Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri, USA
An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City 12/10
Like I said at the end of my Halloween TR, I fully expected my day at Hershey to be my last at a theme park for the season, however the first week of December came and I had less work to do then I expected, the weather was really mild, and it turned out I was one stay away from achieving a change in status on my Hilton Honors card. Looking around, I had two choices that were just within my driving range for a weekend trip: Silver Dollar City and Dollywood. Seeing as I knew I would be going to Dollywood next year (Wild Eagle calls me) I decided to go to Branson for the first time in 10 years. The weather was forcasted to be iffy, with the likelihood of rain arriving at sunset. Temperatures were forcasted to get to 60, and a low of 53ish. So I packed my rain gear made my travel plans and set off for the Ozarks.
I arrived at the park approximately half an hour prior to opening with the full intention of heading to Powder Keg first. However, I soon realized that everyone waiting with me was on their way to see the first showing (1/2 hour after opening) of A Christmas Carol. and I do mean everyone. I also had not heard Powder Keg launch during my time waiting. I quickly changed my mind and made plans to get in line for the show:
A Christmas Carol: This show was absolutely amazing, using some reworded songs from the Polar Express and the Grinch (You’re a Mean One Mr. Scrooge,) and Broadway caliber effects this show was amazing. For me there is always a time in December where it finally hits you that Christmas is near, when during the finale when a snow(ie soap suds) storm fell on the audience was that moment for me. I was in a fantastic mood and sporting a grin for the rest of the day. Even the rain, and word that the power had gone off in the Saloon canceling the show for a few hours, that greeted me on the exit did not slow me down. I approached the Powder Keg line to find employees guarding the entrance, they told me that the ride does not run in the rain and because of the forecast it likely would not run much the rest of the day (in fact it never did, we had a steady drizzle the rest of the day.) Apparently 5 trains was all that got to experience that ride the day I was there, no new credit for me this trip. I instead went to a coaster that was open, the one and only:
Wildfire (20 min wait, walk on, re ride, walk on, walk on): This ride still packs a punch. I absolutely love B&M’s diving loops, and I found out I had lost weight since the spring (score.) After riding Wildfire for my first time I retraced my steps and joined volunteered for the Fire Department for the first of 5 times…
FIRE IN THE HOLE! (10 min wait, walk on, walk on, walk on, walk on): So much cheesy goodness inside. To those who don’t know, FitH is a coaster/dark ride hybrid through a town on fire because of the Baldknocker gang. It was built in the late 60s/early 70s and all the effects and animatronics are from that era. The finale has you entering a mine as a blast is going off, and with the warning FIRE IN THE HOLE! You plunge down a drop into a splashdown landing. Ive heard that Dollywood took out the splashdown at the end of Blazing Fury and that that was likely on its way to SDC as well, which is a shame as it’s a great ending to the ride. A pure classic. As I left, the crowds were likely at their largest of the day, most things had a line, and there was no show I was interested in seeing (the saloon remained shut and the Living Nativity wasn’t showing yet) so I wandered around, grabbed some food and tried to hit some flats. The Barn Swing was only operating one side and had a good 20 minute wait that I did not care to wait for, and sadly the Disk-O was not operating so I explored some shops and soon found myself by the last adult coaster in the park I had to hit:
ThuNderTration (5 min wait, walk on, walk on, walk on, walk on): I believe that this ride is the last Mine Train Arrow ever made, and it is right up there with SFFT’s Road Runner Xpress, KI’s Adventure Express, Big Thunder Mountain and SFOT’s Mine Train as my favorite of the genre. Its packed with helixes and has some pretty steap drops as well. Lots of fun, anyways I was getting hungry so I grabbed dinner (Roasted Chicken and Ribs, yum) and then went to see my second Christmas show:
The Living Nativity: This is a very well done fairly straight retelling of the Nativity with traditional carrols, with a little bit of a Southern/Born Again Twist (the narrator is the Angel Gabriel, personified by a large bearded man with a southern twang in a bejeweled, sparkling white business suit and tie.) Very enjoyable, and much appreciated that the park showcases all aspects of Christmas, not just the commercial aspects.
Leaving the Nativity darkness had finally descended on the park. For those who have not been to SDC at Christmas, you are truly missing a site. Every building, random (>20ft) trees, and the train are loaded with Christmas lights. A park employee told me there were over 4 million lights in the park, and I believe them. The park looks truly magical at night, even if it was in the rain. I had about a half an hour until the town Christmas Tree lighting so I made my way to the Haunted Mine and had a spin on this older version of a shooting dark ride. Then I made my way back up the hill to experience the Christmas Tree Lighting:
An Old Time Christmas: While every other light in the park had gone on, the gigantic 50ft Christmas Tree had not. However after a quick narrative about Jesus, the strings of Joy to the World struck out and this happened:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_q1O2L2R11U (Note not my video)
To those of you who did not make the jump, its really hard to describe, but basically it’s a huge LED light show where the tree lights up with different colors, shapes, and lines. Its truly amazing, and after the first lighting, every 15 minutes the tree cycles through two songs (Joy to the World and Sleigh Ride by the Boston Pops, Carol of the Bells by David Foster, Medley (I saw 3 ships/Joy to the World) by Michael W. Smith or the Polar Express Overture. I found myself stopping and watching this show every time I was in the area. Its was extremely impressive.
After that, I decided to head down and see if the Saloon was operating yet, the good news was that it was, the bad news was that it was full for the next show. So moving on, I went and rode Wildfire 3 times, ThuNdterTration twice, then waited to ride:
The Silver Dollar City Railroad (30 min wait): That’s right for all of you following along, the longest line I waited for was the train. Why you ask, well all along the way there are lighted displays and where the train robbers are in the summer instead we find Grandpa who reads a portion of The Gospel of Luke’s Christmas passages.
I then walked through Grandfather’s House and rode FitH two more times before gatting in line for the Saloon Show:
Fa-La-La-La Follies: The SDC Saloon show is a Wild West Comedy Show with a wisecracking host and a bunch of saloon girls that takes place in a real (alcohol serving) saloon. It was here that I had my favorite food/drink of the night: The Snowball. Imagine a Root Beer Float, but instead of Root Beer you having piping hot chocolate. It was delicious. The show was great as well. I left the show to find the park deserted, and there was an hour to go until closing. I slowly made my way around the park enjoying the lights, and getting 2 rides on ThunderTration and FitH, before making my way back to get the last ride of the night on Wildfire. I then watched the Christmas Tree once more and left the park.
Even though it was a cold rainy day, and I did not get to ride the best/only coaster in the park I had not ridden I had an absolute blast. It was probably the second best day I spent in a park all year (Valleyfair with my brother was #1.) I plan on going back for this event next year, and with a trip to Dollywood on the charts as well it looks like Im buying a Herschend’s Pass this year. This will also be the shortest off season Ive ever had as I will be going down to Florida in early March.
it looks like Im buying a Herschend’s Pass this year
Is there such a thing as an all Herschend's Pass? I have not seen such an animal on any of their sites or at any of their parks. I even asked about one at SDC but quickly found out that the person working there didn't even know they owned other parks :(
If you buy a pass to Dollywood or Silver Dollar City you get 50% the gate price at the other park.
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