October 3-4, 2015
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.
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.
Each year, the festival offers many activities, food, drink, and sights to enhance the Land of Oz journey. 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.
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, 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.
Enjoy fall color as well! For more, see our NC Mountain Fall Foliage Forecast and Guide.
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.
New for 2015: The ski resort parking area and chairlifts will not be available due to construction. Parking is available across from the Town Hall. Shuttle bus rides to the mountaintop park are included in the ticket.
2015 Hours/Tickets: Cost TBA (last year was $35/person). Entrance times to the park are 10-12, 12-2 or 2-4 each day. You can stay until the event closes at 6 PM regardless of the time you enter. Advance tickets are highly recommended! Buy tickets after August 1 on their website. Children ages 2 and under are admitted free. See tips and directions below!
Tips for Visiting Land of Oz
- Advance ticket holders should proceed to check-in tables at the appropriate time/session.
- 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.
- 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.
The town of Beech Mountain is about a two-hour drive from Asheville through the mountains with multiple options. You will see signs as you enter the town of Beech Mountain (it's not very big!). Parking is in the meadow next to Brick Oven Pizzeria off the Beech Mountain Parkway across the street from the Beech Mountain Town Hall and Visitor Center (Street address: 403 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, NC).
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.
During the winter months, return for skiing at Beech Mountain!