Yellow Brick Road from The Land of Oz – Closed in 1980/Used now for special events (North Carolina, USA)
Image source: http://sarahbethdelk.wordpress.com/
The Land of Oz is a mostly now-defunct theme park located in the resort town of Beech Mountain, North Carolina.
Land of Oz opened in 1970 with the intention of extending the ski resort to be a ‘year-round’ attraction by offering an attraction at the pinnacle of Beech Mountain. A ski lift was specially designed to become the hot air balloon ride which has since been redeployed to be a ski lift on the back bowl of Ski Beech. In later years, characters from the story conducted tours, but the original design was for the visitor to assume the role of Dorothy – experiencing everything from Kansas to tornado to the meeting the characters on the yellow brick road to Oz. The visit culminated in Emerald City, where Dorothy appeared with her friends to meet the Wizard.
The park was the top attraction in the southeast the first year. It’s opening day in 1970 attracted 20,000 visitors. Dampened by the death of owner Grover Robbins a few months before the park opened, the driving force to keep the park as a special experience gave way to commercial necessities foisted on Carolina Caribbean Corp by the downturn in real estate sales. Emerald City burned on Sunday, December 28, 1975, destroying some artifacts, including the dress worn by Dorothy in the movie. 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.
The owner of the land restored the park about ten years later. In the late nineties, former employees started the Autumn at Oz event as a reunion. Later this became an annual event, and in 2009 the festival had 8500 attending. In 2010 more of the park’s original characters will return, the Fountain of Youth will have green water, and vendors and face painters will add to the event. Gregory Hugh Leng was guest of honor. A museum now shows costumes from the movie and other memorabilia. The Yellow Brick Road has a few of its 44,000 bricks missing but once again takes visitors through the Enchanted Forest and Poppy Field. Dorothy’s house, which can be rented for events, includes a basement intended to make visitors feel the experience of a tornado; the Wicked Witch’s legs stick out from under the house. In 2011, the park hosted the International Wizard of Oz Club and some of the original 1970 cast returned to share photos and tales from the original inspiration of Jack Pentes.