Land of Oz NC – Uncovering the Magic (2024)!

For a decade (1970 - 1980), the Land of Oz Theme Park in Beech Mountain NC was one of the most popular theme parks on the east coast. Thousands of people from all over the world flocked to see this one-of-a-kind and unique theme park. The Land of Oz not only allowed you to see Oz, but experience it alongside all the popular characters.

Due to a number of complications and issues, the park closed in 1980 and never officially reopened again. But, today, you can see it once a year at a magical event called Autumn in Oz.

We clicked our heels together, and recently returned from a visit to Autumn in Oz, and we'll tell you AND show you all about it.  

Don't worry, no tornados, wicked witches or flying monkeys are involved! Well, at least real ones ...

Updated: 5/16/2024

Where is the Land of Oz?

What remains of the Land of Oz North Carolina Theme Park is at the pinnacle of Beech Mountain NC, near the top of the ski slopes. Much of the park's land is now a housing development, but what remains is on private land, and is well-kept, using funds from the yearly special events.

The elevation of this Wizard of Oz theme park is about 5500 feet and offers exceptional views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, and while walking down the yellow brick road.

Land of Oz NC is just minutes from Beech Mountain NC, about 15 minutes from Banner Elk NC, and 45 minutes from Blowing Rock and Boone NC.

Our Land of Oz Videos

Here is our video from Autumn in Oz 2022:

Autumn in Oz for 2024

Autumn in Oz is the oldest and largest special event at the Land of Oz.

For 2024, you'll join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion as they journey down the yellow brick road to find Emerald City a the Wizard of OZ. Along the way, you'll even run into Munchkins, Flying Monkeys, Toto, and yes, even the Wicked Witch!

Land of Oz NC - Autumn in Oz - Two little girls dressed up as dorothy talking to Glenda the good witch in munchkin land.

While there, you'll experience performances in Kansas, visit the petting zoo, ride ponies, see special museum exhibits, visit Emerald City, and purchase Oz collectibles!

For 2024, there will be additional details and announcements coming soon for this special event! We'll update you here as soon as we get the details. This will be the 85th Anniversary of the timeless Wizard of Oz Classic Film!

There is NO other Wizard of Oz event like this one, anywhere in the country. This is as real as it gets!

Purchase Tickets to Autumn in Oz at Land of Oz 2024

2024 Autumn in Oz Ticket Prices: 

General Admission: TBD

Scenic Lift Ride: TBD

Over The Rainbow Observation Deck: TBD

2024 Autumn in Oz Dates:  

Three Weekends in September: 9/6 - 9/8, 9/13 - 9/15, 9/20 - 9/22

When do tickets go on sale: 

June 5, 2024

Where to Stay When Visiting The Land of Oz

There are several mountain towns within a short drive of the Land of Oz NC, the closest being Beech Mountain NC, which offers several great places to stay. Other nearby options include Banner Elk, which is just a short drive down the mountain and Blowing Rock and Boone NC, both of which are about 45 minutes away.

Blowing Rock and Boone both offer more lodging options, but Beech Mountain and Banner Elk are closer to the Land of Oz.

Here are our top picks out of these wonderful mountain towns near Land of Oz and Beech Mountain Resort:

Tips for Visiting Land of Oz

We have been attending the Autumn in Oz event at Land of Oz in Beech Mountain NC for many years now, and enjoy it and look forward to it each and every year.    Over that time, and through many visits, we've picked up a few tips that will help you enjoy your visit to the Merry'old Land of Oz North Carolina even more!

  1. Get your tickets as soon as possible - Tickets and limited and sell out quickly, especially the most popular dates and times.   So purchase your tickets as quickly as you can.
  2. Get lodging early - We recommend booking your lodging as soon as you get your tickets.  The area has a limited number of lodging options and they fill up quickly.  You can find lodging options here.
  3. Take the Ski Lift Up - Yes it's more money, but faster, more scenic and fun.   The bus ride isn't bad, but the ski life up is just better, and the views are out of this world.
  4. Bring extra clothing layers, and rain gear - Temperatures and wind up on the top of the mountain, where Land of Oz is located can be significantly colder and more windy.  The event occurs rain or shine, so if they are calling for rain, come prepared.
  5. Dress up in your Oz Apparel - Many guests dress up in their favorite character, or wear funny Oz related clothing and items.   It's part of the fun, and we encourage it!
  6. Leave No Trace - The park is a historic treasure, and the staff work very hard to keep it looking nice and memorable.  Avoid damaging or stealing anything.   Always leave to trace.
  7. Buy Food and Gifts - The park makes money to keep this event going, and to improve each and every year through ticket sales, and through sales of merchandise and food.  So be sure to eat at the park, take home some cool merchandise and help this wonderful event continue.
  8. Take your time - You have plenty of time during your tour, so take your time and enjoy the shows and scenery and just being there.  We see far too many rushing through.
  9. Bring the kiddos! - This is a family event, and we encourage you to bring children so they can experience Oz as well.
  10. Leave your Toto at home - The park is not dog friendly, so "Toto" will need to stay home in Kansas.

Other Things to do near Land of Oz

Wilderness Run Adventure Course

Wilderness Run Adventure Course and Mountain Coaster in Banner Elk NC

Land of Oz North Carolina is very close to Beech Mountain, and near to Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and Boone NC. The entire area is full of fun things to see and do. Here are just a few suggestions:

Beech Mountain NC

Visit Fred's General StoreFred's store in Beech Mountain is amazing, and full of food, clothing, gifts and more.   The old store also has a great restaurant and deli downstairs, and beautiful grounds to explore as well.   They even have fresh produce.

Explore Buckeye Recreation Center and Buckeye FallsNot far from downtown Beech Mountain is Buckeye Recreation Center which has a small lake, hiking trails, picnic tables, and even a waterfall.

Go Hiking in the Emerald OutbackThe Emerald Outback was an original part of the Land of Oz, but is now a public recreation area full of outstanding hiking trails and scenic views.

Grab some Pizza at Famous Brick Oven PizzaHungry, be sure to stop off at Famous Brick Oven Pizza - Pizza, games, and more - Fun for the whole family.

Banner Elk NC

Just down the mountain from Beech Mountain is the small, but awesome town of Banner Elk.  Banner Elk is full of fun things to:

Visit Banner House MuseumVisit and take a tour of this historic Banner Elk home. You'll learn the history, and see the home decorated as it probably was in the late 1800s.  The best part of this tour is meeting and interacting with the staff!

See the animals at Apple Hill FarmJust outside of Banner Elk is an Alpaca and active farm.  You can see pigs, Alpaca, cows, goats, horses and more.

Ride the Wilderness Run Mountain Coaster or try to navigate their Adventure Course - Looking for some high speed action and challenging adventure?  Wilderness Run delivers.  You can ride the incredible mountain coaster AND see if you can ring the bell on the Adventure course.

Enjoy an awesome dinner at LP on Main or Stonewalls Steakhouse - Two of our favorite restaurants in the Blue Ridge Mountains are in Banner Elk, both serving delicious drinks and food, with outdoor seating, and fantastic service.

Visit Banner Elk Winery - Yes, Banner Elk has a winery, and it's wonderful.  The wine is great, and you can do a tasting session or get a sampler.   They have indoor and outdoor seating, beautiful grounds, live music, and snacks to enjoy.   This is a great place.

Visit Grandfather MountainAbout 15 minutes from Banner Elk is Grandfather Mountain, where you can walk across the mile high bridge and stand atop of the on tallest and most famous mountains in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Blowing Rock NC

See the Blowing RockSee the attractions that Blowing Rock is named for. Offering incredible views of the surrounding mountains.

Ride Tweetsie RailroadTake a ride in the old West on a steam engine, ride the exciting rides, enjoy some great food, and see the animals. Tweetsie is fun for the whole family!

Defy Gravity at Mystery HillOne of just a few gravity attractions in the US, you'll defy gravity and explore the mysterious at Mystery Hill. You can also go axe throwing and ride the mechanical bull.

Explore the historic downtown - Blowing Rock has a wonderful historic downtown full of great shops and restaurants.

Grab dinner at our favorite place, the Speckled Trout - Located in the heart of downtown, and you can eat while enjoying all the action going on in town and live music.

Boone NC

Visit Mast General Store an the nearby original Mast General Store - Boone has its own Mast General Store in the historic downtown area, but not far outside of Boone, you can also visit the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis NC.

Shop in Downtown - Visit the historic downtown of Boone, also home to Appalachian State University. You'll find lots of great shopping options, restaurants, and bars.

Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway - Located between Boone and Blowing Rock NC, you can access the wonderful and amazing Blue Ridge Parkway for incredible scenic views. Visit nearby Moses Cone Memorial Park.

Go hiking and visit waterfallsBoone has lots of nearby hiking trails and waterfalls to explore.

Hungry? Grab some food at the Come Back Shack, one of our favorites!

A Visual Tour of the Land of Oz NC

Land of Oz

Your Journey to the Land of Oz begins at the Beech Mountain Ski Village, where you'll present your tickets to Oz staff members at the check-in area. We were given wristbands and instructions for when and where to meet our bus. 

There are two ways to journey to the Land of Oz. You can ride a bus up to the top, or take the ski lift.  Ski Lift tickets are an additional cost, but well worth it for the scenic views. The bus is a great option for families with small children, or for those not comfortable riding the ski lifts up.

We boarded our bus with a number of other people and began our trip up to Oz, located at nearly 5,500 feet at the top of Beech Mountain, and the entrance to the Land of Oz.   With all of the twists and turns on the way up, it was sort of like riding in a Tornado!   We elected to ride the bus due to the amount of camera equipment we had with us.

The Fountain of Youth

Land of Oz Fountain of Youth

Our first stop in Oz was at the Fountain of Youth, where we were mentally transformed from adults into children again.   The park's designer, Jack Pentes, actually crawled around on the ground, through the grounds so he could see things from a child's perspective.

An Oz team member introduced us to the park, told us what we could expect, and provided some history of the Land of Oz.   There were also informational banners here and photo opportunities. 

The Gazebo

Land of Oz Gazebo

The Gazebo was built on a cliffside and intended to provide visitors with outstanding mountain views.   They accomplished their goal well, and the views are outstanding.

Be sure to take a few minutes here to enjoy the views and take some scenic photos.

Dorothy's Home

Land of Oz - Dorothy's Home

The amount of detail put into this home and barn is absolutely amazing.  The house is gorgeous, and while not a true representation of the movie home, very realistic.  All around the home are various items you'll recognize from the movie.

Land of Oz Barn

To the right of Dorothy's home is the barn.  During the Autumn in Oz Event, the barn is where your first performance begins.  

You'll watch a song and dance show here with Dorothy, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke, then follow Dorothy over to her house, where she'll perform Somewhere Over the Rainbow, followed by a visit with Professor Marvel.  See our video to watch Land of Oz clips re-enacting these famous movie scenes.  The actress that plays the part, really sings the song, and it's fabulous.

Land of OZ Dorothy

Photo from the Journey with Dorothy event.  

As the sounds of the storm moved in, we walked into the house, and down into the storm shelter, Dorothy ran around looking nervous and calling out for Aunty Em and Uncle Henry.  She continued to hurry us along, as she saw the storm coming.   She did a great job playing in character.

The house itself is fully decorated, very detailed, and VERY well maintained.  During the Autumn in Oz event, you'll meet Auntie Em inside.

Inside Dorothy's house

Entering the storm shelter and basement was fun, as it was dark, with lots of black lights and glowing colors all over the walls.   This was of course to simulate us being in the Tornado.  They even have fans blowing to simulate the wind, and audio playing with storm sounds.

For 2023 the basement was repainted and remodeled some, making it even better and refreshing it.

Then suddenly, you appear back in the house again, but this time, it's at a 45-degree angle, and the interior of the home is torn to pieces.

As you exit out onto the front porch, and down the stairs, you find exactly what you would expect ...

The wicked witch will "greet" you on the porch above her dead sister, and interrogate you about who killed her.  The actors we've had during our visits have done  a fantastic job in this role and provided a great evil laugh.

Here she is giving me an evil look for taking her picture!

Land of Oz - Wicked Witch

Of course, just down the path, you'll see your first glimpse of the Yellow Brick road, and it looks amazing and very movie like.  The road gets a fresh coat of paint each year.

Munchkinland and the Yellow Brick Road

The first thing you notice, as you exit the house is the yellow brick road.  It stands in stark contrast to the mountain green.  

During the Autumn in Oz event, you'll meet Glenda the Good Witch and various munchkins.  Glenda will encourage you to follow the yellow brick road, take photos with you, and get you started by singing "We're off the see the Wizard", as you skip down the yellow brick toad.

Land of Oz - Glenda the Good Witch

As you journey down the yellow brick road, you'll meet the Scarecrow, Tinman, the Cowardly Lion, Evil monkeys, Evil guards, and of course the Wicked Witch.  The Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion, and Wicked Witch all provide performances.   Dorothy will come down the yellow brick road and interact with the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion, re-enacting the famous movie scenes and songs.

All of these actors are top notch, and many come from Broadway.

Land of Oz - Tinman
Land of Oz - Scarecrow
Land of Oz - Wicked Witch
Land of Oz - Cowardly Lion
Land of Oz - Witch Guard
Land of Oz - Wicked Witch

The Park itself is just beautiful, and you can see how the designer went to great efforts to blend the natural mountain setting, into the Oz theme.  In fact, only one tree was removed to make the Land of Oz.

Land of Oz Yellow Brick Road

We particularly loved this gorgeous waterfall setting:

Land of Oz

And the scenic views as your travel along the yellow brick road, are breathtaking:

Land of Oz View

Poppies!  Poppies!

As you round the bend, from the photo above, you are greeted with one of the most beautiful scenes in the park, the yellow brick road, surrounded by red poppies, and the gates to Emerald City in the distance.

Land of Oz

Emerald City

As you pass the poppies, you'll reach the gates to Emerald City.  You can (and should) ring the bell and be "greeted" by the Gate Keeper, who of course tells you the bell is broken and that you should knock!  This is probably our favorite character interaction, and the main actor that plays this role does a fabulous job.

The Gates to Emerald City

Unfortunately, the original Emerald City doesn't exist anymore, due to a fire that occurred in 1975 (see history below). The area that was Emerald City is now part of the surrounding residential neighborhood.

But During the Autumn in Oz event, a large tent serves as Emerald City.  Inside you'll find shops, food, the famous violet horse, and the final Autumn in Oz event show where you meet the wizard, and he gives the cast members their gifts.  For 2023, the Emerald City was completely re-done.  More was added, and it is much larger.  The effects for the final show were significantly improved as well.

You can see he new Emerald City in our video above.  The photos below are from the Emerald City of 2018.

Land of Oz - Emerald City
Land of Oz - Emerald City

Meeting the Wizard

At the end of your visit and journey, you'll go into a tent, where the Wizard scene from the movie is re-enacted.  You'll sit down for a 15-minute show where the cast meets the Wizard, receives their rewards, and sadly Dorothy returns home.   The show is VERY well done, and Dorothy even returns to Kansas in a puff of smoke!

Land of Oz - Emerald City

Land of Oz Videos

A Brief History of the Land of Oz

In 1965, Carolina Caribbean Company (CCC), owned by Grover and Harry Robbins, were looking for ways to fully utilize their latest acquisition, Beech Mountain,  In particular, they wanted to find ways to bring people to Beech Mountain year round, and not just during the winter during ski season.

The pair brought in Charlotte designer Jack Pentas, who surveyed the top of Beech Mountain and had an idea .. The Beech trees looked very much like the Apple Trees in the Wizard of Oz.

The Land of Oz opened on June 15, 1970.  The park took 2 years to complete, at a cost of $5 million dollars (about $34 million in today's dollars).  During its first year alone, over 400,000 people walked the yellow brick road.  The park was an overnight success, and the most successful them park on the east coast.

1970 - 1975

Unfortunately as soon as the park experienced its huge success, problems began to occur, which ultimately doomed the theme park to failure.

Grover Robbins, who was well known as the "the passion" behind the Land of Oz, died of cancer just prior to the park opening in 1970.   Instead of profits being funneled back into Oz for maintenance and expansion, the money was used for other CCC endeavors.  You may recognize the name Grover Robbins as the founder of Tweetsie Railroad as well.

Additionally, the gas crisis of the early 70s, caused many would-be visitors to not attend, hurting park attendance and profits.  

In 1975, one of the major resorts owned by CCC failed, causing CCC to go into bankruptcy.  On December 28th, 1975, a fire was set at Emerald City, causing significant damage.  There is some speculation, the fires were caused by disgruntled employees, but that has not been proven.  After the fire, a number of collectible items and costumes were stolen, including Judy Garland's original dress from the movie.

1976 - 1980

In 1976, a new management company took over.  The fire damage was repaired, new buildings were created.  The park opened for the 1976 season.  Sadly, attendance was poor.

Many changes were made to reduce costs, including less extensive costumes, replacement of live animals, with animatronic versions, changes to shows, and many others.

Over the next 5 years, the park suffered greatly from a lack of maintenance and no updates.  Many of the structures, and the yellow brick road, showed signs of age, and much-needed repairs.  To repair Oz and update it, it would cost the new company $3.5 million.  They closed the park in 1980.

The Park Today

Land of Oz - Dorothy's Home

In the 1990s, Emerald Mountain, Inc. bought the property and began construction on a high-end gated community surrounding the park.  This proved to save the park.  

The park did lay abandoned for years, but in 1994 there was a reunion of park staff, and the idea of Autumn in Oz took shape.

Today, the park opens for one main events, Autumn in OZ in September of each year.  Prior to COVID, there was an additional event, a Journey with Dorothy, but that has not been re-instated as of early 2023.

Directions to the Land of Oz

The Land of Oz is located in the town of Beech Mountain, NC.  The town is pretty small, and navigating around is easy.   There are very visible signs for the Land of OZ and associated parking.  

Final Thoughts of the Land of Oz NC

We have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to the Land of Oz over the years and while there we have also enjoyed seeing Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, and Boone.  

The Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina stands as a remarkable testament to the enduring magic and enchantment of L. Frank Baum's beloved tale, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, this hidden gem captures the hearts of visitors young and old, inviting them to step into a world of imagination and wonder.

As we explored the park's meticulously crafted Yellow Brick Road, we were transported into Dorothy's magical journey, encountering familiar characters and iconic locations along the way.

The attention to detail in recreating the whimsical landscapes of Munchkinland, the Emerald City, and the haunted forest was truly amazing, providing an immersive experience that took you back to that first time you watched Wizard of Oz.

Beyond the nostalgic charm and immersive environments, the Land of Oz theme park also offers a range of activities and entertainment suitable for the entire family.

From interactive performances and live shows to educational exhibits and informative tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The park's commitment to preserving and promoting the legacy of Baum's timeless story is evident in every aspect of its offerings.

Moreover, the Land of Oz theme park has undergone a remarkable renaissance, rising from the ashes of its earlier years of abandonment to become a vibrant and cherished attraction once again. This revival is a testament to the dedication and passion of the individuals who recognized the park's potential and worked tirelessly to restore it to its former glory.

Whether you are a lifelong fan of "The Wizard of Oz," an avid explorer seeking unique experiences, or a parent looking to create lasting memories for your children, the Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina offers a truly unforgettable adventure.

So slip on those ruby slippers, follow the Yellow Brick Road, and allow yourself to be swept away into a land where dreams really do come true.


 

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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