Follow the yellow brick road to the Land of Oz, Beech Mountain North Carolina’s mountain top theme park. In the 1970’s, the Land of Oz theme park was one of the most popular amusement parks in North Carolina, but closed due to increased competition from flasher theme parks in North Carolina with more thrill rides. But now the Wizard of Oz theme park has experienced a rebirth, and is welcoming visitors again. Now there’s more to Beech Mountain than just the ski resorts.
2020 Update: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the summer session of Land of Oz has been cancelled. It was supposed to be open on June 12, 19, 26 and July 2 and 3rd. It will NOT be open those dates. Currently, the plan is to still open for the 2020 Fall dates: September 11, 12, and 13 and 18, 19, 20. Check the website before making final plans and know that everything is subject to change.
Land of Oz Beech Mountain NC Theme Park
The abandoned Wizard of Oz theme park has come to life again with a yearly Wizard of Oz festival, Autumn at Oz, as well as a spring event called Land of Oz presents Journey worth Dorothy. If you are a Wizard of Oz fan, you need to put both of these events on your bucket list.
Land of Oz Beech Mountain NC Theme Park: Autumn at Oz
Every fall, Dorothy, the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow make a pilgrimage down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City.
Guests to Land of Oz, Beech Mountain take a ski lift through the clouds to an enchanted world where they can relive the magic of L. Frank Baum’s book the Wizard of Oz. If you’d rather, there are also buses that go from the Beech Mountain Ski Resort to the Land of Oz theme park.
To spread out the crowds (which can be formidable) tickets are timed and visitors must load for the trip to the Land of Oz during their timed session. So if you have a timed session from 9:30 – 10:30 am, you may arrive any time between 9:30 and 10:30 am.
Once you arrive at the Autumn at Oz Festival, you’ll find craft and food vendors, as well as entertainment. Bypass these folks for now, and get a ticket to enter Dorothy’s House. There can be a wait here, so you can use that time to peruse the vendors and crafts or watch the entertainment.
Note that fall can be cold and blustery at the Land of Oz. Beech Mountain weather is significantly warmer at the bottom of the mountain than at the Land of Oz theme park, which sits at the very top. So dress in layers and bring a jacket, even if it’s warmer at the base of the mountain. For current weather conditions, go to www.beachmountainchamber.com and click on weather.
For families with younger children or handicapped individuals, know Land of Oz theme park has uneven paths, ramps and stairs, and there fore is not wheelchair or stroller friendly. If you need additional assistance, consider one of the afternoon sessions. For young children, consider using a backpack rather than a stroller.
Land of Oz Beech Mountain NC Theme Park: Journey with Dorothy
2020 update: The summer session at Land of Oz has been cancelled for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The summer season brings another chance to visit the Land of Oz. Beech Mountain hosts a Family Fun Month, every June. Each day during the month there are family activities around town, plus lodging discounts like buy two nights, get the third free.
Whether you are visiting Beech Mountain in the fall for Autumn at Oz, or in the summer for Family Fun Month and the Land of Oz Beech Mountain theme park Journey with Dorothy event, plan to spend a few extra days and enjoy more of what Beech Mountain has to offer. In addition to the list below, check out our post on year-round fun at Beech Mountain.
Beyond Land of Oz, Beech Mountain Fun for All Ages
Mountain Biking the Emerald Outback: A summer in Breckenridge, CO got my boys into mountain biking and we were excited to tackle the Emerald Outback, eight miles of trails that wind through Beech Mountain. The Emerald Outback is the first phase of the Beech Mountain Adventure Trail Park, which will eventually include 25 miles of trails.
There is plenty of parking and easy access to the trail in the heart of Beech Mountain, next to the Brick Oven Pizzeria. Weather foiled our attempt to experience the trail, but I read some reviews on Single Tracks that give a decent overview of what you can expect. If you don’t have your own mountain bike, you can rent one from Magic Cycles.
Hiking at Beech Mountain – In addition to mountain biking along the Emerald Outback, we were excited to hike Beech Mountain and the 33 miles of trails in the beautiful North Carolina high country.
Buckeye Recreation Center. The Buckeye Recreation Center at Beech Mountain isn’t just for locals, visitors can use it too. This 22,500 square foot facility has indoor tennis, fitness room and classes, indoor basketball court and a foam mat filled room for the little kids. The Center offers an affordable daily pass fee schedule, as well as weekly, monthly and yearly passes.
Outside is an unusual playground built by Beanstalk Builders, the same folks that did the playground and zip line adventure course at Catawba Meadows Park in nearby Morganton NC (see below for more info on this playground) and the Beanstalk Forest TreeTop Challenge in Birmingham, AL.
The Buckeye Recreation Center has special programs throughout the year including guided hikes, and sports leagues. During summer months, rent a canoe from the Center and paddle around Buckeye Lake.
Hiking the Falls Trail Loop. The weather during our trip kept us from doing too much hiking, but the rain held off long enough for us to do the moderate 1.5 mile Falls Trail loop which starts at the Buckeye Recreation Center. We passed gorgeous waterfalls where families can cool off with a swim during the warmer summer months.
The trail ended at Buckeye Lake which is stocked with trout. Visit the rec center and borrow a fishing pole. You must provide your own bait, but that shouldn’t be too hard to find in the forest. Rumor has it the trout like corn, so maybe pick up a few ears at the Food Lion on your way in. Soon a crossover will connect the Falls Trail with a new section creating 15 miles of interconnected muti-use trails.
Grandfather Mountain: In nearby Linville, NC is Grandfather Mountain, home to the Mile High Swinging (or Singing) Bridge. The admission fee may seem steep at first, $18 per person ($8 per child), but there is a lot to do here and the views are stunning. Here’s more information on Grandfather Mountain.
Beech Mountain Club. This private country club on top of Beech Mountain opens it’s doors to guests during Beech Mountain’s family fun month in June. To access the club during other times of the year, rent a membership holding home or condo. Ask a local realtor for details. Members enjoy golf, tennis, pickleball, bocce ball courts, and an outdoor heated pool. In addition they have a wellness center, and recreation department that operates programs and events throughout the year.
Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria. After an afternoon at the Land of Oz, Beech Mountain favorite Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria is a must for dinner. Located in the heart of Beech Mountain, it also has an arcade and mini-golf course.
Beech Mountain Adventures. Hit the Emerald Outback trails on a guided ATV tour
Beech Mountain Resort. Beech Mountain Resort transitions from a snowy ski slope to a warm weather playground in the warmer months. The resort offers disc golf, scenic lift rides and mountain biking, including mountain bike lessons and equipment rental.
More Fun Near Land of Oz Beech Mountain
Beanstalk Journey: We visited Beech Mountain during our fall break, so we had three days to really explore. We started in Morgantown NC zipping through the trees at Beanstalk Journey Zip Line at Catawba Meadows. Beanstalk Journey is about an hour and a half from Beech Mountain and located within the Catawba Meadows public park, with ball fields on one side, picnic pavilions and unique playground on the other, so it’s easy to make a day of it.
The Beanstalk Journey is a guided course that incorporates ropes elements to get you up to the zips. No hand braking is required, so most zips are an easy fly through the trees. One of the best parts about this zip line is they allow children as young as 4-years-old to enjoy the entire adventure. The catch is kids under 70 pounds fly tandem, which didn’t bother either of the younger kids on our tour. Other zip lines we’ve been on limit younger kids to lower zips or ground level ropes elements. For younger children, the Beanstalk Playground at Catawba Park across the street is a perfect way to swing on the ropes a little closer to the ground.
Beanstalk Journey Great for Kids. Beanstalk Journey is a great family experience because none of the zips are too difficult and since there is no hand breaking, you don’t need to worry about younger ones pulling their arm out of the socket trying to stop themselves. It takes about an hour and a half to do the entire course, and ropes elements and climbing break up the adventure. It can get quite high though, the tallest point is about 50 feet into the clouds.
Other Activities at Catawba Park. In addition to the Beanstalk playground, picnic tables and ball fields, Catawba Park also has disc golf. Bring bikes with you and after your zip, ride along the Catawba Greenway. A paved bike path you can pick up at the park that goes along the river to downtown Morgantown.