The iconic Cabbage Patch Kids that were born in Cleveland in the late ’70s and embraced by cool kids everywhere in the 1980s have a new home that suits their Southern heritage.
The new BabyLand General Hospital, a sprawling 70,000-square-foot plantation style building north of Cleveland just off Hulsey Road, is a big change from the much smaller, original downtown location of the “hospital.”
Even the porch space of the new facility, about 20,000 square feet, eclipses the size of the old one, which was 14,000 feet.
But Margaret McLean, director of corporate communication for Original Appalachian Artworks, the parent company of the Cabbage Patch Kids, said visitors still will see familiar settings and familiar hand-stitched faces at the Kids’ new home.
“We are very excited because, as Xavier (Roberts) was planning the new facility, he knew how much BabyLand General Hospital meant to people, and he wanted to keep a lot of the feel of the hospital,” McLean said.
“The history of the BabyLand General Hospital is the soft sculpture (Cabbage Patch Kids), so as you enter into the first part of BabyLand … you’re seeing the soft sculpture, which is the roots,” McLean said.
McLean said Roberts, inventor of the Cabbage Patch Kids and owner of BabyLand, kept many elements of the original BabyLand.
“The double doors open up just like the old medical clinic,” she said.
Through the double doors visitors can find “nurseries” filled with “preemie” Cabbage Patch Kids.
“It’s black and white as the theme color as you walk in, but of course the rooms start to come alive with the pinks and the blues and you see lots of cribs,” McLean said.
The original “Little People,” the predecessors of Cabbage Patch Kids, are on display, she said, “so that people can see, again, this is the roots, this is Cabbage Patch.”
Once you’ve toured the nurseries, you can move on to the main event – the large room that houses the “Cabbage Patch,” where the Kids are “born.”
Visitors who made the trip to the original facility will recognize a bigger version of the leaf-covered garden, adorned with real crystals and twinkling “fireflies.”
If you’re there at the right time, you can watch as a “licensed patch nurse” assists “Mother Cabbage,” gives her a shot of “imagicillin” and helps her give birth to a brand new Cabbage Patch Kid.
You might even get a chance to name him or her.
A clubhouse and a treehouse also decorate the central room, or the “park,” at BabyLand, which still has 20 Christmas trees on display but, McLean said, will change with the seasons.
“You get the sense that there are lots of Kids at play and they’re ready to find someone to play with,” she added.
Should you decide you want to take a Cabbage Patch Kid home, there’s more to it than waiting in a check-out line.
Small rooms are set aside for visitors who would like to “adopt.”
“When you adopt a Cabbage Patch Kid, the originals, they take you in and you go through the process,” McLean said. “You have to fill out the paperwork and things like that, so they take you in and you take the oath of adoption.”
A 3,800-square-foot conference room also is located at the new facility, where groups can reserve the ballroom for meetings, parties or weddings.
Big Cabbage Patch Kid fans also can arrange to have their birthday party at BabyLand.
“We’ve got another room that is only set up for birthday parties,” McLean said. “So children can come in and celebrate the birthday and then they have the opportunity to name the baby that is born from the Cabbage Patch.
“So they’re there to celebrate a birthday also, so that’s kind of a fun thing. They enjoy that.”
McLean said BabyLand supplies giveaways, invites and party space, while parents are responsible for food at the parties.
The official grand opening of the new facility is set for May 8, but the Easter Eggstravaganza, a Cleveland tradition that includes egg hunts, a parade and arts and crafts, will be held at BabyLand on March 27