When Dorothy wound up in Oz, she got there by way of a particularly trippy tornado. But the real Land of Oz—an abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park from the 1970s—is much easier to find, nestled at the top of North Carolina's Beech Mountain, along a decaying yellow brick road.
The Land of Oz has been abandoned for decades, but its decrepit buildings overrun with weeds have attracted urban explorers looking to photograph the eerie ruins of Munchkin Village and the wicked witch's castle. Now, according to the Charlotte Observer, the park will reopen its gates to the public for six days this June, offering "immersive" tours of the expansive property inspired by the film.
"You may even get the chance to play one the roles of Dorothy's trusted companions or the wicked witch that she meets throughout her journey," the park's website states.
Developers originally opened the park to lure families to Beech Mountain outside of ski season. In 1968, Ray Bolger (the actor who played the Scarecrow in the 1939 film) broke ground on the Land of Oz with a "psychedelic" shovel. When it opened in 1970, Debbie Reynolds cut the opening-day ribbon with a teenage Carrie Fisher by her side, and the park attracted 400,000 visitors in its first season.
But the Land of Oz was plagued by bad luck. One of its founders died of cancer just months before the park opened. And according to the park's website, a fire destroyed the park's Emerald City and damaged its museum in 1975, including Judy Garland’s original gingham dress from the film. By 1980 the park was no longer open to the public.
In its heyday, the Land of Oz featured a replica of Dorothy's Kansas farmhouse and a barn that housed a petting zoo, singing and dancing actors who portrayed Dorothy and her friends, a gift shop, restaurant, and live show that was performed every half hour, and a ski lift with cars that looked like hot air balloons, which would ferry visitors back to the "real world."
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