Unless you were personally invited by Michael Jackson, you never got to see the inside of Neverland Ranch. Fans only had glimpses and tidbits of tales from inside the famous home, and only a select few knew what really went on behind its walls. After Jackson's passing, however, Neverland was opened up. And there are some revealing photos that show how the eccentric entertainer actually lived.
Neverland Ranch was a place that Jackson cherished, a fantasy world where he could live out all his dreams. Perhaps it was a place to recreate the childhood he had never had, or maybe it was a reach for joy in a world of fame and misunderstandings..
There used to be an assortment of animals at the ranch. They're long gone, of course.
And while the rides and games were still there at the time of Jackson's death, they had lost all their glory and were left dirty and damaged.
In its prime
But when Neverland was in its prime, the fun was infinitely large and endlessly long. Kids had the time of their lives on the ranch, and they included none other than Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin..
The ranch was almost like a mini-Disneyland, in fact, with a lawn similar to Disney's Alice in Wonderland area. A tiny train would take you all around the property when you were too tuckered out from all the fun..
Aside from the rides, there was also a pool featuring two diving boards where folks could cool off from the burning California sun. Here, MJ could get to interact with his guests on a closer level than when they were running around the amusement park..
There was even an outdoor grilling area! When visitors got hungry after a long day of swimming, rides, animals, and who knows what else, we bet some burgers would have hit the spot..
Sadly, after several criminal accusations made against Jackson, the fun was definitely over. Then, following his passing, the gates of Neverland were shut, and they would not be reopened..
In 2003 the ranch was raided by investigators following a series of allegations against Jackson. This was not only the beginning of the end of the fun at Neverland, but it was perhaps the beginning of the end for Jackson, too..
Not growing up
And, of course, Neverland was not just the name of the amusement park. It was a moniker given to Jackson's home as well.
This came from Peter Pan — a story about a boy who would never grow up. Was this how MJ saw himself as well?
For a long while, though, the ranch sat in legal limbo. Then it was put on sale in 2016 — but no buyers came forward.
Not for a while, anyway. In 2020 the ranch was finally snapped up by Ron Burkle, who apparently is a friend of the Jackson family.
What was inside, though? Well, there was a large art piece depicting Jackson himself leading a very long line of children. The sun is out, balloons are bobbing in the air, and everybody looks happy..
Lots of toys
But there were certainly a lot of unnerving items also left behind — including tons of toys. Maybe they were collected by Jackson just for his own personal satisfaction; maybe they were for the kids who once played here..
An uncomfortable entrance
And while the accusations made against Jackson weren't proven in a court of law, certain items on the property probably didn't help his case. One doorknob depicts two children kissing — an odd choice for a door decoration..
Statues of children could also be found around the property. They're playing and look carefree.
You can almost imagine the real kids at Neverland doing the same, right next to these works of art.
An impressive zoo
There was also a zoo, and it wasn't just a place to pet small animals. Tigers and giraffes lived here, along with alligators, flamingos, and even an elephant.
The King of Pop entrusted the final whereabouts of all of his pets to vet Martin Dinnes.
As for the rides? Well, they were plucked dry by fairs and traveling attractions. Head over to Coney Island, and you may just see the Dragon Wagon kids' rollercoaster that Jackson used to have on his grounds..
But what was meant to be a place for children to come and be happy has since been covered in mystery, darkness, and pain. And while Neverland will never be the same again, many of its recovered possessions are making headlines..
When investigators were searching Neverland Ranch, they came across something very strange indeed. Michael Jackson actually collected child mannequins that were posed in strange ways all around the ranch!.
Jackson owned at least three exceptionally realistic life masks cast from his own face in movement. The expressions on the masks are exceptionally haunting, but that doesn't affect their value.
Insurers estimate each mask to be worth over $600.
In addition to all of his mannequins, Jackson also owned a life-sized statue of a young cowboy clutching a teddy bear. A fan bought this strange memento from the estate for over $1,000..
Hyperbaric oxygen chamber
Jackson bought this item in the hopes that it would help him live longer. There were even rumors he slept in it, which he denied.
He eventually donated this one to a hospital that specialized in the treatment of burns.
Moonwalker video game
After the success of Jackson's film Moonwalker, SEGA released a Moonwalker game in 1990. Somewhat ironically, the game's storyline follows Jackson as he rescues children from a faceless character named Mr.
Macaulay Culkin painting
Jackson and this one-time child star were very close. In fact, Culkin is the godfather to Jackson's daughter, Paris! Among Jackson's collectibles was a painting done by Culkin at the age of 11..
Home Alone autograph
In addition to owning that original painting by the young Macaulay Culkin, Jackson also kept an autographed Home Alone press photo of the actor framed in a secret closet eventually found by investigators..
When an auction house was hired to clear out Neverland Ranch in 2008, it found this massive, fully operational robotic head designed to look just like the former Prince of Pop. Talk about strange!.
Bubbles the chimp
Jackson was well known for his eccentric behavior, so when he adopted a chimp named Bubbles, almost no one batted an eyelash. Bubbles lives in an animal sanctuary today, where he enjoys painting..
Also inside of the secret closet in the heart of Neverland Ranch was this enormous and ornate throne. While it might not be made of actual gold, that doesn't make its appearance any less impressive..
Edward Scissorhands' scissor hands
Johnny Depp wore these impressive scissor-handed gloves in the Tim Burton film Edward Scissorhands. You don't have to be a film buff to know that these are a serious collector's item..
Jackson owned one of the original suits from the 1989 hit Batman. In fact, he was a huge fan of the franchise.
He wanted to write music for the film but couldn't due to prior commitments. Prince took the gig instead.
Life-sized Power Ranger
Jackson reportedly kept a massive Power Ranger sculpture (pictured here among his collection of arcade games) just outside of his bedroom door. Either he really loved the show, or he really loved terrifying his visitors.
Some people maintain a love of toy trains long after they reach adulthood. But Jackson loved trains so much that he actually had two of his own passenger trains to cart him around his ranch..
To Jackson, his Neverland Ranch was a place where everyone should feel free to act like a kid. To that end, he installed many amusement park rides, including this ornate carousel..
Zoltar, the Fortune Teller
While Jackson might have thought that this toy was a fun addition to his collection, it probably just made most people think of the haunted machine in the movie Big!.
Naturally, the King of Pop had his own full-size, indoor concert hall on the grounds of his ranch. Although it could seat more than a thousand people, no concerts were ever performed in it.
This space and the rest of Neverland have only gotten eerier since Jackson's demise.
Questioning his parenting
With everything that has been discovered at Neverland Ranch, many fans have wondered: Was Michael Jackson a good dad? With everything that’s been reported since the singer’s death — we won’t go there — it’s a question that will cause people to jump to a lot of conclusions. But unless you grew up under his wing, you probably aren’t properly equipped to answer it.
Paris Jackson, on the other hand, knows exactly what Michael was like as a father.
Introducing Paris Jackson
Paris was born in the spring of 1998, and as she’s matured she has slowly built an intriguing career for herself. After showing an interest in penning her own music as a teenager, she eventually moved into the world of modeling, showcasing her talents there.
Mind you, the King of Pop’s daughter had other ambitions, too.
Paris the actress
Yes, Paris made her acting debut in 2017 when she appeared in four episodes of the television series Stars. From there, the versatile up-and-comer then made the jump to the big screen roughly 12 months later, featuring in the movie Gringo.
And if that wasn’t enough, she was cast in a brief role for Scream: The TV Series in 2019 as well.
“I love acting”
Paris touched upon that aspect of her blossoming career while chatting to British newspaper the Evening Standard in April 2021. She said, “I love acting.
I definitely would love to keep doing that, and the modeling thing. The older I get and the more I do it, the more I start to actually understand fashion and the art behind it.”
But despite working on all those projects, apparently Paris hasn’t lost the desire to create her own music. Following in dad Michael’s footsteps, she dropped her first album, Wilted, in November 2020.
Still, her musical sensibilities are very different to her late father’s: you’ll find no pop here, folks!
A proud dad?
Doubtless Paris has an exciting future ahead, and something tells us that her father would be beaming with pride if he was still around. Sticking with Michael, you might be wondering what he had been up to in the lead-up to his daughter’s birth.
Well, to say it was a tumultuous time in his life is still perhaps something of an understatement.
MJ’s first marriage
Going into 1996 Michael was still married to his first wife Lisa Marie Presley — Elvis’ daughter. They had surprised the world by suddenly announcing their nuptials some two years before, leaving fans stunned.
How was that wedding kept a secret? Yet their time as husband and wife didn’t last forever.
A divorce and a second wedding
In January 1996 the couple called time on their relationship. But Michael didn’t have to wait long before he was married again.
Yes, the King of Pop tied the knot with a woman named Debbie Rowe a few months later. She plied her trade as a nurse, in case you’re curious.
Becoming a dad
Following the wedding, Michael and Rowe went on to welcome two kids into the world. Michael Joseph “Prince” Jackson Jr.
was the first, delivered in 1997. Then, his baby sister Paris arrived the next year. Yet by 1999 their parents had split up, with the music superstar taking on the role of sole guardian.
In the wake of the divorce, Paris and her brother joined Michael at Neverland Ranch — the singer’s famous California home. It’s a huge place, spanning about 2,700 acres.
It also housed facilities including a zoo, a theater and a theme park.
Sounds incredible, huh? Then again, throughout the seven years that Paris lived at Neverland, her life was lacking one important thing — a genuine mother figure. You see, she had no contact whatsoever with Rowe during her childhood.
That couldn’t have been easy, regardless of her luxurious surroundings.
An overdue connection
Yet Paris and Rowe did eventually form a bond when the former was a teenager. They came together some four years on from Michael’s shocking death.
The versatile star opened up about how that came about to her pal Willow Smith when she made an appearance on Facebook streaming show Red Table Talk in 2021.
In response to a question about their growing bond as mom and daughter, Paris beamed, “It’s cool. Like, getting to know [Rowe], seeing how similar we are, getting into what kind of music she likes, and she really likes country and folk.
I sent her some of the stuff that I’m working on that have, like, banjos in them.”
“We look a lot alike”
“We look a lot alike,” Paris continued. “It’s just cool having [Rowe] as a friend.
It’s very chill, which I love. It’s the perfect word to describe it.” Before all that, though, the latter part of her childhood had been very far from “chill.” Of course, we’re referring to the demise of her famous dad.
The impact of Michael’s death
When Michael passed away in 2009 Paris’ world was turned upside-down. A few weeks on from his death, she delivered a painfully raw message to the world at the pop legend’s memorial service.
Unsurprisingly the youngster had struggled to hold back her tears while addressing the assembled audience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The school situation
Then, roughly 12 months later Paris became a student at a private institute named The Buckley School. Why was that a big deal? Simple really.
Up to that point, her entire education had come from homeschooling, so the switch proved to be a massive moment in her young life.
Dealing with loss
While Paris was going through all that personal upheaval, though, we can’t help but wonder — how did she find the time to deal with Michael’s death? Has she been able to move past it? The rising star shed some light on that particular subject during an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone magazine in January 2017..
“You just get used to it”
Paris said, “They always say, ‘Time heals.’ But it really doesn’t. You just get used to it.
I live life with the mentality of, ‘Okay, I lost the only thing that has ever been important to me.’ So going forward, anything bad that happens can’t be nearly as bad as what happened before. So I can handle it.”
Michael as a father
Those words give a clear indication of how much Paris loved her dad. But what was Michael really like as a parent? Well, as we mentioned earlier, his daughter provided a few fascinating insights into their lives at Neverland Ranch in a YouTube video. .
Paris was a guest on the No Filter YouTube series in March 2021, which is hosted by Naomi Campbell. Their chat covered a range of different topics, but arguably some of the most interesting segments related to the former’s time with Michael.
The budding singer started by praising the King of Pop’s drive to broaden her horizons at a young age.
“We saw everything”
“My dad was really good about making sure we were cultured,” Paris tells Campbell. “Making sure we were educated, and not just showing us, like, the glitz and glam, like hotel hopping, five-star places.
We saw everything. We saw Third World countries, we saw every part of the spectrum.”
That wasn’t all that Michael did for his kids, though. Later in their conversation, Paris informs Campbell that entitlement wasn’t a thing in her household.
Far from it, in fact. And that’s carried over as the rising star has grown older. So regardless of her surroundings, she claims she was never spoiled.
Paris reveals, “Growing up, it was about earning stuff. If we wanted five toys from FAO Schwarz or Toys ‘R’ Us, we had to read five books.
It’s earning it, not just being entitled to certain things or thinking, ‘Oh, I got this.’ It’s like working for it, working hard for it. It’s something else entirely. It’s an accomplishment.”
“I should earn everything,” Paris continues. “I go to auditions, I work hard, I study scripts.
I do my thing.” And she elaborated on this point during her chat with the Evening Standard, too. You see, it wasn’t just the toys she had to work for as a kid living in Neverland.
No easy rides
Paris said, “It was very clear to us that those rides and the zoo [at Neverland] were for underprivileged children. Children who were sick and couldn’t go to Disneyland.
If we were good, and we did our homework and we worked hard throughout the week, maybe we could go at the weekends, but we had to earn it.”
Michael’s approach to parenting has also been hailed by his brother, Jermaine Jackson. Yep, he dedicated a passage of his memoir to that topic back in 2011.
According to Jermaine, he believed that the King of Pop had been heavily influenced by their childhood experiences with their own mom and dad.
“What fatherhood should be”
Jermaine wrote, “[Michael was] an example of what fatherhood should be. He instilled in [his children] the love mother gave us, and he provided the kind of emotional fathering that our father, through no fault of his own, could not.
Michael was father and mother rolled into one.”
A normal life?
Anyway, going back to Paris, she provided some additional details about her life with Michael at Neverland. The picture she painted was a unique mix of mundane normality and incredible privilege, with the two blending together throughout her childhood.
There was no getting away from the latter, given how big a star her dad was.
Learning about food and music
Paris told Rolling Stone, “[Michael] was a kick-ass cook. He taught me how to make sweet potato pie.
[He] worked with Van Halen, so I got into Van Halen. He worked with Slash, so I got into Guns N’ Roses. He introduced me to Tchaikovsky and Debussy, Earth, Wind and Fire, the Temptations, Tupac, Run-DMC.”
Sticking with that topic, Paris explained further how Michael’s passion for music had helped shape her while speaking to Campbell on YouTube. If you thought the previous list of names was something, wait until you get a load of this! Plus, the aspiring musician spoke about her own work as well..
“We grew up around all of that”
“[Michael] loved classical music and jazz,” Paris says on No Filter. “And hip-hop and R&B, and obviously the Motown stuff.
But also, like, radio’s Top 40, and he loved rock music, soft rock, The Beatles. So we grew up around all of that, and I feel like all of that somehow influences my stuff.”
Crafting a sound
Paris then adds, “If you listen to my album, even there’s some movie soundtrack-like influences as well, like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. As well as rock bands like Radiohead and Manchester Orchestra.” So while her music might not sound like Michael’s, his fingerprints are there.
His influence is just less obvious than you’d think!
Meanwhile, someone else felt the need to shine a light on Michael’s parenting, too. Yep, Paris’ sibling Prince came forward to share his experiences in March 2021 when he appeared on an episode of YouTube channel The Mix.
Much like his sister, he describes how they were surrounded by music growing up.
Yet something else stuck with Prince during his time at Neverland as a child. It wasn’t all about the music.
You see, Michael taught him a lesson that he continues to stand by today. In truth, it’s a really cool bit of wisdom that you might want to adopt yourself!
“You never stop learning”
Prince says, “The one [lesson] that is my guiding principle is that you never stop learning. I graduated, and that doesn’t mean that I stopped learning.
And my father also would say something along the lines of, ‘The minute that you stop learning is the minute that you’re going to start dying.’”
As for Paris, she also cited one of her dad’s most important bits of advice while speaking to the Evening Standard. Apparently, those words played a big role in her decision to champion certain causes — something that Michael himself used to do.
And that’s not all, as we’re about to find out.
Paris informed the newspaper, “I think a huge part of [my passion for activism] was from my dad, from his work and his humanitarianism. Going back to the morals we were raised with, he instilled in us, ‘Do what you can to leave this place better than how you found it.’”.
“Help them clean up!”
“That’s in terms of the bigger stuff, [like] the importance of the environment, human rights and animal rights,” Paris continued. “But [it’s] also just things like if you go over to a friend’s house and they cook you dinner, leave it better than you found it.
Help them clean up!” Looking at the bigger picture, if we take all these comments at face value then it seems that Michael’s parenting style has had the desired effect on his kids.