Named the “Outstanding Tourist Attraction of 1970,” the Land of Oz Theme Park began its life as one of the most popular theme parks in the country. Located in Beech Mountain, in Western North Carolina, and built at a cost of $5 million dollars ($34 million today), the park drew generations of tourists into its magical perimeters. The original owner of this NC attraction was also the owner of another highly successful NC attraction, The Great Tweetsie Railroad. After a series of setbacks, from the death of one of the owners to a major fire destroying several of the structures, the park eventually closed. But it lived on in the minds and imaginations of all those whose lives had been touched by it after visiting the theme park as a child.
Rather than carnival rides such as most theme parks offer, the Land of Oz offered a recreated set of the mythical Land of Oz, much like the movie set where Judy Garland and co-stars first brought the story to the big screen. This live outdoor drama was complete with 44,000 bricks on its winding yellow brick road, real actors dressed in costumes of the scarecrow, Dorothy, the tin man and the cowardly lion – as well as the wicked witch, the Good Witch, the munchkins and the flying monkeys. Beautifully choreographed music and dance held audiences spellbound. The story was brought to life as families, adults and children alike, watched and felt like they were really there, in the movie itself. There was one awesome ride at the park – replica steel balloons carried visitors down the side of the mountain for sweeping views, re-enacting Dorothy’s famous ride with the Wizard of Oz in his hot-air balloon.
Land of Oz Theme Park, a Once-Popular NC Attraction Reopens to the Public
To the delight of its fans, old and new, the beloved NC attraction, the Land of Oz, has reopened to the public and now hosts two special annual events. The private, family-owned theme park opens only periodically for its presentations, “Journey with Dorothy” and “Autumn at Oz”. The live drama, “Journey with Dorothy”, plays every Friday in the month of June and is sold out well in advance, so make arrangements early. The festival, “Autumn at Oz” takes place for three days in September (in 2018, it was the 7th through the 9th). The cost in 2018 was $40 each, with children under two admitted free. Autumn at Oz is billed as the “world’s largest Wizard of Oz event”.
Where to Stay Near Famous Western NC Attractions
Plan your vacation to visit other NC attractions in the area. Over in Bryson City, discover the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This theme park offers much more than just train rides through the beautiful mountain scenery. At Christmas, they open with their famous “Polar Express” rides featuring Santa, decorations, special attractions and more. Additional NC attractions in the western part of the state include the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Centrally located near all of the above-named NC attractions, Maggie Valley, NC is an attraction in itself. The charming mountain town offers its festival grounds, a museum, Cataloochee Ski Area, and much more. Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley is highly recommended as the place to stay so you can take in all of the Western NC attractions. Located on the banks of a scenic creek, with a large outdoor recreation area, an array of accommodations from a cabin to guest rooms or a cottage, Meadowlark Motel features free Wi-Fi and a free complimentary breakfast. Sit on the porch of your cabin and throw a line down into the creek for some great bass fishing. This motel, unlike most others, offers excellent guest services, things like: wine tastings, family cookouts, craft beer tastings and more. They also offer a full slate of hotel packages, for everything from a craft brewery package to Christmas in the Smokies and several Great Smoky Mountains Railroad packages. Book your stay today!