Silver Dollar City & Celebration City
“What is that smell, daddy?”
I ended up getting a halfway decent night sleep, minus some strange earth shaking rumble in the middle of the night. Once everyone was ready, we went down to our hotel lobby and ate a quick breakfast. We had a small drive to Branson and wanted to get there at opening.
We soon left Springfield (the birthplace of one of my favorite bands) and made the short drive to Branson. We arrived at Silver Dollar City at opening. The park was running a special deal if you wanted to visit Silver Dollar City and Celebration City for two days. We ended up getting tickets for that even though we weren’t sure about going back to Celebration City the second day.
I hadn’t been to Silver Dollar City since the year Wildfire opened up. When I visited the park a few years ago, I didn’t get a chance to walk through the cave that a lot of people have mentioned to me. To get into Silver Dollar City, you have to walk through a large gift shop, which also houses the start of the cave tour. Since we were one of the first people inside the gate, we decided to skip riding the coasters (gasp!) and do the cave tour. I was very interested in doing this tour as I have heard nothing but good things about it.
A play-by-play of the entire cave tour is not important. Let’s just say we were all amazed at what we saw. There were some very nice highlights that stuck out including the first look 200 feet down when we entered the first part of the caverns, to the shoe and waterfall rooms. Oh yea, there is one other thing that needs mentioning. As we were at the very bottom of the cave (over 400 feet below ground), we started to climb back up to civilization. This required us to climb up a narrow set of stairs that zigzagged back and forth vertically for 5 or 6 flights. Barry, Jeff, and I were the last people to start the climb up.
Now, I don’t know what made him do it, but Jeff decided to do a little experiment or something. Without being too disgusting, Jeff let out a “S.B.D.”. I knew he did it as did the man in front of me. The bad thing was we found out gas rises very rapidly in caves, much faster than we did on the stairs. You could actually hear the “cloud” go up as reactions were heard every couple of seconds with every flight of stairs it passed. Needless to say we got into a rather immature laughing fit. Hey, it wasn’t me.
By the time we stopped laughing, we reached an area where we boarded a cable driven train that took us back to where we started the tour. At this time we were in dire need of riding a coaster so we headed back to the first one we could find.
For our first ride, I decided to ride backwards. I don’t think I have ever ridden this coaster facing backwards as I usually gravitate towards the backwards facing cars almost naturally. This has got to be the strongest Arrow mine I have ridden. The ending of the helix is really powerful. Perhaps I would get a chance to ride this one facing front wards sometime this trip. A ride on Wildfire was desired next.
On the way to Wildfire, I heard someone call out my name. I looked over and saw Miles “Ghost Boy” Ketchum standing in line for something. We told him we were going to go over to Wildfire for a couple of more rides and we would meet up with him later. Miles was on my coach during the ACE ECO trip in 2002. If you are interested in reading the trip report that includes Miles’s ghost story, click here.
I loved this ride when I rode it for the first time. I remember it being very powerful despite a few reviews that said it was boring and forceless. I don’t think Jeff had high expectations for the ride as he knew of the same reviews I had just mentioned. We decided to ride in the back row for our first ride. While we were going up the lift, we could see what was left of Buzzsaw Falls. Everything was gone with the exception of the lift and curve leading up to the lift. Lots of footers for the new ride were clearly visible as we continued going up the lift on Wildfire.
The first drop on Wildfire provided us with lots-o-air and took our eyes off the beautiful scenery. The rest of the ride, while a bit on the short side, is very smooth in typical B&M fashion. The not-so-floorless trains are comfortable and the ride is very powerful. Jeff said, “Boring and forceless? I don’t think so,” as we hit the brake run. We liked it so much we went back around for a couple more rides.
Once we got in a couple more rides, we walked over to the kiddie coaster in the park. Barry and I had ridden it but Jeff wanted to credit. There was a long line so Jeff decided to pass on it as he knew we were coming back tomorrow. We then got in a rather long line for another coaster.
---Fire In The Hole---
Yes, I get some flack for counting this as a coaster but I am not the only person that does. For me, it meets my definition of a coaster. The drops that happen during the ride are gravity driven while the rest of the ride is powered, I just think of it as a coaster with long lift sections.
While we were in line, I got a call from a radio station in Los Angeles. I had talked to this station a few months before about the new attractions opening up in the LA area but I had not been in the area to ride anything new. Jeff had. Since he lives in the area, I let him talk to the woman I was speaking with. She ended up deciding she wanted to talk to both of us live the next day at some point. This wasn’t going to be an issue although it would mean we wouldn’t be able to leave Branson as early as hoped as she thought it would be neat if she could talk to us while we were at a park and not in a car driving to one. Plus, signals in cars usually aren’t that stable.
After our quick talk with the woman from KNX radio, we got our ride on Fire In The Hole. Jeff counted it as a coaster as well. We were all pretty hungry by this point. Barry and Jeff wanted different things to eat. I honestly wasn’t ready for a big meal or anything so I just decided to grab some onion rings. Jeff and I met up with Miles while Barry went searching for other types of food. It was cool getting to chat with Miles for a while. We talked about the Europe trip among other things. He said he could meet up with us at Celebration City in a while so we didn’t see the last of him. After eating, we left Miles and got in some more rides on Wildfire.
Just as we finished eating, it started raining pretty heavily. We decided to leave the park at this time and head to Celebration City which isn’t far away. The last time I visited the park, it was called Branson USA and I had a great time there. I was really looking forward to checking out the new look and attractions that have been installed since I was last there.
When we arrived, it was around 6:00pm. It was still raining pretty heavily but we were hoping for the best. We could tell at least a couple of the rides were running so we went in. The new front gate is a nice change from how people used to enter the park. Once we walked inside the park, I was very happy to see the whole new look of the park. The front theming was fantastic. It was raining so hard, there were small rivers traveling down the “street” we were walking on. Employees were doing their best to try and brush out the water so the few guests that were in the park didn’t have to walk through the water.
Two out of three of the coasters were closed due to the rain. However, the star of the show was running.
Having ridden Dollywood’s Thunderhead a few months before, I was looking very forward to my first ride on Ozark Wildcat. Since there was virtually no one in the park at this time, getting multiple rides on the coaster was not going to be a problem. We knew we were going to get soaked so we purchased ponchos before riding. Normally I don’t care for ponchos but in this case, it looked like we needed them as the rain wasn’t ending.
We hop into the train with only three other people. Jeff and I decided to ride the front seat for our first ride. We were dispatched and made the short journey to the lift. As we were climbing, we could tell this could be a very painful ride thanks to the driving rain. We soon dove down to the right and under the structure before shooting up and making another right hand curve. I could tell right away this ride had a lot of similarities as Thunderhead even though I don’t care much to compare. We dove down a nice airtime filled drop before curving tightly to the left, back up again, right again, and then back down another great drop. We hopped up into a very tight left hand curve complete with hard laterals before dropping down once more for the wicked finish.
The ending was a lot of fun. We hopped over two peppy bunny hops before making a swift right hand curve, then over another great bunny hop before hoping up in the final brakes.
“What a ride!”
Ozark Wildcat didn’t disappoint. It was incredible. Very smooth and packed with all kinds of forces. We decided to take a look at our photos. We got a laugh out of them and decided to purchase them as you can clearly tell it was a chore to ride in the rain.
One ride wasn’t enough though. We ended up riding some more in the rain before Miles joined up with us. After a few more rides, Sue Barry and Rich Yekel showed up. What followed was a very cool, very wet, ride marathon on the Ozark Wildcat. Each ride seemed to get faster and faster with the rain falling harder and harder. We had to laugh at miles as he didn’t have a poncho and said, “One more time. That’s it” as we hit the brakes. This went on with each ride he took with us. We did take a short brake as our ponchos were not holding up so we looked in a gift shop for something a bit sturdier. Jeff and I ended up purchasing Celebration City jackets that were on clearance. Miles decided he was wet enough and a poncho wasn’t going to help him out so he bailed on the idea of getting some protection from the rain. Around this time we also took a quick ride on the flying skooters. These Larson versions look very similar to those older versions, but snapping wasn’t going to happen as they moved too slow.
We went back to the ride and continued to prove ourselves as coaster geeks. The crew was getting a kick out of us riding in the rainy conditions. For a second, it looked as if the rain was going to stop as we were going up the lift for one of our last rides, but that was merely an illusion as the skies really opened up and let go. To say our ride was painful was an understatement as is apparent in this photo. No, we are not acting.
After 20 rides, the crew told us the park was closing early. We had no problem with this as we got in a lot of rides, and we were ready to dry of. Originally we had all planned to go and meet somewhere for dinner, but Jeff, Barry, and I decided to order in pizza as we were all feeling kind of nasty after our wet stint on the Ozark Wildcat. We spent the evening watching the new Andy Dick show, “The Assistant” and two episodes of AFV.
The next day was going to be another travel day so we needed to get as much sleep as we could. I put my shoes on the heater to let them dry out. I was just hoping we would make some time to get back to Celebration City to try the other rides we missed, as well as a few more rides on the Ozark Wildcat. However, we had to be in Hot Springs, Arkansas by 5:00pm, depending on how our interview went and how long we stayed at Celebration City, if indeed we would go back.
Warming up is a thing of the past, and a new park to us all.
Thanks for reading,
. *** Edited 8/31/2004 12:02:42 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
Marvel Cave tour rocks as well...
Oh, and you guys are total CreHos for counting Fire In The Hole...it's a DARK RIDE!! ;-)
*** Edited 8/30/2004 11:57:41 PM UTC by bassististist***
It may be a dark ride, but so is Mummy. =:^)
Those on-ride pics are CLASSIC! LOL!
Your too much Sean! Nice TR!
Chuck, who is trying to fit this park and SDC into next years Timbersfest/Wisconsin/Minn Trip.
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