“The Wizard of Oz” is a film that has stood the test of time. Although it premiered back in 1939, it’s still popular with kids and adults today. In 1970, in an attempt to bank on the film’s popularity, a “Wizard of Oz”-themed amusement park, Land of Oz, opened in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
The park was extremely popular, drawing more than 400,000 visitors during its first year of business. Unfortunately, its popularity later waned, and a 1975 fire further hastened its demise. The park eventually closed, and has only reopened from time to time over the ensuing decades.
But not all is lost. Those hoping to get a glimpse of the once-bustling park can do so when it opens for six days this summer.
Every Friday in June — beginning June 1 and recurring on June 8, 15, 22 and 29 — guests will be able to purchase tickets for Journey With Dorothy, which gives visitors the opportunity to skip down the yellow brick road through the Land of Oz with Dorothy as their guide. Members in each group will be randomly selected to play the characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Witch and Glinda. Tickets are $25, and children 2 and under are free.
Journey With Dorothy is part of Family Fun Month on Beech Mountain, which features family-friendly activities during the entire month of June, including mountain biking lessons, disc golf and lodging specials.
More About The Park
It took two years and $5 million dollars to build the park—roughly $34 million dollars today.
Visitors get to walk the yellow brick road (44,000 glazed yellow ricks, to be exact) to experience Dorothy’s journey through Oz for themselves.
The park had some famous visitors during its heyday, including: Anita Bryant, Muhammad Ali and Jay North.
At 5,506-feet elevation, Beech Mountain is the highest town in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Land of Oz was meant to be open year-round, and people were encouraged to come to the area to ski, hence the chair lifts.
The park was built on nine acres and included homes of the TinMan, Scarecrow, Lion and the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Emerald City was the amphitheater and there were even gift shops!
The one ride at the park was the Balloon Ride. It consisted of 24 steel balloons that followed a track on the side of the mountain. While on the balloon ride visitors could take in the beautiful views.
The End Of The Park
Unfortunately, despite its strong beginning, visitors dwindled and a series of unfortunate events made the park hard to operate.
According to the website, on “December 28th 1975, a fire was set to the Emerald City, destroying the amphitheater and its contents as well as damaging the surrounding shops and restaurant.”
Even under new management and rebuilding much of what was damaged in the fire, the 1976 season only had about 66,000 visitors.
You can learn more about the park in this video below: