Inside Neverland Ranch: Michael Jacksons Private Amusement Park

Neverland Ranch was the home and private amusement park of the American iconic performer Michael Jackson where he resided from 1988 to 2005. When Jackson decided to purchase the ranch, he decided to convert it into a fantasy island with the back story of Peter Pan in mind, a boy who never grew up. Jackson first saw the ranch when he decided to visit Paul McCartney while filming for the Say Say Say video in 1983. When he saw the property, Jackson fell in love with it and he expressed a strong desire to own the property someday. He obviously succeeded to buy the property and own it for years where he resided with his family. Take a look at the details of the property which is currently owned by billionaire Ron Burkle. 

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The Saga Of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

The Neverland Ranch was originally the the Zaca Laderas Ranch when it was purchased by William Bone in 1981, a property developer. After Bone acquired the property, he decided to rename the estate to Sycamore Valley Ranch and eventually moved his immediate family in the estate. Robert Altevers was the architect that Bone commissioned to design the main buildings in the ranch and the two of them spent about two and a half years searching for the perfect design and ideas fit to the vision of Bone. They were able to built 13,000 square foot main house based on the design of Altevers which was completed in 1982. About seven years after buying the property, Bone decided to sell it and Michael Jackson was the lucky buyer of the ranch. Though the price of the purchase was not disclosed, some reports indicated that the Jackson bought it for $19.5 million however there were some reports claiming it was $30 million.

Initially, the property was purchased through a trust with the lawyer of Jackson, John Branca, and his accountant, Marshall Gelfand, as the trustees for Jackson’s privacy reasons. However, their initial arrangement was rescinded by Jackson as he took over as the ultimate owner of the ranch in April 1988. It has become the main residence of Jackson and his family from that moment on.

Inside The Private Residence

When Jackson took over as the ultimate owner of the ranch, it became his family’s residence as well as his private amusement park that has some garden statues as well as a petting zoo. The massive property has three railroads; the first one is a 3 ft. narrow gauge which was called Neverland Valley Railroad which has some steam locomotive. The second one is a 2 ft narrow gauge using the replica of C. P. Huntington locomotive and the last one is a custom made private electric train which Jackson bought for his kids Michael Jr, Paris, and Michael II.

Since Jackson has three kids, he made sure that they will have ample entertainment in the ranch. The ranch has a Carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Ferris wheel, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, Pirate Ship, roller coaster, bumper cars and some amusement arcade. The ranch is also among iconic properties in Hollywood as it hosted some events for celebrities. The ranch is where Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky got married in 1991 and it was also the place where Oprah interviewed the performer in 1993 which was broadcasted live. Jackson with his wife Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson also hosted a World Children’s Congress in 1995 which run for three days which consists of series of seminars and workshops.

However the ranch had some negative publicity as it was searched extensively by the police during the trial of Jackson relating to multiple counts of molesting a minor in 2003. Although Michael Jackson was never found guilty of all the charges against him, he felt that the place will never go back to how it used to be. He thought that he longer felt at home at the property so they decided to never go back to Neverland again.

What Happened To The Ranch When The Jackson Family Left

Since the abandoned private amusement park was longer the residence of the Jackson family, the amusement rides and animals no longer existed in 2009 which was replaced by a meditative zen garden. Although the ranch was abandoned by the Jackson family in 2005, it was only in May 2015 that they decided to sell the 2,698-acre ranch for $100 million. The ranch was co-owned by Jackson estate and Colony NorthStar at the time. When the ranch was put up for sale, the extensive renovations on the property were already completed by Colony NorthStar.

The renovation included a 12,598 square foot six bedroom which was in a Normandy-style mansion, a 4 acre lake with a scenic waterfall, three guest houses, a pool house, tennis court and a massive movie theatre that has its own stage that covers about 5,500-square-foot. In 2017, the price had fallen to $67 million because of the lack of interest and it seems that the property is hard to sell. The following year, the price was again reduced to $31 million and the listing agent stated that there were no changes in the property other than its price and the structures and landscaping are still well maintained. Finally in December 2020, it was sold to billionaire Ron Burkle who is also a family friend of Jackson, who purchased it for $22 million.

READ NEXT: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Neverland Ranch

Sources: SF Gate, Smooth Radio, CNN

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