The Land of Oz is one of fiction’s most timeless and lasting creations, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Land of Oz Theme Park in Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
When this theme park was opened in 1970 in order to keep people coming to the adjacent Beech Mountain Ski resort, the goal was to create an attraction that honored L. Frank Baum’s original book unlike most other Oz-themed projects which glorified the 1939 musical. To this end the park featured actors in costumes that reflected the illustrations in the book more than the iconic film appearances. The original attractions at the park led visitors down the Yellow Brick Road as they encountered characters and events from the book such as living through the cyclone that delivered Dorothy to Oz, meeting the Tin Woodsman, and culminated in a meeting with the wonderful wizard himself in the Emerald City.
As the park grew in popularity its theme changed to reflect more of the film’s style and it even opened a small museum that featured props from the movie. As the years passed the park lost much of its success in the face of dwindling attendance and a fire that destroyed the dress Judy Garland wore in the film. The park finally closed in 1980.
After its closing The Land of Oz fell into disrepair and most of the structures were vandalized or otherwise destroyed. In the late ’90s, the park was partially restored and is now opened once a year for the Autumn in Oz event which draws upwards of 8,000 attendees. Much of the park is still in a state of dilapidated disrepair but once a year the magic of Oz sill shines in glorious emerald green.