Neverland Ranch is up for sale for $100 million and I think it should be considered a historical landmark. I am not only referring to the location, structure, and previous owner. This place is a prime location to maintain and further Michael Jackson’s legacy.
Michael Jackson bought it in 1987 for $19.5 million, which is approximately $41.1 million in 2015. He transformed the ranch into an amusement park and zoo with a tudor-style home. In 2008, Colony Capital LLC bought a $23.5 million note on Neverland while Michael Jackson and his estate were planning to sell it. Subsequent to his death, they have restored the home and ranch to be ready for sale. According to Colony Capital LLC, the ranch is zoned for agriculture and would require approval to be changed into a tourist attraction like Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
As an individual who values cultural history and recognizes the importance of respecting its legacy, I have a few recommendations for what the new owner of Neverland should do with the property.
1. Turn Neverland into a Performing Arts Academy
Combining the King of Pop’s message of love, resilience, and creativity plus his never ending concern for peace with a curriculum to enhance future generations academic experience sounds like the perfect plan for world moonwalking domination. In addition to courses for music, art, fashion, theater, and film, the curriculum could also include the history of black performance, Michael Jackson philosophy, and creative-prenuership. Some people recognize the endless potential behind all the work Michael Jackson left behind to study and interpret. For example, Marc Anthony Neal taught a graduate course about Michael Jackson and the black performance at Duke University, which I wish I could have attended. Zack O’Malley Greenburg wrote “Michael Jackson, Inc” illustrating the business side of an icon, which I have included in my summer reading list.
I am not sure yet if this school should be only for grade school students or be a general institution of learning that all ages can participate in. Granted, there are a lot of costs to factor in. Certain taxes, licenses, accreditations, and regulations need to be adhered to. Faculty and staff will be needed. I have not personally visited Neverland, but looking at pictures and a map it seems far away from town. So we would probably need an MJ school bus as well.
2. Turn Neverland into a Museum + Theme Park
Over the years I have felt saddened and concerned hearing about Michael Jackson’s stuff being auctioned. What use do those buyers have for a painting of Michael Jackson dressed like Napoleon, or one of his costumes, or a Peter Pan statute, or his tour bus trailer, or a piece of his ornate furniture? I am not sure if any of his personal writings or sheet music was included in the auction, but if it was, what use is it in someone’s private collection? I do commend those who bought a large amount of his stuff in order to keep it safe (hat tip to Lady Gaga).
Neverland could be the Michael Jackson Museum. Renovate parts of it to have display rooms, some “this is where Michael wrote or composed music” rooms, and interactive rooms. The display room is where you have things in glass cases and seating here and there for people to learn about different aspects of Michael Jackson’s business. The studio, dining room, and library can be used as rooms to showcase his taste in home decor and give visitors a glimpse into his home life without being too invasive.
The interactive room has a few options. I initially had this idea when Michael Jackson was still alive, so it might seem creepy now, but I will share it anyway. I figure we have the technology to have a hologram as the tour guide. The museum could have a realistic looking hologram of Michael Jackson as the tour guide. Each season has a different era tour guide. Spring time could have a Jackson 5 MJ and Fall could have Thriller MJ. The hologram could also be the Jackson 5 cartoon and the HIStory statue. The hologram would walk with the group of visitors, with a real guide to make sure everything works, and interact with the visitors by telling stories and answering questions. Another option is an interactive music video room. Using the technology from virtual video games, have visitors either wear goggles or a helmet to transport them inside one of Michael Jackson music videos or his smooth criminal video game. Visitors have to dance to win the game.
Of course there will be a gift shop with MJ trading cards, jackets, and silver gloves as well as books, music, and videos by Michael Jackson and others inspired by him.
Outside, visitors could use the train and rides if they purchase the ticket for the full package.
I hope the new owner will recognize the value of their purchase and be creative in how they use it. What do you think the new owner of Neverland should do with the property?