When a dozen cars filled with police investigators pulled up at the gates of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch seven years ago, it’s as if they brought along some kind of Dr. Evil-inspired device that could suck every last bit of magic out of a place. Though Michael remained there throughout his trial, once he was acquitted of all charges he and his children left their Neverland home and never went back.
My daughters and I spent two amazing days at the ranch just four weeks prior to that raid, and I can tell you first hand there isn’t another place on earth quite like it–as it used to be, that is. We rode the amusement park rides, played in Michael’s incredible game room and enjoyed an awesome concert put on by the organization “Oneness” in honor of artist Romero Britto. We slept in a guest room above the movie theater where Michael had designed glass-fronted rooms with hospital beds where terminally ill children could experience the magic of being at the movies (while they were hooked up to the tubes and machines needed to keep them alive). The movie Seabiscuit was playing the night we were there.
Our two days at Neverland were filled with way too much magic to describe here, but I can confirm reports that there were ice cream carts everywhere, and yes, an endless supply of candy and popcorn free for the taking. One of the highlights of the visit for me was sitting in an open field with Michael’s orangutan Brandy who developed a little crush on me and wanted to share a can of Coca Cola. (No it wasn’t Pepsi, and I had to pretend to drink from it or risk hurting her feelings.)
Today, TMZ is reporting that Colony Capital, who now owns the property, wants to turn Neverland into a music institute — similar to The Juilliard School in NYC where teens of diverse backgrounds will live and learn all aspects of music, including writing and performing. Wow. Of all the rumored possibilities we’ve heard for Michael’s once-beloved retreat, I can’t help but believe he might most approve of this one. What better way to honor the greatest entertainer who has ever lived, than to turn his once magic kingdom into a place where young people can go to develop their musical gifts.
The world will certainly benefit if Michael’s “Giving Tree” inspires more of the incredible music he says it inspired in him.
“God gave us talent to give; to help people, and to give back.” -MJ
You can read TMZ’s exclusive story here.