Ever since The Wizard Of Oz wowed the world on the big screen back in the late 1930s, America has been obsessed with the story. Authors have used the story to create spinoffs that have become sensations in their own right – Wicked, for example. But when The Land of Oz theme park opened in North Carolina back in the 1970s, it could not sustain itself. The park closed officially in the 1980s after a fire destroyed it in 1975.
Hundreds of thousands of guests got to walk the yellow brick road in the park every year, including Muhammad Ali, the famous boxer. But now the park will reopen its doors this summer to welcome fans of the 1939 musical for six days only. And as you can imagine, people are dying to get into the theme park.
The park also had a museum paying tribute to the movie. But thieves broke into it and stole many of the original costumes including Judy Garland’s iconic blue gingham dress.
The park has been closed for about four decades. But now the doors to the park on Beech Mountain in North Carolina will delight guests with guided tours, by Dorothy herself, which forces guests to play roles from the film including the Wicked Witch of the West and the Scarecrow.
“With Dorothy as your guide, you will skip down the yellow brick road through the magical Land of Oz,” the park’s website states. “You or other members of your group are randomly selected to play the characters of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, Witch, and Glinda. This is a completely immersive interactive experience.”
If you’re looking for a park with thrilling rides, then the Wizard of Oz park is not for you. But if you’re a mega fan of the movie and Dorothy, then you need to get your ticket before they are sold out.
When the park opened in June 1970, actress Debbie Reynolds was present for the ribbon cutting. And at the time, she brought her daughter Carrie Fisher for an excursion into the park.
The Wizard of Oz theme park was a hit with tourists. 400,000 people came to visit that first summer.
But when the fire ruined the park, and the oil crisis left America on the verge of economic despair, the park was closed officially in 1980. While the owners held on hopes of reopening the park to the public throughout the 1990s, they only allowed a handful of private events, like expensive weddings, to be held there.
As “urban exploration” has become popular, fans have broken into the park to take pictures of the eerie property. But the park owners want the public to know that it is not abandoned and is located on private property. But that “warning” has only caused more people to break in and take photos.
These “hobbyists” have stolen many of the treasures from the park including many of the 44,000 bricks in the iconic yellow road.
Tickets for the park are available for $25 for the June opening. And when the park opens again in September and October, more people can enjoy it. Those tickets will start selling this summer.