The developers of a Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park were certainly onto something when they opened their Land of Oz amusement park back in 1970.
The park, which is located in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, had 20,000 visitors on its opening day.
It took two years and $5 million dollars to build the park — roughly $34 million dollars today.
Park’s Famous Visitors
Visitors got to walk the yellow brick road (44,000 glazed yellow ricks, to be exact) to experience Dorothy’s journey through Oz for themselves.
During the first year, the park had over 400,000 visitors — some of them famous!
Anita Bryant, Muhammad Ali and Jay North visited the park.
At 5,506-feet elevation, Beech Mountain is the highest town in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Land of Oz was meant to be open year-round, and people were encouraged to come to the area to ski, hence the chair lifts.
The park was built on nine acres and included homes of the TinMan, Scarecrow, Lion and the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Emerald City was the amphitheater and there were even gift shops!
The End Of The Park
The one ride at the park was the Balloon Ride. It consisted of 24 steel balloons that followed a track on the side of the mountain. While on the balloon ride visitors could take in the beautiful views.
Unfortunately, a short decade later, visitors dwindled and a series of unfortunate events made the park hard to operate.
According to the website, on “December 28th 1975, a fire was set to the Emerald City, destroying the amphitheater and its contents as well as damaging the surrounding shops and restaurant.”
Even under new management and rebuilding much of what was damaged in the fire, the 1976 season only had about 66,000 visitors.
Here is a photo of the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle.
Limited Tours Available Today
Today, there are limited tours of the park offered throughout the year. Here’s a photo of the current cast and crew — they look pretty authentic if you ask me!
And here’s the TinMan and Scarecrow with a cute little fan – red shoes and all!
You can learn more about the park in this video below:
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