This weekend, the town of Beech Mountain was transformed into the magical Land of Oz, a place few get the chance to visit each year.
The Land of Oz was a full-time theme park at Beech Mountain in the 1970s, but was abandoned within the same decade. Since 2009, the park reopens for one weekend each fall.
Last weekend proved to showcase the event’s immense success as both days sold out completely.
The Land of Oz and its characters come from the famous story by L. Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The book was published in 1900 and since, has become a classic.
William Purcell, a lecturer of the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University, teaches a first year seminar centered around the story and encouraged students and friends of students to attend the event.
“It’s a natural fit for us as a class to look at the history and connections of this Oz-themed park not only as one interpretation of Oz, but as a piece of cultural history for this area,” Purcell said.
Over 100 years later, the story is still widely loved by people of all ages.
“I have always loved The Wizard of Oz, and since it is only open one weekend a year, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” said freshman music therapy major Alyssa Blackburn.
Taking a bus or the ski lift up to the elevation of 5,500 feet at the top of Beech Mountain is where the journey in Oz begins. A walk through Dorothy’s house followed by getting caught in the historic “Wizard of Oz” cyclone simulation brings visitors onto the Yellow Brick Road.
Along the way, participants meet the iconic characters still famous today: Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West and the man behind the curtain – the Wizard.
“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the characters dressed in exquisite costumes along the Yellow Brick road,” said Peyton McAvoy, a freshman marketing major.
In addition to the classic characters along the Yellow Brick Road, crowds witnessed munchkins, flying monkeys and Winkie guards, completing the full effect of the Land of Oz.
Story: Andrea Santoyo, Intern A&E Reporter