When the Land of Oz theme park opened in 1970, 20,000 people showed up at the top of Beech Mountain in North Carolina to pay homage to The Wizard of Oz.
They walked the Yellow Brick Road with the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man, visited Dorothy’s house, and booed at the Wicked Witch of the West. There was even a hot-air balloon ride, which was actually a futuristic-looking ski lift that took visitors to the top of the mountain.
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The park didn’t last, however. In 1975, a fire decimated parts of the Land of Oz and it never fully recovered, closing its doors in 1980.
The park slowly fell into disrepair: nature took over the Emerald City, the Yellow Brick Road lost its luster, and the fantasy land developed that particular feel of an old amusement park.
After ten years, locals began to refurbish parts of the park to bring back some of the magic. Now once a year the gates open to let visitors see the Land of Oz in its autumnal glory. In 2009, more than 8,000 people took the opportunity to explore the crumbling site, wearing costumes and eating picnic lunches while admiring the fall foliage.
Although “Autumn in Oz” only happens once a year, the park is available for private functions, including weddings, guided tours, and picnics with Wizard of Oz–themed menus. (Options include rainbow pasta salad, “Scarecrow’s corn casserole,” and “Uncle Henry’s Heavenly Hog BBQ.”) They’ll even let you rent costumes for your day trip over the rainbow.
To find out more about renting out the theme park, visit the website.