Have you ever seen something that was once magical that has turned to ruin? For a living, photographer Seph Lawless finds places like that — and his photographs of abandoned theme parks are absolutely haunting. But one of the most eerie places of all is the mostly defunct “Land of Oz” park in North Carolina.
The theme park in Beech Mountain operated from 1970 to 1980, and visitors could go to Dorothy’s farmhouse, go in a hot air balloon ride, and meet their fave characters from the film. During its first summer in 1970, the park had 40,000 visitors. However, according to Emerald Mountain broker Cynthia Keller, park owner Grover Robbins passed away six months before its opening, and “changing times, economics, liabilities, maintenance, and other interests of its owners, along with the lack of change at OZ, took their toll on the park,” she wrote on her website.
Now, other than birthday parties, personal tours, and private functions, the abandoned park is only open for one weekend in October. . . and you can totally see why. Very Halloween-y indeed:
“It’s a really unique place,” Seph told Fox 8. “It sits hidden on top of a mountain, one the highest mountain peaks in the eastern U.S., so being there was almost like entering another planet. It was surreal and completely beautiful.”
Some of the images can be seen on Seph’s Facebook page, but are also available in his book, Bizarro: The World’s Most Hauntingly Abandoned Theme Parks. “The attention I’ve been getting for my work has been great, and sharing my images is part of what I do,” Seph told Fox Carolina. “I want to raise awareness of these abandoned parts of my country. My art isn’t complete until it is shared, and this isn’t social media. It’s a social movement.”
These images send chills down our spines in the best way. It’s so fascinating to look at the remains of a once-bustling place from the past, and when it has a yellow brick road, it makes it all the more eerie.
(Featured image via MGM.)