The Most Bizarre Things That Existed At Neverland Ranch

Nothing is more iconic in connection to the strange and sometimes bizarre life of the late Michael Jackson than his Neverland Ranch. He purchased the California ranch in 1988 for an estimated $17 million, reports The New York Times, and named it Neverland due to his love of Peter Pan and the story of the boy who never grew up. That was an apt title for the property that Jackson then turned into a child's fantasy, undergoing renovations that cost as much as $35 million, SmoothRadio.com reports.

However, over the years, stories have emerged of the many odd items that Jackson collected at Neverland during the 15 years he lived there, with many coming to light during the investigation into sex abuse allegations and subsequent raid on Neverland as well as through items taken for a canceled 2009 auction of his Neverland belongings. 

Not surprisingly, Jackson's dream home was expensive to maintain, The New York Times noted, with annual expenses of over $5 million, contributing to the musician's financial woes later in his life. By the time the property was sold to investor Robert Burke in 2020, it had decayed significantly, and most of its decorations and collections had been removed or sold, per SmoothRadio.com.

Let's take a look back at Neverland Ranch in its prime, including the most bizarre things that existed on the property during Michael Jackson's life there.

Michael Jackson turned the Neverland grounds into a theme park

The property had originally been called the Zaca Laderas Ranch, reports Fancy Pants Homes, and, after he purchased it, Michael Jackson immediately began turning it into a full amusement park, featuring a large Ferris wheel and a full-sized carousel, Park World writes. Among the many rides were a small roller coaster for children, called the Turtle Train; a 20-car bumper car ride; and a go-kart track (via SmoothRadio.com).

Many of the carnival-style rides were huge. There was a Zipper ride, which Amusement Today notes is 80 feet tall, with 12 cars that rotate and flip over. Lance Brown, who was the ranch manager from 1989 to 1993, told Park World that Jackson particularly liked that ride. "Michael Jackson's most personal favorite was the 'Chance Zipper,'" he said. "Michael liked spinning at the top up to three times if he hit it just right."

There was also a Wave Swinger by Zierer, where riders sit in seats and are swung up and around, and a Sea Dragon, a large pirate ship that swings back and forth like a pendulum high into the air.

After Jackson left the ranch, many of the rides, including the Wave Swinger and Zipper, were bought by ride owners. Some are at stationary parks like Coney Island and the Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, while others have toured the country in state and county fairs (via Los Angeles Times).

There were multiple trains on the property

Along with the amusement park rides, there were also three different train tracks at Neverland Ranch. The larger one was a full-sized train that ran around the entire property. It featured a Crown steam engine, named after Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, as well as a coal wagon and passenger cars. It also had its own train station, built in the style of the train station building at Disneyland, which was completed in 1994. A large clock was featured on the hillside in front of the station, with the name Neverland spelled out above it in flowers and plants (via The New York Times).

The second train was a mile-long track that ran around the amusement park areas, Park World writes, with a small-sized CP Huntington electric locomotive and multiple passenger carriages. Small station stops were dotted along the track for people to disembark.

The smallest train was custom-made in Germany in 2001 by Elektro-Mobiltechnik, intended for Jackson's children to ride, and had about 40 feet of track, Bloomberg reports. That train was sold by Jackson to a memorabilia collector — including the tracks, train cars, and all the equipment — but was later resold at auction in 2018 for $30,000 (via GWS Auctions).

Neverland Ranch even had a private zoo

Because of his celebrity status, it was very difficult for Michael Jackson to go to public places like the zoo, so he created one for himself at Neverland. He built a large zoo house on the grounds and filled it with exotic animals, including an elephant, four giraffes, two tigers, alpacas, reptiles, and large birds (like parrots and macaws), via TMZ. Some have argued in retrospect that the cages didn't appear to meet acceptable standards, particularly for the larger wild creatures.

There were multiple types of monkeys as well, The Washington Post notes, including orangutans and baboons — the most well-known of which was Bubbles, Jackson's pet chimpanzee. Bubbles lived inside at Neverland Ranch, according to The Mirror, sleeping in a crib and eating at the dinner table. In fact, Jackson claimed the chimp was toilet trained. Bubbles was often seen dressed in children's clothing, and he even attended the 1994 MTV Movie Awards in a chimp-sized tuxedo. When he was 4 or 5 years old, he went on tour with Jackson to Japan, where he performed the moonwalk (via CNN). As he got older, however, Bubbles became too strong to manage and was taken to an animal sanctuary in Florida, and Jackson's estate still pays for his expenses.

The home contained many shrines to the King of Pop

As the so-called King of Pop, it only seems appropriate that Jackson would have a throne — and he did! The gold-painted chair featured red upholstery surrounded by ornate carvings of a crown, swords, lions, horses, and other embellishments, and Jackson apparently kept it in his bedroom (via Architectural Digest).

His bedroom also continued perhaps the strangest piece of decoration at Neverland Ranch (and that's saying a lot): a version of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper," featuring Jackson in Jesus' spot, surrounded by "disciples" Abraham Lincoln, John. F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard, reports Tutz Tutz. It was one of many works painted for Jackson by artist Nate Giorgio.

That wasn't the only strange painting — nor the only one to portray him as a saint, a knight, or a royal — that Jackson commissioned of himself. One depicted the musician in a knight's garb with Bubbles, which hung in the corner of the Neverland living room. There were also two 15-foot murals in the train station, one depicting Jackson as a knight with angel's wings and another with him surrounded by children and cherubs (via The Orange County Register). He also had a painting of himself in a Batsuit.

Along with the self-aggrandizing paintings, Jackson also kept multiple wax molds of his own face as well as the robotic version of his head from the film "Moonwalker," Business Insider reports.

Michael Jackson was obsessed with gadgets

Even before he started to abuse the intravenous anesthetic propofol to fall asleep, which caused his death in 2009, Michael Jackson had other weird sleep habits. One that gained him a lot of notoriety was his use of a personal hyperbaric chamber that he had installed in Neverland, The Sun reports. Hyperbaric chambers create a pressurized environment of pure oxygen to heal injuries, burns, and infections, the Mayo Clinic writes. However, while Jackson did indeed have one, it was not to sleep in. Adrian Garay, CEO and president of Hyperbaric Modular Systems (HMS), confirmed to DailyMailTV that, in 1994, Jackson "expressed interest in having his own personal chamber," and he had one installed at Neverland. "Michael did not sleep in the chamber as doing so would cause oxygen toxicity in the body and he would have died," Garay said. "Instead he probably used the chamber at home for one or two hours at a time for health reasons."

Not all the technology in the home was sleep-related. Along with a full video game arcade in the pool house, Business Insider reports, Jackson also had a SEGA flight simulation game with a complete setup, including a safety barrier and attendant station (via The Guardian). He also liked kitchen gadgets and had a customized Brevetti Gaggia espresso machine, lavishly decorated in chrome and brass, with an engraved "Neverland" plaque and topped with an eagle figure (pictured above). There was also a train-shaped tea kettle with moving wheels.

Neverland contained several hidden rooms

Michael Jackson was understandably worried about his own security, especially after having multiple stalkers — and even receiving some death threats — throughout his long career, not to mention being hounded by paparazzi. Along with significant locks on his bedroom door, The Express writes, he had a hidden safe room installed in his bedroom closet. When the police raided Neverland ahead of his 2003 trial, the room was full of items, including a signed photo of Macaulay Culkin with the inscription "Don't leave me alone in the house!" — a reference to Culkin's starring role in the film "Home Alone" (via The Sun). There was also a fingerpainting done by a young Culkin. The room was cluttered with dolls, vintage toys, tea sets, books, magazines (including some adult ones), a bed, and a toilet, Hollywood Life reports.

There was also a series of bells that would chime when anyone approached his bedroom door. During the trial, Culkin recalled (via Vanity Fair): "There was like a walkway kind of thing, where if somebody was approaching the door, it would kind of like 'ding-dong, ding-dong.'"

Michael Jackson had an extensive collection of cars and large toys

Michael Jackson often said that he didn't have a proper childhood, having spent much of it on the road performing with the Jackson Five from the time he was 5 years old. So, at Neverland Ranch, he tried to reclaim part of that childhood, reveling in an extensive collection of large-scale toys.

In the arcade, there was a riding horse (like you'd find outside a grocery store back in the day) and a number of drivable toy cars, including a mini Dodge Viper decorated with characters from "The Simpsons" (via Hot Cars). There was even a full-scale fortune teller machine, titled "Grandmother's Predictions" (via The Guardian), and an extremely large-scale replica of a castle. Jackson's cache of collectible toys included vintage tricycles, a set of wooden rocking horses, and a number of scale locomotives.

He also had an extensive collection of unusual cars, Hot Cars reports, including a vintage Cadillac Fleetwood that was used in filming "Driving Miss Daisy" and an electric horse-drawn carriage by the Montana Carriage Company. The collection included a green replica 1909 Detamble Model B (pictured above) he would drive around the ranch as well as a 1986 GMC High Sierra retrofitted as a fire truck.

There was a private movie theater at Neverland, too

Michael Jackson was a huge fan of Hollywood, so it makes sense that one of the most extensive outbuildings at Neverland Ranch was the movie theater. It comprised approximately 50 seats, two private screening rooms, and a small stage area. The cinema also had a lobby with a fully stocked concessions area (via The New York Times). There were a number of animatronic dioramas in the lobby, including a scene from "Pinocchio" and another of Cinderella.

Jackson's love for Peter Pan was also evident, with another diorama of Peter flying with Wendy, John, and Michael and a full-scale "Peter Pan" movie poster. In fact, he had a collection of Peter Pan-themed items throughout Neverland, including a golf cart with an image of Jackson as Peter Pan painted on the hood, The New York Times reports, and a scene from the Disney animated movie — with Peter, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell — depicted in the rafters of the train station. He also owned a 1911 copy of the book "Peter Pan" by the story's original author, JM Barrie.

Michael Jackson was an avid collector of Hollywood memorabilia

Michael Jackson also owned a collection of large-scale figurines of movie characters, including life-sized Power Ranger and Spider-Man figures and an oversized Superman, notes The Guardian. He also had a number of Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, C3-PO, R2D2, Boba Fett, Yoda, and Han Solo in carbonite.

Some of his large items were gifts, like a colorful ice cream cart given to him by Elizabeth Taylor with "Neverland Valley" painted on the side, per Business Insider. But others were bought at auction, like the Best Picture Oscar for "Gone With the Wind" that he purchased in 1999 for $1.5 million.

Jackson collected other movie memorabilia, including a prototype E.T. head and the "Edward Scissorhands" gloves worn by Johnny Depp in the movie of the same name, Business Insider notes. The Los Angeles Times reported that there was an entire room devoted to Shirley Temple, including a life-sized cutout of her. There were rare items, too, like "Wizard of Oz" jack-in-the-boxes, one for each main character, and statues and figurines of real people, including Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Lee, and Elvis (via New York Daily News).

His passion for Disney was evident throughout the ranch, and he had a number of collectibles, everything from a diorama of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that was gifted to him from the cast at Disneyworld to a replica Pinocchio marionette and an extensive collection of Disney figurines and memorabilia.

Michael Jackson's love of children was evident at Neverland Ranch

Michael Jackson's love of children was on display throughout Neverland Ranch. There were many paintings featuring Jackson surrounded by children (via Rolling Stone), multiple bronze statues and paintings of children doing various activities, and several ornamental cherubs. Some of the statues were outside in the park, while smaller ones were inside the house. And — perhaps following the "Peter Pan" theme — there were statues of fairy children.

However, some of the items featuring children were a little creepier. The door knocker featured two boys kissing, Throwbacks reports, and there were statues of half-naked boys. Even more strange, there was a handful of life-sized child dolls in the house, dressed in normal clothing and posed in strange configurations. Two dolls were set up as if they were talking to each other, while another pair was holding hands in an arch, as if they were playing London Bridge (via GoSocial). Another was laying on the throne chair with its feet up in the air, notes The Sun.