Did you know that if you're traveling through North Carolina and head north on Highway 184, you can journey into the Land of Oz? Down the yellow brick road to Emerald City with all your favorite characters from the classic film.
Tucked into Beech Mountain, North Carolina, the Wizard of Oz theme park continues to attract visitors from around the world every year. There really is somewhere over the rainbow for fans of the classic film starring Judy Garland as Dorothy.
The park first opened back in 1970. A team of brothers, Grover and Harry Robbins, dreamed up the idea. Sadly, Grover passed away from cancer shortly before the park opened and never saw his creation. When the Land of Oz Theme Park did open, it had a difficult time staying that way. Just five years after its grand opening, vandals broke into the park, stole costumes, and set a fire that left the property in disrepair. A new management team took over the following year and kept the park running for another five years before closing.
During the time the park was closed, vandals and Mother Nature took over. But during the '90s, some volunteers decided it was time to bring the Land of Oz back to life. When the park is open, organizers take visitors on a journey through Oz. Visitors get to see all their favorite characters, from Dorothy and Toto to Scarecrow and even the Wicked Witch. For a few glorious weeks each year, the amusement park reopens and creates something magical. The park holds two events, Journey with Dorothy and the Autumn at Oz Festival.
On the Journey with Dorothy experience, Dorothy leads you through the park on an experiential guided tour to see the wonderful Wizard of Oz. You and your family members might get asked to play iconic characters in the story like Glinda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, Auntie Em in Kansas, and more.
In 2019, the park celebrated the 80th Anniversary of the classic MGM film at the 26th Annual Autumn at Oz Festival. The annual festival greets visitors with the Scarecrow, TinMan, and Cowardly Lion, who will lead you on an adventure down the yellow brick road. You might run into some other characters along the way, like flying monkeys and munchkins.
The park itself is filled mostly with character houses like Dorothy's house in Kansas as well as scenery dedicated to the movie like the Witch's castle. Those committed to restoring the park are keeping with the original theme, to provide an emotional experience rather than an exhilarating one. They focus on providing a positive experience to those who love the Wizard of Oz for all that it is.
Proceeds from the events go directly to restoring the park to its former glory. You can find out more about this unique destination here.
This article was originally published in January of 2018.