Oh heck, it’s just been too long since my last post, and here I am two trips behind! Since I wrote last I’ve been to North and South Carolina to see my beloved niece, and followed that up with a couple of weeks in Sri Lanka, which also included a long layover in London. I’m heading to the Southwest next Tuesday for two glorious weeks of hiking, so I’d better get catching up a little here!
If you read all my blogs then you know that I have a “thing” for the Wizard of Oz. I also have a “thing” for weird and interesting places. So it’s only natural that I’d take great interest in an abandoned amusement park in North Carolina called The Land of Oz. There are plenty of stories to be found on social media and beyond about the place. Let me take some of the mystery out of the Land of Oz, and tell the real story.
I won’t go into the history of the park and have anyone yawning. But if you’re interested, and also want to read about the spook factor, click here.
These days, if you’re paying attention, you’ll find out that the Land of Oz has been restored. The park opens on select weekends in the summer, and even fewer weekends in the autumn months. The summer offering is called Journey with Dorothy, and is usually announced in early spring. After some research, I just kept watching the Land of Oz website until the tickets went on sale. We paid about $30 with taxes and fees, but prices may change for next year.
Now, if you’ve heard previously about the Land of Oz and read articles like the one above, then the following news may be disappointing: no, you can’t “jump the fence” of Oz and wander through this “creepy” place on your own. The theme park is at the top of Beech Mountain and is part of a ski resort of the same name. To even get to the park requires a ride on the ski lift, or a bus. (My niece and I took the lift, which takes about ten minutes, and was an extra ten bucks.) The people writing these articles had to have gotten permission to enter the property. Having been there, sneaking into this place isn’t likely. And when you can Journey with Dorothy, who needs to break in?
Here’s how it will go.
Before you start down the Yellow Brick Road you’ll meet up with your group in a gazebo with a beautiful view from 5,500′ above sea level. There, you may be asked to volunteer to be the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Glinda, the Good Witch of the East, or the Wicked Witch of the West. Once props are handed out, you’re ready to go!
Your journey will last a little over an hour, and in that hour you will start out in Kansas, where you’ll first meet Dorothy Gale. But not until you run into her nemesis, Miss Gulch!
Toto will be mentioned, but don’t be disappointed to find out that there isn’t any dog jumping out of a basket. Training a dog to follow this whole program would be pretty tough. Anyway, the journey is so well done you’ll hardly notice.
Shortly after Dorothy appears out of the Gale household she sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Then, the storm comes. You’ll follow her through the dark house, across uneven floors that sure feel like they’re shaking and spinning, and when you exit you’ll be in Land of Oz and will start your journey down the famous road!
As you can see from the picture it’s still a little rickety.
Along the way, all the beloved characters get their time to tell their stories, and you’ll have the opportunity to take pictures of them.
(Hey, I never noticed the Wicked Witch of the West had a baby, did you?)
Our Dorothy was also very gracious about posing with everyone who wanted photos. Don’t be embarrassed to ask just because you’re a grown up! This experience is for kids of all ages!
As you follow Dorothy and her pals down the Yellow Brick Road you’ll also encounter a witch’s castle, trees with faces, and lots of colorful flowers before reaching Emerald City, where the Wizard will hand out his many wonderful gifts to the travelers.
The journey ends here. What fun!
Just a warning about the weather: we were there at the beginning of summer and it was cold and windy on Beech Mountain. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that however it feels closer to sea level will be how it feels at 5,500 feet. The temperature felt a lot more like mid fall New England than southern summer.
Boone, North Carolina offers many types and prices of accommodations and is twenty miles from the Beech Mountain Resort and the Land of Oz.
Interested in Journeying with Dorothy? Start watching for tickets in March of 2020!