Last weekend, I chose to follow the yellow brick road back to my childhood. In the mountains of North Carolina, there is a Land of Oz! At the top of Beech Mountain, you can take a trip to see Dorothy, the witch, and all the little munchkins. Everyone is welcome, and you can even dress up if you want to. Originally, I thought the Land of Oz was just for children, but I was amazed at all the adults I witnessed dressed up as the beloved characters of the Wizard of Oz.
The life size walk-through brought smiles to faces of all ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Members of the cast are in each section and they pose for photo ops and interact with all the visitors. As I walked alongside the kids, I was infected by their smiles, laughter, and childlike wonder. It was so easy to think back to when I was younger and excited to meet dressed up characters, especially at Disney World.
Land of Oz was a mini Disney World, but it's set in Kansas and the Emerald City. If you or a child loves the Wizard of Oz, I highly recommend you check out this event. They do not put this on year long, so you need to check the website for what time will suit you best. The Autumn of Oz is always held in September. The website can be found here.
My mom brought the idea up several months ago, and I was all for it. As we walked the yellow brick road together, she told me of the time she first came. She unintentionally wore red tennis shoes, and the actors tried to tell her that the Wicked Witch was going to come after her. When we are kids we believe this type of thing, and as we grow up, we have two options: play along or ruin the fun.
I remember riding the school bus in elementary school and older kids shouting that Santa Clause was just a lie. They attempted to spoil the fun for the younger children. But why? Why do we feel the need to ruin the magic for kids that believe in Santa or their favorite childhood characters?
Peter Pan had never wanted to grow up. And I understand why.
Now, that I am a legal adult, I wish that I didn't know some of the things I did. I wish I hadn't experienced some situations. I wish I was still the six-year-old with the ability to believe that princesses, flying carpets, and genies were still real.
I was heartbroken when I was finally told about Santa. I was angry. Deep down, I had known, but didn't want to accept it. I just wasn't prepared for the magic to end. I made a vow to not be the one to ruin it for any other child,unlike those rude kids on the school bus.
Now, I can see both sides. As an adult, I know the truth behind fantasy worlds, but yet I keep going back to revisit the places my heart loved as a child. Memory lane is a powerful thing, and just because the spell was broken, the magic doesn't have to fade.
So, click your heels three times. Believe in pixie dust. Call on the genie for your three wishes. It's okay to grow up, but growing up doesn't mean you have to forget. Theme parks recreate the magic of childhood for the adults, and we too can have just as much fun, if not more, than the younger ones seeing it for the first time. Take an adventure that you can keep reliving.