Who wouldn’t want their own amusement park in their backyard? There’d be no lines, no crowds, and most importantly it’d be totally free. It’s the perfect set up and it’d be any kid’s dream, which is why Steve Dobbs is now the greatest grandpa there ever was. Thanks to him, his five grandkids get to enjoy themselves as much as they want in their own personal amusement park set up in his backyard.
Dobbs, a 68-year-old resident in Fullerton, California, decided to cut out the middleman and bring the fun to his very own backyard by building his own version of popular Disney theme park rides. The “park,” which he calls Dobbsland, is filled with mini rides and a roller coaster that’s fully functional.
“It’s an excuse to come out and enjoy the backyard,” Dobbs said in a video for Orange County Register.
Dobbs said he first started putting the park together three years ago when he bought an electric train for his grandkids to ride but like most kids, they quickly got bored with it, which led Dobbs to create a tunnel out of cardboard boxes. Naturally, his grandkids also got bored with that so Dobbs took things up a notch and made even bigger tunnels, which eventually evolved into the various different rides that now make up Dobbsland.
According to The Orange County Register, Dobbs is a retired aerospace engineer, and it’s clear he put his engineering skills to good use. Using Madame Alexander dolls his wife planned to throw out, Dobbs put motors on the dolls and positioned the dolls inside the tunnels he’d made just like the Small World figures at Disneyland. Dobbs also built a clock tower, using a 14-inch pizza tin for the face and added lights and music to give the ride a soundtrack.
Just like most grandparents, Dobbs really just did it all for his grandkids.
“My younger grandkids are nuts about Disneyland,” Dobbs told The Orange County Register. “I wanted to give them a reason to come over to my house to spend time with me, and Disneyland is tough to compete with.”
Well, it seems like Dobbs had nothing to worry about because his kids and grandkids all love the park he made for them.
“We thought that was amazing,” Mandi McArthur, Dobbs’ daughter and mother of three, told The Orange County Register. “We could not believe the amount of work it took him.”
Just like most people, Steve has always had a love for Disney and Disneyland. Born in 1947, Dobbs lived near the groves that became Disneyland and often watched the theme park being built. When the park opened in 1955, Dobbs would sometimes sneak into the park late at night, thanks to a neighborhood friend who worked at the park. Putting Dobbsland together for his grandkids was a fun way for Dobbs to combine his love for engineering with his love for Disneyland.
“Ever since I was young I was interested in engineering,” Dobbs told The Orange County Register. “I loved airplanes flying overhead, how things moved…Every time I’d go on a ride, I’d look at the mechanisms, the wheels, the track, how it all worked. I liked tying the engineering of Disneyland into the art and the fantasy of it.”
It’s clear just by looking at the park how much time, effort, and love went into the making of it. Each ride was built with his grandkids in mind. After he made the Small World ride, he built a submarine type ride based on Disneyland’s Finding Nemo ride. Then later, in an effort to make something for his older grandchildren, he went to work making a roller coaster based on the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland.
Surprisingly, all of the rides, when broken down, can fit into Dobbs’ garage. Although there’s no real hours of operation for Dobbsland, Steve also opens it up for birthday and family parties, and many friends and neighbors have enjoyed the park as well and it doesn’t seem like Dobbs is done with it just yet. His daughter is already requesting a Tower of Terror and there’s no doubt Dobbs would be happy to oblige.
[Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images]