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Land of Oz was the first-ever Wizard of Oz-based theme park to be constructed when brothers Grover and Harry Robbins of Carolina Caribbean Corporation put their plans into motion. On June 15, 1970, the park opened to the public, resulting in around 20,000 people showing up to join in on the fun. The day was kicked off when actress Debbie Reynolds, with daughter Carrie Fisher at her side, cut the opening-day ribbon. In no time, it was a national success, appearing in a variety of magazines such as the Washington DC Daily News, where it was named the “Outstanding Tourist Attraction of 1970.” Unfortunately, almost immediately as it rose to fame, though, a series of events would lead to its downfall.The public never lost interest in Oz, though, and in the early 1990s Emerald Mountain Realty took over the management of the property as they were constructing a residential gated community surrounding the old theme park. The original cast members from the park were invited back for a reunion in 1994, and the Leidy family proposed the idea to begin "Autumn at Oz." This is "an annual re-opening of Oz to the general public in order to meet demands to visit the former theme park" that is still kept up to this day.


  • Aerial view of Land of Oz
  • Land of Oz postcard circa 1970s
  • Land of Oz postcard circa 1970s
  • Land of Oz crew circa 1970s
  • Mushrooms in Oz
  • 1970s crew in Oz
  • Modern crew in Oz
  • Witch's castle in Oz
  • Entrance to Oz
  • Tree and path of Oz
  • Sunset in Oz

Land of Oz was the first-ever Wizard of Oz-based theme park to be constructed when brothers Grover and Harry Robbins of Carolina Caribbean Corporation put their plans into motion. They had created other resorts and attractions in Western North Carolina, such as Tweetsie Railroad, and were considering a way to utilize Beech Mountain when they conceived the idea of an Oz-inspired theme park. Symbolically, Ray Bolger -- the Scarecrow from MGM’s classic film -- broke ground on it in 1968, and for the next two years the Robbinses and Charlotte-based designer Jack Pentes worked on building the park upon the mountain without disturbing its natural beauty. They used a "child's perspective" on the park, and used the natural openings among the Beech trees to place the homes of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West's castle, the Emerald City finale amphitheater stage, and gift shops. All of this cost upwards of $5 million, or about $34 million by today's standards. 

On June 15, 1970, the park opened to the public, resulting in around 20,000 people showing up to join in on the fun. The day was kicked off when actress Debbie Reynolds, with daughter Carrie Fisher at her side, cut the opening-day ribbon. In no 
time, it was a national success, appearing in a variety of magazines such as the Washington DC Daily News, where it was named the “Outstanding Tourist Attraction of 1970.” It was also visited by popular celebrities of the day including Muhammad Ali, Anita Bryant, Jay North, and Charles Kurait. Along with strolling down the Yellow Brick Road to see such attractions as the homes of their beloved characters from the movie, visitors could also ride on a futuristic-looking ski-lift to the top of the mountain to see the view from its peak. By the end of its first season, the park had seen over 400,000 visitors. 

Almost immediately as it rose to fame, though, a series of events would lead to its downfall. In March of 1970, just before the park's opening to the public, Grover Robbins passed away from cancer. Without his passion behind the project, much of the money that would have gone to the park was dispersed elsewhere. Following this, 1973's gas crunch prevented many people from attending the park that year. Then, on top of all of this, a fire started in Emerald City, destroying much of the original structures including the amphitheater, shops, restaurant, and even the original dress Dorothy wore in the classic film. The park officially closed at the end of the 1980 season. 

The public never lost interest in Oz, though, and in the early 1990s Emerald Mountain Realty took over the management of the property as they were constructing a residential gated community surrounding the old theme park. The original cast members from the park were invited back for a reunion in 1994, and the Leidy family proposed the idea to begin "Autumn at Oz." This is "an annual re-opening of Oz to the general public in order to meet demands to visit the former theme park" that is still kept up to this day. 

“History in the Making...” Land of Oz™ | Original Theme Park, www.landofoznc.com/history.

Locker, Melissa. “Come Tour the Forgotten Wizard of Oz–Themed Amusement Park.” Travel + Leisure, www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/land-of-oz-amusement-park.