It opened its doors in Leumeah in July 2008 – the culmination of Brian & Christerine Laul’s award-winning work with children globally over 35 years… and a “childhood obsession with all things Oz”.
Their vision was to create magical experiences for children filled with hope and happiness in a venue where minds can develop, imaginations run riot and a family could have fun together.
Today, The Wizard of Oz Funland is a landmark in Macarthur, a popular community hub and winner of several prestigious business awards.
While children are walking through a magical land playing Putt Putt Golf, having fun in the playmaze, jumping castle, Oz Balladrome, doing craft or watching a show, parents can unwind at the Rainbow Cafe or browse lots of quirky Oz memorabilia on display. Parties for kids with themed characters and Educational Excursions for schools have become sought after specialities.
It all started in 1999 when Brian Laul wrote & directed The Wizard of Oz Show, a unique re-telling of Frank Baum’s classic story, at Sydney’s Independent Theatre. Today this highly interactive children’s show has been performed over 4,000 times around the world, represented Australia at global showcases and been acclaimed as one of the country’s leading children’s shows.
“The Wizard of Oz has all the ingredients to stimulate your imagination plus such a positive message of hope, mateship, self-esteem and self-empowerment so necessary for young people of today”, Brian Laul says.
Oz Funland is passionate about encouraging local community initiatives and won the prestigious Champions of the West Tourism Award (2014) for its creative multicultural initiative Celebrate Campbelltown. It initiated and proudly sponsors Good Morning Macarthur, a popular Facebook-based video show that tells local stories.
Exploring the power of interactive shows to enrich local communities around the world together with India Vision Institute’s visionary CEO Vinod Daniel, Brian created Ollie the Optometrist, a mascot to spearhead IVI’s eye care awareness program for children (2014). Oz Funland is setting up a partnership with India Vision Institute “to screen and provide specs to children”.
Moving forward under the Oz Funland brand, the Lauls are looking to take their special kind of children’s entertainment venue across Australia & then overseas. They have launched a franchise company and are looking to associate with people who share their passion to become an integral part of the community as benefactors, service providers and local business leaders.
“Most important, they must have a love for working with children and nurturing their creative growth”.
For more details contact (02) 4626 7777 or visit ozfunland.com/franchise.
“In the course of moving around, we were coming across all these incredible stories of initiative, hope, goodness and raw community feeling. And I guess we just wanted more people to hear about them and celebrate together the pride we have in our Macarthur community”, Laul says.
They did not realise that within a year, Good Morning Macarthur would take off so dramatically as a sought after, well viewed fortnightly program on Facebook.
“Absolutely blown away by the way the community has embraced the show. Many of our stories are used by local schools for their community studies. And the great thing is that all the stories we now carry are suggested by our viewers who message in”, Laul says.
The midnight teas have only increased now, as the two friends bring us up to date with the community’s fortnight over hearty swigs of English breakfast from their yellow mugs on the 5th and 20th of every month.
“It is especially important to us to provide a place where people in our community can be inspired by their peers and publicly encouraged for their community service efforts. There is enough negativity around us, so nothing like some positive, genuinely feel-good stories to brighten the day”, Laul says.
Though Laul is now involved in children’s entertainment in a big way as director of Oz Funland, secretary of the Children’s Festival Organisation of Australia and producer of The Wizard of Oz Show (that has been performed over 4,500 times worldwide), community storytelling is a throwback to his early career days as a journalist, TV producer/director and award-winning documentary maker. Add to this Michel’s inherent passion for community television and the quirky format of GMM seemed inevitable.
Good Morning Macarthur is produced by Rainbow Crossing Incorporated, a not-for-profit body and run entirely by volunteers. The dream is to expand its scope by encouraging young reporters in every suburb, “quite achievable in this digital age where there is a shifting paradigm in the way we tell and consume the news. Social media provides that perfect interactive platform so necessary for grassroots community news”.
The GMM team has recently expanded with business coach Rolf Fuchs and cameraman Nick Naunov now on board. They urge university journalism or film making students – and even interested school-goers – to contact them in the coming days as GMM enters its next phase that will add mentoring and documentary production to its storytelling efforts.
“And”, they add, “of course anyone with a story idea, please contact us. After all, NO COMMUNITY STORY IS TOO SMALL TO TELL.”
For more details about how you can be involved with Good Morning Macarthur, call 0412 581 395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MEETING Cinderella maybe every child’s dream and The Wizard of Oz Funland, Leumeah, is fulfilling this wish with a fun and interactive version of the fairy tale. The Cinderella Princess-themed day, on Wednesday from 11am, will give children a chance to meet Cinderella and dress up before helping her tell her story on stage.
The Wizard of Oz Funland director Brian Laul said he was always looking for various fun activities for children to join in. “Cinderella is perfect for that because it has something for the girls and the boys,” he said.
“Self-image is really important for children and Cinderella is a positive role model of what happens if you act in a positive and loving way.”
Parents can also watch their children perform on the stage. “There is more social interaction when you do things with others and parents love it because it’s something positive and different for children,” Mr Laul said. Participants can enjoy face painting, mini golf and a free ice cream to cool off. “It’s a magical experience.Children can come and let their mind run wild,’’ Mr Laul said.
Cost: $11 for children Details: 4626 7777
THE Wizard of Oz Funland in Leumeah is hosting its annual Community Christmas Party with Santa on Sunday.
Staff have lots of activities prepared for children on the day, including Christmas karaoke and face painting, as well as the chance to play in Snow Land, or a forest filled with Christmas trees.
Santa’s helpers will be in Santa’s Bubble Garden, right next to Santa’s Workshop and a nativity scene.
Director Brian Laul is also asking residents to get think about donating a gift for the toy appeal.
“In the Christmas spirit of caring and sharing, those visiting are invited to bring a little toy or book for our Christmas Hospital Toy Appeal,” Mr Laul said.
The party will include food, drinks, entertainment and a gift from Santa. RSVP before December 8. The Christmas set will remain at the funland until December 22.
To book, call the funland on 4626 7777.
AUDIENCES in Shanghai, China were delightfully entertained when Leumeah’s The Wizard of Oz show took part in a week of performances for the This Is Australia Festival.
Director Brian Laul. from The Wizard of Oz Funland said Chinese audiences got into the spirit of things despite the obvious language barrier.
“Because this is a highly interactive version of the (Wizard of Oz) story with lots of comedy and music that today’s kids can identify with, it’s lots of fun for everyone,” Mr Laul said.
Mr Laul said it was an honour for the show to be selected to represent the nation at the showcase of Australian products, food, wine and entertainment in Shanghai’s Di Shui Hu Recreational Park. The show was so well received that it has been invited back to China next year.
“They’ve even challenged Shakey the Scarecrow to do the Hokey Pokey in Mandarin, so that’s going to be fun,” the show’s program co-ordinator Christerine Laul said. The show has completed more than4,000 performances around the world.
THE WIZARD OF OZ FUNLAND in Leumeah celebrated #DoSomethingDay with a community working bee to make potted gifts for the elderly. Mums and bubs joined together to make little arrangements of succulent pots donated to the Frank Whiddon Masonic Home and Uniting Church Cottage Care at a community function.
Tim Pickles of Tim’s Garden Centre, and Woodbine’s plant enthuasiast Erika Kennar donated the plant cuttings.
“Having plants around is proven to be good for well-being and succulents are such low maintenance”, Funland program director Christerine Laul said.
Tia Brennan donated some bikes to Uniting Church Cottage Care with Channel 7’s Sunrise filming the exchange.
Drug and alcohol education organisation Youth Solutions was the winner of the indigenous excellence category last year and received $10,000.
Communications co-ordinator Amanda Dillon said the funds benefited both the organisation and the community because they went towards the Artucation Project. “The project focuses on young indigenous people and fuses drug and alcohol education with creative expression,” she said. “The grant really helped raise the profile of the project and helped us purchase paint, supplies and resources.”
The organisation was also able to extend the program. “We’re thankful to all those involved because it helped us better support young people,” Ms Dillon said.
“The awards acknowledge the importance of community development work and we encourage other community organisations to apply. It’s a win because you get both funding and awareness for your cause.”
In 2014, the team at Wizard of Oz Funland received $10,000 to create the Celebrate Campbelltown historical DVD.
Director Brian Laul said the grant was just what the group needed to kick start the project. “To find funding to get a good idea off the ground is hard.” he said. “The grant helped speed up the process and give the idea life: it found its wings after that. I’d encourage anyone to apply.”
The Wizard of Oz Funland will celebrate Harmony Day this year with a world music disco karaoke evening on Saturday.
The event from 5-8pm will celebrate inclusiveness for children of all backgrounds with the theme “strength in diversity”.
Funland director Brian Laul said Harmony Day was culturally important.
“What better way to truly celebrate our rich local multicultural fabric than through music,” Mr. Laul said.
Patrons are encouraged to come dressed in their cultural costumes.
Tickets cost $11 per child and adults are free.
Book on 46267777 or go to thewizardofozfunland.com.
The Wizard of Oz Funland in Leumeah will celebrate Harmony Day this year with a disco karaoke evening of world music on Saturday, March 19.
Celebrating the theme ‘Strength in Diversity’, the karaoke night will include chart toppers as well as music from cultures across the globe.
“What better way to truly celebrate our rich local multicultural fabric than through music,” Funland director Brian Laul said.
“Our DJ has some great dance hits lined up – from Bollywood, K-Pop, the Samoans, Filipinos and Vietnamese, not to forget the Sri Lankan laila.”
Running frmo 5pm-8pm, the disco will also included games and prizes, and guests are encouraged to dress up in cultural costumes.
“It’s important that while we talk about Strength in Diversity, we don’t limit ourselves to just various cultural communities but truly celebrate inclusiveness of the local LGBT community as well,” Mr Laul said.
Tickets are $11 per child, and adults are free.
Details: 4626 7777, thewizardofozfunland.com.
Honoured to be selected as a finalist in the Specialised Small Business category out of 1,200 entrants.