Land of Oz Theme Park – Beech Mountain NC

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 of the popular characters.

Due to a number of complications and issues, the park closed in 1980, never to officially reopen 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: 2/7/2023

Where is the Land of Oz?

What remains of the Land of Oz Theme Park, is located 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 located on private land, and is well-kept, using funds from the yearly special events.

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

Our Land of Oz Videos

Here is our video from Autumn in Oz 2022:

Autumn in Oz for 2023

Autumn in Oz - Two little girls posing with Dorothy

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

For 2023, 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!

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 2023, there will be new details and announcements.  We'll update you as soon as they are announced.

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

2023 Price: Coming in June

2023 Dates: Coming in June

When do tickets go on sale: Tickets go on sale in June of 2023

A Visual Tour of the 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.

Visitor Tips for the Land of Oz

When visiting the Land of Oz events, here are some tips that will make your visit far more enjoyable

  • Arrive at least one hour early with your tickets.   This will allow you to get your wristbands, and get up to the theme park in time for your event.
  • When visiting in the Fall, be aware that the Land of Oz is at 5500 feet in elevation, and it can be colder up there than at lower elevations.   Weather changes fast in the Blue Ridge, so bring a jacket and dress in layers.  We also recommend an umbrella.   This is all particularly true if you ride the ski lift up, as you will be more exposed.
  • Bring Cash for merchandise, and food if available
  • Wear hiking boots or comfortable shoes.  The yellow brick road is uneven, there are stairs, and uneven paths.  
  • Bring your camera - Land of Oz events are rare, so capture your visit.  Just be courteous to others who are wanting to do the same.

Directions to the Land of Oz

Just head over the rainbow ...

Forgive us ... we couldn't resist!  

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.  

Wrapping Up

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.  

If you haven't visited the Land of Oz, it is definitely a trip you'll want to add to your bucket list!


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