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.

Star Spangled Summer

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Summer is here at last! Star Spangled Summer at Silver Dollar City runs from June 3 to July 16. This celebration of all kinds of American summer fun includes character meet & greets, special shows such as the Harlem Globetrotters (now in their final season at SDC), and on select dates there are extended hours so you can ride your favorite coasters well into the night. This is still the year of food and crafts at SDC, and throughout the park there are many new food and craft items to discover. To top it all off, you don’t want to miss the construction progress on the new for 2018 coaster, which is already having track pieces put in place.

 

Get more information on the official site.

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.

New Festival of Wonder Runs April 6-30

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Silver Dollar City will debut a new festival on April 6, 2017 to replace the former World Fest. The new Festival of Wonder will focus on amazing and exciting performances and interesting food options. Highlights will include the world’s largest stringed instrument, which will run the length of Red Gold Heritage Hall, and The World of Bacon. It’s also worth getting excited for the wild Flamenco Kings musicians and acrobats, and the gourmet grilled cheese varieties that will be introduced. The new festival will also welcome in the opening of the full park for the 2017 season (only rides and select shops and eateries are open during March Spring Ride Days).

 

Get more info here on the official site.

Clearing Continues On Apparent New Coaster Project

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Large scale clearing has continued at Silver Dollar City in preparation for what we can only assume is a major new roller coaster project. The clearing is now readily noticeable behind Echo Hollow and next to ThuNderaTion. The change in the scenery when riding TNT is drastic: the once hidden helix and swoop through the woods is now completely exposed on one side. As we noted back in May, a large cut was made into the hillside next to TNT’s lift hill, which is now occupied by construction office trailers. The clearing shows off the large expanse of land that was previously hidden in this area; easily enough for a large new coaster. The survey stakes that clearly state ‘CL Coaster’ and ‘CL support’ are still there.

 

On the other side of Echo Hollow the majority of the current action is taking place. New utility lines are being placed down the hill, and a large new excavation has been made on the East side of the amphitheater next to the concession stand that is nearly always closed. It’s speculated that this will be a new set of restrooms to replace the set being demolished on the other side. We will probably see the Echo Hollow entrance moved closer to this side as well.

 

It’s still not easy to photograph the construction from inside the park without breaking any rules (do NOT take a camera on any coasters), but here is what I was able to snap with my cellphone from the TNT queue and EH:

Original SDC Stagecoach Completes Tour, Will Return to Park This Fall

The original Silver Dollar City that was such a quintessential piece of the park during it’s early years was purchased some years ago by a man named Rick Hamby who grew up riding it. Since then he has taken it on multiple cross-state trips, using it not only to educate about the old west but to also spread the practice of good old fashioned pen pals and letter writing. At each stop on his trips he would hand out letters to the local school kids from other school kids in the Ozarks.

This year is the 15th time he’s made such a trip, but now it seems that he’s giving it up. The stagecoach is going to be returned to SDC this fall and will presumably be put on display outside of Outlaw Run, the stagecoach robbery-themed roller coaster at the park.

More details and a video are available on ky3.com

2017 Project Construction Update – 5/21/16

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The 2017 project is already well underway it seems. Construction markings are flourishing in the area around ThuNderaTion and Echo Hollow. The markers clearly identify the centerline of a new roller coaster, complete with arrows apparently depicting the direction of travel. There is also a lot of electrical line work going on, with orange markings leading out from the TNT station and near the power box by Echo Hollow.

The ride markings make a tight loop mostly encircling the Echo Hollow restroom building, with markers leading off down into the valley behind the amphitheater. At least one marker can also be spotted within the turn of ThuNderaTion following the dive out of the tunnel.

The small gravel area that has always been next to ThuNderaTion’s lift hill has been expanded and had fresh gravel added, and a tall chain link fence with high wires has been added around the coaster. This is obviously going to be a major staging area. If you are quick, you can also spot a large clearing being made on the entrance road just past the turnoff where an access road is being added into the area.

At this rate, I would not be surprised to see actual clearing for the coaster itself begin next month, but that’s my assumption.

 

 

Throwback Thursday: The Beverly Hillbillies Visit SDC

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In 1969 Silver Dollar City thrust itself from obscurity and directly into the national spotlight by playing host to one of TV’s most iconic families: The Beverly Hillbillies. Not just one, but five episodes were filmed at Silver Dollar City as part of the 8th season of the massively popular series. SDC wasn’t just a backdrop – it’s name, characters, and real life history was used in the episodes giving the park an unimaginable amount of publicity considering it’s size and relative obscurity at the time. Silver Dollar City and the Ozarks in general got a lot of love from the show because Paul Henning, the creator of the series, was actually inspired to create the show on a Boy Scout camping trip to the area in 1962.

The five episode run took the Clampet family back to “the hills” to see the Silver Dollar City Fair (SDC being portrayed as an actual Ozark town), where Granny intends to find a suitable husband for Elly May. Elly tries to show off in the fair’s competitions, but Granny’s plans get derailed when her Ozarkan arch-rival, Elverna Bradshaw, ends up competing with her instead. Several famous Silver Dollar City citizens made appearances such as Shad Heller, Peter Engler, and Chick Allen, as well as Branson icon and country singer Roy Clark.

These episodes were not the only love SDC got from the Hillbillies, as throughout the 9-season series there are numerous references to Silver Dollar City, it’s characters, and local Branson icons such as Jim Owens. Shad Heller especially got some traction on the show, even being flown out to Hollywood after the five SDC episodes to carry on as a recurring character in several more episodes. It’s said that SDC got exposure on at least twenty episodes of the show.

The result of the SDC episodes hitting the airwaves was dramatic. Attendance rose some 16% at Silver Dollar City by the following year to reach over 900,000 visitors. That’s a respectable number for a small theme park even today, and this was long before the emphasis on roller coasters and big thrill rides. Given that Silver Dollar City had trouble finding it’s footing as an attraction during the early years, it’s possible that the show marked a turning point leading it to evolve into the massive entertainment company it has created today. Roy Clark, who was just a country singer at the time, got exposed to Branson through his appearances in these episodes leading to his eventual return and setup of the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre which also helped put Branson on the map.

DVDs of the Silver Dollar City episodes can usually be found in the Hospitality House within the park. I’m having trouble finding where you can buy DVDs online of the later seasons, so if you find a source let us know!

 

 

 

Bluegrass & BBQ All Through May

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One of Silver Dollar City’s finest festivals kicks off on May 5. Bluegrass and BBQ brings together two of the Ozark’s best traditions. Red Gold Hall fills up with BBQ styles from across the nation including Memphis, Cajun, and Hawaiian styles. At Reunion Hall they have an all-you-can-eat rib fest which includes St. Louis style ribs and hickory smoked beef brisket. While you are chowing down on all that, there’s a huge list of famous Bluegrass performers from across the country scheduled to perform all throughout May. This festival is a pretty huge deal within the Bluegrass world, so don’t miss your chance to see some of the world’s best in Silver Dollar City’s perfect settings.

For more info, check out the official event page.

New Construction Markings Show Up at SDC

Our observant friends at midwestinfoguide.com have spotted a number of orange construction markings at Silver Dollar City in the area just above the Echo Hollow amphitheater. You can check out the photos and summary here on the MIG blog. It seems the color of the markings indicates that some communication utilities are being relocated in the area. While these specific markings could just be related to upgrades or maintenance at the amphitheater, rumors have already been starting to swirl about a major new attraction for Silver Dollar City in 2017.

While so many park rumors are little more than gossip or hearsay, one can pick up a hunch that something big is on the way to the park within the next couple of seasons just by observing the recent patterns in park development. The 2017 season will be four years removed from the opening on Outlaw Run, which is not a large gap but matches the gap between Wildfire and Powderkeg. In recent years the park has followed a pattern of adding large additions every other year with smaller projects or no development in the years in between. This year is seemingly one of those “dry” years, after the $10 million Fireman’s Landing addition in 2015. Dollywood, Silver Dollar City’s sister park in Tennessee, has been adding new coasters like crazy in the past decade as they transform into a resort destination.

There are certainly no guarantees that any of this means anything other than that some utilities have been located, but you can be sure that the park’s fans will be eagle-eyed all season long for any markings, clearings, or equipment that might indicate something new on the way.

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