Theme Park Christmas Competition is Getting Fierce, but Silver Dollar City is Still On Top

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Silver Dollar City has always been well ahead of the pack in terms of theme park Christmas events. SDC’s annual Christmas spectacular, An Old Time Christmas, has been running since 1991 and has always boasted huge crowds. Other park operators stood by and took notes, but the logistical challenges of extending the season, hiring an additional round of seasonal workers, and coordinating the millions of lights and decorations proved too much for most parks… until recently. Over the past five years or so, nearly every major park in the country has finally gotten up to speed with Christmas events – heck, even Frontier City is planning one for next year. Still, the vast majority still fall well short of what SDC has been offering all this time.

The most obvious attraction has always been lights. Back in the 1990′s the millions of lights plastered all over the city was unprecedented in this area and dropped plenty of jaws. These days its a lot “easier” to come up with big light displays, but Silver Dollar City is upping the ante by boosting the light count from 4 to 5.5 MILLION lights this year. The vast majority of those extra 1.5 million lights are being added to a concentrated area within the park known as Midtown. The display has it’s own identity as Christmas in Midtown and includes special entrance ways, brighter and more tightly packed lights, and dazzling overhead displays. There are obvious parallels to the old Osborne Lights displays that Disney World used to setup, but SDC’s version is custom made for the park. As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s even a special parade with miniature light floats that squeezes through the city twice a night. Some of the mega parks now have bigger light numbers, but the setting of SDC’s lights within the woods and the rustic 1880′s buildings really enhances them.

The Christmas stage shows at Silver Dollar City are worth the ticket price into the park by themselves. SDC’s rendition of Dicken’s Christmas Carol draws massive lines (fortunately the theater is pretty huge) and always gets a standing ovation. Across the park is the equally elaborate It’s A Wonderful Life. Both of these shows far outclass anything I have ever seen performed at any other theme park. We aren’t talking a holiday skit from theater kids here, these are actual professional productions with experienced actors, elaborate sets, and broadway quality. On the subject of shows, there’s also a living nativity, a singing Christmas tree show for the kids, a special edition of the famous Saloon show, and best of all: the elaborate light and music show on the main square featuring a five story Christmas tree.

Silver Dollar City’s feel-good, semi-historical, partially tongue-in-cheek 1880′s setting feeds into the classic Christmas feeling, and there’s some things that just plain present themselves better this way. Take for instance the Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train, which is always a heartwarming experience complete with a special presentation half-way along the journey. There are other train rides through lights out there, but none will leave an impression on you like this one. Then there’s the roaming carolers, the classic Christmas foods, and even Santa himself that just fit right in with the old-time Christmas atmosphere.

Don’t forget that ALL of Silver Dollar City’s dry rides operate during the Christmas season (temperature dependent), rather than the typical small selection you’ll see at other parks. Night rides on Outlaw Run are legendary, and we can’t wait to experience next year’s new extreme spinning coaster, Time Traveler, in the cold and dark with all the lights around.

So while other parks now offer light displays at Christmas time, no one is coming close to offering the Old Time Christmas experience that Silver Dollar City has been perfecting for over 25 years. It is worth the journey to experience for yourself!

 

Check out the full details of An Old Time Christmas here on the official site.

The Big Reveal: Time Traveler Coming in 2018

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At long last, Silver Dollar City has finally announced Time Traveler, a tremendously wild and innovative extreme spinning coaster set to open next March for the 2018 season. Time Traveler will take riders down a ten story vertical drop immediately out of the station before throwing them through three different inversions, two launch segments, and lots of twists and turns – all while the cars spin around on their own axis. This will be the fastest, steepest, and pretty much only looping coaster with spinning cars in the world. It would be the outright first launched looping spinner if not for a small amusement park in Japan that installed a prototype from Gerstlauer several years ago called “Viel of Dark”. Regardless, Time Traveler is easily the most innovative new ride for the 2018 season and perhaps one of the final great frontiers in roller coaster advancement.

Time Traveler is being built by Mack of Germany, a company many parks and enthusiasts rank as one of the best amusement suppliers in the industry. Mack is leaving no room for error in their relationship with SDC by taking into consideration the tolerance of the park’s wide range of guests. In order to ensure that the cars don’t spin too wildly for comfort, a magnetic governing system will be installed in each car to regulate the speed of the rotation. It will be a wild and incredible ride, but don’t be too scared away just because it moves around a little more than usual! You won’t necessarily be spinning like a tea cup, but since the cars are allowed to spin that means no two rides will ever be alike. You’ll go through some elements sideways, others backwards, occasionally forwards, and more often just at any odd angle.

Silver Dollar City is dropping a whopping $26 million on this single ride, making it the largest single investment in park history. If you combine that figure with other investments the park is making this year including a greatly expanded Christmas festival, an incredible sum of over $50 million is being invested into Silver Dollar City this year.

Here’s a quick glance at some of the incredible stats this new coaster is touting:

  • Fastest – Top speed of 50.3 miles per hour
  • Steepest – A 10-story, 90-degree vertical drop…straight down. Custom-engineered to have
  • an immediate out-of-the-station, gravity-driven drop down an Ozarks mountainside
  • Tallest – Custom-designed for mountainous terrain with its tallest point at 100 feet
  • First & Only with Three Inversions – a Dive Loop, a Vertical Loop and a Zero-G Roll
  • First & Only with a Vertical Loop – A 95-foot tall loop
  • First and Only Double Launch – 0 to 47 mph in 3 seconds; 30 to 45 mph in 3.5 seconds

Many of us at SDCFans are big fans of the incredible thematic experience that SDC always provides. This ride will be no different than usual, fitting into the park’s overall storylines with a new story involving a man named Charles Henry who inherits a clock factory in town but dreams of creating a machine capable of time travel. Together with his daughter, they tinker and experiment until the clock factory slowly becomes a workshop for their massive new invention. Citizens of Silver Dollar City are thus invited to try it out and see what happens. More details on the theme and the tagline of “Dream Big, Do Good” are expected to come throughout the months leading to the ride’s opening next year. We can already tell that the station will hold a lot of interesting details.

Check out the official site for tons of renderings and details HERE.

Joshua Meyers posted some really amazing professional photos of the day on Facebook HERE.

Here are some of my (admittedly poor quality) photos from the announcement day:

 

New Coaster Announcement Coming August 16 – Here’s What We Know

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Silver Dollar City has been steadily ramping up the excitement over the past couple of weeks for the big reveal of their newest roller coaster on August 16. SDCFans and Midwestinfoguide will be among the press pool attending the official announcement ceremony and I plan to live-update the facebook page throughout the day and the media event with as many pictures and interesting details as I can push through.

It has become highly unusual in the coaster enthusiast world for a new roller coaster to get all the way to track construction without hardly any solid details leaking to the fans. Back at the annual ACE Coaster Christmas event we were teased that it would be “Like. Nothing. Else.”. Since then we have seen an entire valley cleared, hundreds of footers built, a massive towering 6-story station building erected, and plenty of mysterious excavations and large concrete structures that we are still speculating the purpose of.

Finally some track was erected earlier this summer giving us some closure on the endless speculation of the manufacturer. We now know that it is a Mack coaster, but what type? Mack has become easily the most versatile roller coaster builder in the world, with ride options that span all class of intensity, vehicle movement, capacity, inversions, trick tracks, etc, etc, etc. What theme did they finally choose out of the many options that were presented in at least two rounds of concept pitches, or perhaps did they design something entirely different to create a unique ambiance for the ride? Will the ride spin? Go upside-down? Drop straight down? Go through a tunnel? So many options that are still possibilities until the big reveal finally arrives on August 16.

Until then, here is what we actually know, as sent to us straight from the horse’s mouth:

  • Biggest attraction EVER, by far – by more than double – for Silver Dollar City!
  • Promises a colossal, world-footprint attraction! NEVER done – anywhere – before THIS!
  • Custom designed for the mountainous terrain of the Ozarks!  
  • Promises several “First and Only” attributes – in the world!

And from what we can gather based on observation:

  • Manufacturer: Mack Rides of Germany
  • Elements: At least two large swooping turns (already constructed), potential for upside-down elements as indicated by footers
  • Some kind of drop into the valley as indicated by the height of the station.

Everything else is still a mystery! Be sure to follow us on our Facebook Page and also follow the official Silver Dollar City Facebook Page for more teasers like the one they recently posted.

Take a look at these amazing shots from last month sent in by our own Sanddunerider and see if you can connect any more dots:

Track Is Already Being Placed on 2018 Coaster

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I have been completely forgetting to write official blog updates about the new coaster under construction at Silver Dollar City. If you have been following along with our Facebook Page, I’ve been posting and sharing updates regularly.

To nearly everyone’s surprise, track has already shown up and at least one piece is already in position as of this Memorial Day weekend. The coaster will not open until the 2018 season and won’t even be announced until this August. Considering the hype and secrecy that the park is building up with their teaser campaign, we were kind of expecting them to hold off on the track for at least another month or so just to keep us guessing as long as possible. The new track does appear to confirm rumors that Mack is the designer and manufacturer of this ride. That still leaves questions about which exact type of ride system SDC purchased for Mack, whose offerings include extreme spinning coasters, launch coasters, drop coasters, and all kinds of crazy variants and combinations.

 

What we do know is that the park has publicly stated that this is the single largest thing they’ve ever done, and that this ride will be like nothing else. The footprint for this ride is huge, the station is towering, and the elevation changes that they have to work with (or against, if you are the contractor) are massive. The track colors they have picked out are a brilliant combination of grey and forest green that both blend with the scenery and look pretty sleek. Now we simply have to wait to see what kind of crazy inversions, airtime hills, and/or launch sections will arise out of the tangle of footers spread across the gully. If that isn’t enough, there is re-emerging hope for some seriously incredible theming to be included with this ride.

Check out the first publicly shared shot of the track, thanks to fellow SDCFan Chris Knight (sawblade5):

Another fellow SDCFan, Swoosh, has posted a full update with analysis on his site, MidWestInfoGuide.

The Flooded Mine Celebrates 50 Seasons of Fun

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The Flooded Mine, one of the most unique and detailed attractions at Silver Dollar City, is celebrating it’s 50th season in 2017. It formally turns 50 in May of 2018, but that will be part of its 51st season. The ride has faithfully entertained generations of park guests – and thanks to the gentle, open nature of the ride many generations of park guests have been able to ride together throughout those years creating memories unparalleled to most other theme park experiences. The Flooded Mine opened in 1968, the same year the park started charging admission. It was originally just a leisurely boat ride through a labyrinth of highly themed rooms and caverns with plenty of vintage special effects. In 1990 the ride was spiced up with electronic guns and targets and the official name of the ride was changed to ‘The Great Shoot Out at the Flooded Mine’. It has stayed much the same over the years, though maintenance is constantly being done which occasionally involves refreshing a scene or switching out props. Last year one of the thematic towers that helped disguise the roof was taken down due to age.

 

It’s hard to express just how special The Flooded Mine is among the world of theme park rides and their patrons. Few rides outside of Orlando are so filled to the brim with such attentive detail, few rides allow the entire family to ride together (besides the train of course), and few rides make it to 50 seasons. It has certainly shown its age after so many years and so many millions of rides given, but while many guests often offer their ideas of how to refresh or rebuild the Mine for new generations, it’s hard to imagine that today’s penny-pinching market forces would produce the same level of immersion that we have taken for granted with The Flooded Mine. It is truly a gift from a past generation that cannot easily be surpassed without Disney or Universal-level money.

 

If you’re too far away to get a chance to experience the Flooded Mine in person, Erick Norlund has a good video from a couple seasons ago here on YouTube. Neatocoolville also has a nice video that shows some extra angles here on YouTube.

 

Here is a small curation of photos to celebrate how far the Mine has come. Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of photos of the interior since I’ve never had a good camera for taking photos in the dark.  Thanks to Austin Zamora for the first photo, which is from opening day 2017.

SDC Debuts New Teaser Site For 2018 Coaster Project

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It’s opening day at Silver Dollar City and the hype machine behind the new 2018 roller coaster project has turned up another gear. Park general manager Brad Thomas tweeted a photo earlier today of a new sign that has appeared in the ThuNderaTion queue line. In classic SDC humor, the sign tells visitors not to peek over the fence and provides a mysterious web address at the bottom. The /WildMountain? site redirects to a page inviting users to enter their contact details for a chance to hear the news about the ride firsthand as it breaks from the park itself (and of course to receive general news and ads from the park). This is a typical element of theme park marketing these days, following many other media hype campaigns that other parks have used for their new roller coasters. We have been told that the park plans a long and intriguing teaser campaign for the new coaster that will last until August when the new ride is finally revealed.

 

So what about the significance of the /WildMountain? web address? It is a matter of public record that HFEC has two unused trademarks that have been set aside specifically for roller coasters: “Time Traveler” and “Wild Mountain”. The address indicates the latter is being used, but the earlier concept pitches certainly indicated that they were exploring a creative theme involving phony time travelers. Which name is real and which is the red herring? Only time will tell.

 

Be sure to stop by the teaser site and sign up for the updates directly from the park!

Bigfoot Drop Tower Attraction is Now Vertical

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The long-awaited drop tower attraction on the 76 strip is showing much more visible signs of progress these days as the tower itself is now vertical and growing towards the sky. The attraction is called Bigfoot on the Strip and will include a 200 foot tall drop tower ride similar to the typical theme park attraction, a slingshot contraption that sends two riders over 200ft in the air, a glass elevator, and indoor play such as an arcade and a large themed play gym. The $10 million development was originally announced for last year, but construction did not get underway until last August. It looks like it will easily be ready in time for this summer vacation season.

The most recent details of the actual plans for the attraction are in this news article.

 

Forum member sanddunerider has shared with us these great photos of the progress:

New Chipotle-Inspired Restaurant Coming to SDC

A new restaurant is coming to Silver Dollar City in 2017 – Percy’s Southwest Grill. Percy’s will be setup in a construct-your-own-meal style similar to Chipotle and other popular Mexican-inspired restaurants. Customers will choose from several meal styles including nachos, tacos, burritos, salads and bowls before customizing to their taste from a selection of meats and vegetables. The move is part of The Year of Food and Crafts at SDC, which will include over 200 new food items throughout the park.

Unfortunately the new restaurant comes at the cost of sacrificing the much-beloved Mary’s Springhouse, which was known for pasta in bread bowls and fried chicken. Mary’s Springhouse was so named in honor of one of Silver Dollar City’s most influential founders, Mary Herschend. Fortunately there are still a few nods to her throughout the park, such as Hugo & Mary’s Carousel in Half-Dollar Holler.

It’s notable that the new restaurant is already being lauded by park patrons for offering a healthier menu versus the typical carb-heavy options the park has traditionally relied on. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new trend in park food for a new generation of guests. However I know for certain that of the 200 new food items for 2017 not all will fit into any sort of traditional diet. I’m looking forward to the custard treats and deep-fried bacon we sampled at last year’s Coaster Christmas!

Percy’s will be open March 15th for Spring Ride Days. I’m planning on being there the first weekend to try it out!

Get more details here on the official site.

Three Reasons To Visit Silver Dollar City Theme Park In 2017

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Theme parks can provide wonderful family experiences and create lasting memories. Silver Dollar City Theme Park, located near Branson, Missouri, is a park the entire family will enjoy due its numerous attractions, shows, shopping, demonstrations, and dining options.

 

1. Thrilling Rides and Attractions

The theme park boasts 16 adventurous, exciting family attractions for young and old alike ranging from roller coasters to water rides to a stunning cave and more. You aren’t going to find one of the tallest roller coasters in America here, but you are still going to have an excellent time. See below for an overview of some of the top rides and features of the park:

Marvel Cave - Take a tour of this breathtaking limestone cave and travel hundreds of feet below the surface

Thunderation - A wild, classic wooden roller coaster that travels almost 50 mph

Magnificent Wave Carousel - A swing carousel that sends you soaring 40 feet in the air

WildFire - An adrenaline-pumping, 66 mph roller coaster featuring soaring heights and multiple loops and drops

American Plunge - An exhilarating ride ending with a 5 story splashdown at 35 mph

Fire Fall - A high-thrill ride that drops you 8 stories in a matter of seconds

Fire in the Hole - A high-speed indoor roller coaster offering drops and surprises throughout the ride

Oak Trail School - An authentic 1800′s one room school

The park also features a large variety of smaller rides that are well-suited to little explorers.

 

2. Delicious Dining

Silver Dollar City features a host of unique, delicious dining opportunities to enjoy. Restaurant options include everything from full blown dinners to grab and go snacks.

Whether you are craving a home-style meal, burgers and fries, ribs, pizza, barbecue, ice cream, hot dogs, nachos, or delicious baked goods, there is award-winning food available throughout the park.

 

3. Shows

A diverse range of entertaining shows are offered at the park. Enjoy everything from live country, bluegrass, western, and gospel music to championship cloggers to the famous Harlem Globetrotters can be experienced. Visitors can also enjoy wild west shows, holiday specials, and barn dances.

All in all, when considering a visit to a theme park, Silver Dollar City deserves a spot at the top of your list. The rides, dining, and family fun will not disappoint and will make for an unforgettable experience.

 

Plans Revealed For New Branson Landing & Water Chute Site Attractions

Last month we pointed out the progress on the sale of the old “Cool-off” water chute attraction. The entity behind the purchase has been revealed as FACE Amusement Group, who already operates attractions in Branson’s sister city of Pigeon Forge, TN. Against all my personal speculation, it has been revealed that the new owners do in fact plan to construct Branson’s second mountain coaster on the site, dubbed simply “The Branson Coaster”. Construction is apparently already underway, and the new ride should open sometime this summer. A small photo of the blueprints for the site can be seen towards the bottom of this news article. Judging from the outline of the blueprints, the coaster will start by rolling out of the station and into a helix, before winding down the hillside to a mid-course lift-hill. The ride will wind down the hill once more until a second lifthill brings riders back to the station. The plans also show that the existing rental cottages and the Old Time Photo building will be saved and re-used somehow.

 

There could be a twist to distinguish this mountain coaster from the other independent mountain coaster already operating in Branson. In a quote for Branson Tri-Lakes News, Rusty Mabe stated that his company likes to give their own little twist to their attractions, and he promises that this coaster will be unique.

 

At the same time, FACE Amusement Group is also bringing three other new attractions to Branson, with several of them being placed in Branson Landing. There will be an arcade, a shooting interactive dark ride, and some sort of corn/mirror maze. The dark ride alone should pique some major interest for our readers as we have often compared Silver Dollar City’s classic dark rides with their newer counterparts in other parks. Perhaps a new dark ride on SDC’s doorstep will encourage SDC to invest in their existing dark rides more – or even better, add a new one.

 

Get more info on these developments here on Branson Tri-Lakes News.

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