On top of the Emerald Mountain, named for the bright green stones found in the mines below sits a theme park like no other. Not an amusement park with rides, but one of the few remaining parks based around a single them – and the Land of Oz found it’s home on top of Beech Mountain and has been welcoming guests through the park for the past several decades.
The original Land of Oz opened to guests in 1970 on the aptly named mountain that evoke images of the Emerald City when you hear where you are going. But declined interest and the cost of maintenance forced the park to close in 1980. The original park fell into disrepair and only a few remnants of this original park still exists that you can catch a glimpse of as you come up to the main entrance.
Land of Oz started inviting the original cast for reunions and eventually re-opened for special engagements including their now famous Autumns in Oz tours. But with the 80th anniversary of the film falling later this year, the Land of Oz has extended their summer tours that normally are just a weekend to several throughout the whole summer.
Your trip to Oz starts at the ski resort property towards the bottom of Beech Mountain and you can choose to take a bus to the top of the mountain or take the ski lifts that will take you to a waiting spot at the top of the mountain. Enjoy a drink, get some face painting done or just take in the breathtaking views you get from the highest elevation East of the Mississippi river. While the ski lifts will give you a birds eye view of the area as you come up, be ready to get off of the lift chair quickly as the chairs will return back down the mountain. The bus tour however, is a bit more relaxing. The busses have drivers that are knowledgeable about the area, and can tell you stories on the way up. Not only will you find yourself laughing but your experience starts before you even get into the park.
Inside the Land of Oz, you are greeted by characters from the movie. Your tour isn’t just a tour like in a museum, but instead an interactive tour through both Kansas and Oz with the characters from the movie. Audience members will be selected to play key roles in the story, and some may require reading lines or even singing key songs. Walk through the Gales house before the tornado, through the storm and walk through after the storm went through and see the aftermath. Follow the yellow brick road and defeat the Wicked Witch and find your way to Emerald City and meet the Wizard.
The tour will last about 45 minutes, with tours starting every 15 minutes. You are part of the world of the Wizard of Oz and you can experience something that few fans can say that have.
Since the Land of Oz is on top of a mountain, the yellow brick road actually goes up and down with the mountain. Even walking in the Gale’s house after the storm is a bit hard to do if you have mobility issues, so the theme park is not one that is easy to go through if you have mobility issues. But plan accordingly for walking hilly brick paths through the whole tour.
When you return back to the bottom of the mountain, take a few minutes to explore the Wizard of Oz museum. You can pick up some memorabilia and check out some historical artifacts from the movie and over the years of the park. Gift items can be purchased in the museum, as you exit your tour of the park or even down in the city at the store if you want a bit more variety.
For more information on the tours left for this summer and the fall celebration, check the Land of Oz website. Tickets will sell out fast so be sure you grab yours now before they close for the season!