Right up there on DC’s ‘fandom’ meter with all things Disney is the Wizard of Oz. I can not really put my finger on how, when or where this fixation developed as it is not a Disney production, but it certainly did. DC owns every version of every book, movie and soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz.
There is nothing that would make him happier than a visit to OZ.
As I mentioned in Part One of this post (Hello Dolly)
Dollywood the day before worked out so, so much better than expected (with the exception of the ‘Mommy-Meltdown’) – so we were excited to get to “the Mountain of Oz’ – as DC calls it. I was still a bit apprehensive about the bus ride to the top, but I realized quickly that most of the mountain drive was by car.I discovered a festival in Kansas called, you guessed it – The OZ Fest. The OZ fest is held in late September, not October, but still close enough to count as our Halloween trip. The OZ fest was the plan for this year’s Halloween get-away. That WAS the plan….. until we calculated the cost of the flights, rental car and hotel for the weekend and realized that it was almost equivalent to booking a cruise for a week.
Plan discarded…………… (for now)
But now I had OZ on the brain and I was not going to give up the notion of getting DC to OZ. I remembered seeing photos that my sister-in-law posted from an OZ event that they had attended a few years back. It was at Beech Mountain, North Carolina. I facebooked her to get more details. She told me that this event was very popular, but only open for ONE weekend each year; this year on October 3, 4 and 5. Tickets had to be purchased in advance. and I was told that it sold out very quickly.
I didn’t realize that DC had packed his watch and was wearing it in the car. I only did realize when we started getting minute by minute updates from the back seat:
“Mom, it is Eight-‘Firty’- Seven, we have to find Uncle ‘Liar’ -
“Mom, it is Eight-‘Firty’ – eight, we have to find Uncle ‘Liar’ -
and so on……….
DC has a difficult time pronouncing most of my brothers’ names. Uncle Larry, is ‘Uncle Lally’ (he can pronounce “Harry” and “Mary” but for some reason “Larry” is impossible for him). Uncle Lyle is ‘Uncle Liar’. He always could pronounce Ted and Skip – or so I thought. He does pronounce “Ted” correctly, but at one point I realized that all this time, he was really calling Skip, Uncle ‘Scamp’ – it sounded so much like ‘Skip’ all of the times that he’s said it that I didn’t realize he was actually calling him ‘Scamp’ until he wrote it down one day.
We arrived at the sky-resort where we were to catch the bus. We met “Uncle ‘Liar’, my sister-in-law and my niece in the parking lot. IT WAS COLD!!!!! My brother was disappointed that we were not in costume (they were not, but he knows me well). My title of “Queen of the Costume” was now tarnished, forever!
(Did I mention that it was COLD!!!???)
- I have to give props to the “Autumn at Oz” people for sending out more than one e-mail to let ticket holders know just how cold it was excepted to be. This would not have occurred to me and thanks to them, we were prepared – But still….. IT WAS COLD!!!
We had a little time after we checking in to have some hot chocolate and coffee. There was a couple of buildings open for us to go and get warm while we waited.
Needless to say the Italian Ice vendor outside did not do very well on this day. Hopefully he did better on Sunday.
After our hot chocolate/coffee/heat break, we went out to board the bus. We were first in line for our bus, which means we would be seated all the way in the back. My sister in law gets a bit of motion sickness, made worse by riding in the back. She and my brother were allowed to take the front seat, while DC and I took one seat in the back and my niece and Doug took the other, a decision my niece would soon regret.
- Now we were “Defying Gravity” on our ride up to the top of the mountain -
- while desperately trying to “Keep away from the Jitterbug” -
- to “Ease on down the Road”, -
- on our journey to reach “The Merry Old Land of Oz”.
I will never be able to describe the look on my niece’s face, ever. I told Doug that he was embarrassing her, but that is what he lives for. The look on her face was priceless and although I felt sorry for her, I just could not stop laughing. She was just mortified. Not being able to stop laughing actually distracted me from the ride that I had been so apprehensive about. I will never forget that face and even now as I’m writing, I am laughing.
Exiting the bus; we soon ran into Dorothy and Toto sitting near a fountain. I have to hand it to these characters, it was so cold but they never let on, one would never know by looking at them that they were freezing.
(It was never my intention to turn this post into a visual tour, but I can not help myself. It was impressive.)
We followed the path and came upon Professor Marvel. He warned us all about the storm that was predicted to come through at any time!
We continued on the path to Kansas and where we would hopefully find shelter from the oncoming twister.
We found the Gale farm. While waiting to get into the house, Dorothy saw DC waving to her through the crowd. She walked into the crowd to greet DC and launched into the whole spiel – She was very nervous. Miss Gulch tried to take Toto for chasing her cat. She needed to find Auntie Em to protect her and Toto from Miss Gulch.
“If you see Auntie Em, please tell her I need help”
DC ate it up. He felt as if he was a part of the story.
Heading into Dorothy’s house, the Ruby Slippers were on display and a band played on the front porch.
Once inside we found Auntie Em and DC relayed the message from Dorothy. Auntie Em was thankful and told DC that if he saw her again, please tell Dorothy to come home.
But we had to hurry to the cellar……. the storm was fast approaching!
“The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch*. … “
Half way down the stairs on the way to the storm cellar and partially through the ‘twister’ DC said, “I am getting very nervous about this” but he continued through the dark through the storm. When the storm was over, we found the house a mess and the floors topsy turvy – it was hard to stand up straight.
We walked outside to hear the Mayor declaring the Wicked Old Witch, dead!
“It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch, Which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch”*
DC was happy to be out of the house and excited as he was now realizing that the journey we were on was moving in order, right along with the story. The Yellow Brick road would be coming into view shortly.
We rounded the corner and there we met Glinda. Glinda, in DC’s eyes is equivalent to a Princess. She has “princess status” in his world. He is always happy when Glinda appears, and now he would be meeting her in person!
Onward through Munchkin Land .
– Along the way we came across every character that resides in the Land of Oz – good and evil.
I can’t say enough about the actors that played these characters. I am told that they are all volunteers. These people were impressive. They were definitely “Disney-Caliber”. Not only were they out there all day, in costume, in the cold, but they never broke character. A few even burst into song.
Let me tell you, if DC decides to throw a line at you, you better be able to respond, in character and correctly. Believe me, his interaction with the Oz characters was no different that his conversations with ‘his’ Disney Princesses. They all had the proper response or song to whatever DC decided to discuss with them and we all know that DC can come up with the rather obscure reference. One HAS to know the movie inside and out to pass the DC realism test. Each and every one of them passed with flying colors.
Once we walked a little bit of the way down the Yellow Brick Road, the wind seemed to die down and we were in direct sunlight; the hats and gloves came off – jackets were still needed but it was really, really nice there.
The Scarecrow sang when DC asked him about his brain and then he pointed us in the direction of the Emerald City – although he could not seem to make up his mind.
– just checking for a heart
The Cowardly Lion……
- and yes, Doug showed great restraint in not belting out the ‘King of the Forest’ tune again.
“I’d turn back if I were you!”*
We approached the poppy field and said one last goodbye to everyone we had met along the way.
DC, of course had to call an impromptu powwow to make sure that each of the characters were absolutely aware of who they were supposed to be….
– Just in case they didn’t know.
“We’re off to see the Wizard”*
But first……. we had to ask for admittance into the Emerald City.
I so wish I had thought to take a video of this exchange. DC went through the entire scene – he rang the bell, the door guard yelled at him and slammed the door for ringing said bell. He then followed the new directions, now that the sign was turned to the proper side, and knocked… because of course we know that the bell is “out of order” – he laughed and laughed. I think this may just have been his favorite part of the entire day in Oz.
His cousin really got a kick out of how much he was getting a kick out of all of this.
Directions followed properly – we were granted permission to enter the Emerald City and given an audience with…..
The Man behind the curtain……. The Wizard.
Finally DC had the opportunity to recite “There’s no place like home”*.
Wish granted - we made our way back to the bus, but first we came upon the characters once again, this time from the original book.
I read somewhere that the Emerald City was lost to a fire. It is a shame; based on the quality of the Yellow Brick Road – I have to imagine that the Emerald City must have been magnificent. Even with the loss of the Emerald City, the story was told from beginning to end.
We were right in time for the bus. I had photos to post so this kept me occupied on the bus ride back down the mountain.
My niece opted not to sit with Doug on the way back down.
I really do not know just what I was expecting at “Autumn at OZ” but I have to say, it was above and beyond anything I could have imagined. It was beautiful, very well maintained and VERY well staffed. It was such a fun day. Yes, it was cold, but we were warned and we were prepared. The trip was well worth it. We had a wonderful time (“terrific time” – ‘terrific’ being DC’s new word).
The whole adventure from the bus stop to the end was very well organized. There was not a long wait for anything.
I would recommend this event to anyone. It is a shame it is only open once a year, but if you are an OZ fan (even if you are not), it is well worth it. DC will never forget his trip to OZ.
I have to talk a little bit about my niece as well. My brother and his family have lived in Tennessee since DC was born. My niece and DC have only actually met each other maybe three times since she was born. So she has not spent much time with DC at all over the years. I have to say I was so impressed with her. She was not afraid of him – you might think that is an odd thing to say as he is her cousin, but believe me – it’s happened, more than I care to think about. She put up with him hugging the stuffing out of her all day. She made attempts at conversation with him, even if the response she got didn’t have anything to do with what she originally said to him. The day went wonderfully and HE is completely enamored with her.
I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit OZ with them – I think we all had a fabulous time.
Even this guy…………
In the event that anyone may be concerned ……..
after dinner with my brother and his family, we were able to find a bookstore…
*Quotes and song Lyrics from the Wonderful Wizard of OZ