Snapshots Sunday: Land of Oz

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We're Off...Image One
Flag at the Entrance
Image is from the early 1970s
09-08-2017

In September of 2017, I paid a visit to a place I had not seen since I was about six years old…the Land of Oz. I remember bits and pieces of the trip. My parents took me in 1972 and two of my strongest memories are of riding on the balloon ride (a converted ski-lift) in a blinding mountain rainstorm and the wet ride in a bus, with no windows, down the mountain, leaving. For years, I wondered what had become of that park.

Originally opening on June 15, 1970, it was a grand place to visit and managed to stay open for a decade, even after a fire in 1975, before falling into disrepair and abandonment. Many things were stolen, vandalized or left to nature.

Appalachian State University had a cultural museum, at one time, that showcased saved pieces from the park including the yellow bricks, some munchkin houses, costumes, parts of the witch’s castle and other assorted props. All artifacts were eventually returned to the park.

In 1991, the park was included in a celebration for Independence Day for Beech Mountain. Watauga High School students dressed in costume. Emerald Mountain, Inc., purchased the property in 1994 and a slow restoration began. An “Autumn at Oz” was started as a reunion for former employees and became a yearly event. By 2010, the park drew 8,000 people.

By the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz movie, 12,000 guests had come through in June of 2019. I have tons of pictures of this place, old and new and, I will be posting them over time. ~Vic

Oz Sign Image Two
Picture snapped in the 90s
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty

Land of Oz (Official Website)

19 thoughts on “Snapshots Sunday: Land of Oz

    Dayphoto said:
    May 24, 2021 at 10:00 AM

    Fun!

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      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 24, 2021 at 11:28 AM

      Heh. It wasn’t much fun as a kid, I’ll say and my parents were none too thrilled. The revisit was interesting. Even with much of the restoration, there was so much missing compared to photographs of the past. Going at six and returning at 51, it was a new experience. Sadly, it is not the theme park it once was. Now, it is just nostalgia.

      Liked by 1 person

    bayphotosbydonna said:
    May 24, 2021 at 12:12 PM

    I have never heard of this place. Just jumped to the official website, then their facebook. This is pretty cool, I’m going to keep this in mind if we venture through the area!

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      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 24, 2021 at 1:01 PM

      With your travels, you could swing by and visit. Beech Mountain is THE highest town, geologically, east of the Rockies, at 5,506 feet. It straddles Avery & Watauga counties. In the winter, the roads leading up to Oz are part of Beech Mountain skiing. The mountain usually gets 80 inches of snow on average. A close childhood friend & classmate graduated from Lees-McRae College in neighboring Banner Elk. Beautiful campus.

      Liked by 1 person

    The Conductor said:
    May 27, 2021 at 2:24 AM

    Huh, interesting. Never really heard of it before… the costumes look like they gave a few kids some bad dreams, don’t they!

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      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2021 at 3:18 AM

      The early 70s shots are kinda on the creepy side. When I returned in 2017, the costumes were really close to the movie.

      Liked by 1 person

    badfinger20 (Max) said:
    May 27, 2021 at 8:12 PM

    I would have loved to see it in the seventies. Do they have anything left over from then?

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      The Hinoeuma responded:
      May 27, 2021 at 8:31 PM

      Oh, yeah. I don’t know what the percentage is of what was saved and what was stolen/destroyed. I’ve never seen any stats.

      Speaking of destroyed, did you happen to catch that Lone Justice’s original material was lost in the 2008 UMG fire?

      Liked by 1 person

        badfinger20 (Max) said:
        May 27, 2021 at 8:34 PM

        I will admit if I would have gone there when it was abandoned…I would have taken something lol…
        Yea that sucks about all of that music that was lost

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          The Hinoeuma responded:
          May 28, 2021 at 12:23 AM

          My childhood friend/classmate Hank went to Lees-McRae College. He made a remark years ago about going over there and snatching some yellow bricks.

          Liked by 1 person

            badfinger20 (Max) said:
            May 28, 2021 at 12:37 AM

            I don’t blame him! I would cherish that!

            Speaking of the 70s…Oh…I didn’t tell you…Jen got me something for fathers day…. she got me some art by Virgil Thrasher…he painted on glass…they are like shadow boxes…look some up…they are really really cool. I got 3 pictures

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