The former Land of Oz theme park that operated during the 1970s atop Beech Mountain reopens occasionally for us to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City to see the Wizard. Over the years, Autumn at Oz (photos on this page) has grown from a small reunion of former employees to a celebration that draws huge crowds for a nostalgic stroll through the remains of the popular Land of Oz theme park that closed in 1980. It was a living adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, “The Wonderful World of Oz,” upon which the 1939 film is based (celebrating its 80th anniversary!). The park atop the mile-high summit reopens only for two special events. Beech Mountain is about 80 miles north of Asheville (see directions below).
Journey with Dorothy (Canceled due to COVID safety concerns)
2020 Dates: June 12, 19, 26, July 2, 3
Take a fun, interactive tour of the Land of Oz with Dorothy. These small, one-hour guided tours with Dorothy do not have the characters and festivities like Autumn at Oz. Tours start at the ski resort with a shuttle bus to the top of the mountain (1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain). Scenic chair lift rides available for an additional fee. Guests have a chance to play a role! No pets allowed. Bring your camera! Multiple tour times each day. Journey with Dorothy Tours tickets on sale in Spring. Go to their website for tickets.
Land of Oz Private Tours
2020 Dates: June 17-August 2 (Not available Mon/Tue)
Take a fun 90 min tour down the yellow brick road throughout the Land of Oz seeing original attractions such as the Gale Kansas Farm, the Judy Garland Memorial Overlook, Fountain of Youth, and the tornado cellar. Enjoy breathtaking views without the crowds and do some shopping at the Oz Shop! Tours are reservation only. Group rates start at $150. This private tours will be offered through Fall 2020. Go to their website for details and bookings.
Autumn at Oz Weekends (Canceled due to COVID safety concerns)
2020 Dates: September 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20
This is the biggest event - two weekends this year with all Oz characters. See details & pics below. Tickets on sale this summer: From $45/person + taxes & processing fees, Children age 2 & under free. The event usually sells out in advance. Go to their website for tickets.
Autumn at Oz
Each year, the Autumn at Oz weekends offer 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.
Visit 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 ft., is an ideal place to venture over the rainbow. It's 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 chilly in early September (about 15 degrees cooler than Asheville). So bring a jacket! See more tips 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 chilly and windy, so please be prepared by dressing in layers and wearing comfy shoes. Bring a jacket and an umbrella, just in case.
- Bring extra money (cash) as food treats and treasures are for sale.
- 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.
- Buy tickets online here.
The town of Beech Mountain is about a two-hour, 80-mile drive from Asheville (near Banner Elk) through the mountains with multiple route options. The quickest is via I-40 East to Marion, then US 221 North to Linville & Banner Elk. Street address for Journey with Dorothy (tour starts at ski resort): 1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain. For Autumn at Oz (starts in middle of town): 403 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain. You will see signs as you enter the town of Beech Mountain. Shuttle buses take you to the park atop the mountain.
- From the Greensboro/Winston-Salem Area: Take US 421 North 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 South towards Gastonia. Take Exit 17, and turn left onto US 321 North. 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.
Watch our Video!
Lodging for Oz
History of Land of Oz Theme Park
Oz was dreamed up 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, potential purchasers of resort properties. 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. 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 real estate 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. See memorabilia from the theme park in their museum.