Michael Jackson fans who trekked to his Neverland Ranch had to start leaving after learning that there will be no public memorial service or burial at the singer's former home. Michael Jackson fans who trekked to his Neverland Ranch had to start leaving after learning that there will be no public memorial service or burial at the singer's former home.
Most fans who came to the ranch Wednesday stayed only briefly. Most just stood in front of the gates, snapped a few photos and left. But a few people, like Crossley and her group, brought tents and fold-out chairs. They were determined to see what events, if any, would be held at Jackson's onetime home.
The fans often were outnumbered by media representatives, many of whom also believed Jackson would be buried there and that there would be a public memorial.
The area grew chaotic and traffic along the two-lane road grew increasingly congested. Trucks carrying construction vehicles, as well as landscaping vans, drove in and out of the compound, The Los Angeles Times reports.
At first Michael Jackson’s family wanted to bring him to Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley for a public viewing on Friday. Then they said it was not going to happen, in part because officials would not let them bury Jackson’s body on the ranch, The Santa Barbara Independent reports.
But the rural playground inspired by Jackson's alter-ego, Peter Pan, would remain an attraction in a region already visited by tourists, and it could rival Elvis Presley's Graceland as a future venue for his millions of fans around the world.
"Michael Jackson has worldwide appeal and probably a stronger fan base than even Elvis. Neverland is a lot larger than Graceland and Los Angeles is a major tourist destination already," said Roger Brooks, CEO of tourism company Destination Development International. "Neverland embodied who Michael Jackson was -- the good and the bad. I think it could draw about one million visitors a year," Reuters reports.