Attraction Spotlight: Grandfather’s Mansion


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Grandfather’s Mansion is a walk-through fun/gravity house attraction located in the heart of Silver Dollar City just north of the main square. The attraction is fairly small and oddly pieced together, but it is has remained popular due to its unique steeply pitched lower level.

Gravity houses, also known as tilt houses, were once fairly common amusement park staples. These attractions feature slanted floors and numerous tricks and gags associated with them. There are only a few known gravity houses left in the United States, as modern considerations such as the Americans with Disabilties Act (ADA), insurance issues, and general safety concerns have made such features impossible to incorporate into modern attractions.

Attraction History

Grandfather’s Mansion is actually the second incarnation of SDC’s original gravity house, Slantin Sam’s Mining Shack. The bottom floor of the Mansion is actually the original Slantin Sam’s floor. One of SDC’s most memorable post cards features the shack which can be seen here.  There are a few more photos in this thread on our forums.

Some of the history of Grandfather’s Mansion after it’s conversion from Slantin’ Sam’s is a little shaky and hard to piece together. I’ve been told of various changes to the top floor, such as the claim that the tilting hallway is not original, but I don’t have any clear sources for that information. What we do know is that the mirror gag was switched to a more PC friendly version in recent years, and sometime around 2007 the large waterfall feature in front of the mansion was removed. Small changes and additions are also common, such as the recent addition of holographic portraits on the walls.

 

Attraction Experience

Grandfather’s Mansion is divided into two floors. Participants enter on the top floor walk up a small ramp past an antique music box. Turning right, you are faced with a long hallway. Something’s different about this hallway though: the walkway remains stationary, but the walls tilt back and forth. If you keep your eyes fixed ahead of you and try to keep walking forward, you may end up on the floor!

Turning left out of the hallway you’ll find a small room with a few gags. Most notable are two windows, the first of which shows into a room where Grandpa is currently staying. Apparently Grandfather isn’t a huge fan of gravity himself, as he and the entire contents of his room are stuck to the ceiling. The second window is mostly covered over, but there are a few slits cut into it where one can look through and spy on the silhouette of someone in the shower. On the other wall is a mirror that invites you to get up close and have a look at yourself, but once you do you get a surprise.

You then take a narrow, hazardous stairway down into the basement where the real highlight of the attraction is contained. Immediately at the bottom of the staircase it becomes apparent that things are seriously tilted on this level. A short switchback hallway helps disorient participants before they head into the main area of the room – but first, you have to check out the fun house mirrors on the upper left side of the room. On the right side there is a curious billiards table that is slanted, like everything else in the room. Every once in a while a billiard ball shoots down a ramp onto the table, then arcs perfectly and disappears straight into the far corner hole.

Going farther across the slanted floor there is a wooden “bed” on the right hand side that invites participants to lie down and then attempt to get up normally. On the left is a porch swing that is difficult to actually swing due to the slant. Getting to the other side of the room there is a row of tricks and gags on the left wall including a gem mirage in an open safe that invites you to attempt to grab it. On the right there is some open space to play around in and and several benches. Finally you reach the other side of the room, where you then turn right into an “infinity” mirror hallway that leads to the exit.

Further Information

In the Loop has a walkthrough video of the Mansion here.

Dollywood received it’s own version of Grandfather’s Mansion in 1979, dubbed the Inventor’s Mansion. This was replaced with Dolly Parton’s Rags to Riches museum when Dolly became associated with the park in 1986. That museum has since closed, but the building remains.

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