Silver Dollar City is the most interesting theme park I've ever visited. Unlike most parks that offer mostly rides, Silver Dollar City has lots of rides, but there is so much more than that.
The theme is the 1880s and the park is designed to look and feel as if you've stepped back in time. The employees wear 1880s style clothing and the buildings are designed to fit that time.
When you arrive at SDC, you park your vehicle and go to a general waiting area where you'll be picked up by a tram. You are then driven to the entrance, which is always decorated with beautiful flowers and plants.
The park is filled with huge hanging baskets of various flowers and ferns and the walkways are adorned with flower beds. Nothing is overlooked at Silver Dollar City.
I'll start first with my favorite place in the park, Wilderness Church. It is a lovely log chapel built in the mid 1800s. The huge glass window at the front of the church gives you a great view of the beautiful Ozarks. The church is still in use and is often used for weddings. It's a wonderful, peaceful place to visit.
Various craftsmen are scattered throughout the park, more than 100 total offering demonstrations on candle making, basket weaving, glass blowing (always a crowd favorite), wood carving, candy making (another crowd favorite), a blacksmith and pottery making. That's just for starters!
There are many restaurants, sanwich shops and food stands scattered throughout the park and I've never eaten anything I didn't enjoy. Their pies and funnel cakes are among my favorites.
If you want a personal souvenir, how about having your picture taken in period clothing? There are many styles and themes to choose from.
Since I live just 40 miles away, I've been there more times than I can remember, going back to my childhood. I always buy a season pass, which is a much better value if you plan to go more than once a season. There is much to see and do, so when planning your first visit, it would be best to plan 2 days there, if possible. You can do it in one day, but I don't believe you can fully see and do everything in that time, especially if you want to try the rides. Crowds are usually heavy, especially on weekends and during the summer, so be prepared to wait in lines. Though the crowds aren't as bad during spring and fall, when there are less children there, it is still always busy.
The park features a huge number of shops. The variety of items is large, from old-fashiond wooden toys for kids to baskets, candles, hand-made quilts, apple butter, candy, pottery, beautiful glass items and so much more. The General Store, located on Main Street was featured in an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies back in the 60s.
Beyond the rides and shopping are the shows and they have some amazing performers. Every show is free. They are repeated throughout the day and a daily schedule and map of each show location is available. If you've never been there before, the map is a huge help. If you are in a group and want to go various directions, the map is a necessity for finding each other later. The shows generally last about 1/2 hour and once again, be prepared to get in line for each show ahead of time. Lines form quickly, but they are very organized and it all runs very smoothly
There is much to keep you coming back, such as the 6 major festivals they hold each year. My personal favorite is World-Fest, when the park is filled with performers from all over the world. I've seen young African singers, dancers from Ireland, acrobats from China and much, much more, Other festivals include: Kid's Fest, Southern Gospel Picnic, Harvest Festival, Bluegrass & BBQ and another huge favorite, An Old Time Christmas. Each of these festivals lasts for several weeks.
Last, but certainly not least, is Marvel Cave. The cave was a tourist attraction for years and Silver Dollar City was later built around the cave entrance. A tour of the cave is a must, if you can do it. The tour takes about an hour and you climb stairs and ramps as you go down. The views are breathtaking. I love the Cathedral Room, the largest cave entrance in the United States. The tour is not recommended for those with physical problems that would prohibit such activity. Once the tour is over, you are brought back up via a cable train. I've taken this tour many times and it never gets old.
If I can give one huge piece of advice, it's this: dress comfortably. Wear shoes that are made for a lot of walking. Like most places, shirt and shoes are required. (We may be hillbillies, but we're civilized hillbillies in public.) The park has a large number of hills. If you have trouble walking, motorized chairs are available, as are strollers.
Silver Dollar City is a first class park. It's beautiful, entertaining and there's something for everyone. It seems that every year there is another major new addition.
Admission to the park covers all rides and Marvel Cave. Cameras and video are allowed.
There is so much more that I can't begin to list or remember, so for more information, go to: http://www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com/
All photos courtesy of Silver Dollar City.