There’s no place like Beech Mountain the first weekend of October each year as the old Land of Oz theme park comes to life for the Autumn at Oz celebration. The "Wizard of Oz" park is near Banner Elk, about a two hours drive from Asheville. Park at the ski resort and ride the chair lift to the top!
There are two special reasons to celebrate this year:
it's the75th anniversary of the "Wizard of Oz" movie and 20th anniversary of Autumn at Oz! Over the years, Autumn at Oz has grown from a small reunion of former employees to a celebration that draws folks from near and far for a nostalgic stroll along the yellow brick road that was the centerpiece of the popular theme park that opened in 1970, as a living adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, “The Wonderful World of OZ,” upon which the classic film is also based.
This year, the festival will offer even more activities, food, drink, and sights to enhance the Land of Oz experience. Experience the recreation of Dorothy’s trip from her farm in Kansas, through the twister and down the yellow brick road to OZ. Along your journey, you will meet many of the vibrant characters that made the novel and the movie timeless.
“Kansas,” located in the village of Beech Mountain Resort, will be the start and end point for your journey to the Land of Oz. Stay for live music, dancing, multiple food and beverage options, crafts and merchandise. Their is ample parking for visitors, and transportation (bus or ski lift) to and from the Land of OZ atop Beech Mountain is included.
Along the way, there are visits with the Tin Man, Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Professor Marvel, Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Glinda the Good Witch and the Wizard. The Wicked Witch of the West is also on hand with her Winkie guards and flying monkeys.
Dress as your favorite Oz character and enjoy a nostalgic stroll through this unique place in time! The top of Beech Mountain, at 5,506 feet, (see our Beech Mountain Guide) is an ideal place to venture over the rainbow. Its rock outcroppings and gnarly, windswept trees inspired the creation of the Land of Oz theme park.
Keep in mind the temperatures atop Beech can be very chilly in early October (about 15 degrees cooler than Asheville). So bring a jacket! See more tips below.
Hours/Tickets: The theme park opens at 9:30 AM with tickets available for entrance to the park every hour until 5:30 PM. The last bus leaves at 4:30 PM. Tickets are $20 each, if not sold out. Advance tickets are available online, and total ticket sales will be limited to 7,000. See tips and directions below!
Follow the yellow brick road with us at Autumn at Oz!
Tips for Visiting Land of Oz
Follow the signs for parking as you approach Beech Mountain.
Advance ticket holders should proceed to check-in tables at the appropriate time/session. The tables will be arranged alphabetically, by last name of the person who purchased the ticket(s).
The Oz property has uneven paths, ramps and stairs and therefore is not wheelchair or stroller friendly (late afternoon sessions work better for folks needing assistance and small strollers or backpacks work best for children). The weather on Beech can be cold and blustery, so please be prepared by dressing in layers and wearing comfy shoes. Bring a jacket and an umbrella, just in case.
When the shuttle/hayride drops your group off in "Kansas", one person from your group needs to "take a ticket" from the dispenser at the start of the path. This ticket corresponds to the time your group will be allowed to enter Dorothy's house. An electronic monitor will be placed near the food vendors and another will be in the yard at Dorothy's house. This ticket/system will allow your group to shop, picnic, visit the museum, etc. until your ticket and appropriate time is called.
Bring extra money as food treats and treasures are for sale. Face painters are among the best and there is additional charge for painting and props too.
As so many people want to take photos, be respectful of others. Please stand back, off the paths, and make room for others to pass on by. A full cast of characters will be near the end of the yellow brick road for family photos as well.
Due to the vast number of back roads, we do not recommend MapQuest, GPS etc. Use the Google Map for general driving directions from your location. It's a TWO HOUR DRIVE from Asheville - but a beautiful drive through the mountains! You will see signs as you enter the town of Beech Mountain (it's not very big!).
From the Greensboro/Winston-Salem Area
Take US 421 N to Boone. Turn left onto NC 105. Follow 105 for 15 miles and then turn right onto NC 184. Follow NC 184 to Banner Elk and then turn left onto NC 194/184. NC 184 will veer to the right and become South Beech Mountain Parkway. Follow NC 184/Beech Mountain Parkway into Town.
From the Charlotte Area
Take I-85 S towards Gastonia. Take Exit 17, and turn left onto US 321 N. Follow US 321 to Boone. In Boone, turn left onto NC 105. Follow 105 for 15 miles and then turn right onto NC 184. Follow NC 184 to Banner Elk and then turn left onto NC 194/184. NC 184 will veer to the right and become South Beech Mountain Parkway. Follow NC 184/Beech Mountain Parkway into Town.
History of Land of Oz Theme Park
Oz was dreamed and designed by Jack Pentes, on behalf of Carolina Caribbean Corp., and headed by Grover Robbins, of Tweetsie RR. Both men were exceptional "visionaries". It was their plan to create something special for children - something that would be fun and financially compatible with the ski slopes of Beech - and, in turn, would bring parents, purchasers of resort property. Just as important, local talent and craftsmen were employed, bringing pride and opportunities to the area. It was a grand dream and was done in a grand fashion. OZ exceeded everyone's expectations of success.
Six months before its opening, however, Mr. Robbins contracted bone cancer and passed away. OZ was operational from 1970-80, but changing times, economics, liabilities, maintenance, and other interests of its owners, along with the lack of change at OZ, took their toll on the park. Ten years passed with the property reverting back to its original owners. Vandalism and nostalgia seekers destroyed much of the remains. Even today, people try to take a "piece" of OZ, to our despair.
In 1990, the 450 acre project known as Emerald Mountain development began. Since 1990, OZ has gone from being an "archeological dig" to an enchanting private garden, with Dorothy's farm restored, gazebos renovated, fountain, pond and waterfall made operational, and the yellow brick road unearthed and patched.