The Wizard of Oz theme park in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, opens just a couple of times a year, so if you want to visit the merry old Land of Oz, get your tickets early. Of course, the most significant event is the Autumn at Oz Wizard of Oz festival in the fall, which always sells out.
If you’re a Wizard of Oz fan, the experience is second to none. You won’t find anything like this anywhere else in the world, so put it on your US travel and North Carolina travel bucket list!
A Brief History of the Beech Mountain Theme Park
The Land of Oz theme park opened in 1970 and quickly became one of the most popular theme parks on the East Coast. Unfortunately, its run only lasted ten years before it closed and fell into disrepair.
However, in 1988, a group of original park employees (“Ozzies”) initiated the park’s revival with the idea of opening it for special events: private tours in the spring and the popular Autumn at Oz Festival in the fall. Tickets sell out every year, so they were definitely onto something!
2023 Autumn at Oz Dates
- September 8-10
- September 15-17
- September 22-24
Here’s what you can expect during the Autumn at Oz Festival: Getting There/Arrival
PARKING – Downtown Beech Mountain Meadow. 886 Elderberry Ridge Rd Beech Mountain, NC 28604
ARRIVAL – Arrive about 30 minutes before your ticket time. There are a variety of activities to enjoy before you take your shuttle up to the park. However, I recommend making a beeline for the shuttle and enjoying the other activities after you visit the merry old Land of Oz.
AUTUMN AT OZ TICKETS – Both printed tickets and e-tickets are accepted at check-in, but WiFi is unreliable, so I highly recommend printing out your ticket vouchers. You’ll receive a festival wristband at check-in.
BRING CASH – Most vendors request cash, primarily due to unreliable WiFi.
WEATHER – The weather in the Land of Oz theme park is not the same as on Beech Mountain, so be prepared. Dress in layers; it’s typically cooler in the park but warms up on sunny days.
Hop on the Shuttle to the Park
Your ticket time is your shuttle boarding time. You can board up to one hour before your ticket time and up to 30 minutes after. Then, the shuttle takes you to the top of the mountain, where your Land of Oz theme park adventure will begin.
Welcome to Kansas
Your Oz adventure begins at the Kansas farmstead, where there are plenty of photo ops and things to see. (Hint: Save the farmhouse for last.) You’ll find Professor Marvel, Almira Gulch (eeks!), the barn with Hunk, Zeke, and Hickory at work, Auntie Em’s house, Dorothy, and her beloved Toto.
The show begins at the barn and continues at the farmhouse. Part of the story is acted out, and Dorothy sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
At any point during your Kansas visit, grab a timed entry ticket for Auntie Em’s house but make sure you’ve seen everything before you enter because you’re on your way to Oz, and there’s no coming back. (That heel-clicking trick doesn’t seem to work for anyone but Dorothy!)
Auntie Em’s House
The lovely Auntie Em welcomes you into her cozy home, and what a delight it is to be there until the tornado hits and things go topsy-turvy. Literally.
When the storm ends, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Oh, and there’s a dead witch under the house.
The good news is that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead. The bad news is that her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, may question your involvement in her sister’s death.
You’ll probably hear her before you see her on the porch; her evil laugh is unforgettable!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Now begins the most exciting part of your Autumn at Oz experience. It feels as if you’ve been transported to Oz as you follow the yellow brick road.
The park’s design blends in seamlessly with the mountain’s natural environment, so you’ll wander through a forest of trees, mossy boulders, rocky overlooks, and an actual waterfall with special Wizard of Oz touches throughout.
There are so many fun things to see!
Meet all the Characters
You’ll encounter many of your favorite Oz characters for fun photo ops: Glinda, the Good Witch, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Munchins, flying monkeys, Winkie Guards, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Dorothy.
You’ll notice (but kids probably won’t) that several actors for each character rotate positions in the park regularly.
Guests line up for photos with the characters, but if seeing them is enough for you, you can skirt on past and ease on down the road. But watch out for the poison poppies!
Gates of Emerald City
When you reach the gates to Emerald City, the gatekeeper tells you to ring the bell, but when you do, he tells you the bell is broken, and you need to knock. 😉
Inside Emerald City
A fire burned the original Emerald City, and the land was sold as residential property, so the new Emerald City doesn’t have the wow factor it once did. Instead, it’s merely a tent… womp, womp.
But, the tent has themed food snacks, a gift shop, and a 15-minute show that wraps up the Wizard of Oz story. The wizard presents Dorothy’s friends with their well-earned rewards, and she’s sent back home to Kansas. It’s a fun way to end your day at Autumn at Oz!
When the show ends, you’ll board a shuttle that will take you back down the mountain.
Land of Oz Museum
If you didn’t stop at the museum before taking the shuttle up to the park, now’s your chance to do so. Explore the park’s history, costumes and props up close.
Tips for Visiting The Land of Oz
- The entire park is family-friendly (although little ones may be scared of some of the characters. I remember the wicked witch used to frighten me as a child… and she’s still terrifying.)
- Express your fandom in costume. There are lots of little Dorothys and Glindas, but I saw adults dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes as well.
- Bring your camera. The photo ops are endless!
- Unfortunately, the path through the park is uneven, with many steps, so it’s not a stroller or wheelchair-friendly attraction.
- You can move through the park at your own pace; stay an hour or two or stay the whole afternoon.
- Also, see the Getting There/Arrival tips above.
- Visit the Land of Oz website to purchase tickets.
- Brand new costumes for all main cast members curated by Project Runway Season 1 runner-up Austin Scarlett.
- 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 showcases a breathtaking 5-state view.
- The refurbishing of one of the park’s original 1970s metal balloon set pieces.
- An additional third weekend has been added to the schedule (Sept. 8-10, Sept. 15-17, Sept. 22-24)