Ah ~ it’s beginning to look a lot like An Old Time Christmas in Branson, Missouri! Well, to be honest, it has been since November 1st. However, the sights and sounds of the season become more and more joyful as the actual holidays draw near. Everywhere you turn, there is a beautiful set of garland, a gorgeous Christmas tree or a sparkling set of twinkling lights that are bound to invigorate the Christmas spirit in anyone visiting the Ozarks. Two of my favorite venues in Branson are all decked out for the holidays and entertaining visitors with their beautiful displays and holiday productions. Want to go on a journey with me? Let’s take a quick jaunt back to the 1800s where Silver Dollar City and The Showboat Branson Belle are treating their guests to a spectacular and memorable Ozark Mountain Christmas!
I was invited as media by Stone Castle Hotel & Conference Center to visit and explore Branson. However, all opinions are 110% mine and mine alone. This post also contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Silver Dollar City Attractions
Both Silver Dollar City and The Showboat Branson Belle are part of the Silver Dollar City Attractions. The former is an 1880s theme park where guests can roam among craftsman, explore an actual cave and ride attractions designed to reflect the time period. The latter is a dinner show aboard a majestic showboat themed after the 1800s. Each venue has its own unique way of delivering high quality entertainment to its guests, leaving anyone who visits with an overflowing pocket full of treasured memories. During the holiday season, each also adds extra “tinsel” to their productions and displays, giving guests that magical feeling of walking through a true winter wonderland of carols and lights.
Silver Dollar City Theme Park
It was such a pleasure to join the #BloggingBranson team again for its second media event ~ not to mention, spend a portion of our first full day roaming around Silver Dollar City Theme Park! Time literally stands still in this 1880s themed venue so that families can create fun-filled traditions and memories all while basking in the historic context of simpler days. After having had such a blast back in April (which included touring Marvel Cave and riding Time Traveler, the brand new $26 million fastest, steepest and tallest complete-circuit spinning roller coaster), I knew that visiting during the Christmas season would knock my gingerbread man socks off! (Yup!! I was wearing my holiday gear in early November!)
**READ MORE ABOUT SILVER DOLLAR CITY IN MY REVIEW FROM THE APRIL TRIP ~ click here.
For two decades, Silver Dollar City has come alive this time of year with festive lights, joyful music, spectacular productions and holiday treats. In fact, it has become one of the country’s most recognized events for spectacular lighting and entertainment, receiving accolades from such outlets as USA Today, CNN Travel, The Travel Channel and Good Morning America! From wassail to ginger cookies, carolers to wooden soldiers, it’s nearly impossible to not feel as though you are smack dab in the middle of a traditional ol’ Christmas celebration when in this theme park.
As we entered the park, we snagged our standard (and very much necessary) group photo, walked through the tantalizing Eva & Delilah’s Bakery and then made our way to the Square. Once we reached the Square, we found ourselves standing in front of a beautiful 5-story special effects Christmas tree. It’s a delightful spectacle that immediately draws your attention as you arrive on Main Street. This ginormous holiday icon boasts over 350,000 colorful LED lights that are all synchronized to a variety of Christmas songs with over 100 light changes per second!
When darkness fell the day we were there, the tree “awoke” and I found myself standing like a child, mesmerized by the dancing lights. If you were standing nearby and listened closely, you actually would have probably heard me singing along to the music! It was such a gorgeous and festive display.
Of course, decorative lights are seen elsewhere throughout the park, as well. This year alone (brace yourselves!), there are over 6.5 million lights strung throughout Silver Dollar City!! Yes ~ you read that number correctly!
I know, my jaw dropped, too!!!
We’re talking lights strung on parade vehicles, on attractions, adorning various Christmas trees and more!
In the ever popular Christmas in Midtown alone, there 1.5 million LED lights. That equates to 145 miles of lights covering 70,000 square feet. As I walked through huge light tunnels and wreath portals, I found nine-story light displays, flying angels, running reindeer and more! Everything in sight was decorated or designed to illuminate once darkness set in.
I was simply enamored with the beauty of it all. Simply enamored.
While I am a stickler for Christmas lights and music, I am also tremendously infatuated with theater productions! Silver Dollar City produces 5-star, Broadway caliber performances with alluring set designs. These musical productions are top-notch and will enthrall the most “Bah Humbug” of Scrooges out there.
There are two original musical productions performed on site at Christmas. During our visit, we were given the chance to see A Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Without a doubt, this was a jaw-dropping presentation of intrigue and delight. This adaptation of the classic incorporated revolving sets, aerial stunts and pyrotechnic effects I didn’t expect to see! Its small cast and live band were magnetic and I willingly admit that it was very difficult to take my eyes off that stage.
The second production performed on site is an adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life. This is something I know my husband would have been interested to see!!! It’s his absolute favorite holiday movie and, based on what I saw with the production noted above, I can only imagine how stellar of a performance this would be, as well.
As I noted earlier, visitors can find various and delicious holiday treats around the park, such as wassail, fresh-made fruitcakes and ginger cookies. Eva & Delilah’s bakery prides itself on its fresh cinnamon rolls (its #1 seller) and fruitcake that you never knew could be that good!
Oh, and let me tell you!! The hot wassail is a perfect way to warm up on that chilled afternoon. It tastes like red hots and cinnamon and was ~ oh, so good!
Silver Dollar City also has a very popular candy factory that draws tons of attention. From their famous peanut brittle to various flavors of fudge and salt water taffy, it’s the perfect place to find a way to satisfy (or at least activate) one’s sweet tooth. It’s also a perfect place to find a holiday treat to enjoy while walking around visiting with the park’s 100 craftsman.
For dinner, we enjoyed a buffet at The Mill, located right there on the Square and eventually the parade route. Our plates were stuffed with holiday deliciousness, including favorites such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, stuffing and green bean casserole! Oh, man ~ my mouth is watering all over again! It was a treat and there was so much to enjoy!
Of course, one cannot forget what we had for dessert. There was a variety of pie options, including pumpkin and pecan, from which to choose. I mean, do I really need to go on? I think you get the picture. Dinner was spectacular!
Bring on the parade
By the time dinner finished, our time at Silver Dollar City was drawing to a quick close. We were encouraged to quickly find a pocket of space to catch a glimpse of the evening parade. Twice a night during this season, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer leads an evening stroll through the streets of the City with nine floats and 45 colorful characters, including Bumble The Abominable Snow Monster. It’s a treat to see the faces of littles light up so brightly when Rudolph comes strolling down the lane.
Now, I won’t lie ~ it was tough to find a spot because of how popular this parade is!! Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of Santa, Rudolph, the 14-foot moose characters and more! So, I encourage you to find yourself a spot early and settle in because, from Santa to the Nativity, this is one of the popular attractions during the holiday season!
The Showboat Branson Belle
We also had the opportunity to enjoy another Silver Dollar City Attraction during our short stay in Branson. On our second afternoon in town, we had the pleasure of departing on a two hour dinner cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, a beautiful vessel that sails around Table Rock Lake while guests are fed a three-course meal and treated to 5-star entertainment. Sailing aboard the Showboat Branson Belle is designed to evoke the feeling of being transported back to a time commonly referred to as “Those Grand Old Showboatin’ Days.” It was era where riverboat adventures, glamorous travel and dazzling entertainment were popular.
To be quite honest, this had been on my bucket list from the moment I heard it existed earlier in the year! I was beyond ecstatic that it had been added to the itinerary.
Boarding does not begin until one hour prior to setting sail. Should you arrive earlier than that, there are a handful of shops on the landing through which you can browse for souvenirs and gifts. Talk about a great time to grab a t-shirt, mug or magnet for the fridge! When boarding finally does begin, you are systematically sent through a security check before making the trek down a long, winding ramp that leads to the showboat itself.
As soon as you step foot onto the showboat, photographers are ready and waiting, with the use of a green screen, to capture a creative moment for you on film. The photos they take will be brought to you later in the evening and made available for purchase.
What a great keepsake!
Once aboard and just prior to the festivities, many guests simply take the time to snap some gorgeous landscape shots, visit the boat’s gift shop, find their seat or simply just enjoy the view.
When dinner begins, so does the show! While dining on a fresh tossed salad, followed by a plate of honey-citrus chicken, slow-cooked pot roast, mashed potatoes and green beans, we enjoyed some powerhouse vocals, some fancy footwork and a live 4-piece band.
Throughout the course of the evening, we heard music that spanned from the 1960s to current trends with a plethora of Christmas favorites intertwined. Add in some comedy and audience participation while enjoying lemon berry ice cream pie and it was certainly the makings of a night to remember!
I will never forget their rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas!! Oh, boy, was that hilarious!
In between acts, there was an extended intermission. This allowed us to take a restroom break or walk the boat’s perimeter to capture the moment the sun set on Table Rock Lake.
It was breathtaking.
Many in our group also took the time to do some live feeds with our audience on Facebook. It was a fun way to share that particular magical moment with our viewers as the sun was setting and the sky was as radiant as it was.
The evening was literally perfect and I, at least, was left with an indelible memory. This is something I very much want to do again with my family!!!
How Can You Enjoy Silver Dollar City Attractions at Christmas
You still have time! If a visit to Branson, Missouri, is on your holiday travel itinerary, be sure to purchase tickets to either or both of these venues. I do recommend doing it early, though! Whether it’s riding a coaster at night to see the Christmas lights or sailing on Table Rock Lake while watching a captivating holiday performance, both Silver Dollar City Attractions will accentuate your love for the holidays and provide ample opportunity to create forever family Christmas memories.
Get this!!! On select Saturdays and Sundays from November 10th through December 23rd, the Showboat also hosts a very special holiday cruise for the younger generation. Guests can book a Santa’s Pancakes & PJs Cruise that sets sail at both 9 am and noon with activities beginning one hour prior to cruise time. While aboard this very festive cruise, Guests can enjoy a Christmas adventure with costumed elves, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas himself! It’s the perfect opportunity to dress up in pajamas and start the day off with breakfast, cookie decorating, story time and sing-a-longs.
Oh, how I wish I was around for this one!!! PJs and Santa????? Yes, please!!
How to contact Silver Dollar City Attractions
Silver Dollar City runs its full holiday season from November 3rd to December 30th. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday November 21st through December 30th during the hours of 1 PM and 9 PM. There are select days that provide extended park hours, including some Fridays, Saturdays and Thanksgiving weekend!! That’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate some more holiday magic. The park is also open New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for a very special New Year’s Celebration!! What a way to bring in the new year! Am I right?
For more information, visit www.silverdollarcity.com or call 800-831-4FUN (386).
The Showboat Branson Belle’s holiday season runs from November 2nd through December 30th this year. It also offers a very special New Year’s Eve Cruise on December 31st and January 1st.
For more information and schedules, you can visit www.showboatbransonbelle.com or call 800-775-BOAT (2628).
**Be sure to check out my friend Kelly’s post on 10 Christmas Holiday Travel Safety Tips!
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