**RECEIVED 2018 BLOGGING BRANSON MOST OUTSTANDING INFLUENCER AWARD**
When you live near one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, it’s a little difficult to think of any other theme park in comparison. Of course, that was until I visited Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, and realized there was an entirely different category of family fun to be had here!
Disclaimer: I attended a media event as the guest of Niccole from The Creative SAHM. While this was a sponsored event, all opinions listed below are 100% authentic and mine alone.
At first, I imagined Silver Dollar City to be this tiny little theme park in the middle of the Ozarks. However, it turned out to be a ginormous day of history, adventure, laughter and thrills! With every corner turned, I was learning something new, meeting someone unique and taking an adventure I never dreamed I’d be taking. But what is it that makes this family friendly destination stand on its own merit, unable to be compared?
Well, for starters, Silver Dollar City is not your typical theme park. Rather, it’s a very special place nestled in the heartland of America where time literally stands still. Set in the 1880s, the park is steeped in Ozark tradition and designed for guests to make memories through new adventures and unique encounters by taking them back in time. During my recent visit, I was able to pinpoint six particular things that set this park apart from any other family theme park (and I guarantee there are probably more!).
# 1 It’s Rich History
Before this visit, I had no true knowledge of the story behind this place. I knew it existed and that I had wanted to visit. However, I never found the chance to do so and really had no idea how deep its history actually went.
During our #BloggingBranson day at the park, we had tremendous tour guides (huge thanks to Martha, Lisa and Dalton!!!). They ever so eloquently explained how Silver Dollar City evolved. It all started with the Osage Indians and their discovery of this cave entrance. Because of noises they heard, they were rather reluctant to enter. As time went on, the cave became more of a project of exploration by those in search of wealth, the fountain of youth and even priceless mineral deposits.
In 1894, the cave was opened as a tourist attraction by a Canadian gentleman by the name of Lynch, along with his two daughters. In 1950, Hugo Herschend and his family came in from Chicago and leased the cave from the Lynch family. A decade or so later, the Herschends had successfully expanded that cave into a destination for families to visit from far and near. They had transformed the land above the cave, the land where we were standing, into an 1880s style theme park.
Historical Tid-Bit: There stands a building in the middle of Silver Dollar City that was once used for the filming of The Beverly Hillbillies! If you ever watched the show, do you recognize this picture?
#2 The Multitude of Craftsmen and Craftswomen
Today, Silver Dollar City maintains that tradition of hard work and simplicity of life (yes, simplicity ~ because we all know that using technology has only complicated things). Drawn from the inspiration of its time, the park is home to over 100 resident craftsmen and craftswomen. Visitors stroll through the streets of Silver Dollar City and can interact with these skilled workers, as well as discuss their trade and how it contributes to the “society” as a whole.
Each of these talented individuals spends their busy day demonstrating their craft. Over the course of the day, they create masterpieces that visitors can purchase in the shops as souvenirs. There are blacksmiths forging metal to create objects from wrought iron. There are glass blowers busy creating gorgeous colorful glass masterpieces and bakers baking some of the most delicious treats you have ever tasted. In another part of the park, we found a potter forming some cups on his wheel. Those are just a handful of the amazingly talented individuals you can meet during a day at Silver Dollar City.
Meeting Miss June
One of my favorite stops on our “crafts” tour was a visit to the Brown Candy Factory. Here, we met Miss June Ward, who has been making sweet treats at Silver Dollar City since the 1960s. Miss June showed us a few of the decadent treats they craft there on the premises and even let us taste test a few. Soooo rich, sooo delicious! Visiting her was truly a sweet delight and highlight of our day.
Of course, Miss June not only shared her story and art with us, but she had some comedic wit and personality!! Check out how she started her conversation off with us when our group of bloggers stopped by her candy store to see her at work.
Historical Tid-Bit: Miss June Ward was a stand-in for Donna Douglas, who played Elly May, when The Beverly Hillbillies‘ TV show was being filmed at Silver Dollar City! Imagine that!
#3 A Special Culinary Experience
Silver Dollar City also has a special culinary experience where guests can dabble a little more in the edible crafts. During our visit, we sat in with master culinary craftswoman Debbie Dance Uhrig, who shared her insight, wisdom and art with us in a delicious demonstration. She even shared a few of her kitchen secrets (nope – not telling. You’re going to have go visit with her yourself – wink, wink) and then shared some of the flavorful Thai Noodles with Burnt Butter Sauce and Lemon Poppy Seed Bread that she made right in front of us. It was beyond yummy ~ and what made it even better? The noodle recipe she used is safe for my little guy with food allergies, so I was able to bring home the recipe to make for my family. (Note: egg-free, peanut-free, treenut-free).
#4 Their Delicious Skillet Options
Now that I’ve mentioned food, let’s talk about fan favorites for a moment. As most of you know, nearly every theme park seems to have that one food that nobody can leave without trying. At Silver Dollar City, there are 18 awards winning restaurants! We dined at Reunion Hall and enjoyed a true southern buffet with fried fish, fried chicken, fried okra and more! It was goooo—ooood!
However, everyone raves about this one particular food option ~ anything cooked in a skillet! Silver Dollar City cooks use six foot cast iron skillets to mass prepare delicious foods right in front of the visitors. The food is hot and fresh and enjoyed by many. This is a great way to cook and serve up some delicious Family Feud Succotash!
FOOD ALLERGY NOTE: To my food allergy readers, look for my post in May highlighting how to manage special dietary restrictions at Silver Dollar City! I think you’re going to find it refreshing!
#5 Opportunities to Explore
Remember my mentioning the cave earlier in the post? That cave, which over time was named Marvel Cave, is still open for visitors to explore. The park hosts a professionally guided tour every half hour (weather-permitting) that lasts 60 minutes and is included in the price of your admission.
A large handful from our group took on the challenge and made quite the memory of it! We trekked down hundreds of stairs to see beautiful stalagmites and stalactites in that wet limestone cave. At 300 feet, we reached the breathtaking Cathedral Room, which is the largest cave entrance room in the United States. Our amazing tour guide stopped us at integral points to explain the cave’s history, as well as what we were witnessing. It was gorgeous! At final depth, we reached 505 feet below the surface! I could not believe we had accomplished such a feat!
The way back to daylight is a much easier trek. In 1957, a unique cable train was designed to take cave visitors back up the 1070 foot climb back to the surface. Phew! That was a sigh of relief for many of us!
QUICK NOTE: Because of the rigorous nature of the tour (that’s quite a hike!), they do recommend that those with heart conditions, back or knee problems or any other condition that could be exacerbated by such strenuous activity sit out on this adventure. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask one of the park staff. They would be more than willing to help answer any of your questions.
#6 A Variety of Rides / Attractions
Silver Dollar City boasts over 40 thrilling rides and attractions. There are smooth rides for the littles (with no height requirements), spinning disks, bumpy rides and coasters! When the weather is warmer, visitors can enjoy water rides to cool themselves down from the heat. It should be noted that temperature does play a vital role in the operation of these attractions. If it is too cold (I believe below 42°), the ride will not operate.
A Brand New Attraction!
This year, Silver Dollar city opened a revolutionary coaster that is truly one of a kind. The Time Traveler is the world’s tallest, fastest and steepest spinning coaster out there, featuring three inversions (including a 95 foot tall vertical loop), two launches and unprecedented speeds. It literally defies the laws of gravity and gives the rider an experience they never dreamed they could have.
Two of my friends and I braved this ride and I will NEVER forget it for the rest of my life! While I was nervous at first, I knew I could not come home and face my sons without having given it a try. I have to tell you ~ it was soooo worth it! Yes, it was the scariest ride I ever rode, but also the most exhilarating, thrilling, exciting and unique experience I ever had a theme park! It is truly a coaster “ahead of its time .”
Ride Facts (height requirement 51″)
– Unprecedented Speed: 50.3 miles per hour
– Unimaginable Drop: 10-story, 90-degree vertical drop
– Unparalleled Height: 100 feet tall, custom-designed for the mountainous terrain of the Ozarks
Time to Start Planning!
I honestly never realized how educational, experiential and entertaining Silver Dollar City could be until I had the opportunity to witness it firsthand. To think, I barely had the opportunity to experience half the history and entertainment the park offers.
So, the next time you’re looking for a unique place to visit that has thrills, educational opportunities, marvelous crafts and absolutely delicious food, do not hesitate to consider a vacation or trip out to Silver Dollar City Attractions in Branson.
The internationally awarded theme park is open from the spring of the year through Christmas, at which time the park is illuminated with over 6.5 million lights! A true sight to be seen, I’m sure! I can’t wait to go back and bring the whole family next time!
Silver Dollar City is located at:
399 Silver Dollar City Parkway
Branson, MO 65616
Contact them by phone at:
For further information:
- Website: https://www.silverdollarcity.com/theme-parkSilver Dollar City
- For Ticket information: https://www.silverdollarcity.com/theme-park/Tickets/Buy-Tickets
- For Vacation packages: http://silverdollarcity.reservedirect.com/
Looking for a place to stay? Try Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center!!