“Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.”
~ L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Land of Oz is an amusement park located in the resort town of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, USA. It was opened in 1970 and was fully operational until 1980.
The costumes of the actors were based more on the book descriptions until later on in the park’s history when they were changed to look more like the film. Visitors could take a walk down the Yellow Brick Road, “experience” the tornado which struck Dorothy’s house, and visit with the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch of the West. The Yellow Brick Road led to a show at the Emerald City where the characters met with the Wizard. An artificial balloon ride allowed visitors to get a bird’s-eye view of the park and mountain scenery before leaving Oz. A small museum showcased props and costumes from the film.
The park was the top attraction in the southeast the first year. Its opening day in 1970 attracted 20,000 visitors. Unfortunately Emerald City burned in 1975, destroying some artifacts, including the dress worn by Dorothy in the movie. The park closed,finally, in 1980. A YEAR before I was born!
After closing Oz fell into disrepair. Props were vandalized, stolen, or left exposed to the elements. Some of the park was saved, including parts of the yellow brick road, a few munchkin houses, some of the later costumes, and sections of the witch’s castle.
The owner of the land restored the park about ten years later. In the late nineties, former employees started the Autumn at Oz event as a reunion which later became an annual event. In 2010 more of the park’s original characters returned, the Fountain of Youth had green water, and vendors and face painters added to the event. And the Autumn At Oz annual event was born! A museum now holds and shows costumes from the movie and other memorabilia.
In recent years the park has been through a lot….online articles continue to circulate showing a foggy yellow brick road and throwing around words like “abandoned” and “defunct.” I lived up in these mountains for two years… It was almost a rare event when there wasn’t fog at some point. To me that’s not remotely creepy but people go wild about that stuff.
The online articles have led to a rise in break ins and theft. Bricks have been taken from the road and many of the toadstools are now gone. Luckily, in the midst of this it seems that the park has taken on new life. I’m starting to see more and more events being held there!
We took our journey down the yellow brick road in June of 2015. We lived in Blowing Rock at the time and Beech Mountain was a short drive. They had opened up Fridays in June for smaller groups. The once a year Fall event always sold out online fast so we thought this would be a great opportunity to see a less crowded side of OZ.
You park at the ski resort and ride up the mountain to Oz in the chair lift! It had been years since I had done this! The view on the way up is just incredible. They were calling for a bit of rain this day but it felt great!
Once you get to the top… there is a Beech Mountain photo-op,a fountain and then you start to see some familiar sights.
Welcome to Dorothy’s House!
While everyone is paying for the tour you can roam the area. Loads of characters about to take photo with! You can also browse movie props and memorabilia in the museum!
The Tin Man was a creeper 🙂
For the June tours,since they are smaller,there is only one actor in costume. Dorothy leads this tour! You can volunteer to be one of the characters and interact as well! Throughout the tour these volunteer actors kept us well entertained!
The tour now starts through Dorothy’s house…down to the basement… a tornado is coming!! The inside of this house smells just like grandma’s house. I don’t know exactly what THAT smell is…but you know what I’m talking about. Smells like home. It’s also beautifully decorated in time period furnishings.
We head downstairs to the cellar! Watch out for the wicked witch! I must say…this was so much fun! There was wind blowing and it felt like rain..there was a huge sense of urgency but not scary like a haunted trail. I was immersed in the experience!
When you come back up the stairs into the house…everything has changed. It’s a wreck! You are walking a little crooked even because of the way the house “landed” haha. It’s very tilted,they did a great job!
Oopsy…we may have landed on …someone??
Just a short walk down the path…and we’re here! This is the beginning of the yellow brick road!
“Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore”
“Follow the yellow brick road,follow the yellow brick road,follow the yellow brick road! We’re off to see the wizard,the wonderful wizard of Oz!”
The yellow brick road is impressive. 40,000 bricks of awesome,when it was first made. I must have taken 100 photos of just the road. I mean..how often do you see something like THIS?
Some spots are brighter than others. Due to time and loss they have started an effort to take up the bricks and repaint them! Whew what a task! The people here love this park SO much though. It’s worth it.
Dorothy leads our group through the haunted forest! Along the way we stop and act out scenes from the movie! Fun!
Watch out for the freaking looking trees!
We have reached the top! The view from here is beautiful and in the distance you can see the top of what was the witch’s castle…just barely peeping above the tree line! There are many wonderful photo ops here.
Dorothy then says goodbye to all of us at the gate.We are given a sticker that says “I’ve Been Down The Yellow Brick Road” as a souvenir. It is PERFECT 🙂 You also can buy other items like shirts and patches here. What a wonderful trip it’s been!
As you leave the gates you can see the frame of an old hot air balloon ride from when the park first opened! Pretty cool!
Click your heels three times and it’s time to take the chair lift back down the mountain and head home. But we won’t forget the amazing time we had here! It wasn’t just a dream!
Until next time…
“There’s no place like home”
*All photos taken by me unless otherwise mentioned.