Have you ever wanted to walk the Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz? Well, your chance to walk that Yellow Brick Road, meet Dorothy, and so much more is just 3 hours from Upstate, SC. We have all the details on what to expect, where to eat, and where to stay when you head to the Land of Oz the last three weekends in September 2022.
This review is from 2019 but has been updated to reflect what is happening in September 2022.
A trip to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, is still a great option for socially distant fun, even if a trip to Oz isn’t in the plans for your family. You can Discover The Magic Of This Mountain Top Town Anytime Of Year.
Thank you to the town of Beech Mountain for providing the Land of Oz experience so that we could bring this story to our readers. All opinions are those of the writer.
How Did We End Up with a Land of Oz Just 3 Hours from Greenville, SC?
Over a hundred years ago, a children’s literature writer named L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a story that has stood the test of time. Twenty years after Baum’s death in 1919, The Wizard of Oz movie was released. Believe it or not, the movie was not a huge hit. They barely recovered their investment of nearly three million dollars. It wasn’t until almost twenty years after the movie’s release that it was broadcast on TV, which reigned interest in the movie.
In 1970, The Land Of Oz was opened under the guidance of the same man responsible for the Tweetsie Railroad. The park attracted 4,000 visitors on opening day and continued that success for the first year. Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events led to the closing of the park a after it opened, then the park fell into disrepair and only occasionally hosted private events.
The Reopening Of The Land Of Oz On Beech Mountain
Social media posts from urban explorers with photos of overgrown yellow brick paths and dilapidated structures were partially responsible for the re-interest in The Land Of Oz. Starting in 1988, a reunion of original park employees, known as the “Ozzies,” ignited the yearly re-openings, which has since become known as the Autumn at Oz Festival. The Land of Oz is now owned and operated by the Leidy family, under the artistic direction of Sean Barrett.
We were invited to experience the magic that is The Land Of Oz this year in honor of the 80th anniversary of the film (2019.) I’ve seen the movie too many times to count, plus I’ve hunted down those famous shoes in the Smithsonian. Yet somehow, I didn’t realize that I was such a fan until this trip.
What You Need to Know about the Land of Oz Before You Head To Beech Mountain
The Land of Oz is only open a handful of times a year. It traditionally opens in the summer for Journey with Dorothy and in September for Autumn in Oz.
If you are lucky enough to score tickets to this event, pack your bags and get ready to enjoy an adventure in a beautiful mountaintop town. You’ll also need to decide if you will be attending any other Oz events around town.
What to Wear: Your Wizard of Oz-Themed Costumes
If you are so inclined, you’ll need to plan your wardrobe for the trip. Dressing for the occasion isn’t mandatory. However, it makes it so much more fun. Dressing up doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It can mean Wizard of Oz T-shirts, a store-bought costume, or an inspired outfit. I saw lots of blue gingham and sparkly red shoes being worn, a nod to Judy Garland’s costume in The Wizard Of Oz. People who were dressed for the occasion definitely had more fun interacting with the characters. We decided to dress for the ball and the park. We went the creative route for the ball and turned clothes we already had into inspired outfits. For our morning in the park, we ordered custom t-shirts from Southern Inspired.
Where to Stay: The Pinnacle Inn
The Pinnacle Inn hosted us during our weekend in Beech Mountain. This condominium and rental property are right next to the Land of Oz parking area, making it easier to get there early. Driving times are deceptive on the mountain because the speed limit is slow for safety reasons. Something that is only a few miles away might be a 20 minute drive time. For that reason, I recommend staying as close as possible.
Our accommodations were beautifully decorated & recently renovated. There was plenty of room to spread out with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a full-size dining area. Our balcony overlooked the side of the mountain with a perfect view of the ski resort. The property includes an all-weather activity center with a pool, sauna, hot tub, and workout room. There was also a mini-golf course, shuffleboard, tennis, and a playground.
Where to Eat: Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria
On our first night on Beech Mountain, we had dinner at The Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria. The restaurant is run by two brothers who are second-generation restaurateurs. The menu has something for everyone, and they serve large portions at a reasonable price. We enjoyed pizza, hot wings, and a Greek salad. The very first thing I noticed when I took a bite of pizza was the sauce. Of course, no one wants to hear a New Yorker talking about the pizza from back home, so I’ll skip that as a courtesy to our readers. The sauce is homemade from crushed tomatoes. It tastes fresh and light, and you can tell from the first bite.
Another thing I noticed was everyone working at Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria was focused on helping the guests, and they seemed genuinely happy to do so, from the people taking care of the trash cans to the people helping with the orders. That says a lot about a place, in my opinion.
The Big Day: Visiting The Land of Oz on Beech Mountain
The time to visit the Land of Oz was finally here, and we were one of the first to arrive at the parking and ticketing area. It is suggested that you arrive 45-60 minutes before your ticketed time. Towards the front is the tent where the shuttle bus line starts. The park utilizes small charter-style buses and school buses used for other seasonal events. If you are lucky enough to be loaded onto a charter-style bus, you might be treated to a viewing of the Wizard of Oz movie during your approximately 20 minute trip up the mountain.
To Get to Oz First You Have to Go to Kansas
You will know you have arrived when you see Professor Marvel waiting to greet visitors. This section will be several vendors, The Gale home, the farm, and of course, Professor Marvel. Try to get a good seat on the hay bales in front of the barn; this is where the show will start. The farmhands perform a dance routine with Dorothy, which starts off a rotation of three short vignette shows in different parts of Kansas and then you will enter the Gale home. Next, Auntie Em will usher you into the storm cellar to escape the approaching tornado. When you exit at the other end, you will be in Oz.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Your journey on the yellow brick road consists of photo opportunities with characters including Glinda the Good Witch, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Wicked Witch of the West & Flying Monkeys. You will also encounter Winkies.
You will head up the trail towards a fountain. The banners here are great photo opportunities. From there, you will head further down the trail and see the Judy Garland Memorial Overlook. This is another great photo opportunity.
Get the best reactions if you want to make the most of the photo opportunities with characters, lines from the movie, or funny out-of-character interaction. These volunteers pose all day long with guests, and entertaining them with your knowledge of the movie will pay off on film. Take your time and interact with the characters. They will come up with witty responses on the spot, making the experience all the more magical.
- I asked the Scarecrow for his phone number on my cell phone, joking he was “my type”.
- My shirt had the Wicked Witch on it, so when I had the meet and greet with her I told her I didn’t like competition and we joked about it. Then I asked her to share her secrets.
- Because of my shirt and the witch hat I was wearing, the flying monkeys ran up to me making heart shapes with their hands.
- I wish I had thought to sit at the crystal ball with professor Marvel.
- There are several places where you can pretend to be asleep in a garden of poppies, we took them alone and with Glinda standing over us.
Your Final Destination: Emerald City
After you’ve traveled the yellow brick road, you’ll come upon the gate to the Emerald City. You’ll need to ring the bell to gain entrance. After you have satisfied the gatekeeper with your answers, the Emerald City awaits. This area has a tent-enclosed stage where characters recreate the last scene in the movie with the Wizard, and the cast will pose for photos with guests.
You will also find portable restrooms, souvenir vendors, and food vendors here. The Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria is there, along with vendors selling BBQ and vegan options. Once you exit the Emerald City, it’s back on the shuttle bus to the bottom of the mountain. Depending on your interactions with characters, it should take approximately two hours to tour the Land of Oz.
Hiking Emerald Mountain
If you want to explore Emerald Mountain on foot or bike, there are eight different trails in the Emerald Outback Trail System. The trails range from easy to advanced, and some trails serve as cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails in the winter months. If you choose to do this, please be mindful to stay on the marked trails. After the park originally closed, the family that owned the mountain started selling parcels off for homes to be built. No one ever expected the Land of Oz to be resurrected, and now residents of Emerald Mountain are very patient with tourists, so please respect that.
For more information on the trails and anything Beech Mountain-related, I encourage you to stop into the Beech Mountain Visitors Center when you enter the town.
Tips on Visiting Land of Oz
Get your tickets immediately when they go on sale on June 24th, 2022 as they will sell out fast.
Once you arrive in Kansas, you’ll see an area with portable restrooms. This will be your only chance to use the restroom until you arrive in Emerald City at the end of the journey.
Depending on your cell carrier, you will not have a cell signal at the top. If you don’t have a signal, or even if you do, turn your phone to airplane mode to conserve battery. If your phone is trying to find a signal the whole time, it will kill your battery.
Land of Oz is not stroller-friendly due to the uneven paths and steps so leave the stroller at home.
It is suggested that you arrive 45-60 minutes before your ticketed time in order to have time to get up the mountain in the shuttle.
Bring cash if you think you’ll want to purchase anything. Vendors at the top only take cash. Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria has an ATM inside and is adjacent to the parking lot.
Info & FAQ For The 2022 Autumn At Oz Events
New for 2022 Land of Oz event:
- Brand new costumes for all main cast members curated by Project Runway Season 1 runner-up, Austin Scarlett.
- A restoration of the original 1970s psychedelic artwork inside the interactive “Kansas Twister” scene.
- 8 enchanting performances along the Yellow Brick Road (This is the first time this has been the case since the park’s opening in 1970.)
- The recently-developed Over The Rainbow overlook showing a breathtaking five-state view.
- The refurbishing of one of the park’s original 1970s metal balloon set pieces
Land of Oz
1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain, NC 28604