Once shuttered theme park Land of Oz on Beech Mountain reopens for tours.
Built by Grover and Harry Robbins of Carolina Caribbean Corp. and designed by Charlotte artist Jack Pentes, Land of Oz was open for one magical decade. The park closed in 1980 due to financial difficulties and a fire that destroyed parts of the attraction in 1975. Then, there was the theft of original film costumes from the MGM movie from the on-site museum. Carolina Caribbean eventually went bankrupt and sold Land of Oz to another developer, who rebuilt the park and kept it going for about four years, but things weren’t the same. When Pentes quoted the cost of what it would take to update Oz, the decision was made to abandon Oz for good.
That’s the history of Land of Oz as provided by public relations representative Sean Barrett. This month, those who remember visiting Oz in its heyday and others who have only heard stories of the once lively attraction can line up to enter once again. For the third year in a row, “Journey With Dorothy” tours will be offered on Fridays throughout June.
“They began as a way to incorporate Oz into Beech Mountain’s Family Fun Month to allow guests another time of year to gain access to the property on a more intimate and smaller scale,” says Barrett. Visitors to The Emerald City can ride Beech Mountain Resort‘s chairlift up to The Land of Oz, where they will be transported to Kansas. Dorothy will be waiting, and after she sings “Over the Rainbow,” tourists will travel through the tornado and down the yellow brick road with her guiding the way.
Barrett says that even though the park is more than 40 years old and has braved some harsh winters, it’s been well maintained. Dorothy’s house and the Yellow Brick Road are the most memorable parts of the attraction still remaining, but the natural setting and gorgeous mountain views still make it seem otherworldly.
Just to be clear, “this isn’t a fully functioning Disney-style theme park,” Barrett explains. “Oz also isn’t abandoned. It is a private property that the owners and current property manager open to the public on special occasions. We ask that urban explorers understand this property is not one to try and break into.”
Those curious about what lies inside Land of Oz can purchase a ticket for $12.50 (plus a $10 roundtrip lift fee). Tours will be held at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 12:30, 1:30pm, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Tickets for June 3 are sold out, but those for the next three Fridays will go on sale here the Monday before. If you don’t make it, the park reopens again for Autumn at Oz this fall.
“Oz was open for only a decade, and saw many highs and lows, but the demand to visit has never ceased,” adds Barrett. “It is truly a remarkable place that’s so simply designed, and even though it doesn’t have all of the original attractions or buildings, it still has the ability to bring out the inner child in every adult that walks that yellow brick road.”
Photo Credits: Yellow Brick Road and characters from 1970 provided by Land of Oz.