Editor’s note and disclaimer: This is a guest post from contributor Karri Brackett, based on her personal experience. Neither she nor Christmas Past received any compensation or commission for this post
Silver Dollar City is an 1880’s era theme park built around the entrance to Marvel Cave in the vacation mecca of Branson, Missouri. Originally opened in 1960 as an Ozark Village, the park has grown over the past six decades to become a full-fledged theme park complete with rides, shows, shopping, food, and more. It retains a unique charm that can be attributed to the craftsmen and artisans who demonstrate throughout the park and make you feel as if you have truly stepped back in time.
Although the park is open year round, the months of November and December are an especially good time to visit Silver Dollar City. The park’s Old Time Christmas festival runs from November 2 – December 30 this year and features fun for the whole family.
Here are a few reasons to visit this unique theme park nestled in the Ozark Mountains:
Every good theme park has rides and Silver Dollar City is no exception. There are a wide range of attractions from the very tame – Happy Frogs and Ladybugs will appeal to the youngest of adventurers – to the wild roller coasters Fire in the Hole, Outlaw Run, and the newest for the daring: Time Traveler. Not being much of a thrill seeker, my personal favorite is the Magnificent Wave Carousel which gives the rider fantastic views of the park, especially at night. No trip to Silver Dollar City is complete without a ride on the Frisco Silver Dollar Steam Train which at Christmas time is a sing along journey with a pause to visit Grandpa sitting trackside in front of his cabin to tell passengers the Christmas story.
There are dozens of shops at Silver Dollar City, featuring unique items often made by artisans onsite. Whether you are looking for a souvenir for yourself or doing some Christmas shopping, there are endless possibilities in stores and kiosks throughout the park. During the Christmas season, the Frisco Barn is transformed into Jingle Bell Junction, where a wide variety of decorated trees are decked out with ornaments available to purchase and the Package Pickup option allows you to pick up your purchases on the way out of the park so you don’t have to lug them around with you.
Although you can bring in your own food and drink, the delicious smells wafting through the air will surely tempt you to have a snack! From skillet meals prepared on huge outdoor cooking surfaces to easy to eat foods on a stick – I love the Tater Twists – you can find something delicious to eat on every corner in Silver Dollar City. There are even full service buffets available on select dates. Do not leave without sampling an apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream! Beverage tip: buy the souvenir cup! At $15.99 it may seem like an exorbitant price for a mug but refills are less than $2 and if you return before the end of NEXT year you can still use it.
Silver Dollar City has a wide variety of entertainment when you need a break from the riding, shopping, and walking. There are two unique 60 minute musicals that rival any Broadway production. I have seen both shows more than once and enjoy them each time. A Dickens Christmas Carol is held at the Opera House and the SDC original musical version of It’s a Wonderful Life plays at the Red Gold Heritage Hall. These two shows do require a wait in line to get in, although a show pass can be purchased for an additional charge. I would recommend making your way to the theater to get in line about an hour before show time. There are also shows specifically for children as well as a family friendly saloon show and a Living Nativity production.
Perhaps the main reason to visit Silver Dollar City during the Old Time Christmas Festival is the lights! Over 6.5 million lights illuminate the park during the Christmas season. It seems that every tree and building is lit up with gorgeous color. The centerpiece of the park is an 8 story tall Christmas tree which comes to life every night after dark, playing a coordinated music and light show every fifteen minutes or so. There is also a light parade with floats to appeal to both the young and the young at heart and 1.5 million LED lights and displays adorn Christmas in Midtown. The only drawback to being in the park all day and waiting for the lights to come on after dark is that you can become tired and want to start winding down for the day. There is an option to enter the park after 7 p.m. and having your ticket valid for the next day that might appeal to those who would like to enjoy the lights for a couple of hours and return for more fun on the next day.
So there you have it – this list is by no means inclusive and I didn’t even mention the elaborate costumes the “citizens” of the city wear, the homestead buildings one can explore, the culinary classes that are available, the petting zoo, or the various play areas for young children. I have been going to Silver Dollar City since it was just a modest park in the 1970s and have been to the Christmas festival with my husband and children for the past 10 years or so. I look forward to many more trips to this fun frontier themed park in the future!