Popular Culture

Check Out The Real World Land of Oz in These Gorgeous Photos


Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 1.04.00 PMLong before there were Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter and a (rumored) Hunger Games theme park (terrible idea), there was a theme park called The Land of Oz, built on top of one of the United States’ tallest mountain peaks. The park let fans walk Dorothy’s red-heeled footsteps in The Wizard of Oz. 

The theme park in Beech Mountain, in North Carolina, was operational between 1970 and 1980, and allowed visitors to walk the yellow brick road, go up in a hot-air balloon, and meet their favorite movie characters. Unfortunately, the theme park shut down after ten years, owing to the owner Grover Robbins’ untimely death just six months after the park opened, and according to Emerald Mountain broker Cynthia Keller, economic issues.

“Changing times, economics, liabilities, maintenance, and other interests of its owners, along with the lack of change at OZ” all contributed to the closing of the park, Keller wrote. Now, the park is open only one weekend a year in October, making it a modestly popular Halloween destination. It may also be rented for birthday parties, personal tours, and private functions. Other than that, the park is eerily, beautifully deserted.

Photographer Seph Lawless took these haunting photos of the deserted theme park, and it’s easy to see why these photographs may contribute to this theme park’s possible renaissance:

Lawless took the photos for his book Bizarro, a compilation of photographs of abandoned theme parks across the nation. The Land of Oz is particularly striking.

“It sits hidden on top of a mountain, one of the highest mountain peaks in the eastern U.S., so being there was almost like entering another planet,” Lawless said. “It was surreal and completely beautiful.”

It also may see a surge in popularity. Since sharing the photos across his many social media outlets, Lawless has seen his photos go viral, causing the theme park to reopen. Ain’t that the awesome power of the internet?

Lawless shared one of his photos on Instagram, and posted a caption underneath describing the power of photography, and the way viral posts can cause real, substantial effects:

The abandoned Land of Oz is now reopened for Halloween and sold out twice as fast as last year and the Wall Street Journal reported recently it was because my images of this place went viral earlier this year. There are now talks to reopen it more days possible seasonal once again. Pretty cool images alone can do something like that but that’s a sober reminder of how powerful art can be. #CNN #nationalgeographic #nationalcomicbookday #pravana #limecrime #lifeisbeautiful

I, for one, would absolutely love to visit.

Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.

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