"!!! www.antiquevending.com : info@antiquevending.com : phone 828-962-9783 : "







! THE WIZARD OF OZ THEME PARK !



In 1970 Grover Jr, Harry and Spencer Robbins secured property atop Beech Mountian, a Ski resort near Banner Elk, North Carolina. They wanted to do something that would put the facilities to use during the long season when there was no snow and ice to attract skiers. For Jack Pentes a Charlotte North Carolina artist, had wanted to build a theme park based on L. Frank Baum's story "THE WIZARD OF OZ". Touring the Beech Mountain site with the Robbins, Pentes ws struck by the wind-deformed gnarled old trees and other exotic topography and quickly convinced the family members that their new attraction should be the Land of Oz. It basically gave visitors the experience of living the whole Oz adventure for themselves, beginning with a simulated cyclone inside Dorothy's storm cellar. The Yellow Brick Road meandered through various scenes from the story, climaxing in a visit to the Emerald City and an audience with the Wizard (who was not a fake, as he was revealed to be in the original story and film). Guest could then board a simulated hot air balloon ride for a circuit over the green burg below.


Fortunately for the Robbins family, during the planning of their Oz Park, the MGM movie studio announced a gigantic auction to clear out the decades of props and memorabilia that had accumulated over the studio's illustrious history. Spencer Robbins and an assistant attended the auction with the intention of buying everything they could afford that had been connected with the Oz film. They succeeded beyond anyone's reasonable expectations, although they did not end up owning one of the pairs of Dorothy's ruby slippers that ws a high point of the auction. According to Spencer Robbins, the Land of Oz made an agreement with MGM Debbie Renolds, who was also at the auction to secure items for her museum of old Hollywood artifacts. In exchange for her not bidding on the Oz material, Robbins promised that during the winter months, when the park was closed, the memorabilia would be loaned to her California museum. As it turned out, the expense of transporting such priceless goods was prohibitive, and once atop Beech Mountain, they never left. At least the thought counted, and Reynolds was a special guest at the park's opening on June 15, 1970, along with her later famous daughter, Carrie Fisher.


A botched robbery attempt in the last week of 1975 did not cause the loss of the movie props, but a fire that was apparently set to cover up the break-in gutted the Emerald City and otherwise made a mess out of Oz's future prospects. The Robbinses had sold the property by the time the park closed at the end of the 1980 operating season, and the scenery was left to rot and be plundered by souvenir hunters. After around fifteen years of such abuse, the property was acquired by the Emeral Mountain real estate development firm, and its executives have been tireless in promoting and restoring what remains of the Land of Oz. The crowds that show up for an annual salute to the park each October certainly seem to truly believe that there's no place like Oz.


Above description and story available in the book : THE LAND OF THE SMOKIES - GREAT MOUNTAIN MEMORIES by TIM HOLLIS.


We attended the 2008 Wizard of Oz annual celebration and brought home the great photos below the first week of October.










"!!! CLICK THE COLORED TEXT BELOW TO VIEW EACH PHOTO - THESE PHOTOS ARE CLEAR AND CRISP !!!"




"!!! LAND OF OZ PHOTOS !!!"



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