Throwback Thursday: Shanty Town

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[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Junior for a number of corrections in the dates that I had listed formerly]

This week’s Throwback concerns a long-gone section of the park that is often referenced, but rarely talked about in detail. As with most other Throwback Thursday posts on topics before my time, I’m going to write out what I’ve pieced together about this area and I hope others will come along and correct or extend my info.

Shanty Town was a small children’s play area on the lake front that featured a large play structure and eventually several miscellaneous kid’s rides and attractions in the immediate area. I am told Shanty Town opened in 1984, but I’ve now been told a few conflicting dates here. The area was a small extension of the “deep-woods” addition to the park, which included Rube Dugan’s Diving bell and the pathway that goes through the landing down to the lake front. The area was apparently a successor to the similar Tom Sawyer’s Landing play area which opened in it’s initial form in 1980.

Shanty Town’s play structure was located approximately where the line to Lost River of the Ozarks currently begins. The structure was on stilts over the edge of the lake, and featured a number of kid-sized buildings connected by narrow platforms. You can take a look at it for yourself in the first minute and a half of this video. If anyone has any more detailed information on what the actual Shanty Town contained, shoot me a message or post about it on our forums.

The area around Shanty Town included several other little kid’s rides and attractions. The Gandy Dancer, as discussed in a previous TBT post, was originally located where the Toy Shop (originally a basket shop) is now, but was moved to Tom Sawyer’s Landing when that was built. Greedy Brother’s Excursions was a short-lived boat ride on Lake Silver that docked next to Shanty Town (that’ll be discussed in a future TBT post). I have also been told of a water maze and a few early game booths.

Shanty Town was the second in a long line of similar concept areas for kids within Silver Dollar City. The previously mentioned Tom Sawyer’s Landing opened in 1980 with rope towers and a carousel (and was later rebuilt/remodeled a couple of times including adding several more rides in 1989). Then came Geyser Gulch in 1997, which had a number of direct Shanty Town elements such as little rooms with various play things connected by slanted walkways. Then in 2011 the park debuted Half Dollar Holler, which features a kiddie ropes maze suspended between neat little tree houses plus the original Carousel. In 2015 SDC will continue the tradition with Fireman’s Landing, featuring a new interactive play house within a new area that includes a half-dozen kid’s rides and attractions.

The Shanty Town area was slowly taken apart and/or modified throughout its existence as the area evolved rapidly and newer attractions like TS’s Landing took over the Shanty Town functions. I believe the play structure was taken out in mid 90’s.

That’s the little I know about Shanty Town, if anyone knows any more about it or has any photos please post about it on our forums! I get the impression that this little area was much loved, but it didn’t capture enough attention at the time to be documented very well. Given the number of children’s/play areas that HFEC built at SDC and DW building on the successes of Shanty Town, this was one of the more influential additions the company ever constructed – so it’s worth digging into!