expected to pay to attend them. It would influence my decision about whether to even come to the party, and if I did decide to come, I'd feel resentful. If you are really set on this venue, could you invite 5 children and pay the entrance fee for one parent for each child? Against paying for parties


The children are three, so their parents would be required to attend this party, right? I would be annoyed if my child were invited to a birthday party that I had to pay to attend, and my attendance wasn't optional. I probably would quietly turn down the invite without telling my child about it. I have many, many years of birthday parties in my past, and the only one I remember where parents had to pay, was a party for older kids where parent attendance was optional, and the admission fee was high (Great America.) Why not have it at home? We are having an at-home party for my 8 year-old next month, as we have done every year, because that's what he likes the best. Low-key is the way to go!


If the children are too young for you to take care of all of them, so that a parent is required for each, then YES, you must pay for at least one parent for each child. You can't invite someone and make them pay! That is not a party, it is a commercial venture! But it's OK to say ''no siblings.'' You can also scale down the party: just invite four kids and four parents. If you can't afford to pay for all your guests, have a cheaper party in a park or at your home. 3-year-olds love parks; they don't really notice how much you spend on them. Take your daughter to Fairyland alone sometime. no need for expensive parties


We have been invited to several entrance fee parties, and the invitation usually states something like ''In lieu of gifts, we are asking that you pay for your family's entrance to the park.'' We have had no problem with this, because we know ahead of time and can make our decision on whether or not to go. In light of the current economic difficulties for many families, however, is it possible for your family to hold the party at a place where no fee is required? Or, can you talk to the park facility about a group rate? anon


Yes, I would be annoyed to be asked to pay an entrance fee for a child's birthday party. I think you should have an inexpensive birthday party at a public park (if you have it mid-afternoon, you don't have to serve lunch, just cake and beverages) and then arrange to take your daughter and her best friend to Fairyland some time near her birthday. Birthday party veteran


if you are ready to cope with 10 three year olds on your own, then you don't need to pay for the parents. Just write on the invite: children should be dropped off and picked up at the Fairyland entrance. If you want the parents to come, then you need to invite them and pay for them. If you can't, have the party at a park where it is free happy birthday!


Hmm.... Well, first of all, if you're going to go this route you should be VERY clear up front about the fees involved. What about this... you should be prepared to pay for the people you invite (kids??) and pay for them. In the invitation state something to the effect that the entrance fee for parents and siblings is $X. NOW ASSUME that parents will just drop off their kids and you will be in charge of **ALL** the kids by yourself. yikes! Because of the age group (3 years old????) I personally think this is somewhat tacky (sorry!) and I would kindly refuse the invitation for my child if s/he were invited (to me it's a different story if the kids are 8 or 9 years old).... alternately, if you said ''fairyland entrance fee is included for one accompanying adult; siblings and additional parents are $xx.'' ~ this seems more reasonable to me. I TOTALLY understand you don't want to pay for my whole family and you are being clear up front about what your boundaries are. I might actually come in this case. Whatever you end up doing, have a great time! party people


I think that would be tacky to require parents to pay. How about planning a picnic/party at a park where it's free? The picnic tables by the parking lot near Tilden's little farm are free and the kids could play on the new play struture and/or go see Little Farm, all free? (You could supply lots of lettuce and celery for the kids to feed to the animals.) Try to find a way to pay for all guests, or do something else. Andi


I wouldn't like to be invited to a party for which I have to pay... Maybe you could go with your child to Fairyland and then have a party at the park for everybody or at other enclosed location that doesn't charge for the adults? Having said that, when I go to parties in private places and want to bring ''the other sibling'' I always ask for permission and offer to pay for his portion. My children have always been welcomed to the parties and sometimes I pay, while others I'm told it's not necessary. Also, when I bring ''the other sibling'' I always try to go a little further with the present (whether I've been asked to pay for the extra fare or not.) EP


I think this is tacky. I would plan on being able to cover the entrance fee for all you invite - parents, siblings, etc. If you cannot pay for the parents, then supply the adult manpower to supervise the children you invite and make it clear on your invites that it will be a kids-only party. But truly, I might consider a thoughtful party in your home, and go to Fairyland with a special friend for a playdate perhaps. Your guests will be grateful


I recently went to a b-day party at fairyland for my 5 yo son's friend. The email invitation asked guests to pay their own entrance fee in lieu of bringing a gift (of course, stated in a more lovely way). It was a great party and I was pleased to attend with my son. Most of all, I was appreciative that I didn't need to experience my usual guilty consumer angst while shopping for a gift. anon


I would be pretty put off if someone ''hosted'' a party and then expected me to pay to attend. If you are not requiring the parents to stay and are willing to supervise all the kids on your own, then it should be an option. If you want/need parents to come, you must be willing to pay for them. If you can't afford that, then maybe you should be looking for a different venue. Maybe Bay Area-ish parents think this a modern reality but it does seem incredibly tacky to me... --Old school etiquette follower


Don't do it. One alternative is to pick one or two of your daughter's closest pals and just have them and a parent come along. That's an age-appropriate size party anyway. There is no way parents of 3 year olds are just going to drop their kids off at Fairyland and not stick around to keep an eye on things. And having them pay to go to a party is tacky. Scale back or do something different. I have older kids (10 and 14) and they don't even remember their birthday parties before age 5. And we kind of went all out back then. It was fun, but in a few years it isn't even remembered!


For a 3 year old party, I would not require the parents to pay a fee. Either pay for them or have it somewhere else. 3 is a little young for a lot of kids to be left alone. So you are asking them to either leave their small child alone without them for the party, or foot part of your bill. At older ages you can make the assumption that kids get dropped off, and in that case I think it is OK for parents to have to pay if they do want to come. Furthermore, it can be difficult to watch a group of kids in Fairyland as they can all run in different directions. You will need the other parents help, so you should pay for them. - parties are expensive!


Yes, it is tacky. Entertaining within your means is definitely the way to go. How about a picnic up at Tilden? Maybe event parties will be an option when your child is older and her friends come without entourages. Bide your time


I think you should consider a picnic at a public park instead. It's awkward to ask parents to pay, and unless you're completely comfortable asking, and comfortable with people saying they can't do it, then I'd avoid it and stay w/in your means. Alternatively, you can have a party where you pay for 10 and only invite 2 or 3 other friends and their parents. I've had plenty of simple backyard parties, and they're easy. (except for the cleanup). But you don't have to shoo people away. My experience with the parties at a special place is that some people are excited to go in part b/c they don't have to pay, and ALWAYS there is some other kid (friend/sibling) who ends up tagging along. I am extremely uncomfortable asking people to pay their own way, even when I have explicitly limited the party to the kids I specfiically invited, and explicitly said I can't accommodate siblings. And yeah, not to be rude to you, but it does come across as tacky, since there are other ways to have a party.


Dec 2008

Re: Young Drama Queen looking for Venue
Children's Fairyland will be holding auditions for next year's productions in January: http://www.fairyland.org/plan_your_visit/childrens_theatre_auditioning.htm They select three casts of ten 8-10-year-olds, rehearse from March or so and then perform starting in June and running through October. Each of the casts generally performs every third weekend, two shows on Saturday and two on Sunday (i.e., they rotate the casts so there's a two week break, then a heavy performance weekend, for each cast). After that there's a holiday show that performers can volunteer for, combining players from all three casts... the 2008 performers will be doing that this coming weekend, and next, and it might be a great opportunity to meet and talk with them (and see the performance venue... this year was on the brand new $3M stage). Our daughter has been in it the last two years, and it's been wonderful. Ross


Dec 2007

Re: summer theater camp
Hi, I don't know anything about Kids 'n Dance, but I do know that Children's Fairyland in Oakland has a performing arts summer camp for children ages 5(K)-10. At the end of the week the put on a little play. You can read more about it on their website: www.fairyland.org. Good luck, I hope you find what your child is looking for.


April 2003

I am looking for feed back on Fairyland, Kaleidoscope and Mocha Summer Camps. This would be for a 5 year old girl. All the usual questions; care and nurturing of the children, is it safe and fun, did the kids like it, the pros and cons of the camp. I did check the archives, but the posts are either outdated or nonexistent. Getting some real feed back certainly will help in the decision making process. Thanks for your information and help. a first time summer camp mom


This will be our third summer at Fairyland, camp. It's expensive so we just do a week, but worth it! Both my daughters love it and it's the one they insist on doing. The activities are good and the staff are excellent, very caring and really work to help all the kids participate. The shows at the end of the week are a lot of fun. Lorraine


Oct 2001

re: fun place to take a visiting two-year-old
Lots of folks will say these I'm sure: Fairyland (old fashioned theme park with very low tech things to do - climb, crawl thru tunnels, puppet theatre, etc.) near Lake Merritt and for that matter the lake itself makes a nice walk with a stroller as well as a good running path for two year old (includes ducks to feed and benches to rest/have a snack). Karen


June 2001

Re: Amusement Parks for 4-year-old
Fairyland in Oakland is one-of-a-kind and is really getting shined up. Young kids love it and it's reasonably priced. The puppet shows are usually good too. There are a few rides. Lissa


1996

-Oakland Children's Fairyland Always a winner
Cindy


Although I haven't been there in years, Fairyland at Lake Merritt in Oakland is a fun and inexpensive place to take little kids. -- Kandis