But it's abandoned.
Except for one day every year... on October 5.
I only found out this theme park existed this last year (past tense, as it's no longer active and open to the public) and discovered only this week that there's an annual "reunion/get together" for past employees and guests! That reunion day is next weekend and is called Autumn at Oz. 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of this special - almost secret - event.
This weekend, October 5th and 6th, the park is open for the 20th anniversary of "Autumn at Oz". It's only open once a year for a reunion of former employees and past guests. In 2009, over 8,000 people attended. Every year more characters return and more vendors show up. All proceeds go to upkeep and preservation. So, if you're in the area, drop by for a stroll through the poppy field. [Emerald Mtn]
The park is currently used as a setting for (lucky people's) weddings, parties and photoshoots and - get this - vacations! (Yes you can stay in Dorothy's house and walk the yellow brick road after breakfast!)
I'm sure it's just a coincidence I can suddenly think of some very important reasons to visit North Carolina...
(Don't you love this house? The interior is all at a slant as well, complete with furniture and curtains stuck at permanently odd angles and a certain set of striped stockinged legs poking out somewhere close by.)
Most people, however, have forgotten this even exists, possibly due to it's unfortunate history and timing of events when it was getting going.
The Land of Oz theme park was open from 1970 to 1980 and it's opening day saw over 20,000 visitors. Guests enjoyed strolling down the Yellow Brick Road, and hanging out with the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Wicked Witch of the West. Afterwards, there was a show at the Emerald City, complete with a balloon ride, which was actually a modified ski lift. Visitors could enjoy a breathtaking view of the park amidst Beech Mountain's gorgeous scenery. Unfortunately the death of the original owner before the park opened and a mysterious fire in 1975 marred the initial success of the park and it closed suddenly in 1980. Now, the Yellow Brick Road is missing a few of its bricks, but most of the park is still there, albeit in various states of disrepair. (Source)Part of the reason for Autumn at Oz is not only to keep the memories alive but to help support and fund the upkeep of the park's unique structures. (Check HERE for some amazing photos from the park's development.) Everyone is now welcome to attend and stroll through poppy fields and munchkin lands with other Oz-philes for one special day.
There's a lovely book of black and white photos of this "abandoned" theme park for purchase HERE (see cover above).
Visiting here has just gone on my bucket list. (I might need a new pair of silver - or perhaps ruby - slippers for the trip... )