Oz title

15 Kansas Places to Find Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz describes the story of Dorothy, a little girl from rural Kansas, in the magical land of Oz. In the book’s and movie’s introductions, a tornado whisked her from her sepia-toned Kansas life into the Technicolor world of Oz. 

Your Yellow Brick Road has arrived at the right destination if you’re seeking the Wizard of Oz’s location in Kansas. The state has numerous Oz-themed attractions, so enter the magical world of Oz in Kansas.

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Table of contents

Oz Museum | Toto’s TacOZ | Totos Around Town | Oz Winery | Dorothy’s House | World’s Longest Yellow Brick Road | Oz in Wichita | More Oz in Kansas | Dorothy’s Origin Stories 1, 2, 3 |

“Kansas… is the name of that star.”

Glinda the Good in The Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum wrote the book in 1900 while the Great Plains were experiencing hard times, including repeated dust storms. However, when Dorothy lands in Oz, she longs to return home. If Dorothy lived in Kansas now, she could visit Oz anytime, no Ruby Red Slippers required.

Baum extended his Oz universe from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to his final book, Glinda of Oz

Related: Baum lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota, before he wrote about Oz. Aberdeen’s Storybook Land contains an Oz section.

Ad: Read all 14 Oz books in this boxed set.

These are the seven best Wizard of Oz locations in Kansas. Plus, we offer seven bonus places and answer two burning questions.

“Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody, not no how!”

The Gatekeeper

Wamego is the center of the Kansas Oz fixation. The Kansas Legislature even declared Highway 99 from Interstate 70’s Exit 328 to Wamego as the Road to Oz. And the Gatekeeper misunderstood his mission because anyone may enter the Oz Museum in Kansas.

The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas
No one with eyes can miss The Oz Museum in Wamego.

“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Dorothy and the Scarecrow

1. Explore Oz at the Oz Museum in Kansas

Baum never specified where Dorothy, Uncle Henry, and Auntie Em lived in Kansas. So Wamego, an hour and a half west of Kansas City, decided they could be the Home of Oz. Wamego’s Oz Museum opened in 2003 with the world’s most extensive Oz collection. On Lincoln Avenue’s west side, The Oz Museum‘s façade, filled with all things Wizard of Oz, stands out among Downtown Wamego’s brick buildings.

The sign juts above the museum’s front door near the Columbian Theater. The sepia-toned gift shop in the entrance pays homage to the movie’s Kansas scenes. The collection includes items from across the years of Oz history.

Find first editions of Baum’s numerous works, original MGM movie posters and more movie memorabilia, silent films, Oz toys, and dioramas of the major characters, including the Haunted Forest. Beware of the Flying Monkeys, and look for the film’s 50th anniversary Ruby Red Slippers.

Cowardly Lion diorama at the Oz Museum, Wamego, Kansas
The Cowardly Lion in the Haunted Forest

Oz actors suffer in their roles

Dorothy Gale was Judy Garland’s signature movie role, but Shirley Temple also desired to play Dorothy. Additionally, Buddy Ebsen was supposed to play the Tin Woodman, but his allergy to aluminum dust gave the role to Jack Haley.

MGM made Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion suit from real lion skins. The costume weighed 90 pounds, and Lahr sweated profusely under the studio lights. The suit reeked. (Today’s filmmakers would use special effects.) Despite the stench, the suit brought $3 million in a 2014 auction.

Makeup artists had to remove Margaret Hamilton‘s green, copper-based skin makeup with alcohol. Flames burned her during her fiery exit from Munchkinland, and the alcohol hurt her burns. Eventually, she wore green gloves instead of makeup.

Oz characters appear together in other films

Frank Morgan, who played Professor Marvel and The Wizard, Hamilton, Garland, Scarecrow Ray Bolger, and Clara Blandick (Auntie Em) appeared together in other films, although the entire cast never appeared in the same one. Ironically, Hamilton voiced Auntie Em in the animated film Journey Back to Oz.

Roxie’s reliable report: Hamilton’s character frightened so many children that some of her scenes were cut. Ironically, she had been a kindergarten teacher before her acting career.

Ad: Buy the classic film, The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz balloon in Wamego Kansas museum
Roxie on the Road and Follow the Piper are ready to go up, up, and away in the Wizard’s balloon.

Roxie’s reliable recommendation: Climb into the Wizard of Oz’s hot air balloon for the ultimate Oz selfie. Watch The Wizard of Oz movie on an endless loop in the museum’s theater, and allow 1-2 hours for a visit. 

Wamego, Kansas, Oz water tower
Even the Wamego water tower references the Wizard of Oz.

Ad: Hang a poster from the musical Wicked.


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Entrance to Toto's TacOz, Oz in Kansas
Fill up at Toto’s.

2. Eat like a Winkie at Toto’s TacOZ

After exploring Oz, go next door to Toto’s TacOz. A sculpture of Dorothy’s little dog will greet you. If walking the Yellow Brick Road has emptied your stomach, eat the Bust My Buttons Burrito. You’ll be hungry no more, and Dorothy’s friend Button Bright will approve. If you’re not so hungry, try the Yellow Brick Road Burrito. Either way, plan for leftovers.

Ad: Of course, Oz is one of the 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die.

Emerald City Toto, Oz in Kansas
The Emerald City Toto, because Toto looked green through the required green glasses.

3. Bark at Oz in Kansas with the Totos Around Town

The Toto in front of the taco place is not Wamego’s only Toto. A dozen more little black dogs await visitors around Wamego’s downtown area. Take the dog Toto Tour with this tour guide map.

Oz Winery wine list, Kansas
The Oz Winery’s Oz-inspired wine list

4. Drink to the Wizard at the Oz Winery

The Oz Winery is only a block south of the museum. Stop in for a tasting and bring home some wine, plus an Oz-themed souvenir. We like the Squished Witch, Can’t Find My Way Home, and Wicked Deeds wines.

Yellow Brick Road entrance to Oz in Wamego, Kansas
You’re off to see the Wizard of Oz in Kansas.

Roxie’s reliable recommendation: For the complete Oz experience, park on Ash Street, two blocks east of the museum. Before entering the Yellow Brick Road, stop at the Friendship House Restaurant for refreshments. Thus fortified, walk a short distance to the museum on a mural-lined walkway. The gate’s west end is the perfect selfie station.

Wamego holds an annual Oz festival, called Oztoberfest, in early October.

Ruby slippers at Dorothy's House, Liberal, an Oz in Kansas
Ruby slippers are displayed at Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz museum in Kansas. (Visit Liberal)

“That’s how we laugh the day away in the Merry Old Land of Oz!”

The Munchkins

5. Hang with Dorothy at Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz in Kansas

Five and a half hours southwest, Liberal competes with Wamego for Oz fame. In 1978, a San Francisco waiter noticed that Max and Katie Zimmerman were from Kansas, “where Dorothy is from.” When the couple asked what the waiter would like to see in Kansas, he replied, “Dorothy’s house.” The waiter’s comment inspired the Zimmermans to create The Wizard of Oz in their hometown of Liberal, Kansas.

Two years after the Zimmermans’ trip, Dorothy’s House landed on the Coronado Museum grounds. The museum turned it into a replica of Dorothy’s house in the movie, and it became the first Wizard of Oz museum in Kansas. Then-Governor John Carlin designated the house as “the Official Home of Dorothy Gale.” Along with

Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s house, visitors may stroll through the Land of Oz, a 5,000-square-foot animated tour through the movie’s universe.

Local girls portray Dorothy while wearing blue gingham dresses and red slippers. They help visitors avoid the Wicked Witch. The Munchkins, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion are guests’ companions on the tour.

Museum memorabilia includes the movie’s model house that flew through the air. 

Liberal’s Yellow Brick Road includes bricks with famous names like Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland’s daughter

World's Longest Yellow Brick Road, Oz in Kansas
World’s Longest Yellow Brick Road in Sedan surrounds the city’s downtown.

“Follow the Yellow Brick Road!”

Dorothy and the Munchkins

6. Follow the World’s Longest Yellow Brick Road

While Wamego and Liberal both feature Yellow Brick Roads, the Southeast Kansas city of Sedan earned the world’s longest Yellow Brick Road honor. Sedan fits because Munchkinland, where Dorothy’s Oz adventure begins, is Oz’s eastern quadrant.

The road encompasses 11,500 bricks with named yellow bricks from every state and 28 foreign countries, including bricks from Elizabeth Taylor, Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, and more. The Wizard of Oz in Kansas celebrity section runs in front of Sedan’s Emmett Kelly Museum.

Related: The Sedan Yellow Brick Road is one of the state’s world record holders.

Rainbow Arch in Wichita, a piece of Oz in Kansas
Enter Botanica’s Children’s Garden through the Rainbow Arch.

7-8. Enter Oz in Wichita

A glass rainbow spans the Downing Children’s Garden entrance at Botanica, the Wichita Gardens. After the entry, a pair of yellow paths wander under more rainbow-colored arches. Dorothy’s friend Polychrome, the daughter of the Rainbow, would be thrilled.

O.J. Watson Park features another Yellow Brick Road.

Related: Explore the top 11 things to do in Wichita.

The Wicked Witch of the West from Oz in Kansas
The Wicked Witch of the West flies through the air near Lincoln. Her Winged Monkey flies nearby.

“I’ll get you, my pretty, you and your little dog, too!”

Wicked Witch of the West

9-13. More Oz in Kansas

In Kansas City’s Legends Outlets, Dorothy Gale’s portrait hangs near Yard House and the Yellow Brick Road. The movie’s principal characters stand on the lawn as perfect photo opportunities at Kansas Originals Market near Wilson.

Ray’s Apple Market in Council Grove has a Tin Man in the parking lot. The Wicked Witch, a Winged Monkey, and the Tin Man are all members of Jim Dickerman’s Open Range Zoo on Highways 14 and 16

Emerald is a ghost town on the Anderson-Franklin County line, but St. Patrick’s Church still holds services.

Adrian designed the costumes for the Wizard of Oz. Enjoy viewing some of his designs in Johnson County Community College’s Fashion Collection, Overland Park. 

Related: Osawatomie is famous for John Brown’s abolitionist activities, but Oz is the city’s nickname.

“When she fell out of Kansas, a miracle occurred.”

Glinda the Good

14. Who was Dorothy Gale?

The cheerful and determined Dorothy Gale survived many adventures in Kansas, Oz, and other places. Baum, the Royal Historian of Oz, described her experiences with her friends in numerous books. However, her life was a mystery before the tornado swooped down to carry her away. How did Baum find her? 

Two theories are prominent. 

Two years before Baum published his first Oz book, his niece, Dorothy Louise Gage, died in Bloomington, Ill. The little girl’s death devastated her aunt Maud, Baum’s wife. As a consolation, the author named the protagonist “Dorothy.”

Baum did not reveal Dorothy’s last name, Gale, until the Broadway musical Wizard of Oz  in 1902. She uses the name in the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz.

Irving marker
This marker shows the location of the former Irving townsite.

Another Dorothy origin theory

However, the 2013 book Storm Kings posited a second theory about Baum’s tornado scene. On May 30, 1879, two EF-5 tornadoes struck Irving, Kansas. According to the book, Baum recalled an article about the Irving storm while writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The book says a girl named Dorothy Gale died in the outbreak. They found her face down in a mud puddle. 

Signal Corps map of Irving tornado destruction, including the Gale family home
Signal Corps Pvt. J.P. Finley marked the John Gale home as No. 1 on his Irving tornado map. It’s four blocks west of the compass rose. (United States Army Signal Corps)

Neither the Waterville Telegraph nor the Blue Rapids Times, Irving’s closest newspapers, mentions the John Gail family in their coverage.

A few months later, Army Signal Corps Pvt. J.P. Finley studied the 1879 tornado outbreak. He learned that the Gail family endured the storm, but no family members died.

Finley was a poor speller who misspelled the family’s name as Gale.

The family survived airborne journeys, including baby daughter Nellie. The tornado carried her nearly 500 feet before dumping her into a small ravine. Her sister Alta landed nearby. However, the family had no members named Dorothy.

Did the storm inspire the Wicked Witch of the East?

One of the tornado’s Irving victims, Flora Keeney, died when the tornado dropped her head first in mud up to her shoulders. Her fate perhaps inspired the Wicked Witch of the East’s demise instead of Dorothy’s. Her husband John and his father Clinton also died in the storm.

Did Baum read Finley’s report and combine his niece with Dorothy, the tornadic traveler? Perhaps so.

Ad: Do you agree with Storm Kings‘ conclusions?

The 1879 tornado didn’t kill Irving, but a dam did. When the Bureau of Reclamation built Tuttle Creek Dam, the bureau forced the citizens to leave. A marker preserves Irving’s site. Gaps in the surrounding trees show the community’s foundations and street remnants.

Ad: I tell Irving’s possible role in Dorothy’s creation and the town’s fate in Secret Kansas: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.

Butterfield Trail south of Russell Springs
Was Dorothy’s home location near the Kansas Butterfield Trail?

“There’s no place like home.”

Dorothy

15. Where was Dorothy’s home in Kansas?

In the fifth Oz book, The Road to Oz (ad), the Shaggy Man asks Dorothy for directions to nearby Butterfield. Because Princess Ozma wants Dorothy to attend her birthday party, Ozma entangles the roads. Eventually, Dorothy, the Shaggy Man, and Button Bright arrive in Oz. But where is Butterfield?

No Kansas town bears the Butterfield name. However, the Butterfield Overland Despatch stagecoach route ran from Atchison to Denver. Half an hour southwest of Wamego, Manhattan has a Butterfield neighborhood, but the Butterfield Trail Museum is in Russell Springs, 4 hours west of Wamego.

Decoding the Butterfield location would take more than the Scarecrow’s brainpower.

Maybe Baum confused the hometown’s name because Buttermilk, Kansas, is a ghost town in Comanche County.

Related: Explore eons of prehistory and decades at the Butterfield Trail Museum.

After exploring Oz in Kansas, remember returning requires no Ruby Slippers.

More to explore

Visit attractions in Southwest and North Central Kansas, Kansas, and the Midwest.

Related: The Oz Museum is third on our list of the top places to visit in North Central Kansas.

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