The Land of Oz
In 1966, N.C. tourism moguls and brothers Grover, Harry, and Spencer Robbins began exploring ways to utilize their new ski facilities on Beech Mountain during the summer. They brought in their associate, Jack Pentes, to come up with an idea. As a long-time Wizard of Oz movie fan, Pentes planned and developed the Land of Oz theme park. It opened in June 1970. The park didn’t resemble the famous 1939 MGM movie or the Oz as depicted in L. Frank Baum’s book. Instead, Pentes interpreted his own imaginative vision of Oz, with a comical Wicked Witch and a wizard who wasn’t a fake. There were hot air balloon rides, a theatre, tour guides dressed like Dorothy and a yellow brick road. The Land of Oz closed after its 1980 operating season and was left to deteriorate. Since 1990, however, its remnants have been restored and the property is available for special events. A giant Oz celebration takes place each autumn. Softcover, 96 pages, 200 color images, $22.99; various e-books available, $7.99 (Amazon.com’s Kindle store).
More unusual North Carolina histories