With so little vacation time right now, I’m pretty accustomed to doing trips from 5pm Friday thru 8am Monday; with some time for sleeping. I’ve always wanted to go to Silver Dollar City, loving its sister park, Dollywood, so much. After Elissa and fellow Team member “Rosencrantz” told me how good Powder Keg is, I decided this would be a perfect trip to do on July 4th weekend. Other members of Coaster Team wanted to go with, but either couldn’t do to high airline prices, weddings that weekend, or propane tanks to fill, so this was a solo trip for me. Not a problem anymore, now that I’m 25. Flew from Allentown to Springfield, switching planes in Chicago, and rented a car for the weekend. An hour’s drive later, I was parking in Silver Dollar City’s employee lot (out of season pass spaces). I chatted it up with a Wildfire employee before exiting the shuttle and going to Guest Services to gain entry into the park. I had about 2 full days at Silver Dollar City and 3 hours at Celebration City, and wow, are these parks great!
Silver Dollar City is exactly what I expected it to be, and more. Its like Dollywood, only the layout isn’t as weird. The food is awesome, with skillets everywhere offering huge portions, and all the other goodies you remember from Dollywood, like pork rinds, honey, homemade ice cream, fried chicken, apple turnovers covered in apple butter, etc. No McDonald’s here (sorry, Elissa). It has the classic indoor coaster just like Dollywood, but it also has a mine train, a B&M looper instead of an Arrow, and Powder Keg. Its also home to a petting zoo, with baby rabbits that you can actually purchase and take home. What other theme park can you buy a life pet?!
My first objective was credit whoring. With too much enthusiasm and not enough brains, I forgot to pick up a park map, so I just wandered. Fortunately, I’m never without my coaster sense, and I ended up at Wildfire not too long after entering the park. Wildfire was really cool my first ride, I liked the Immelmann on a sitdown, of course I love vertical loops, and the cobra roll, flatspin, and helix were all good, and had forces. But sweet Jebus, the backseat on this thing really impressed me. Holy airtime, Batman! Maximum wait on July 4th weekend 15 minutes, minimum wait 0 minutes.
Next up was Fire in the Hole! I love Blazin’ Fury at Dollywood, so I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed in this one. I wasn’t. First, there was no line, just a 5 minute wait. Second, live entertainment as an employee threw buckets of water at young kids. Third, a live Dalmation in the fire house, now that’s theming! The ride was pretty similar to Blazin’ Fury, with lots of splash. I still think I prefer BF to it though, but only by a slight margin.
I walked by Powder Keg but was afraid to get in line, seeing how the line was out the queue entrance. Still, it was running and I didn’t fly all the way out here to not attempt it right away. 3 trains running really helped out, and 30 minutes later I was being blasted in the backseat. (darn airline food) Powder Keg is awesome. I was a little worried with the talk about the lift hill near the end, but I think it really helps with the family aspect of it. I love the use of the Buzzsaw Falls track, all the effects at blastoff, and the Buzzsaw train themed into the queue roof. 6 rides total for the weekend, all of them being about 30 to 40 minutes. 2 front seat, 4 backseat.
I then swung by the giftshop to check out the merchandise to buy later, and wound up finding park maps. I looked for the kiddie coaster, but didn’t see it on the map, so I plotted my way to ThuNderaTion instead. It was running 1 train, but still I only waited about 10 minutes. My first ride was backwards, though that was by accident. I liked the ride up to the lift, but after that I felt Adventure Expressed. Really good mine train though. I’d ride again right away just to see where I was going instead of where I’ve been.
Credits achieved, I’d check out the rest of the park. Unlike Dollywood, this place hosts a lot of classic rides not found at too many big parks anymore. A dark ride that is much better than most Sally dark rides, a Tilt house, a swinging bridge, evil kids play areas/funhouses (complete with working flash capture room) and a real cave! I used to go cave exploring in high school and college, so I was really interested in the cave. Marvel Cave also didn’t disappoint. ½ mile of walking, 700 stairs, some bats, water, mildew, stinky Mexicans, stalactites, stalagmites, cave bacon, and a funicular. What more can you ask for?
The following morning I would don my bathing suit to do the water rides at the park. Starting off with Waterville Waterboggan, which is like Dollywood’s Wilderness Waterboggan, only not on a mountainside. It has different rafts, so it doesn’t need as much weight. Nor does it get you as soaked at Dollywood’s. It also didn’t have a tunnel, and didn’t seem as long. Still a great ride and a nice way to start the day (wish they had fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo nearby though). After that I’d hit the Lost River of the Ozarks (rapids) which was close. Good rapids, not too wet, nice scenery, and a nice long themed tunnel. Final water ride after checking out the Splash Harbor was American Plunge over by Wildfire. It also boasts a nice long tunnel and a good scenic ride. Great splashdown too.
Water rides finished, I’d ride Wildfire some more to dry off before getting hungry and needing a skillet. This place has everything; sausage with peppers, onions, and potatoes, chicken with okra, peppers, onions, potatoes, and corn, ham with string beans, carrots, and potatoes, just plain potatoes, beef, etc. Not to mention the smoked jerky with random creatures such as gator, ostrich, kangaroo, deer, buffalo, turkey, Michelin, Firestone, elk, and wild boar. Who knew you could jerky so many things!?
Finishing off my chicken skillet, I made my way up to Powder Keg. Sadly it was down (good thing I whored it the day before). I took in the train ride, complete with drive by Powder Keg and a robbing, (not to be confused with a Robb-ing, which probably involves stealing food or something). Finishing that, I took in the Marvel Cave, ate some more, then went back to Wildfire. Getting to Wildfire, I heard a WOOOOOOOOSH and knew Powder Keg was opened. I made my way there to find that the line was estimated at 1:30 to 1:45 (it was only running 2 trains). I skipped this for now, rode Fire in the Hole again, did the Flooded Mine, Grandfather’s Mansion, and TNT. I made my way back to Powder Keg for 1 last stand in line. Shortly after being entertained by an employee Myachi-ing for us (hackey sack for the hand) they added the third train, and 45 minutes later I was on the ride. Its good to see that even though the park only had 3 hours left in operation that they wanted to add that third train (which allowed me to ride it 3 more times). Thanks SDC! The ride was down again at opening on Monday, but after hearing it test around 11:15, I got in line. By 11:30 I was on the first public train out. The queue quickly filled up, and since it was only running 2 trains, I decided to leave satisfied with my rides.
In closing, Silver Dollar City is a great park. Its definitely easy to compare it to Dollywood, because there really aren’t that many other major park chains out there that have the class, hospitality, and quality that these parks do. I’ll definitely be back to Silver Dollar City soon!
Celebration City TR to follow:
Ah, I finally made it here. Looks pretty so far
Yup, pretty streams and trees are everywhere here in SDC
Throwing ice cold water on little children, this Fire in the Hole op has the best job on the planet
Fire in the Hole goes as far with theming as having a real dalmation in the station
The main reason I flew to Misery, err, Missouri...Powder Keg
Its got fire and Keg in its name, that's 2 things in its favor right from the start
Use of Buzzsaw's old train to show off the power of black powder
Things not found in many parks anymore include: A swinging bridge...
Originally I was planning on getting into Branson, checking into my hotel, and going to Celebration City for opening. Then I decided to head to SDC before any of them and ended up staying there until closing. After seeing the light ride crowds at SDC, I figured Celebration City wouldn’t be too different. I got to the park using some back road, getting there in about 10 minutes. Using my Dollywood season pass, I got ½ admission and was off to credit whore.
I figured the two steel coasters would have the worst capacities, so I stopped first at Jack Rabbit, the Miler Star Jet. Its pretty much a wild mouse on drugs or Scandia Screamer Jr. Airtime, laterals, airtime, lateral, lateral, airtime, brake. Scary stuff!
Next up was Thunderbolt, the windstorm left from Branson USA. It was a typical windstorm. Love the third drop. Good thing it has lap bars instead of shoulder restraints. Cha-ching!
Then it was off to Ozark Wildcat. A good wood coaster is the one thing Dollywood has that Silver Dollar City doesn’t. Well, its not that they don’t have one, its just 10 minutes down the road. Kinda like Schlitterbahn. At 7:30 there was no line at all, so I jumped in the front seat and off I went. It is a typical GCI, twister coaster with pops of air, big banked turns, and a cool first drop. But this one also has 2 surprise double pops of air. As the night went on, the ride got warmer and faster. By 9:30 it was on par with Ghostrider of yesteryear or Legend or Rampage in my book. I really like Thunderhead, and OzCat is nearly as good. I like the chaser lights on it, and the crew was doing a great job. Branson is one place I feel safe enough leaving my goods in the station while I ride (if hoodlums learn to read and discover this TR, Branson is in trouble, so I will apologize ahead of time). Got 8 rides total for the day.
I then walked around the park, taking pictures, checking out the other rides, scenery, games, shops, and minigolf. I rode the Flying Circus (flying scooters) which is like Hershey meets Knoebels. They’re heavier tubs, but are run pretty fast, giving great snapping conditions. I didn’t know Larson scooters could do that, and so I backed off a little bit, fearing the whole structure could come crashing down.
The park looks like its come quite a ways in the last 2 years, and in a couple of more years all the trees will grow in. There are some really nice areas of the park, and if managed just like its sister parks, it will have a really great atmosphere
Hey look, its the entrance to the park
The best flying scooters outside of Elysburg
The Thunderbolt (windstorm) does its 3rd hill curving dive of death
The park has some really nice scenery in places
Fireball was a big hit with the park patrons
Looks like Doc Oc stole Miss Liberty again, and decided to hide it in Celebration City instead of a warehouse. Spidey will never think to look for it here!
Oh yeah, this park has a really awesome wood coaster. Everyone seems to love it, as is shown by their hands in the air (like they's a true playa)
Derek says, "OzCat is a great ride, and I feel sorry for that lady's flip flops."
I don't know if we just hit those flyers on a bad day or what, but no one in our group, even the most experienced snappers, could come remotely close to snapping them. Glad to hear you had a great time, though. Silver Dollar City is definitely one of the best parks I've ever been to. It and Dollywood are both two of my favorite parks, but I think I slightly prefer Silver Dollar City with its dark ride and tilt house. Oh, and Thunderation is the best mine train ever.
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