Follow The Yellow Brick Road To The Wizard of Oz Museum, A Florida Must-See  

Cape Canaveral offers a treasure trove of activities, but who would think this city on Florida’s Atlantic coast is also home to The Wizard of Oz Museum. Yes, The Wizard of Oz Museum, and, yes, it’s filled with everything you could imagine – and more — about the immortal classic movie which this year celebrates its 85th anniversary. Once guests walk through the emerald-green doors (but, of course), and view the hundreds upon hundreds of memorabilia, and replicas of costumes and props, and learn about the inspiration for author L. Frank Baum, one leaves more enchanted than before.  

Within the walls of the 5,000 square foot museum, visitors can easily spend up to two hours marveling at over 2000 items on display including rare copies of L. Frank Baum’s first printed Oz books, Dorothy’s actual blue and white dress, collector plates, life-size Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow, and even the flying monkeys. Tributes to the subsequent movie, The Wiz, and to the Broadway hit, Wicked, are also on display within the many cabinets that provide hours of enjoyment for those who remember the classic, and for those who may be just learning more about it. It’s really a museum for all ages, says the museum creator and owner Fred Trust, just like the over a dozen Oz books written by Baum. “When Baum was asked what age he wrote for,” explains Trust, “he replied by listing the letters he received…from a five-year-old who asked his older sister to write the letter; a 13-year-old; a woman who had just gotten married and grew up reading the books; and a 70-year-old couple.”

Two of the staff members we met on this day provided a lively introduction and the history of the museum, and reminders to allow ourselves time to enjoy and reminisce. Besides the many items on display, we also learn some interesting facts about author Baum, like how before he became an author, he was in the oil business. It may explain why one of his characters relied on a regular oiling now and then. Over the years, lively debate has come up about the political and cultural meanings which may have been the inspiration for Baum’s characters. For example, Dorothy represented the American people or their values; Tin Woodsman represented the industrial workers; Munchkins represented the common folk; and the Wizard of Oz represented the Washington politicians. In fact, the term “oz” has been connected to the gold weight measurement, which was a big issue at that time – the late 1800’s to early 1900’s — as it related to the monetary policies being introduced in Washington. 

Once the self-guided tour has been completed – helped along by detailed narrations accessed through QR codes — guests are invited to view an immersive film with a classical music soundtrack that plays in the state-of-the-art theatre. It runs for about 30 minutes and features a variety of scenes, some depicting colorful sights from Oz and other characters from the book series; we see a tornado swoop around that brings Dorothy’s Kansas home on its trip; and other vibrant scenes that are paired well with the music.  Trust is planning to add more Oz scenes which will take months to create, and for now has included a Van Gogh touch with some of the artist’s most famous flower paintings. 

Growing up in the former Soviet Union, Trust became interested in the Oz books, as he says, “It was how I learned English. Our teacher read the entire Wonderful Wizard of Oz book to the class over the course of a year.”  When he moved to the States, and had his own family, Trust wanted to read the Oz book to his kids but was so surprised at the number of other books Baum had authored and that a movie was produced so long ago and had become a national treasure.  After purchasing a few first edition Oz books, then Oz photos and other historic items, the collection took off and is now massive, unique and one-of-a-kind.  So, he decided to pursue an entrepreneurial dream to make the items available to the public, and two years ago, the museum opened its doors.  

If you’ve ever wanted to follow the yellow brick road, here’s your chance.

For more information, go to the website.

All photos by MJ Hanley-Goff

About MJ Hanley-Goff (169 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to Woman Around Town since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday in the early 90’s and has continued writing professionally for other New York publications like the Times Herald-Record, Orange Magazine, and Hudson Valley magazine. Former editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, she also contributed stories to AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. to offer writing workshops and book coaching to first time authors, and also college essay writing help to students. MJ has recently made St. Augustine, Florida her home base, and is thrilled and honored to continue to write for WAT and the amazing adventures it offers. Despite the new zip code, MJ will continue to keep a pulse on New York events, but will continue to focus on the creative thinkers, doers, and artists wherever they are.