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.
Opening day for the 2015 season got off to a fairly lackluster start. Rain prevented the typical opening ceremony involving the raising of the flag and the pledge of allegiance (at the same time honoring service members in attendance). Instead we huddled around the main square until opening time when the chains simply dropped and over half of those in attendance made a beeline to the big new attraction: Fireman’s Landing.
Fireman’s Landing is a smash hit. Just the sight of it is very impressive and does a great job of exuding the SDC charm while also packing in the exciting rides and adventures that young families are craving. It’s a little more tight in the area than a photo perspective will give you, but you don’t really notice all of the rides until you are in the center of it. The firestation building is magnificent, and really turns this area into a thematic experience. There are so many awesome details it’s hard to go through them all off of my memory. There are lots of cool little interactive things, neat little details in the theming (like the ladder canopies), phone charging stations, good theming detail inside the buildings and out, and of course the awesome color palette and paint job on the rides. I can’t emphasize enough how beautiful the area is. It also keeps up with a lot of SDC theming conventions, including individualized “store” name signs on the buildings next to the fire station.
One of the few things I didn’t like was the soundtrack in the area. The music is fine, but every other minute it is cut with a booming voice that either advertises a nearby park restaurant or makes some corny joke over and over again. I hope this gets adjusted soon, or parents waiting on kids will be driven insane. I also didn’t like how they left the toy store. It used to be huge, and I understand they had to do some things due to ADA, but what’s left is kind of an ugly Frankenstein building. Taking out the ivy canopy also exposed the backside of the theatre, which is ugly. I feel like they’ll revisit this area soon to pretty it back up.
It’s a little weird seeing so many rides smashed into a prominent area of the park now. On Lake Silver you can now see all of Fireman’s Landing’s six rides, plus TGS, Lost River, and Outlaw Run. That’s very different than the SDC I grew up with, but I think they’ve done as much as they can to make it not feel like a run-of-the-mill theme park even with all the ride additions that are now the meat of the park. Fireman’s Landing is a whole class above any “family” area of it’s kind at any other park.
Also of note, 2015 marks the 55th year of operation for Silver Dollar City.
An Old Time Christmas is Silver Dollar City’s most spectacular event. Each year the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 4 million lights, a light parade, a Christmas sing-along steam strain, and much more.
This year’s photo update comes from the weekend after Thanksgiving. The holiday weekend combined with temperatures that reached into the 70′s made this one of the busiest weekends ever at the park, coming within about 500 visitors of meeting the all-time attendance record. Even with the huge crowds my family had an excellent time as all three generations of my family left very happy. I always point out to everyone that even if the lines for the rides are too much, there’s so much to do at Silver Dollar City that you shouldn’t be dissuaded by heavy crowds. We took in the shows, watched the craftsmen, got some Christmas shopping done, saw the lights, and snuck in some rides here and there.
I’m not going to caption the photos this time as there’s not too much to say. I’ll just let the photos do the talking:
Silver Dollar City is speeding along with the construction of Fireman’s Landing, the new area of the park that will feature 10 new family-friendly rides and attractions including the rebirth of the foam ball play area. Since our last update from ACE’s Coaster Christmas event, the most notable progress has been made on the facade of the new Firehouse. As you can see in some of the photos, they’ve already got siding on the front of the shot tower.
Other additions of note include more progress on the shade structure over the balloons’ queue line. It reminds me of the original queue line it had back in Tom Sawyer’s Landing, and with it out in front I think it will help the balloons blend into the park better since they won’t be quite as visible from that angle as I had previously thought.
More concrete work has also been done, and the operation booth for the Fire Wagon seems to be in place. The structures in the lake left over from the Greedy Bros. and Geyser Gulch will apparently disappear during the off-season.
Over in the toy shop adjacent to the new area, things are obviously being cleared out as everything is on sale and isn’t being restocked. Rumor is that this store will receive an extensive make-over to both make it more accessible and to extend its use for products that compliment the new area.
For more information about Fireman’s Landing, check out the official page.
This was my first year to actually make it to Coaster Christmas, and I definitely hope to make it an annual tradition. Last year’s event was essentially canceled due to a snow storm, so this year it was moved to the second weekend of November which seems to work out much better for everyone involved.
The day started off with some short talks by representatives from all the major parks in Missouri, giving us all a peak at what’s in store for 2014. Most of the speakers even brought some swag to hand out, including shirts, lanyards, and even tickets to Schlitterbahn!
We then had an hour of ERT with Powderkeg, Outlaw Run, Wildfire, and FiTH available. Most of us headed to Outlaw Run first, and those who were new to the park were of course blown away by it. FiTH had all the lights on for ERT which is always a treat. The park opened at noon, and most of our group headed over to the backside of Heritage Hall to get VIP seats for It’s A Wonderful Life, another one of SDC’s high-quality stage productions.
After the show we headed over to Fireman’s Landing for a behind the scenes peak at the construction progress and a wonderful picnic lunch provided by the park. My photos and impressions of Fireman’s Landing have been posted in a separate update here. Construction leads were on hand to answer all of our questions about the area and other SDC project questions. Of course we asked about the old geyser and Greedy Bros. structures in the lake, and it was confirmed that they would be removed. The old waterboggin tower was also a hot topic, and the statements from the construction guys essentially meant that it will be used for minor purposes such as holding Christmas lights until the day comes that the park wants to use the space again. They will tear it down rather than re-use it for any new attractions.
That was it for official events on Saturday, leaving us to enjoy the park for the rest of the day. The park is as spectacular as ever at night, definitely worthy of more consideration for awards (I think Dollywood keeps getting the nod because it is more trafficked by pollsters). The new parade is nice. Not a huge difference from the old parade, but it’s much brighter and of course the kids love Rudolph and the gang. I kind of miss the “gifts of Christmas” song though…
On Sunday we met up once more to enjoy a lights-on ride through of Flooded Mine, which many of us rode several times in succession. When we got off there were more park officials available to answer questions about the ride and park. We ended the official events by lining up at Thunderation for the first ride of the day.
It was a great time had by all, and one of the biggest Coaster Christmas events to date with somewhere around 117 participants. If you missed it this year, I’ll definitely be making a bigger deal about it in 2015 so stay tuned (it sneaked up on me this year because I didn’t realize the date had changed).
P.S.: The new new lockers are GREAT! I was skeptical at first as I always am with such schemes, but SDC has reinvented the locker game for theme parks. For $3, you get a locker that lasts all day (meaning you can open it as many times as you want!) that you can move around the park to other locker locations when needed! HFEC has taken something that’s little more than a cash grab in certain other parks and turned it into a very useful, user-friendly service that is well worth the cost.
A major component of the ACE Coaster Christmas event this year was a backstage tour of the construction of Fireman’s Landing. The park opened up the center area to us, and had some of the construction leads on hand to answer our questions. Even for coaster-oriented folks, this area really seemed to impress everyone in attendance. It’s a great package of family-friendly rides, theming, and intriguing interactive experiences that will bring the magic of SDC to a new generation.
It’s been difficult for those following along through photos to gauge how everything is actually fitting together in reality vs. the concept art. I’m happy to report that the area is perfectly designed to extend the feeling of the city around the lakefront while also packing in the needed family rides. The area is a little disorienting for those who are used to Geyser Gulch because the deck is missing and the new structure is set farther back from the lake. There’s still a lot of pathway area to complete, and of course there’s still a lot of buildings and rides to construct, so the area will continue to transform into the new year. It’s still intriguing to figure out how it will all turn out, but I am much more confident now that we’ll all be highly impressed with it.
The rides are well placed to keep the city atmosphere as in tact as possible. The fire wagon ride is pretty close to the main building, which will help it fit in. The shot tower is of course essentially part of the new Firestation #3, so it fits in perfectly. The small rides are mostly tucked around the backside of the area out of the way. The balloons are the only things that will really stick out ride-wise, being situated a good bit in front of the main structure so they’ll be the first thing you see when you walk up. Fortunately, they look pretty good and are in-theme with the period, so it will all be a huge improvement over the gaudy old Geyser Gulch area.
The building is massive in person. It feels taller than Geyser Gulch, and clearly will have a lot more fun packed inside. Maintenance staff confirmed that the old Greedy Bros. structure will be removed from the lake. The lake will appear to grow quite a bit next year with all of that stuff plus the old deck area removed.
Now onto the photos:
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer and typically one of the busiest weekends of the year for Branson attractions. This year however, off-and-on rain showers put a major damper on the crowds. I wasn’t complaining though – there’s so much to do at SDC even in the rain, and after the showers let up I was able to get my fill of rest of the park after all the young families left.
A major focus of this trip for me was to check in on the major construction site that has developed behind Geyser Gulch. The rumors of a massive refurbishment on the Geyser Gulch area complete with several new family rides seem to be true, though few specific details are known. I spotted the pieces for Celebration City’s old double shot sitting in the maintenance yard. The park made it seem like this ride was for sure going to be part of the new Geyser Gulch last year when they included it in three different concept pitches for the new area.
There were many other changes and developments to observe as well. As reported earlier this year, the kiddie waveswinger from Half Dollar Holler has mysteriously disappeared. A new game stall been built in the space formerly occupied by checker boards in front of The Giant Swing. A new ‘hi-striker’ style game was setup near the Boatworks theatre, but has sat closed most of the season and will soon be moved to a new location near the front of GE. There is lots of new concrete walkway area around the Saloon.
There were many smaller improvements around the park as well, such as some great TLC on Fire-in-the-Hole and the Flooded Mine.
On August 9, Silver Dollar City formally announced Outlaw Run, a new $10 million wooden roller coaster that has set a new standard for wooden coasters around the globe. This ground-breaking roller coaster will include an incredible 81-degree near vertical drop, numerous overbanked curves, and three upside-down elements, making it the only inverting wooden roller coaster in the world. That evening I was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes and take a tour of what has been constructed so far. As we have watched on the forums, SDC broke ground on Outlaw Run in January of 2012, so as of this update almost 70% of the ride had been completed. The ride is easily on schedule to open in the spring of 2013. For more information on Outlaw Run, visit the ride’s official page here.
[Editor's note: This gallery was originally added to SDCFans in 2012 and has been moved to the new format of the site in 2014]
A brief update of the construction of Silver Dollar City’s 2013 roller coaster. This is what I’ve put together for the ride layout so far: You dip out of the station a tiny bit and then immediately hit the lift hill. At the top of the lift you take a sharp dip to the left and then plummet over a rolling, 81 degree, 160ft drop into the valley. The track lifts out of the drop into an extreme overbanked turn that rises towards the train tracks and then plummets back into the valley back towards the base of the drop, a full 270 degrees. I wasn’t able to follow the footers farther than that, but perhaps the rumored tunnel is down there past the drop, or perhaps there is more clearing and footer work to be done down there. In any case, it looks like the track will turn around down there and head back up past the drop again, because we know it passes through the lift hill. After passing through the lift hill, it looks like it will dive into that smaller valley immediately below the station and then curve up around until it finally crosses the train tracks again and into the station.
Archives by Subject:
- 2009 Project Progress – July 5
- 2009 Project Upate 7-25-09
- 2013 Roller Coaster Construction Update
- 2016 Season Begins March 12
- 2017 Project Construction Update – 5/21/16
- 2017 Season Begins March 15
- 225ft Tall Drop Tower and Other Attractions In Latest Proposal for Branson Strip
- An Old Time Christmas 2008
- An Old Time Christmas 2010
- An Old Time Christmas 2014
- An Old Time Christmas Begins Nov. 7
- Attraction Spotlight: Birdle’s Cabin
- Attraction Spotlight: Grandfather’s Mansion
- Attraction Spotlight: Marvel Cave
- Attraction Spotlight: Powderkeg
- Attraction Spotlight: Tom and Huck’s RiverBlast
- Bigfoot Drop Tower Attraction is Now Vertical
- Bluegrass & BBQ All Through May
- Branson Harbor Building Demolished For New Development
- Branson Landing Extension Proposed
- Branson Mountain Coaster Is Now Open
- Branson Water Chute Up For Sale
- Branson Zip-Line Roundup
- Celebration City Buildings Vandalized
- Celebration City Update – Aug. 2011
- Clearing Continues On Apparent New Coaster Project
- Coaster Christmas 2014
- Cool-Off Water Chute Being Torn Down, New Attraction on the Way
- Culinary Arts School and Off-Season Construction (2008)
- Culinary Arts School Update
- Curtains Close on Geyser Gulch
- Date Set for SDC 2015 Project Announcement
- Documentary Featuring Branson Performing Families is Now on Netflix
- Dollywood 2016 Coaster Rumors Heat Up
- Dollywood Tops Off Resort, Hints at Another Major Announcement
- Dollywood’s FireChaser Express Gets Own Ice Cream Flavor
- Downtown Branson Revitalization Project Begins Soon
- Final WorldFest Features Entertainment From Around the Globe
- Fireman’s Landing Construction Update
- Fireman’s Landing has Grand Opening and Dedication
- Fireman’s Landing S&S Tower Lifted Into Place
- Fireman’s Landing Topped Off with Iconic Bell
- Fireman’s Landing Update (Coaster Christmas)
- Fireman’s Landing Update – Nov. 30, 2014
- Harlem Globetrotters Now Performing at SDC
- Herschend Family Entertainment to Help Fill Record-Setting 500,000 Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child
- Inside the SDC Costume Shop
- It’s An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City!
- Joel Manby to Leave HFEC for SeaWorld CEO Job
- Moonlight Madness
- More Markings Appear for 2017 Project
- Mysterious $10 Million Attraction Coming to Branson Strip
- National Harvest & Cowboy Festival
- New Chipotle-Inspired Restaurant Coming to SDC
- New Construction Markings Show Up at SDC
- New Festival of Wonder Runs April 6-30
- New Pasghetti’s Exterior Reveals Branson’s Continued Low Standards
- New Ride Prep/Culinary Arts School Update
- Old Reeds Spring Church In Jeopordy
- Original SDC Stagecoach Completes Tour, Will Return to Park This Fall
- Outlaw Run Construction Tour
- Outlaw Run Officially a World Record Holder
- Ozark Wildcat to be Torn Down, No New Plans for Site
- Packing Up the Landing
- Park & Construction Update – 7/19/09
- Park Updates and Photo Trip Report – Aug. 2011
- Park Updates and Photo Trip Report – Aug. 2012
- Park Updates and Photos – Aug. 2010
- Park/Construction Update – Sept. 28, 2009
- Parking Project Update
- Plans Revealed For New Branson Landing & Water Chute Site Attractions
- Ray Johnson, Silver Dollar City Bladesmith, Passes Away
- RiverBlast Concept Artwork
- Roadwork on 76 to Begin Later This Month
- SDC Debuts New Teaser Site For 2018 Coaster Project
- SDC Off-Season Photos – 2008
- SDC Purchases Additional Steam Trains
- SDCFans Member Featured on GAC Show Featuring Silver Dollar City
- SDCFans.com Undergoes Yet More Changes
- Silver Dollar City Announces ‘Fireman’s Landing’
- Silver Dollar City Featured on DIY Network’s Salvage Dawgs
- Silver Dollar City Hits Single Day Attendance Record
- Silver Dollar City Hosts Firefighter Event and Honors Fallen Firemen
- Silver Dollar City Introduces New Character
- Silver Dollar City Meets Attendance Expectations for 2014
- Silver Dollar City Memorial Day Weekend 2014 Trip Report
- Silver Dollar City Opening Day 2015
- Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas 2011
- Something’s Missing at SDC
- Southern Gospel Picnic Starts August 27
- Spirit of 76 Project Provides a Way Forward for Branson
- Spring Ride Days Start on March 14
- The Flooded Mine Celebrates 50 Seasons of Fun
- Three Reasons To Visit Silver Dollar City Theme Park In 2017
- Throwback Thursday: Gaslight Square
- Throwback Thursday: Jim Owens’ Float Trip
- Throwback Thursday: Runaway-Ore-Carts
- Throwback Thursday: Shanty Town
- Throwback Thursday: The Beverly Hillbillies Visit SDC
- Throwback Thursday: The Gandy Dancer
- Throwback Thursday: The Green Parking Trams
- USA Today’s 10-Best Website Poll Includes 2 SDC Attractions
- Violet Hensley, One of Silver Dollar City’s Oldest Musicians, Biographed in New Book
- Waterboggin/Splash Harbor Demolition
- What’s Next for the Grand Palace?
- Wild Adventures to Get Flying Carpet Ride