Once upon a time (in the 1950s and ‘60s), there was a Fairyland exhibit at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa beloved by generations of children. The exhibit featured dozens of fairytale characters children could enjoy visiting. Then one day, the zoo expanded and decided to send the characters to a storage lot because there wasn’t enough room.
After the fiberglass figures spent decades rotting away in storage, the city decided to auction them for sale. Restaurateur Richard Gonzmart bought the fairytale characters, restored them, and had them put out for display at his restaurant Ulele, which is located within a historic, centuries-old former water plant.
Now, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and the Beanstalk; the Three Little Pigs and their house of sticks; Cinderella and the fairy godmother, mice, and pumpkins; and Hickory Dickory Dock have all found a new home. They live within a small play area outside the restaurant.
Generations who grew up with the Fairyland figures began bringing their children and grandchildren to Ulele to see them and share their stories of visiting the old exhibit. For many longtime Tampa locals, the characters are a nostalgic blast from the past.