Neverland Ranch, Legendary Home of Michael Jackson

01
of 04

Michael Jackson Builds Neverland

Detailed aerial view, Neverland Valley Ranch, Michael Jackson, 2001 in Santa Ynez, California
Train station at Neverland Ranch, home of Michael Jackson in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. Photo by Jason Kirk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Between 1988 and 2005, pop star Michael Jackson transformed a 2,676 acre property in Santa Barbara County, California into a Disneyesque fantasyland.

A Tudor style house and land, formerly called Sycamore Valley Ranch, had been owned by a golf course entrepreneur. When Michael Jackson arrived, he added mock-Victorian buildings and attractions that evoked a sense of play.

Shown here is the "Victorian" train station Michael Jackson built for his guests. Visitors could travel through the property on a real steam train. Where would they go?

02
of 04

Michael Jackson's Amusement Park at Neverland

Detailed aerial view, Neverland Valley Ranch, Michael Jackson, 2001 in Santa Ynez, California
Neverland Theme Park at the home of Michael Jackson in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. Photo by Jason Kirk/Getty Images Entertainment /Getty Images

Michael Jackson named his home after Neverland, the imaginary land from the children's story, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Neverland was Michael Jackson's home and also a private amusement park.

Visitors to Neverland found many attractions, including:

  • a floral clock
  • a zoo
  • two railroads
  • a roller coaster
  • a Ferris wheel
  • a carousel
  • bumper cars

Was Jackson eccentric, or was he simply fulfilling a dream that many of us have?

03
of 04

Home as Castle: Creating a Man-Made Oasis

Aerial view, Neverland Valley Ranch, Michael Jackson's land in Santa Ynez, California
Aerial view, Neverland Valley Ranch, Michael Jackson's land in Santa Ynez, California. Photo ©Kyle Harmon, WKHarmon on flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

Seen from above, Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch seems like an oasis in a desert. Trees, lakes, and greenery are surrounded by an arid, harsher environment. Jackson attempted to create a retreat from the outside world for himself and his friends—a place where he could be himself and experience whatever amused him. It's been reported that his library was extensive, with books on art, poetry, and spirituality.

Michael Jackson's Neverland was vast and extravagant. But, he certainly was not the first to turn the idea of home into a fantasy world. 

  • Walt Disney was perhaps the world's most famous creator of amusement venues. His parks are located around the world. The Disney Corporation expanded the concept of utopia with  Celebration, Florida, a residential village that incorporated Disney ideas.
  • Sir Clough Williams-Ellis created Portmeirion, a fanciful village with architecture designed to amuse, on his land in Wales.
  • Like Michael Jackson, the wealthy Walter and Leonore Annenberg turned a desert plot into a vacation estate. Sunnylands near Palm Springs, California is still used as a retreat for U.S. Presidents and other global leaders.

The notion that a "man's house is his castle" is deeply rooted not only in American traditions and customs, but also in the laws of the land. As much as we may gawk in disbelief, Michael Jackson had the right to build as lavishly as he could afford. At Neverland, the music star carried his utopian dreams to the extreme.

04
of 04

Michael Jackson Closes Neverland

Cottage at Neverland Ranch, home of Michael Jackson in the Santa Ynez Valley, California
Cottage at Neverland Ranch, home of Michael Jackson in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. Photo © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A "ranch" usually has rugged, utilitarian architecture, but during his time at Neverland, Michael Jackson added an odd mix of fanciful details. Mock Victorian architecture and amusement park rides turned the desert property into a utopian playland.

Jackson often hosted groups of children at Neverland. The fanciful ranch became a haven for hundreds of seriously ill and underprivileged children. Michael Jackson raised millions of dollars for charitable organizations and humanitarian causes. However, authorities became suspicious when Jackson held sleepover parties and shared his bed with young children. Amidst the praise for Jackson and gratitude for his generosity, reports of sexual misconduct surfaced.

After a series of police searches, Michael Jackson left Neverland in 2005. Jackson said the searches violated the beauty and innocence of Neverland. He dismantled the carousel and Ferris wheel and dismissed most of the Neverland staff.

Michael Jackson died in 2009.  As of March 2017, Neverland, renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, was on the market for $67 million.

Learn More:

Michael Jackson: The Untold Story of Neverland (DVD)
Buy on Amazon

Source: Neverland Ranch, now Sycamore Valley Ranch, is relisted for $67 million by Lesley Messer, abc news, Mar 1, 2017 [accessed March 12, 2017]