Let’s dive into all things Land of Oz Theme Park.
Step into a world where dreams come true, and the magic of the Wizard of Oz unfolds before your eyes.
The original Land of Oz Theme Park graced us with its presence from 1970 to 1980. The Washington Post crowned it as the ultimate destination, dubbing it the “Number One Tourist Attraction.” The park was designed by the creative mind of designer Jack Pentes, based out of Charlotte, NC.
This enchanting spectacle faced its share of challenges. As a financial crisis loomed, a devastating fire struck in 1975, destroying the Emerald City Amphitheater stage. Despite these adversities, the park’s spirit persevered, and thanks to new ownership, it continued to cast its spell until 1980.
Land of Oz Theme Park
Unfortunately, some parts of the park had succumbed to decay and vandalism, necessitating their demolition. However, the essence of Oz endured, with iconic landmarks such as the Gale farmhouse, barn, and the famous yellow brick road carefully preserved.
In an inspiring turn of events, a reunion of the park’s original staff, affectionately known as the “Ozzies,” took place in 1988. This heartwarming gathering ignited a remarkable idea – to open the doors to the public once more. Thus, in 1993, the Autumn at Oz Festival was born, becoming an annual September tradition that attracted throngs of nostalgic visitors.
The proceeds generated from this festival and other public engagements have been dedicated to the restoration and upkeep of the park.
Today, while the Land of Oz may not operate as a fully-fledged theme park, it thrives as an immersive experience where you journey through Oz and watch a series of performers bring this timeless classic story to life before your eyes. Between the quality of the costumes, scenery, and performances, they truly honor the enduring magic and legacy of everything Oz represents.
Tickets sell out fast for the annual Autumn at Oz Festival, with the 2023 event already sold out. Be sure to make plans to visit in 2024, as it is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Getting to the Land of Oz Theme Park
The Land of Oz is located near Beech Mountain Resort. To access it, you’ll need to take a shuttle or scenic chair lift ride to get there. More details on this are below.
Beech Mountain Resort
1007 Beech Mountain Parkway
Beech Mountain, NC 28604
Arriving at the Land of Oz
When you get closer to Beech Mountain Resort, you will see signs guiding you, and in the parking lot, they will direct you where to go. After you arrive, you can find your way to check-in, which is located at Beech Mountain Resort. They will provide you with a wristband and guide you on how you will be transported to the park. Parking is included in your ticket admission.
Scenic Chair Lift vs. Shuttle Bus
The shuttle to and from the park is included with your ticket; if you prefer to take the scenic route to Oz, you can purchase an add-on for the chair lift that Beech Mountain Resort operates.
If you are taking the shuttle, you will head back to the main parking lot and wait in line.
If you are taking the scenic chair lift, make your way through the village and check in with the resort to receive your lift ticket.
We highly recommend taking the scenic chair lift; the benefits are fantastic; you will have a peaceful ride up the mountain, no shuttle line to wait in, and the views are incredible. Make sure to take it on the way back down, too.
Can You Dress Up?
Cosplay or dressing up is highly encouraged. You’ll find guests of all ages dressed as their favorite characters from Oz. There will be countless Dorothy’s, Wicked Witches, Scarecrows, Tin Men, and more. Others will simply sport Oz t-shirts or wear a pair or ruby-red sparkly sneakers!
Can You Take Photos?
Yes, there are so many opportunities to take photos. They ask that you please stay off the pathway and scenery to allow others to get down the Yellow Brick Road. You will have lots of opportunities to take pictures with all of the different characters/performers if you choose as well.
How Long Does it Take to Go through the Land of Oz Theme Park?
You can take as long as you would like to until the park closes. You can take the journey at your own pace, but the average time it takes someone to go through is about 2 hours as you explore the different sections of the park.
First, you’ll visit the Gale Farm in Kansas, where you’ll see a performance of some opening scenes of the story. Once you are done at the farm, you cannot return; your journey will continue through the tornado experience and then onto the yellow brick road.
Can you walk through the Yellow Brick Road more than once?
Your journey through Oz and down the Yellow Brick Road is designed to simply go through once per visit. It is possible to double back if you’ve missed something.
Through this portion of the journey, you will accompany Dorothy as she encounters each of the other main characters as they seek the Wizard.
Once you step through the gates into the Emerald City, you will not be able to return to the Yellow Brick Road.
The ticket shows the time slot to be an hour. Do you only have one hour in Oz?
The time slot for your ticket is just to control how many people are coming in at a time, as well as to control your boarding time onto the shuttle. On average, most guests spend about two hours to two and a half hours. You can take the journey at your own pace.
There are photo opportunities with each of the main characters/performers following the small shows that happen along the way. Some guests will follow Dorothy along the Yellow Brick Road to see each of the shows and then go back to get in line for the photos with the different characters.
What to Wear and the Weather
The event takes place in all types of weather, so be prepared for sun, rain, and wind. If it rains, bring an umbrella or a poncho. It is recommended to wear layers as it can go from hot to cold quickly at this time of year in the mountains.
Dates for Annual Autumn at Oz Festival
They only open for three weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in September each year. Tickets go on sale in mid-summer, so check back again for 2024 tickets. They do sell out fast.
Things to Do near the Land of Oz
There is so much more to do around the Land of Oz that you could easily spend several days or a full week visiting the area. Here are a few additional things to check out while you are in the Banner Elk & Beech Mountain area.
✅ Grandfather Mountain State Park
Address: 9872 Highway 105 South, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Grandfather Mountain is a place of amazing biodiversity and some spectacular scenic views as the top of the mountain reaches 5,945 feet. While there are exhibits and wildlife habitats to explore at Grandfather Mountain State Park, one of the highlights of the area is the mile-high swinging bridge. The bridge is 228 feet in the air, making it America’s highest suspension bridge. It spans 80 feet across the mountain and offers views you won’t get anywhere else.
✅ Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Address: 3265 Tynecastle Hwy, Banner Elk, NC 28604
A thrilling adventure that proudly claims the title of North Carolina’s first alpine coaster! Spanning an impressive track length of 3,160 feet, this fun experience features three captivating circular loops (rest assured, there are no gravity-defying upside-down moments), a delightful array of waves, and thrilling twists and turns that promise boundless excitement.
Perfectly suited for individuals of all ages, this heart-pounding ride allows riders to take command, reaching speeds of up to 27 mph as they navigate the course at their own discretion.
✅ Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a long expanse of winding and rolling road that goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The parkway itself is 469 miles long and connects the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is truly nothing like driving the parkway, as the experience is both fulfilling and breathtaking.
Some amazing hikes and waterfalls are available from the parkway. You could include some hikes and overlooks along your route: Rough Ridge Lookout, Linn Cove Viaduct, Beacon Heights Overlook Trail, Yonahlossee Overlook, and Grandfather Mountain Overlook.
Where To Stay near the Land of Oz
📍Sky Barn Retreat in Beech Mountain with Views and Deck | This idyllic accommodation option boasts a captivating balcony that offers scenic vistas of the surrounding area. This home boasts an impressive layout, comprising four spacious bedrooms, a comfortable living room, and a fully equipped kitchen replete with modern amenities such as a dishwasher and a coffee machine. Moreover, five well-appointed bathrooms, complete with a soothing hot tub and convenient hair dryer, await your indulgence.
📍Stunning 4-Season Mountain Getaway w/ Deck & Fire Pit | This picturesque hillside retreat provides an ideal setting for a perfect getaway to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The impressive vacation rental has an expansive deck and can take advantage of its prime location on Beech Mountain. Enjoy a fully-equipped kitchen, cozy up by the fireplace, raise a glass for a toast at the outdoor fire pit, and bask in the twilight views of the mountainous skyline. Beech Mountain Resort is only 1.2 miles away.
📍Beautiful Panoramic Views 2 Bedrooms | This charming condo offers a master bedroom with a stunning view of Sugar and Grandfather Mountains, featuring a luxurious king bed. The common area shares the same breathtaking view, perfect for family moments. The spacious second bedroom has a comfortable queen bed. The pet-friendly condo is off the main roads, with well-maintained city roads for easy access year-round. Just 1 mile from Banner Elk, it’s a convenient retreat.
📍Rustic Mountain Cottage Near Downtown | Hidden Gem is a rustic mountain cottage bordering Lees-McRae College, a short walk from Banner Elk. This charming retreat offers an open floor plan with hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings, a cozy great room with a stone fireplace and HDTV, a well-equipped kitchen, and three bedrooms with HDTVs. Outside, there’s a covered deck with a fireplace and a hot tub, a landscaped backyard with mountain views, and it’s conveniently located near downtown Banner Elk.
📍Best Western Mountain Lodge At Banner Elk | The rooms at Banner Elk Best Western Plus Mountain Lodge are thoughtfully equipped with modern amenities for the comfort and convenience of guests. Each room features a flat-screen TV with a variety of cable channels, providing entertainment options to suit individual preferences. Additionally, a refrigerator, coffee maker, and microwave are provided in every room, making it easy for guests to satisfy their snacking and beverage needs.
Land of Oz: FAQs
📌 Why did Land of Oz close down?
A financial crisis loomed, and a devastating fire occurred in 1975. Despite these adversities, the park’s spirit persevered, thanks to new ownership, and it continued to cast its spell until 1980.
📌 How long does it take to go through the Land of Oz?
On average, it takes about two hours.
📌Is it worth going to the Land of Oz?
If you are a fan of The Wizard of Oz, this should be on your list to visit. The performers do such a wonderful job, and the scenery is incredible.
📌What year did Land of Oz close?
Following the year 1980, the Land of Oz once again came under the custodianship of its original landowners, the Leidy Family.
📌Who owns the Land of Oz in NC?
The Leidy Family owns and runs Land of Oz.
📌What is the over the rainbow observation deck?
If you would like to get some additional stunning views of the area, you can add on for an additional cost for the over the rainbow observation deck. Please note there are many flights of stairs to the observation deck, and you are at a higher altitude. You must purchase a ticket for this; they only have a limited amount per day they sell in advance.
A visit to the Land of Oz is like stepping into a timeless tale, where the magic of the Wizard of Oz continues to captivate hearts and minds. From its humble beginnings to its resurgence as a beloved attraction, this enchanting theme park has a rich history that has left an indelible mark on the memories of all who have ventured down the Yellow Brick Road.
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