This is a story about how five-year-old Alyssa’s dream finally came true…26 years late.
Every kid has a favorite toy, whether it’s a teddy bear, Lego blocks, or a plastic truck. As an only child, I was somewhat spoiled with toys, but hands down, my favorites were Cabbage Patch dolls.
Babyland General Hospital is a Cabbage Patch museum/factory/showroom of sorts, and I finally got to see it for myself…with my parents in tow.
My grandma bought my first (of six) Cabbage Dolls back in 1983, when they were the hot ticket item on everyone’s shopping list. Her name was Isabelle, and oddly enough, I’ve taken Isabelle to live with me every time I’ve moved. She’s quite the well-traveled lil’ thing.So when my parents planned a road trip from Illinois to Georgia to visit me in my current home, a trip to Babyland General Hospital was a MUST.
It’s located in the tiny town of Cleveland, Georgia…northeast of Atlanta at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the huge, white plantation-style home surrounded by 650 acres of green space.
Like any decent kitschy attraction, a fair number of famous people have walked through these doors and/or collected Cabbage Patches themselves. You’ll be greeted by their signed photos as you make your way inside to the admission desk past the bathrooms.
Before there were Cabbage Patches, there were Little People, plush dolls that date back to 1977 and that were Xavier Roberts’ first creations. This is the oldest one of them all…valued at a whopping $37,000!
There were plenty of good photo ops for Isabelle and me as we toured Babyland General Hospital. To me growing up, Cabbage Patches were more than just silly dolls. They were my siblings. Weird, huh?
Being an only child can get lonely, so Isabelle, Netta, Jerry, Martha, Henrietta, and Lara kept me company by playing school, pretend cooking, going on road trips, and hosting birthday parties. Now it’s important to note that my parents were just as much into this whole experience as I was. They’ve finally accepted me for who I am, and they don’t (outwardly) judge me for playing with creatures and dolls instead of my own unborn offspring. Thanks, Mom & Dad 🙂
One thing that caught me slightly off-guard was that everyone working at Babyland General Hospital was dressed like a nurse and totally in character. I really think some of these old women believed they were delivering actual babies in a real hospital. But I can support that.
I expected a bit more of a “museum” aspect to this place, but it ended up being more of a sales room than anything else. Practically everything inside was for sale! I would have loved a few more informational plaques, factory photos, and maybe a little video presentation to add to the experience though. Dolls were carefully positioned in “nurseries” and play areas, and even separated by girls’ rooms and boy’s rooms. I’m sure this was to avoid the dreaded case of the cooties.
Apparently even Andy Warhol got in on the Cabbage Patch craze at one point because a few of his paintings lined the “hospital” walls.
But by far, the most interesting thing that happened at Babyland General Hospital was the BIRTHING.
I’m not even kidding…a head of cabbage gave birth to a doll while a “nurse” delivered it….and I saw it all. Thanks to a little audience participation, this head of cabbage turned out a baby girl and all the gross parts about birthing were edited out of the show. WHEW!
When the nurse asked the audience to name the new baby girl, my dad called out, “Alyssa!” And thus, a new baby me was born this day.
Throughout the course of the morning, I learned that there are many different types of Cabbage Patches and they don’t all look like Isabelle. However, she still had to wear a visitor pass so that she wouldn’t be mistaken for one of the residents.
For a Cabbage Patch fan, this was total sensory overload.
I could have probably spent all day hanging out with these little buggas, but alas it was a work day, and there’s only SO much time that “free admission” will buy you.
My parents made it known that they were bound and determined to buy me a brand new Cabbage Patch doll to celebrate this magical day. But with hundreds upon hundreds of glistening, adoptable painted eyes staring at me, how was I to choose just one?!
After a requisite bout of indecision, I settled on a little brown baby boy wearing monkey pajamas and smelled of talcum powder. But this was no ordinary store purchase…this was a full-fledged adoption!
But the adoption process didn’t end there! I was required to raise my right hand and repeat after the nurse that I would be a kind adoptive mother to the little guy for as long as I shall live.
And with that it was done! I was too ecstatic at the moment to focus hard enough on choosing a name for my new little guy. So he’s still nameless…any suggestions? I need to write it on his birth certificate (yes, there IS actually a birth certificate) before he realizes that his adoptive mom is a flake.
And just so Isabelle didn’t feel left out with all this new baby madness, I got her a little “candy striper” dress as a souvenir. They seem to be getting along pretty well so far.
And both 5-year-old Alyssa and 31-year-old Alyssa deem this latest Georgia adventure an overwhelming success! If you could belatedly fulfill one childhood dream trip right now, where would you go?