Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Last weekend, a few of my family members and I went up into the North Carolina mountains to find Oz. From our home, it’s about 5 hours away…and quite a bit colder. In fact, it was a breezy 40 degrees at best on Saturday afternoon on the Yellow Brick Road. Nonetheless, we had a great time. If you plan on going and don’t want to see how the whole thing plays out, stop looking now. 7F1A7590 RSThe Land of Oz, the theme park, was opened in 1970 at Beech Mountain with the intention of turning the ski resort area into a year-round family attraction. Visitors could once enjoy tours conducted by Oz characters, and experience everything from Kansas to tornado to the meeting the characters on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. After 10 years, the park closed. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that former employees started returning to Oz as a sort of Reunion…and later using Autumn at Oz as a celebration open to the public once weekend a year. According to their Facebook page, this year, tickets sold out fairly quickly. Autumn at Oz Map The experience starts after you take a short bus right all the up the mountain. We had a quick  bite to eat before going through the gate and following a path that led us to Dorothy’s farm. This path was NOT stroller friendly and I was quite certain that my brand new stroller might be put to rest while there. Luckily, it held up! 7F1A7593 RSAlong this path, we ran into Professor Marvel. You’ll notice that I made my niece, Alyssa, pose with all the characters. I had very low expectations of Felicity posing with anyone, but Alyssa was up for having her picture made at every stage of the game. If you can’t tell, she’s dressed as a cold-weather prepared Glenda the Good Witch. 7F1A7600 RSThis particular path dumped us out at a marketplace that offered souvenirs, snacks, music, dancing and a lot of waiting. We could wait in 1 of 2 lines. One line went towards the museum (we waited a while in this line), the other was for Dorothy’s house…but you couldn’t officially wait in the line for Dorothy’s house until your number (one that we got when we arrived) was called. Felicity fell asleep while we waited. 7F1A7601 RS Alyssa posed with Ms. whatshername…you know the one who turns into the wicked witch, just outside of Dorothy’s house. She kept staring down another version of Dorothy and Toto – and told us that THAT dog would be hers by night’s end. Very authentic. 7F1A7602 RSThe wait to see Dorothy’s house seemed to take forever – you can’t even really tell how long the line is from this photo, but we finally went in. While inside, we met Auntie Em…just before going into a “tornado” experience. Remember how I said that Felicity had fallen asleep? Well, the tornado takes place in the house’s basement, which means a lot of narrow stairs. Again, not stroller friendly. Had she been awake, I would have had her aunt or cousin carry her while I carried the stroller, but we just lifted the whole thing and carried her down. DOWN. DOWN. 7F1A7603 RSAnd after a while, we finally came out on the other side. The munchkin coroner was there to show evidence that the Wicked Witch of the East was dead – and we saw her legs and feet to prove it. 7F1A7605 RSWe were greeted by yet another Dorothy and Glenda. 7F1A7607 RS 2Interestingly enough, the wind wasn’t nearly as active on this side of Oz and Felicity was awake. Not that you can tell. 7F1A7615 RSMunchkins were played by young children. This one little girl was quite entertaining. She asked Alyssa if she was Glenda…and then told her that she left her radiator on…pointing at Glenda’s giant bubble on a hill. 7F1A7614 RSOther munchkins stood by to pose for the camera. 7F1A7619 RSA short walk up the yellow brick road and we ran into the Scarecrow. Interestingly, he has a brilliant brain. He obviously posed with Alyssa, but when he saw Felicity laying in her stroller, he couldn’t resist and offered to stand behind her so that she wouldn’t notice. I thought it was a genius idea! 7F1A7625 RSBy the way, the rumors are true…there are lions in this forest. 7F1A7627 RSThen we saw the Tin Man and Lion. The Lion was darling. In fact, we later had a conversation about why I think that Autumn at Oz should be in September. He disagreed. Felicity loves looking at the Lion’s photo. She may not have wanted to have her picture taken with him, but she sure wants to talk about him. Roar. 7F1A7647 RSYou’d never know by the look on her face that she’s having fun. So cold. 7F1A7644 RSA few more steps and we’d reached the witch’s “castle.” The line to see the wicked witch was rather long and we were cold, so we opted out, but here you see her guards and those pesky monkeys. 7F1A7648 RSOh, here you can see a bit of that line. I’m actually amazed that there is any room on the road that isn’t filled with people 7F1A7640 RSThat line led us to the waterfall, where I pulled Felicity out into the cold hoping to get one photo of her in costume. 7F1A7636 RSI guess I didn’t specify that I wanted a happy shot. Oh how I love these cry face photos. In all fairness, it was really cold outside, so I took the photo and then bundled her back up. 7F1A7651 RSWe were almost at the end of the road when all of the characters appeared for a photo op. Yes, I did jump in for a photo, but I didn’t even bother handing over my big girl camera. 7F1A7656 RSAnd on our way out, we ran into a purple horse – now that…that’s a horse of a different color! 7F1A7657 RSSo, that’s it. We had a wonderful experience and I’m so glad we decided to go. Now, if you love what you see here and are considering going, here’s a few tips:  
    1. Don’t bring a stroller. While it was useful, the trail really isn’t stroller or wheelchair friendly. 
    2. In fact, don’t bother bringing super young kids. Felicity was a bit too young. 3…maybe even 4 is the youngest I would bring along (although 2 and under is free).
    3. Do bring your camera. Take a lot of photos!
    4. Do interact with the characters. I wish we had done more of this.
    5. Dress in layers. It’s super cold up on the mountain. Wear gloves, hats, warm socks/shoes, etc. Do no underestimate the power of the wind.
    6. Go early or go on Sunday (instead of Saturday). We went on Saturday afternoon (arriving right at lunch). It was jammed packed.
    7. Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours walking the yellow brick road (including wait times and all).
    8. Park in parking lot 2 – that’s where the bus picks up and drops off.
    9. HAVE FUN!
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