By TMoM Team Member, Felicity Lewis
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high…” Doesn’t that instantly bring you back to your childhood? It triggers fond memories of me snuggled up, enjoying popcorn with family watching a beautifully made technicolor movie. The Wizard of Oz is a one of a kind American classic that brings Dorothy’s wild dream to life. And fortunately, in North Carolina, we can step into Dorothy’s world.
Tucked high atop Beech Mountain (approximately 15 miles outside of Boone) lies The Land of Oz, a theme park based on the movie. The theme park was built many years ago, then shuttered, only to be reinvigorated, if only for a few weeks a year. Be sure to check the website for dates of operation, as they change seasonally each year!!
A few months ago, our toddler was given an old DVD of The Wizard of Oz and it became a staple of our home almost immediately. He begs for it and I even get extra snuggles during the scary flying monkey scene (so it’s a win win for me!). Needless to say, we figured we would give this place a try.
I attended the park when younger but it was not in full force during the 90’s and even required access via the ski lift. If you talk to someone who attended in the 1970’s, which I had the chance to do on the ride up, the park was a magical place and is still a fond memory for so many. Today, the park and the Town of Beech Mountain have modernized and provide bus rides to the very tip of the mountain, although it is still a bumpy, windy ride.
When you step off the buses you begin in a town that reminds you of Kansas. The actors start off your adventure with a similar version of how the movie starts. Hopefully I am not going to give away any spoilers, because this movie was filmed in the 1930s and popularized in the 50s once TVs became a staple. If you have missed the movie, it’s time to catch up! After the opening act ends, you have the chance to walk into Dorothy’s home. Although the home looks ordinary, upon entering the cellar you discover it is not!
As you climb into the cellar, you find yourself descending into the heart of a tornado, complete with wind, witches, and cries for “Auntie Em Auntie Em.” Once you survive the twister, you exit into the tornado-thrown house complete with smashed furniture and unlevel floors.
From there, you enter into Munchkin Land. You are greeted by Glinda the Good Witch (although you have to get past the Wicked Witch first!) and you are ready to start your walk down the yellow brick road. There is a ton of walking and this is not handicap friendly so definitely keep that in mind. The decorations were extremely well done, and the acting was incredible. The Wicked Witch even asked if I was hiding ToTo in my baby carrier.
The whole park was very interactive and easy to get photographs with your favorite characters. The views from the Land of Oz (the park sits roughly 5500 feet above sea level) are beautiful, so as you walk (or skip) the yellow brick road you can’t beat the scenery. Plus, there are tons of children, and adults for that matter, dressed in costume for their visit.
Overall, I was taken aback at how realistic the actors and actresses’ costumes were and how close their portrayals of the characters were to those in the film. We were concerned that our toddler would be afraid of some of the characters as even his favorites at other theme parks frightened him, but here he was welcomed, literally, with open arms, although he did let out a bit of a tremble upon meeting the Wicked Witch. At the end of the yellow brick road you go past the Witches Castle, guarded by Flying Monkeys. You exit at the Wizard of Oz’s palace where they have food vendors and an ending show with the characters. We were concerned that with this being a “themed” park that it may be cheesy, but truly this was well done and very cute (even my husband that I dragged there would agree!!) so if you have a chance and are a Wizard of Oz fan check it out.
Throughout Beech Mountain there are decorations to celebrate and some that are there all year round. Check out these locations if you do get to venture up to the Land of Oz!
Fred’s General Mercantile
The Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria (available in The Land of Oz via their food truck)
Poppy’s Coffee Shop
Holy Smokes BBQ
Beech Mountain Sky Bar (located atop the mountain immediately adjacent to The Land of Oz)
Click here to visit the website and get details on hours of operation and tickets.
Click here for more DAY TRIP ideas!
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