In the year since Michael Jackson passed, Neverland has gone from a glorious home to a shell of its former self.
Home Sweet Home
Neverland Valley Ranch in Santa Barbara County, CA, was Michael’s home from 1988 to 2005. Jackson named the property after Neverland, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up. He reportedly paid between $16.5 to $30 million dollars for the property.
Jackson sold the property in November of 2008.
For Your Amusement -- A Park
Neverland had a private amusement park with two railroads, a Ferris wheel, Carousel, Zipper, Octopus, Pirate Ship, Wave Swinger, Super Slide, dragon wagon kiddie roller coaster and bumper cars.
Jackson was known for bringing groups of children and their families to Neverland as day visitors. He also hosted various children overnight, which led to the accusations of sexual misconduct with minors at the ranch in 1993 and again in 2003.
2003 Raid Netted Heavy Drugs
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies who raided Michael Jackson’s home in 2003 had their hands full — the place was a mess.
Most of the evidence involving drugs was never admitted at trial, because authorities felt it was not relevant to the molestation charge. Most of this evidence hadn’t surfaced until the time of Michael’s death.
Uncovered in the raid were a syringe, powerful narcotics, vials and IV bags containing what could be anesthesia.
2006 Fire Threatened Jacko's Home
Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was threatened by a wildfire in August 2006.
The blaze burned 40 acres on the ranch and came within a quarter of a mile of the main house. One hundred firefighters battled the blaze, with an assist from water-dropping choppers.
Jackson had been out of the country for months, setting up house in Bahrain. Jackson gave a number of employees pink slips in March of 2006, when he closed the house.
Creditors Check In
Jackson’s financial troubles began in February 2008 when an auction date had been set for March 19 because he owed $24.5 million on the 2,500-acre spread northwest of Santa Barbara.
Michael pulled some financial strings to save Neverland Ranch from public auction just six days before it was supposed to go down.
On November 10, 2008, Jackson transferred the title to Sycamore Valley Ranch Company, LLC, and neighbors reported immediate activity on the property, including the amusement rides being trucked along the highway.
Neverland Animals Deserted in Desert
At the time Jacko may have saved his beloved playland from being auctioned off, but he couldn’t save the animals. Poor Bubbles!
All of Jacko’s pets, including giraffes, giant pythons, parrots and a menagerie of other species, were purchased by the Banjoko Nature Preserve in Arizona. The creatures were reported at the time to be “presented center-stage at a 185 acre planned multi-million dollar wildlife preserve.”
Yeah, a zoo in the desert. Ironically, the pets looked happier than ever.
No Memorial at Neverland
Following Jackson’s death, reports claimed that his family intended to bury him at the Neverland Ranch, eventually turning it into a place of pilgrimage for his fans.
However, the singer’s father Joseph Jackson later denied the reports. Construction equipment and gardeners entered the grounds on July 1, prompting speculation that preparations were being made for something related to Jackson’s death, but local officials stated that a burial there would not be lawful. Jackson’s 2002 will gives his entire estate to a family trust.