Once-Abandoned Wizard of Oz Theme Park to Re-Open Next Month

Courtesy of Land of Oz
Courtesy of Land of Oz

Somewhere over the rainbow in "Eastern America's Highest Town," a once-grand Wizard of Oz theme park is reopening its doors.

For a couple of short windows each year, the previously abandoned Land of Oz in Beech Mountain, North Carolina, opens its emerald-colored gate to visitors. Glimpses into this '70s-era theme park used to be rare after it shuttered in 1980, but the family-owned site is now ramping up its event schedule, with plans in the works for a brand new event this October.

Die-hard fans won't have to wait until fall, though. For a few days in June, the park will open for "Journey with Dorothy," an interactive event that started five years ago. Tickets are almost sold out, but some are still available for June 1.

"[Journey with Dorothy] has grown drastically over the past couple of years because of the demand of people wanting to attend the event," Sean Barrett, the artistic director and PR representative for the Land of Oz, tells Mental Floss. "For 2018, Journey with Dorothy will have a pop-up museum exhibit by the parking area at Beech Mountain Resort featuring many of the park's original costumes and props on display as well as the addition of the Miss Gulch character in Kansas."

Land of Oz was initially developed by the Carolina Caribbean Corporation (CCC), the same group that brought Tweetsie Railroad, a Wild West theme park, to North Carolina. Actresses Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher both attended Land of Oz's opening in 1970, and in its first season, the park saw 400,000 guests, including Muhammad Ali. Billed as the "anti-theme park," Land of Oz had no roller coasters, but instead offered performances and attractions which aimed to give guests "an emotional experience."

Dorothy and other characters ride in a fake hot air balloon
Characters at Land of Oz in the '70s
Courtesy of Land of Oz

Dorothy and characters in costume at Land of Oz in 1970
Courtesy of Land of Oz

However, the park was mismanaged over the years and CCC eventually went bankrupt, according to the park's history page. Things continued to take a turn for the worse when the park's Emerald City caught fire in 1975, followed by the looting of several key pieces of movie memorabilia, including the original gingham dress worn by Judy Garland. Under new management, the park shut down in 1980.

Over a decade later, a group of former park employees decided to re-open Land of Oz for a reunion, which reignited interest in the property. That event morphed into "Autumn at Oz," which has been held each year for one weekend in September ever since. Tickets for that event will go on sale this summer.

Park organizers are keeping mum about what the new October event will entail, stating only that more details will be released this summer.

The truly Oz-obsessed may want to extend their yellow brick road pilgrimage and head to Oz-Stravaganza in Chittenango, New York, which will be held June 1-3 this year. A museum called All Things Oz is located in the same town, and there's another Oz Museum in Kansas—naturally.

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

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Eau de Space: Former NASA Scientist’s New Perfume Smells Out of This World

One small scent for man.
One small scent for man.
Eau de Space, Kickstarter

Soon, you’ll be able to spritz yourself with perfume that smells like a mixture of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries, rum, and burned cookies. It’s not Chanel No. 5, but it is the closest you can get to smelling outer space without boarding a rocket.

According to NPR, a new Kickstarter campaign is now producing Eau de Space, a fragrance that NASA developed in 2008 to help astronauts acclimate their noses to the scent of space during training. It was created by Steve Pearce, chemist and founder of Omega Ingredients, a company that produces natural flavors for the food and beverage industry. CNN reports that Pearce concocted his formula based on firsthand descriptions from astronauts, many of whom have agreed that there’s something smoky or burned about outer space's aroma.

NASA has kept the fragrance under wraps for the last 12 years, but Eau de Space product manager Matt Richmond and his team were able to get their hands on it “through sheer determination, grit, a lot of luck, and a couple of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests,” according to the Kickstarter page. They’re ready to share it with the public—and it’s for a good cause, too. Each $29 pledge covers two 4-ounce bottles of Eau de Space: one for you to use as you please, and another to be shipped to a school with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program.

If you’re eager to support the next generation of space explorers but not keen on smelling like a charred grill yourself, you can donate $15 to the campaign, and the Eau de Space team will ship a bottle to a school without sending one to you. Orders are expected to ship by October 2020, and you can place yours here.

[h/t NPR]