theme park

Shutterbug Saturday: Land of Oz 2.0

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Land of Oz Book Image One
Image Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty

Previous Post: Land of Oz

When the Land of Oz opened, Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, were on hand for the ribbon cutting. Sadly, the owner of the park, Grover Cleveland Robbins, Jr., passed away due to cancer in March, prior to the opening in June 1970. His brother Harry carried on in their company Carolina Caribbean Corporation. Robbins created the Tweetsie Railroad Wild West Amusement Park.

Their father, Grover Cleveland Robbins, Sr., was the Mayor of Blowing Rock, NC (several terms), served as the postmaster, started the Chamber of Commerce in 1922 and helped start the first high school there. Our Blue Ridge Parkway, here in NC, is because Robbins, Sr., was sent to Washington, D.C., by our, then, Governor, to make sure it would not be built in Tennessee.

The designer of the Theme Park was Jack Pentes, a Korean War veteran and, creator of Carolina Clowns and soft-play equipment.

Carrie Fisher Jack Pentes Debbie Reynolds Image Two
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Jack Pentes Image Three
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Harry Robbins Debbie Reynolds Jack Pentes Image Four
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty
Harry Robbins Debbie Reynolds Image Five
Photo Credit: Emerald Mountain Realty

Land of Oz (Official Site)

Additional Reading:
Five Interesting Things (North Carolina Field & Family)
That Abandoned Wizard of Oz Theme Park? (Popsugar)
Ribbon Cutting: The Robbins Trail (Watauga Democrat)

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)