It's hard to find fun things to do in the fall, winter and even the early spring here in the MidWest. Most things are closed because the weather is unpredictable. So instead our kids spend time inside glued to electronics. I don't know about you, but this drives me nuts. I'm always looking for something fun to do outside the house. This year we decided to take a short trip to Branson to visit Silver Dollar City and The Showboat Branson Belle.
We started out on a Sunday with a trip to Silver Dollar City. I recommend going another day besides Sunday. They open later, 1pm on the day we went (I assume for their employees and families to be able to go to church and spend time with their families) and closed at 9pm and 8 hours during a peak time was just not enough. Sadly because of Don's work schedule, we had to go on a Sunday. We chose to not pay for parking so we had to park farther away, but they offer a shuttle back and forth from each lot. That was a lifesaver at the end of the evening. We chose to hustle and walk to the park because we didn't want to wait, getting our exercise up a large flight of stairs. It wasn't bad at all but if you have any health problems, are pregnant or have someone elderly with you I would pay for preferred parking. When you arrive at the front there is a store, guest relations, etc and you go through a gate to a small walkway to security. They will check your bags as you go in. This part went quickly and we were in the park in no time. My first impressions of the park itself were really good. We chose to go right hoping to get to our chosen food choice around dinner. It didn't happen but I was still glad we went that way. When you go to the right you end up on what looks like an old period street with little shops, food, even a blacksmith. I couldn't skip that store. They had the coolest roses they'd made. Most of this area is stores and shows but there are a few rides that blend in with the period decor. This was my favorite part of the park. I could have spent the whole day wandering in and out of the shops. But....we have little kids so on we go...
This is most certainly a theme park for families. It reminded me a lot of Knott's Berry Farm in California (if you've been there) because it's geared towards kids and families and not teenagers like most theme parks. Yes, they have roller coasters but no that's not the majority of the park. The majority of the ride areas were mainly riding for the littles. We had our 3, 4 and 12 year old along. We went on the big swings, called the Magnificent Wave Carousel which had Thomas smiling from ear to ear, and a bunch of little rides. The littles just loved this and probably would have never left. We followed that up with a good adult ride for Don and I while Thomas, Niko, and Teddy watched us in awe. When we got off all we heard was that was scary looking. Yeah, a little but we were certainly riding high afterward. Right there they also have a measuring station and your little ones can get a bracelet with their height and your contact information on it. We went 3 weeks ago and Teddy still has on his bracelet. I must have asked a million times to cut it off, but he loved our day at Silver Dollar City and I think it may have to fall off instead. We basically spent the majority of our day letting the kids ride all the rides. Niko's favorite ride was The Grand Exposition roller coaster which is a small wooden coaster that almost anyone can ride. Teddys favorite ride was Lucky's Dizzy Dogs which features Lucky the Dalmation and you bounce around a fire hydrant in a circle. The whole area around this ride is a big Fire House, with a station and firehouse themed rides. There was a number of water and other rides closed for the season but there was still plenty to see and do.
The attraction of going to Silver Dollar City in the winter is the huge light festival. They start in the summer stringing lights and they told us they literally finish the day before they open for the Holiday Season. They have up over 6.5 million lights, over 100 decorated trees, Christmas shows, and a light parade. You can take your kids to meet Santa Claus and Rudolph and the Reindeer. We skipped this because we went on a short day but stepped inside and these looked like they were decorated to the hilt. There is also a train ride to a live singing Nativity that the kids really enjoyed. The train ride travels past many of the light exhibits that you may not otherwise see as well through the crowds of people.
Our favorite part of any day is food time and we enjoyed greatly our food from the Fry Bread Company and Flossie's Fried Fancies at dinner time. We were glad we chose this side of the park for dinner because it was not as crowded and a good relaxing break from the noise and crowds. We enjoyed a few of the shops and then headed over to the train and Christmas in Midtown lighted area. We ended the day back at the front of the park as the tree lighting was going on. All in all, we had a fantastic day and even with the crowds I would highly recommend this trip to Silver Dollar City any time of year, but especially at the Holidays. My kids are super excited to go back and we are contemplating season passes for 2018.
The next weekend we planned our trip to the Branson Belle Showboat. We walked down the hiking trail from the Tablerock Lake visitor center so the kids could see the Showboat and took my Ma for her Birthday. The decorations were tastefully done and while less than at Silver Dollar City, I appreciated them more as they were simple and understated. We took Baby Susannah with us as we knew she would enjoy the singing (and the food). You get to board the Showboat pretty quickly and once on they take a photo of your party before you go inside and get shown to your seats. You can buy these photos and a book later if you'd like. You then get sat at long tables that go across the boat so everyone can see the stage. You are then free to get up, go outside, visit the small shop, and take photos. Since we went in December we went to the Celebrate Christmas show which was a cute singing Christmas show with dancing, music and, magic. Baby Susannah was fascinated with the entire thing and even stayed awake the entire time. The food was really good, you get two types of meat, a side dish, bread, and tea or lemonade, and then followed up with dessert. They play music during dinner and then you have a break to cruise about the boat and stand out watching Tablerock Lake before the main show. It was a nice afternoon. They also had a morning Pajamas with Santa cruise that looked like tons of fun for the littles.
I want to end with that all the employees both at the park and the showboat were exceptionally friendly, cheery and polite. You could tell they really enjoyed their job and that was very refreshing. We really had a blast at Silver Dollar City and the Showboat was a fun trip. If you're in the area definitely spend a day at Silver Dollar City! For more information on either go to www.silverdollarcity.com