Land of Oz

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, if you're quick.  We clicked our heals together, and recently returned from a visit to Oz, and we'll tell you how you visit as well.  

Don't worry, no tornados are involved!  Well, at least real ones anyway ...

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.

Elevation of the Park is about 5500 feet, and offers exception views of the surround Blue Ridge Mountains, and while walking down the yellow brick road.

Land of Oz Special Events

Today, the Land of Oz is surrounded by a gated and residential community, but it still exists and is privately owned.   Since the late 1990s, the owners open the park for just a few days each year, as part of two special events, that you can attend:

  • A Journey with Dorothy - A fun even with Dorothy, where visitors get to participate as cast members
  • Autumn in Oz - The big event, with all the characters

>> Purchase Tickets on the Land of Oz website.

A Journey With Dorothy

TICKETS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR 2018​​​​

Dorothy will guide you down the yellow brick road and through the Land of Oz, on her search for Emerald City and the magical Wizard of Oz.  Visitors get a unique opportunity to dress and act as one of their favorite supporting characters.

Price

$25.00/each + taxes and processing fees - Children under 2 are free

Dates

Every Friday in June, and the last Saturday

When do tickets go on sale?

April

Autumn in Oz

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

 You'll join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tinman, 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, see special museum exhibits, visit Emerald City, and purchase OZ collectibles!

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

Price

$40.00/each  + taxes and processing fees- Children under 2 are free

Dates

September 7th, 8th, and 9th for 2018

When do tickets go on sale?

June

A Visual Tour of the Land of Oz

Our first visit to the park was in June of 2018, as part of the Journey with Dorthy event.  We're going to take you on a visual tour of the Park, as part of that event.

We are planning to attend the Autumn in Oz event as well, and we will update this page with information and photos from that larger event as well.

Our Journey with Dorothy event began at the Beech Mountain Ski Village, where we presented our tickets to Oz staff members,  and were given wristbands and instructions for when and where to to meet our bus.   Boarding coordination, instructions, and entertainment were provided by "Uncle Henry" - You'll love him.

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 as sort of like riding in a Tornado!

The buses are currently only used for 2018, as normally you would ride up on the Beech Mountain ski lifts, but the lifts were under construction this year, and unavailable.

The 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 got our attention, and introduced us to the park, told us what we could expect, and provided some history of the Land of Oz.  

One of the unique aspects of the Journey with Dorothy event is, that not all of the original movie cast members are present.  To resolve that, audience members volunteer to play the parts of Glenda the Good Witch, The Scarecrow, the Tinman, the Lion, and of course the Wicked Witch.  This actually made the event very humorous, fun and entertaining.  Our Cowardly Lion Actor was particularly excellent.

For the Autumn in Oz event, all the characters from the movie are played by professional actors, including Toto!

With our instructions given, and stand-in actors assigned, we began our walk up the paved path to the Gazebo.

The Gazebo

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

From the Gazebo, we continued down the paved path, and Dorothy's Kansas home appeared in the distance.   

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.

As our group approached, Dorothy appears on the front porch and does some dialog from the movie and then Ms. Gluch arrives and threatens to take Toto.  Then Dorothy walks around the front of the home and sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  We were surprised that that actress actually sang the song, and had a beautiful voice.

One of the things we really enjoyed was the number of little girls dressed up as Dorothy.  While Dorothy was singing, the actress she invited the children to join her.

 As soon as the song completed, storm noises began, and Dorothy informed us that a storm was moving in, and that we should all get inside the house, and into the storm shelter.  

As 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.

Entering the storm shelter 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 Tornoado.  They even have fans blowing to simulate the wind, and audio playing with storm sounds.

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 ...

and of course, the yellow brick road.

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.  Munkinland is where the first volunteer actor plays Glenda, the good witch, and we begin our journey down the yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz.

Along the way we of course met up with the Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion.  All played by group volunteers, and everyone did a great job.   Both adults and children had wonderful time.   

We even melted the wicked witch, also played by a volunteer actress.

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.

We particularly loved this gorgeous waterfall setting:

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

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.

Emerald City

Unfortunately, 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 you do get to see the Wizard, who gives his rewards to the characters, and sends Dorothy back to Kansas.   The Wizard is played by a professional actor, who was exceptionally friendly.

Gift Shop

The last stop on the tour is an outdoor gift shop, full of t-shirts and other Oz memorabilia

Land of Oz Videos

A Brief History of the Land of Oz

In 1965, Carolina Carribean 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 designerJack 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 todays dollars).  During it's 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

Unfortunatly as soon as the park saw it's huge success, problems began to occur, that 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.  

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 the 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 created, and the park opened for the 1976 season.  Sadly, attendance was was poor.

Many changes were made to reduce cost, 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 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

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 reunion of park staff, and the idea of Autumn in Oz took shape.

Today, the park opens for two main events, A Journey with Dorothy in June, and Autumn in OZ in September.  The rumor is a 3rd event will be done this year, possible a Halloween theme in October.

Visitor Tips for the Land of Oz

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

  • Show 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 an 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.
  • 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 thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Land of Oz, and while there also enjoyed seeing Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, and Boone.  We will be attending Autumn at Oz as well, and will update this article with more information, on our return.

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