The Wonderful Wizard of Oz describes the adventures of Dorothy, a little girl from Kansas, in the magical land of Oz. In the book’s and movie’s introductions, a tornado whisked her from her gray 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.
“Kansas… is the name of that star.”Glinda the Good in The Wizard of Oz
Baum wrote the book in 1900, while the Great Plains was experiencing hard times, including repeated dust storms. However, when Dorothy lands in Oz, she longs to return to her home. If Dorothy lived in Kansas now, she could visit Oz at any time, no Ruby Slippers required.
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. Anyone may enter the Oz Museum in Kansas.
“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.”Dorothy and the Scarecrow
1. The Oz Museum in Kansas
Baum never specified where Dorothy, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Em lived in Kansas. So Wamego, an hour and a half west of Kansas City, decided that they could be the Home of Oz. The Oz Museum opened in Wamego during 2003. It holds the world’s most extensive Oz collection. On Lincoln Avenue’s west side, The Oz Museum’s façade stands out among Downtown Wamego’s brick buildings.
The sign juts out above the museum’s front door. Inside is a vast collection of Oz memorabilia. The Wamego museum includes first editions of Baum’s numerous works, Oz toys, and dioramas of the main characters. Beware of the Flying Monkeys.
Roxie’s reliable recommendation: Climb into the Wizard of Oz’s balloon for the ultimate Oz selfie. Watch The Wizard of Oz movie on an endless loop in the Kansas museum’s theater. Allow 1-2 hours for a visit.
2. 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.
3. Totos Around Town
In front of the taco place, the Toto is not the only Toto in Wamego. A dozen more of the black dogs await visitors around Wamego. Take the Toto Tour with this map.
4. 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.
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. Look for the murals adorning the walls. The gate’s west end is the perfect selfie station.
Related: The Oz attractions in Wamego are No. 62 in my book 100 Things to Do in Kansas Before You Die. Buy an autographed copy here.
“That’s how we laugh the day away in the Merry Old Land of Oz!”The Munchkins
5. 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 West Coast 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 Kansas.
Two years after the Zimmermans’ trip, Dorothy’s House landed on the Coronado Museum grounds. It became the first Wizard of Oz museum in Kansas. Along with the house, visitors may stroll through the Land of Oz, a 5,000-square-foot animated tour through the movie’s universe.
Dorothys dressed in blue gingham dresses and red slippers help visitors avoid the Wicked Witch. The Munchkins, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion are companions on tour. Museum memorabilia include 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.
“Follow the Yellow Brick Road!”Dorothy and the Munchkins
6. 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 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.
7. 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.
“I’ll get you, my pretty, you and your little dog, too!”Wicked Witch of the West
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
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, before the tornado swooped down to carry her away, her life was a mystery. 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 Wizard of Oz musical in 1902. She uses the name in the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz.
Another Dorothy theory
However, the 2013 book Storm Kings posited a second theory. 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.
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 did endure the storm, but no family members died in it.
Finley had trouble spelling people’s names, and he 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.
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.
Roxie’s reliable recommendation: Visit the Blue Rapids Museum to learn more about the Irving tornado. An hour northwest of Wamego, Irving was a hard-luck town (PDF). It survived floods, droughts, fires, and tornadoes, but the federal government ended its life.
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.
“There’s no place like home.”Dorothy
Where was Dorothy’s home in Kansas?
In the fifth Oz book, The Road to Oz, 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.
Related: Explore eons of prehistory and decades at the Butterfield Trail Museum.
After exploring Oz in Kansas, remember that you need no Ruby Slippers to return.
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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