A once-abandoned amusement park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina regularly opens its doors for a few days each fall for an event called Autumn At Oz.
Road Trippers reported that the Beech Mountain Wizard of Oz theme park, called Land of Oz, opened in 1970 and closed the gates to the Emerald City a decade later. But that hasn’t kept Wizard of Oz enthusiasts from making a pilgrimage to the spot to take photos on the yellow brick road or in front of the Gale home in Kansas.
And this year’s Autumn in Oz is special because it is a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie, though the original theme park is based on the book by L. Frank Baum.
Road Trippers also shared the background on the Land of Oz, which was designed by a man named Grover Robbins, who sadly died before the park opened, with the hope of extending the season for the local ski resort.
According to the guide, the park fell on disrepair after it closed in 1980.
“Land of Oz finally closed in 1980. After the park was closed much of it fell into disrepair. Props were vandalized, stolen, or left to exposed to the elements. Some of the park was saved, including as parts of the yellow brick road, a few munchkin houses, some of the later costumes, and sections of the witch’s castle were preserved.”
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Dancing through Saturday! A gorgeous day on Beech Mountain celebrating the 80th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. Only one day left of #Autumnatoz 2019! . . . . . #landofoznc #landofoz #wizardofoz #yellowbrickroad #80thanniversary #festival #nc #northcarolina #theresnoplacelikehome
Autumn At Oz started out as a reunion of sorts for former employees of the park and now has become an annual event with people dressed as the various characters, including Dorothy, of course. Alexandra Charitan of Road Trippers went for a visit to the site, which she says included craft and food vendors as well as pony rides and appearances by Oz authorities.
She explained that Tim Hollis wrote a book about the theme park called The Land of Oz, saying that Grover Robbins consulted with a designer who helped mold the North Carolina scenery into Kansas and Oz. Hollis stated that ironically, there were trees in the mountains that reminded Robbins and his brothers of the Baum story.
“It was the indigenous trees, twisted and gnarled by centuries of exposure to the harsh mountain climate that reminded him of the crabby apple trees in MGM’s 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz.”
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Flashback Friday! Dorothy and Toto are curious about the little people that live in Munchkinland! Circa 1970/71. . . The original concept for Land of Oz’s munchkins were people the size of Smurfs that had ant antennas growing out of their heads! Only the quaint, whimsical houses designed by Jack Pentes made it to the park’s final production. . . Limited tickets on sale now for Journey with Dorothy tours - select dates this June! Check out www.landofoznc.com for tickets and more information on our events! . . . . . #landofoz #landofoznc #wizardofoz #dorothy #oz #journeywithdorothy #family #familyfunmonth #beechmountain #themepark #nc #northcarolina #events #thewiz #returntooz #wicked #glinda #defygravity #kansas #dorothy #home #specialevents #retro #memories #1970s #baum #lfrankbaum #classic #fbf #flashbackfridays
Charitan stated that visitors can take a shuttle bus from the parking area to the park, or ride the ski lift which was initially designed just to transport Land of Oz visitors. While the park is aimed at parents with young children, Wizard of Oz enthusiasts come from all over the country for the experience.
The Inquisitr reported that this is a big year all around for fans of The Wizard of Oz, and even Google doodles got in on the act, giving enthusiasts a special, albeit temporary treat which involved a tour courtesy of a Google Easter egg that brings fans to the holy grail of Oz memorabilia — the ruby slippers.