We had the awesome opportunity thanks to ExploreBranson.com, and Silver Dollar City, my sister and I were treated to a day at the park! Silver Dollar City is an incredible gem! Silver Dollar City started as a hole in the ground…literally. Back in the late 1800's, geologists explored the Cave which was first called Marble Cave. The Osage Indians actually discovered this cave back in 1500. A group of Union Civil War vets formed a mining company to mine the resources from the cave, which was nitrogen rich bat guano, but unfortunately they found no marble. In 1894 however, William Henry Lynch who had read about the cave in Canada and purchased it, came to the Ozarks and opened the cave to public tours.
In the early 1900's Harold Bell Wright a minister and writer of The Shepherd of the Hills, was one of its visitors. The book written by Wright, helped draw people to the Ozarks. Soon roads were being build and Lynch was determined to bring the road to Branson. He cut brush and cleared the way for what is now Missouri Highway 76. By the 1920's, people were able to make it to the cave by road.
In 1946, Hugo and Mary Herschend vacationed in the Ozarks from Chicago. They LOVED the area and were offered the cave when the Lynch sisters decided to retire. In 1950 they took over management and drew 8,000 visitors that summer. They added improvements to make the cave easier to navigate. In 1954 a man by the name of Charlie Sullivan came to the cave and told the Herschends that there was once an old mining town there. They found the foundations of the town and thus, the idea of recreation of that mining town was put into play.
In 1960, the village that they built consisted of a blacksmith shop, general store, ice cream parlor, doll shop and authentic 1880's structures, was called Silver Dollar City. It was named this because the marketing person at the time thought that it would make it easier to spread the word. They would give people change in Silver Dollars. Then…when they would drive home, and pay with Silver Dollars at Gas Stations or restaurants, people would ask, "Where did you get that Silver Dollar?" They would reply with "Silver Dollar City". FREE advertisement!
The first year they had 125,000 people. Then in 1969, the Beverly Hillbillies (TV show) came to the park and filmed five episodes.
Soon they were giving stage coach rides, steam train rides, and then they had their first craft festival in 1963 featuring wood carving, tie hacking, shingle splitting, blacksmithing, weaving, lye soap making, candle making….then they later added glass blower, waving, potter and a silversmith. That year, 500,00 people visited the park and it was Missouri's number one tourist attraction. By 1998, they were topping two million!
I heard this story from Martha Bohner the Senior Publicist/Public Relations person for Silver Dollar City Attractions. She was so thorough and detailed. I loved hearing about everything.
I was so impressed to learn that Silver Dollar City does all of the baking and cooking right at the park. They also do the baking for the Showboat Branson Belle, a sister attraction which you'll hear about later. We got to walk around and see staff, who are dressed in 1800's era clothes, as they worked. I am not a fan of cinnamon rolls, but I was told that these were outstanding!
And all of the pastries! It was UNBELIEVABLE!
Silver Dollar City also has 7 festivals and events throughout the year. *WorldFest *Bluegrass and BBQ *KidsFest *Moonlight Madness *Southern Gospel Picnic *National Harvest Festival *An Old Time Christmas
AND ALL SORTS OF SHOWS!
Their decorating team is incredible! I would love to have them out to my house!
There are ALL sorts of rides...but our first stop was Outlaw Run. Opened in April of 2013, this 2,937 feet roller coaster featured the worlds' first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster. It also has the steepest drop on a wood coaster at 81 degrees, dropping you more than 16 stories! It is the only wood coaster in the world to twist upside down....3 times! It is also the second fastest coaster int the world reaching a top speed of 68 Mph, it IS the worlds fastest coaster on steel wheels. It cost 10 million to complete....and worth every dime! :-)
Outlaw Run was voted "Best New Ride" of 2013! You know what is even cooler?? Silver Dollar City also got honors like #2 in Best Christmas Event, #3 in Friendliest Park, #4 in Best Shows, #4 in Best Food and #5 in Cleanest Park! Pretty impressive! I have been to a lot of parks though and I would give them a #1 in all of those areas!
Additional rides include PowderKeg which was AMAZING! It was names the Best Family Thrill Coaster on the Planet bythrillride.com! Rightfully so! Another fantastic one was Wildfire pictured below.
There are plenty of rides for everyone in the family. A lot to keep the thrill seekers busy! But...there is a lot more to Silver Dollar City. I already mentioned the festivals.....but there are permanent crafters that showcase and sell their unique items, all in era clothing. There is also the Culinary and Craft school which gives guests a behind the scenes look at the culinary classes in home-style cooking!
Here is one picture of one of the kids' play areas!
Here is a wood carver carving a statue of "Father Christmas". Amazing. There is also an 1800s Homestead area. The McHaffie Cabin. There is Gospel Singing in the 164 year old church, kids getting deputized, Succotash cooking on outdoor skillets, lye soap being made, blacksmiths hammering, and even this one room school house with a teacher that was there to tell us all about it!
This house was SO cool as it had been built around a tree!
Birdle's Cabin was truly unique. All of the buildings, except the school house I believe, were very authentic. The actual buildings that were moved piece by piece and very carefully to Silver Dollar City. Birdles Cabin was one of those....but hers is even more unique in that everything inside was also authentic. Nothing had been touched.
Then we saw this. What IS this??
Here we are watching one of the resident glass blowers, blow glass! And their glass blowing shop has an amazing Christmas area to check out the ornaments!
After a very filling, homestyle type lunch that Silver Dollar City offered us, we were off to the Western Stunt Show "The Pinkerton Man". It is a musical production with live demonstrations of action stunts such as 3 story falls, hero fights, pyrotechnic effects and explosions and live animals! It is presented in the 4,000 seat Echo Hollow Amphitheatre and also features comedy and live music from 3 very talented men!
Then...we accidentally found this little crooked house. It was so fun!
Finally it was time to go. Here is another picture of the Kids area....more decorations, and then a final farewell....but not forever! I can't WAIT to take my kids to Silver Dollar City in the very near future! Like them on facebook at Silver Dollar City. Or on TwitterHERE.