January 22, 2016
Let’s get this out of the way – Silver Dollar City may have the best theme park Christmas event ever. I drove a total of nine hours (well, more if you count rest stops and going around ridiculous road closures) with my group of friends to this gorgeous theme park in the middle of nowhere – more commonly known as Branson, Missouri. There was much to celebrate, yet somethings to “bah humbug” over, and even more memories to be made.
Starting out with the positives, the first thing I noticed when making my way through the entrance plaza is just how well Silver Dollar City managed to capture the feel of the 1880s western town. Everything, and I mean everything, is done with the heaviest theming that could make even Walt Disney himself blush. To go into Silver Dollar City, you must navigate through Hospitality House – a gift shop. Here you can pick up the best park maps of any park – and I mean it! Instead of a traditional map, you receive a newspaper called “The Pathfinder”, showing all the latest news and happenings of the town of Silver Dollar City – which is the theme park you are about to experience. The newspapers also contain the park map (which is needed), listings of shows, advertisements for the delicious food, and articles you can read for fun.
Speaking of food, Silver Dollar City easily has the best theme park food I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Our group ate at a stall selling buffalo chicken kettle chips which are so delicious that one person in our group came up with a recipe to mimic the taste at home. Later that night we treated ourselves to a sit down place called Wagon Works, which has chili in bread bowls. This was also super delicious. I had heard Outlaw Run funnel cakes were pretty good too, so I decided to treat myself to one. I am so glad I did – it was easily the best funnel cake I’ve ever had (sorry Cedar Point). However, the same cannot be said for Branson itself, but I digress.
But back to the good stuff. The good stuff, in this case, is Silver Dollar City’s amazing shows. I only had the pleasure of seeing one show (as the park was quite busy that day) and it blew me away. It told the story of Jesus’ birth, through great acting and awesome music. While I’m not overly religious, I still enjoyed the show and the atmosphere it produced was beyond cool. The theater we were in was bigger than my high school’s theater, and could probably rival the size of my college’s theater. It was quite nice, too, and provided a relief from the frigid cold outside. I loved how passionate the actors felt about their roles when they gave their performances, which is something you don’t quite see in most theme park shows.
The Christmas decorations are unbelievably beautiful. At night, the park comes to life with astonishing light displays and millions of lights covering every inch of Silver Dollar City. A giant Christmas tree is erected at the front of the park, and there is a light show with it every night that is quite good. The parade that is put on after the tree show is also worth watching, if only because of the hilariously cartoony vibe it puts out.
You may be wondering why I haven’t talked about any of the rides yet. The reason for this is because every single ride, with the exception of Thunderation, Fire in the Hole, and Flooded Mine, was closed. This was a shocking realization when we arrived at the park. Fire in the Hole was our first ride, and it was really fun. The back seat provides some scary airtime – especially with the final plunge into the dark. Flooded Mine was just as fun, and it was a great diversion from your typical dark ride in that it featured boats floating along a water channel instead of a traditional ride vehicle going along a track. Thunderation, however, proved to be the best Arrow mine train I have ever experienced. The way it manages to pick up speed when the lift hill isn’t until the very end surprised me. The dips into tunnels are also great, making it seem like you are going to not be able to make it through. The carousel, which was also open, provided me with an opportunity to meet Boo Boo – a bear on the ride. We all started a joke, and one thing led to another, and now I can’t wait to go back JUST for Boo Boo (who cares about Outlaw Run?).
Another spectacular thing was made a little less spectacular during this trip – that being the Marvel Cave Tour. It rained pretty hard the few days before we took our trip, so we were restricted to a half tour due to cave flooding. From what we did experience, though, I was so amazed. The cave is gorgeous and big. There’s even a room that looks like a shoe! Sadly, this was all we could do as the rest was flooded. This meant that we had to walk down to the cave 300 steps and back up 300 steps, which wasn’t pleasant but so worth it. I will warn you, though – the shortest passage is 4 feet tall and quite narrow. You must pass through a cardboard cutout at the entrance to the tour that is the exact height and width of the passage, and if you struggle, I would not recommend doing the tour. However, I would highly recommend doing the tour if you are capable as it will provide breathtaking views and spectacular pictures.
All in all our trip was a great one. I am so glad I was able to meet up with great friends and share memories with them. Silver Dollar City lived up to expectations even without rides. I can’t wait to return and finally ride Outlaw Run. I’d like to close this blog off by saying one thing – I miss you, Boo Boo!