All Images: EmeraldMtn.com
Once upon a time, there was a popular amusement park based entirely on The Wizard of Oz. Back in 1970, the appropriately-titled Land of Oz Theme Park opened its gates to tens of thousands of patrons.
Visitors could retrace the journey of Dorothy and her pals down the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City, encounter all their favorite characters, escape the clutches of the Wicked Witch, and even take a balloon ride with the Wizard... all within the scenic grounds of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, the site of a popular ski resort.
But it wasn't long before the fantasy turned into a nightmare.
After the death of its founder, Grover Robbins, and an unexplained fire that caused major damage to the site, the park finally closed its doors ten years later.
But that hasn't stopped thousands of people from making a pilgrimage to the park every October for a very different kind of “Oz-fest.”
In fact, this weekend (October 5th & 6th) marks the 20th anniversary of “Autumn at Oz,” which began as an annual gathering of former patrons and park employees to reminisce about its glory days.
The festival has grown in size each year, and is actually sanctioned by the property's owners, who restored much of the park in the '90s. Money raised at the event goes toward further preservation.
Find out more about Autumn at Oz – including more history and images of the park – at Emerald Mountain.