The Wizard of Oz is an American classic. But with its surreal setting, strange characters, and a villain that’s given countless children nightmares for generations, there is so much underlying creepiness to it!
Nothing exemplifies this dichotomy better than the Land of Oz theme Beech Mountain, North Carolina. First opened in 1970, they probably thought that it would be a charming family attraction. But when it closed in 1980, the abandoned park became something else entirely…
Unfortunately, sales dipped dramatically in the following years, and in 1980, the park went out of business.
The developers hoped to make the park a year-long attraction, even though it was built on an old ski resort. The chairlift was used to simulate a “hot air balloon ride.”
Now, the park is in ruins. The props and sets that did not suffer the effects of natural elements were looted and vandalized.
Many of the 44,000 yellow bricks that made up the Yellow Brick Road have been stolen.
The park simulated Dorothy’s journey through Oz.
Visitors started their quest at this house, which is meant to be Uncle Henry and Auntie Em’s home in Kansas.
As visitors went through their journey, they met several characters from the story, including the Tin Man, The Wicked Witch Of The West, The Scarecrow, and this creepy Cowardly Lion.
There is something deeply disturbing about these munchkins.
Once visitors got to the end of the Yellow Brick Road and reached the Emerald City, they were treated to a show by actors and other park employees.
Though the park was inspired by the book more than the movie, The Land Of Oz did have a number of genuine props from the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. The park even had a small museum for these pieces of history.
Unfortunately, in 1975, several of these props, including the original dress worn by Judy Garland in the film, were destroyed in a fire that consumed the Emerald City.
With its fog and shade, the park’s creepiness is complimented by a surreal sort of beauty. Several people recognized this, so every June and July (as well as some Fall dates), volunteers and other workers reopen the park.
If you really want to experience the magic of Oz first hand in all its creepy, surreal glory, you’re not going to find it in Kansas.
Just head to Beech Mountain, North Carolina!
For all the work that is being done to get the park back in shape, I can’t imagine spending more than 5 minutes there before thinking “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”
I think I’d be too freaked out to actually visit The Land of Oz, but I can’t deny its otherworldly beauty. It’s great that it’s found a new lease on life!
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