The California State Fair may not seem like a place to get a look at a piece of [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] history, but that’s exactly what will happen later this week.
At its peak, the singer’s sprawling Neverland Valley Ranch — which was being dismantled before his death in June — features its own railroad system, a zoo and a private amusement park, and four rides from the park will be featured at the California State Fair, which opens Friday at the Cal Expo fairgrounds in Sacramento, according to a press release from the fair. As a bonus promotion, the rides will be free to the first 5,000 guests every Friday during the fair, which runs through September 7.
The four attractions are being provided by Butler Amusements, which purchased the rides from Jackson last year.
The rides in question are called “Balloon Sama” (made to look like a series of hot-air balloons), “Jeeps” (a series of small vehicles that look like jeeps roll around a track), “Swings” (a speedy swingset that whips riders in a circle) and “Dinosaurs” (a sort of merry-go-round featuring prehistoric beasts). All of the attractions fall under Butler’s “Kiddie Rides” heading, making them more ideal for children.
When Jackson lived at Neverland Ranch, he invited children — usually those from poor backgrounds or who had major health problems — to the amusement park as a way of reaching out and providing charitable help.
The fate of the remainder of Neverland’s rides — as well as the rest of Jackson’s possessions — remains up in the air, though Neverland was left to a family trust as part of Jackson’s will. Meanwhile, the California State Fair opens Friday and features musical performances by David Cook, Tonic and MC Hammer.