Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Land of Oz Banner Elk North Carolina

The Land of Oz was a theme park based upon the L. Frank Baum book series as well as the fantastic 1939 MGM musical. The park was open and operational during the early 1970s. The postcards shown below are all copyright 1971. When the park closed in 1980, there was no demolition of the existing structures. However, there was much vandalism and destruction. Check out this website for more information on the history of the park.

Ten years after closing a developer purchased the land and a resort was built on the site. Luckily, some of the structures were saved, the fountains restored, waterfalls rebuilt and the yellow brick road unearthed. For several years, an Oz festival is held on the site with local actors playing the characters and dealers selling Oz related merchandise. The festival and park is open the first weekend in October. The houses are still existing, but the rides are no longer functioning. You can also rent out the park for birthdays, weddings, graduation and other special events.

The caption on this postcard reads: Dorothy knows a movie was made about her once, and she's happy that she has the dress Judy Garland wore in the film. It's in a museum along with other items from the movie- at the Land of Oz, Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, N.C.

Imagine riding into one of your dreams in a colorful balloon at the Land of Oz atop Beech Mountain. Just over the rainbow all the friendly munchkins, the cowardly lion, tin man, scarecrow and Dorothy are waiting to capture your hearts.

Is the balloon really safe? Of course! Why would Dorothy and the Lion and the Tin Man all get into it together? Especially just after the Tin Man got his brain. It's the Land of Oz, Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, N.C.

An enclosed gondola lift- one of three of its kind in the United States- takes you over the rainbow to the Land of Oz at Beech Mountain, Banner Elk, N.C. (as for the Cowardly Lion, he rides the surrey bus.)

19 comments:

PTA Transit Authority said...

Fantastic postcards. Must have been a great place.

Bob Cowan said...

- Nice!
- I used to teach at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC (not too far away).
- Nice reminder....

Katella Gate said...

What would the 70's be without citrus-colored everything and mansard roofs? Tasteful? LOL

outsidetheberm said...

Aww, you beat me to the Land of Oz! Guess I'll put down my pen.

But a great post! (And isn't that the nicest 'Dorothy' you ever saw?)

Major Pepperidge said...

Yes, that Dorothy is easy on the eyes. I'll bet she was popular!

Anonymous said...

Boy, does this ever bring back bad memories! I lived in Gastonia, NC (Gastonia was a true pit) for four years in the early 1970s, and one fine day we decided to travel up to the Land of Oz in the Mountains. My alcoholic uncle drove because he knew a shortcut. It took us about seven hours, all crammed into his car, to get there (it should have taken about three, I imagine). When we did arrive, a light drizzle was falling and much of the park was semi-closed because of the rain. Those enclosed gondolas are not like the skyway at the Disney parks--they have no floor. My very fussy (and by now furious) aunt almost fell to her death through the bottom of one! I had no idea anyone even remembered this place existed. Forty years later I think I sort of felt that I had dreamed the whole episode. These pictures reveal that it was not my imagination, after all.

Tom said...

I'd take that Dorothy to "Ahhhhhz", anytime!

forensgrad3 said...

I was lucky enough to go to the Land of Oz as a small child! I still remember the unbelievable enchantment of the park! Such attention was given to every last detail. It truly gave you a sense of being in the movie. It remains one of my fondest family memories! I can't believe that it only opens once a year. That is so sad. And from what we found out last year when we called, it is so busy the one time it does open each year, you run the very real chance of waiting for hours and being turned away IN FRONT of the gate. A true shame! Every child..and adult..should have the chance to experience this once in a lifetime park! I have never forgotten the wonderment of it all!!

britney said...

nice post and thanks for sharing...
___________________
Britney
Entertainment at one stop

Theatre Fan said...

As a kid, my parents took me to Land of Oz several times. It was one of my favorite parks.

The tour of Dorothy's house was amazing. The tour guide "spots a tornado" out the kitchen window and hurries everyone into the cellar. While navigating the stairs down, a big movie screen was playing footage of the tornado while fans blew around. When you got the bottom of the stairs and the all clear sounds, you walk out through a replica of the same house you just toured. This time however, the entire thing was damaged by the tornado. When you walked out the front door, the porch was pitched and the Wicked Witch of the East's legs were sticking out from under the house. At the bottom of the porch steps, there was the yellow brick road. It was fantastic.

You then took Dorothy's journey through the forrest and one by one met every character. The road ended at Emerald City where the largest stage was.

The balloon ride was fantastic and went all through the woods. But the best part was that after you did the walk down the yellow brick road, and ended up at the Emerald City, there was a show there that basically summed up Dorothy's need to go home (just like the movie). Her wish got granted and there was a great big puff of smoke. Dorothy disappeared from the stage and was magically on the balloon ride flying just over the audience at the same time. She was yelling "good-bye" to the audience who cheered her on. It was magical, and a pretty complex timing trick to get the Dorothy double on the ride at exactly the right moment of the show.

Thanks for your post. Land of Oz was wonderful and I miss it!

Anonymous said...

I love the Land of Oz Beech Mtn NC , They open the Park the first weekend of Oct every year for a big party , I go every year . I am one of the cowardly lions , It is so much fun , yea there are long lines but its worth the wait> 2009 the park is open sat and sunday Oct 3rd and 4th from 10:00 to 5:00 , come on out and join the fun !!!!! Please wear something ozzie , it makes it so much more fun for more info go to
the beech mtn chamber of commerce web site and choose the Land of Oz link

Cowardly lion

tami said...

Thank you so much for these pics. I remember my grandmothr having that first one of the dress. Oh it brings back wonderful memories of this park. How i wish it were still open. I understand you can rent "Dorothys House" I am so up for that.

Teena said...

I went to the park as a child. It was one of the best memories i have of my childhood. While i was there i got separated from my parents becausei kept watching Dorothy in the balloon. I was scared to begin with but they took me back stage and i got meet the characters. I didnt want to leave. It was the best place i went when i was a child. I wish it had been open when i had my daughter i would have took her to the park.

GREGORY HUGH LENG said...

I will be set up in the museum selling signed & numbered limited edition hardcover books celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Land of Oz theme park during the Autumn at Oz party on Oct. 2 & 3rd. The book tells the history of the park and 127 color photographs are included. I will also be selling signed photographs. I look forward to greeting all the Oz fans during this special event. My book is the only color photography book ever released on The Land of Oz theme park. From this side of the rainbow, Gregory (Author & Photographer of Oz)

Lori said...

I agree with forensgrad3, it was a great place! I went sometime in the mid 70s, and I thought it was great. My feet dangled in the open mountain air while riding the gondola up to the top, where I found Dorothy and Oz. Great idea, really, and I'm so sorry to hear it's closed, now! I wanted to take my daughter and relive everything, but I guess we can't stop progress(?)!

Anonymous said...

Our parents took my sister and I t the park a couple of times when we were growing up...I still remember how everything was black and while when you walked into Dorothy's house, but amazing colours on the other side. The yellow brick road of course, and the Wicked Witch's feet sticking out from under the house. And dancing mushrooms-an enduring memory is my father dancing with one, though I have no idea why! Such a shame it's now closed.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to this park as a kid. It was fantastic! Does anyone remember Dorothy's house rocking from side to side on the way out? Well, I do. Maybe it was just the floor that moved but no one could keep their balance. It was a great effect. Im 45 now and I still have an old postcard of Dorothy and The Lion sitting together on a huge boulder. I so wish I could relive those years. I consider all of us lucky to have been able to go there in the 70s. I wish I could meet you all. I imagine we will all meet one day, somewhere over a beautiful rainbow.

Anonymous said...

I too remember trips to Oz with my brothers and sisters. We were very impressed, especially with the house of Dorothy after we touched down. It was very hard to walk through there as I remember. Later when I became old enough to date. I returned to the land of oz. I have told my children of our adventures and they looked at me with disbelief. it was after reading a friends post on FB I discovered they were reopening again. Perhaps now I can take my grown children and prove to them I was not dreaming. Thanks for the memories. I hate that there were generations who did not experience this wonderful place hidden in the beautiful mountains of NC.

c'monALREADY said...

As a child we went here every summer. I remember one visit in particular! It was chilly so "Dorothy" allowed me to borrow her sweater until we reached The Wizard. The Witch was so angry and kept trying to take it from me. It has stuck with forever! I was so glad to see that things remain and fully intend to do an Autumn Trip!