One More Thing Off The Bucket List
Well, I can check off another item on my bucket list. I can now say I’ve been to Oz!
It wasn’t a movie set or in a book I read. It wasn’t even my imagination. My husband and I went to The Land of Oz on Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
We have vacationed in this part of North Carolina for thirty years. I’ve always heard about the Land of Oz and always wanted to visit. Now I can say, been there, done that — but I didn’t get the t-shirt, even though they had some for sale.
The Land Of Oz
The Land of Oz theme park is a leftover from the era before Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. It’s from the time when small theme parks dotted the country; when families traveling to the beach, the mountains or Grandma’s house took a little side trip to a unique world of fantasy. Perhaps you remember visiting such a place in your childhood.
The park was developed in 1970 by Grover Robbins and the Carolina Caribbean Corporation. It was one of the top tourist attractions in the Eastern United States when it opened. Mr. Robbins also developed the Tweetsie Railroad between Boone and Blowing Rock, which is still in operation today. The Land of Oz wasn’t so lucky; fire, vandalism and the energy crisis contributed to its demise. The park on top of Beech Mountain closed in 1980.
Landowners began restoring the park in the 1990’s. They eventually began opening the park a few weekends a year in June and September. Since 2019 marked the eightieth anniversary of the movie, The Wizard of Oz, the park was open more days than usual this past June. We knew we would be up in North Carolina so we jumped on the chance to see Oz.
You could either ride the chair lift or a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain. Not knowing what the weather would be like, we opted for the bus. I kind of wish we had done the chair lift.
Following The Yellow Brick Road With Dorothy
Our Journey With Dorothy started with a panoramic view from the Overlook Gazebo. The spectacular view alone made the admission price well worth it.
Next, we met Almira Gulch who told us to be on the lookout for Dorothy’s nasty, little dog, Toto. Soon after she departed, Dorothy (a local theater major) appeared and began interacting with the group. She sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” with a beautiful voice before a “storm” threatened, then she hurried us into Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s farmhouse. We descended the stairs to the basement amid sounds of wind and images of household items spinning around us. We ended up in one of those crazy houses with the slanted floors and walls. The contents of the house we walked into were strewn around, as if a tornado had hit. As we exited the house, we could see the Wicked Witch of the West’s legs sticking out from under the house, adorned with the ruby red shoes.
Dorothy took us down the yellow brick road where we met Glinda, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, the Wicked Witch of the East and the Wizard. All of these characters were played by fellow visitors to Oz who were given a script to read and a prop to show who they were. All of the characters are present at the Autumn at Oz event.
It was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours up in the High Country. If you’re ever near Beech Mountain in June or September, I recommend it. It will send you back to your childhood and visits to the nostalgic theme parks of the past. You can find out more about it here.
What is your favorite theme park or tourist attraction from the past? I’d love to hear. A couple of mine were Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley, North Carolina (now closed) and Weekie Wachee Springs in Florida.