My son and I attended the Fairyland Summer Sleepover as guests of Fairyland when he was about five, the perfect age.
If you're up for a super special adventure, the time is now to book for Fairyland summer sleepovers! (Make reservations here) My 4 and 3/4 year-old and I visited Oakland's Children's Fairyland Summer Sleepover as a solo mom and kid overnight adventure. Sawyer reports he had the best night ever, as did the other families we saw there. We give this adventure two thumbs up!
The best candidates for the Fairyland Summer Sleepover are preschool-aged buddies and their loving parents willing to forgo a night of sleep for a delightful after-hours experience.
Visiting Fairyland alone with a kid can be an exercise in extended hide-and-seek. In fact, when I was setting up my tent solo (mom of the year!), Sawyer ran off to do rides on his own. The staff assured me that nobody could get out after the gates were closed, but he's pretty clever. Lucky for us, he didn't want to leave; he just didn't want to sit still. So back to my lesson learned, it would have been awesome for him to have a similarly aged buddy to explore with — and for me to have another parent or two on my search team.
What to expect when sleeping at Fairyland
Once you check in and set up your tent, the party really begins: full run of the place; rides with virtually no lines; a special puppet show; and a silly magic show. The event comes complete with a dinner — ours was a pretty delicious taco bar (with hot dog backup for taco haters), dessert of ice cream sundaes, popcorn, and breakfast.
What we didn't love:
Fairyland describes this experience as an “urban” one. There are LOUD city noises into the night. We heard fireworks, loud music, laughing and partying at the adjacent gazebo until pretty late.
What we loved:
All the rest! Shows, rides, fun, puppets, magic, snacks, ice cream all scaled to the preschooler age group.
What to pack and what to leave:
First, earplugs!!! You'll also need a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a pair of sweats, a sleep mask (they keep a lot of lights ON overnight). Bring a pack of glow bracelets and make new friends. You can inflate an air mattress because there is a power source near the stage. I didn't think of it at the time, but the really smart parents had comfort!
Pro tip: Bring a wagon to carry everything from your car to your camping spot. My kid barely wanted to carry his own sleeping bag.
Leave your food at home. Many urban critters call Lake Merritt home, and you don't want any of them foraging in your tent. Ick.
Keeping it real, who does this?
Lots of people! I saw small families and large groups of buddies. I ran into a close friend who was doing this for the second year in a row with a gaggle of their family friends. Now that's how you do it!
There were 150 campers at our sold-out Summer Sleepover. We were sleeping inches from other people in our tents on the picnic lawn. The rate (including two meals and two snacks!) is much more reasonable than other wacky Bay Area museum overnights.
The bottom line on sleeping over at Fairyland
Description: With rides, special performances, dinner, and a continental breakfast, a summer sleepovers create amazing memories for kids of all ages. Bring a tent to sleep on the lawn near the farm animals. Check in around 6pm. Bedtime at 9:30. Wake up at 6:30 am and check out at 8:15 am.
- 2020 dates: July 11, July 25, August 8, and August 22
- Make reservations here >>
Ages: Recommended for ages 2 to 7.
Prices: $45 per person.
Food situation: Dinner and breakfast included along with dessert and popcorn snack.
Location: Children's Fairyland, Oakland
Thanks to Children's Fairyland for hosting 510Families.com.