Long before Disneyland opened its gates, Children’s Fairyland was inviting Oakland kids to enter a world of imagination on the shores of Lake Merritt. And its famous Magic Keys became familiar to magic-seekers across the country.
A few years later, Bruce Sedley invented the “Magic Key to Fairyland” for the park. This little plastic key unlocked the Talking Storybook, an audio guide to many of Fairyland’s exhibits.
The key was such a hit that Sedley made a second version — Trunkey the Elephant — for city zoos across the country. The Trunkey keys soon unlocked stories and wonders in over 40 cities. They came in a variety of colors, and some even glowed in the dark. Today, people even collect the different editions (the metallic blue key is the most prized).
Fairyland still sticks to its original mission — admission is kids-only, and the park raises funds to keep fees low (and even free) for local children. To maximize profits, most zoos began making magnetic keys that expired after a year. But not Fairyland. In Oakland, you can still use the original key to enter a storybook paradise.