Stepping through the gates of Silver Dollar City is like stepping back into a simpler time.. From the costumed bakery workers, to the dozens of skilled craftsmen and quaint, historic buildings, this attraction aims to preserve the heritage of the Ozarks and it meets that goal in a fun and entertaining way.
Tucked into the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Silver Dollar City combines history with amusement park rides, incredible shows and yummy food one comes to expect at theme parks and it’s all family-friendly.
Silver Dollar City in Branson wasn’t much more than a hole in the ground in the early days. The very first attraction and the one the entire amusement park is built around is Marvel Cave a.k.a Marble Cave in those days. The cave, discovered by Osage Indians in the 1500’s, and mined for nitrogen-rich bat guano in the 1880’s by Union Civil War veterans, and opened for public tours in the late 1890’s when it was purchased by a Canadian mining expert.
William Henry Lynch operated the cave, which had grown in popularity, with his two daughters until the 1940’s. When the Lynch sisters decided to retire, they offered the Herschend family a 99-year lease on the cave. The Herschends’ loved the area and were committed to making their new family business a success.
In 1960, the recreated 1880’s mining village, called Silver Dollar City, was unveiled to the public, drawing record crowds.
I have such wonderful memories of our visit to Silver Dollar City as a child. I remember the fun we had walking around this 1880’s reconstructed town filled with artisans and craftsman. I remember the fun of watching the shows and riding the theme park rides. I couldn’t wait to share this special place with my family.
We planned to be there two days, with one day being focused more on the rides of the park and the second day being focused on the entertainment, cave tour, craftsman, and re-riding our favorite rides.
We were staying at Wilderness campground which is less than a mile from Silver Dollar City. We were pleased to discover that the campground offered free shuttle service to Silver Dollar City which meant we could leave our “home” hooked up at the campground rather than drive it over to the park.
We caught the 9:00am shuttle over to the park so we could be there when it opened.
The park has two opening times. At 9:00 the main gate opens and visitors are allowed into the Main Street area of the park where shops are located and where many of the parks craftsman are demonstrating their skills.
The rest of the park, including the rides and entertainment, don’t open until 10:00am with a rope drop allowing visitors into the rest of the park.
We loved that hour each morning to move through Main Street at a relaxed pace, watching the craftsman demonstrate their old fashioned skills and talents. There was a bucket maker,
a couple making sorghum with an old-fashioned press that was mule-driven,
a gentleman making rolling pins with a wheel driven lathe,
and even a taffy shop where we were able to watch them make homemade salt water taffy.
We had to buy a bag to sample!
At 9:50am the crowd gathered by the flag pole in the town square for the raising of the flag. It was moving to watch as veterans and members of the military were invited to come forward to assist with the raising of the flag.
Then we all removed our hats, placed our hands over our hearts and together said the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.
Patriotism, God, and family are all reoccurring themes and the foundation of this special theme park and you could feel the presence of those influences as you moved through the park.
At 10:00am the ropes dropped and guests were given free access to the entire park.
We quickly noticed that we were one of the few young families in the park that day. With kids in school, the only other families with children that we ran into were fellow homeschoolers. Most of the visitors were retirees that were there to enjoy the MANY fabulous shows offered through the day, rather than ride the rides.
This was good news for us. This meant we could walk onto every single ride, both days we were there, with no wait. We were often given the opportunity to stay on rides and just keep re-riding them over and over because there was no one else in line.
At Silver Dollar City there is a nice mix of rides for all ride types. There are tamer rides for those who want a little thrill,
old fashioned story rides,
and big rollercoasters.
Silver Dollar City also boasts the first wooden rollercoaster that goes upside-down.
There were things to do for each member of the family based on their comfort level, and everyone had a wonderful time.
Some of the favorite rides include:
The Flooded Mine, a story ride that takes you through a flooded mine filled with convicts. As you float through this ride on a boat, you have a gun that allows you to aim and shoot at the targets throughout the ride. For each target you hit you get points. The goal is to have the highest score in your boat when the ride ends.
Everyone enjoyed this ride but Toby was the clear winner every time!
Another “competition game” we all enjoyed was the Tom and Huck Riverboat. This charming ride takes 8 passengers on a raft ride around a river scene. Each rider has a water gun to squirt at targets, setting off unexpected splashes and explosions.
To add to the fun and wetness of the ride, there are water guns stationed all around the ride so that you can get into water gun battles with people passing by.
This was a VERY wet ride, but so much fun!
Another favorite of Toby, Grace, Molly, Tyler and I was the Giant Barn Swing. I found this equally terrifying and delightful.
There was also a lot of fun, interactive entertainment that wasn’t rides. All through the park their were craftsman that you could sit and watch, entertainers and musicians, storytellers, and walk through exhibits.
Even if you aren’t someone who rides rides you could easily fill a day with all the other things there are to see and do at Silver Dollar City.
I loved revisiting the old fashioned buildings I remember from my childhood visit, and walking through Grandpa’s Mansion, a fun-house of tilted rooms and optical illusions.
I remember the old swinging bridge,
and the many interactive exhibits that are tucked around the park.
We also toured Marvel Cave, the cave that extends beneath Silver Dollar City. This cave tour is included in the price of admission.
The second day of our visit we made time to enjoy some 0f the shows offered throughout the park. The schedule features 10 different shows at various times through the day including musical presentations, comedy shows, wild west shows, magic shows and talent shows…all themed around the 1880’s feel of the park.
We attended three of the shows on the second day including a funny comedy show at the Saloon, where we enjoyed peanuts while we belly laughed our way through the show,
An amazing Wild West show that was part of Cowboy Week at Silver Dollar City. This show highlighted a traditional Native American hoop dance performed by the reigning hoop dance champion of 2016, incredible rope and lasso tricks, trick horse riding, and a patriotic tribute to our great nation.
We ended our day at Silver Dollar City with their big evening show in the amphitheater where they highlight the enormous talent of the Silver Dollar City performers with a big variety show.
It was a perfect way to end an amazing two days at this very special theme park.