Defunct Theme Park 'Land of Oz' is Reopening for Six Days

posted by Jodi Phillips -

Land of Oz

In Beech Mountain sits a defunct theme park with a road as yellow as the sun that sits empty for more than 300 days of the year. But for six days in June, it reopens to bring people from all over the country back to Oz.

Land of Oz, a theme park built after The Wizard of Oz, is reopening its doors this June.  

'Journey With Dorothy' will open every Friday in June as well as Saturday, June 30. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 20 and sell out quickly. 

Those who attend will visit the Fountain of Youth as Dorothy guides you around the yellow brick road and through the land of Oz. 

Missing the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion? They return for four days in September for 'Autumn at Oz.'


How did this theme park come to be?

In 1968, the ground broke on land in Beech Mountain by Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow from the original Wizard of Oz. The theme park was designed from a child's perspective and was built to coincide with the landscape. Two years and $5 million later, the doors would open to 44,000 yellow bricks over nine acres.

The park became an overnight success and even graced the covers of Southern Living and other magazines boasting its never-before-seen attractions. Over 400,000 people walked the yellow brick road the first year.

Shortly after, Grover Robbins, who was the most passionate about the theme park at the corporation, passed away. Instead of reinvesting monies into the theme park for expansion, revenue was redirected into other properties. Years later, the gas crunch kept many people homebound therefore keeping them from making the journey to Beech Mountain. 

By 1975, the original investment company went bankrupt and late that year, a fire was set on property which would take the amphitheater and cause major damage to shops and restaurants. Around the same time, the museum was broken into and original costumes from the film were stolen. 

After switching to new management in 1976, the park reopened with a new amphitheater, new clothing and redone shops. Unfortunately, only 66,000 people would visit that year. 

In 1980, a decision was made to close the park after owners estimated a $3.5 million price tag for updates and refurbishment. 

Interest didn't waiver even with the doors closed at Oz and in 1994, after the original cast members reunited at Lees-McGrae College, the new owners decided to open the park for an annual re-opening.

Fast forward to 2018, the tradition continues with 'Journey With Dorothy' in the summer and 'Autumn at Oz' in the fall.

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