Visitors to North Carolina can take part in breathtaking mountain views on a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. They can also visit the barrier islands of the Outer Banks and enjoy the surf. Places like Asheville, with its majestic mountain views, or a more vibrant and upbeat city vibe like Charlotte are always on the top list of places to see in North Carolina. A visit to a creepy, abandoned theme park is probably not on a regular tourist’s agenda, though. The “Land of Oz” Amusement Park is located atop Beech Mountain in the heart of the Appalachians in the state of North Carolina. It was once a vibrant tourist spot, but has lately devolved into just downright creepy.
Debbie Reynolds and the Theme Park
The theme park opened up in 1970 thanks to Debbie Reynolds (late mother of the late Carrie Fisher). Hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to the theme park the first summer that it had opened. The coolest thing about the theme park was how it replicated the theme from the classic movie The Wizard of Oz and incorporated those themes into the park itself. Visitors could visit the town of Munchkin Village, for instance. Unfortunately, after the park closed in 1980, it became a playground to vandals.
What Happened After It Closed
What was once a place for fun, adventure, and imagination became just downright eerie. The castle of the Wicked Witch was once an interesting tourist sight but turned into an unsightly and daunting remnant. Even sadder, the Emerald City section of the park burned down, probably as a result of arson when the park was closed down. Unusual sculptures were carved into trees probably to depict the part of the movie where the trees come to life to throw apples at Dorothy and her friends.
Over the years, what was once intended to be a replica of one of the most iconic set pieces from the movie took on a more cryptic vibe. The yellow brick road, once vibrant and cheery, had cracks and crevices along with faded discoloration. Looking the way it does now, it’s not a road you want to be caught dead on. Thankfully, though, the park did have a small comeback.
The park did partially reopen back in 2013. Today, this family-owned and operated property is only open to the public during the autumn months. The Annual Autumn of Oz Festival takes place every year and occasionally for special events throughout the rest of the year. Fans of Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz may also inquire about rentals of the park property. In this way, they get to keep the magic of the movie and the vision of the theme park alive and well.
Ask just about anyone about their opinion of The Wizard of Oz and they’ll probably break into “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” shriek “Lions, tigers, and bears … oh my!” or remind you that you can sync Dark Side of the Moon to it perfectly. Thanks to the ravages of time and vandalism, the park is almost a dark photo negative of those happy memories.