Two East Bay filmmakers on a mission to save Oakland's Fairyland

Children’s Fairyland in Oakland is getting a big boost in support thanks to two East Bay filmmakers and friends, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.

Diggs and Casal, the pair behind the 2018 film Blindspotting, are hosting an online fundraiser for Fairyland on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. with the goal of raising $300,000. The event is free, but donations are encouraged.

“When we heard that they were struggling and even the slightest chance that it could not be around, that could not stand,” Diggs said. “I attribute a lot of my capacity for imagination to time spent at Fairyland, playing on the pirate ship, or the dragon, or the shoe.”

Preparations are underway for the event that will feature a sneak peek of “Celebrity Storytime,” a new digital library that will be free for families. It will feature prominent people from the Bay Area, including teachers and educators. Donors during the event will have early access to the library before it is released to the general public.

Fairyland Executive Director Kymberly Miller said it was a rough summer for their small staff. The theme park was forced to close in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The park has survived solely on public donations.

“We're just fighting for it because Fairyland is Oakland. Oakland is Fairyland,” Miller said. “Since March, Fairyland has lost almost $1.5 million.”

Fairyland served as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland. Many consider it an East Bay treasure that holds a special place in their hearts.

“You see the shoe, you see the whale, you see the key, and you're immediately transported back to a particular kind of joy and wonder and awe of your childhood,” Casal said. “The best kind of pure childhood experience are rooted in that kind of a feeling.”

Miller said Fairyland will announce a reopening date in the future. 

Cristina Rendon is an Anchor/Reporter for KTVU. Email her at cristina.rendon@foxtv.comand follow her on Facebook & Twitter: @CristinaKTVU