When it comes to the holiday season, many families are making Silver Dollar City a part of their Christmas celebrations.
My wife Anita and I traveled with family last weekend to experience its “Old Time Christmas.” This beloved theme park is not just an attraction (voted #1 in the nation); it’s a cherished holiday tradition for many families–including ours.
The Lights: A Mesmerizing Spectacle
Each year, Silver Dollar City installs more than 6.5 million dazzling lights, transforming it into a Christmas wonderland. So amazing are the lights that they draw visitors from across the country to experience its breathtaking scope of magical Christmas cheer. Unless you see it you cannot comprehend how detailed they are. Even the nation’s largest cities cannot compete with what this theme park has created.
The lights seemingly take up every square inch of the park, from the roller coasters to 150-year-old oak trees to every single building spread out across its 61 acres giving it the nickname “City of Lights.”
Through December 30, the park opens at 11am and closes at 10, giving you time to explore its many features. When we arrived, we were on a mission! We immediately headed for Fire In the Hole which will be retired at the end of December. Don’t fear, it will be replaced by a 21st-century version in the spring. While we will miss the old ride (it was their first “roller coaster”) because our girls could ride when they were little, the replacement building looks huge and promises to increase the thrills while making sure the small kids can enjoy its twists and turns. No doubt, Red Flanders will still be looking for the pants. You know, those darn Baldnobbers done stole ‘em!
We took in some of our regular, and favorite coasters and other rides but another ride we always include is the Shoot Out at the Mine. Here you glide in a “boat” across water through a maze while hitting your targets with an electronic gun.
With the sunlight fading we meandered back to the Town Square to eat dinner before the evening festivities began. The magic does begin as the sun sets. Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas parade kicks off the evening activities as people line the parade route that stretches across the park. It ends with Joy on the Town Square featuring the 80-foot Christmas tree with dancing lights synchronized to your favorite Christmas tunes. Nearby you can warm yourself up with some Wassel or a chicken buffet.
Walking through this immersive experience takes you through streets adorned with glowing trees, festive displays, and twinkling ornaments, creating a sense of inspiration that captivates visitors of all ages. Our favorite area was Midtown, with its 1.5 million lights, towering magic trees, an illuminated spinning world globe 100 feet in the air, running reindeer, and 50-foot light tunnels. It’s one of the main reasons why families return year after year.
The park also features plenty of other kid-friendly sights and activities including the Frisco Sing-Along Train that takes you into the woods and then past the city’s illuminated buildings. And who doesn’t love Grandpa’s Mansion – perfect for any age.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: Broadway in Branson
No discussion in our famiy of Silver Dollar City’s Christmas celebration excludes their theatrical masterpiece: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
This 45-minute mini-Broadway production is a heartwarming and classic story of redemption that is more special each time you see it. The park’s adaptation of this beloved tale is a testament to the dedication and talent of its many performers–some of whom have been playing their roles for years.
You are transported to Victorian-era London through an intricately designed set as the cast follows the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge and the spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. The attention to detail in the production is remarkable, from the authentic costumes to the stunning set design. With top-notch actors and a script that remains faithful to Dickens’ original work, the play is a highlight of a visit to the park. Families are left with a profound sense of the holiday’s true meaning – one of love, generosity, and most importantly–redemption through forgiveness.
The park has more live entertainment than any amusement park in the nation. Saloon Fa La La La La Follies is always a highlight. This high-energy vaudeville show combines comedy, music, and dance to engage audiences and leave them in stitches. Filled with puns and slapstick humor, the show ends as one of the cast members remembers back to her family Christmas and clearly lays out the Gospel for all to hear. How powerful! For some in the audience, that might be the only time they will hear the Gospel in person. It’s a profound testament to the commitment that the park’s Christian owners set out when they created it in the 1960s.
Family Atmosphere: A Heartwarming Tradition
We’ve been traveling to SDC for 25 years and have experienced first-hand its family-friendly atmosphere. During the Christmas season, this feeling of togetherness is amplified. One thing that is not lost on us is how the park places the real reason for Christmas at the center of its celebrations. What other park has a world-class living nativity?
All of this combines to give a warm feeling of nostalgia that permeates the air. For our now grown children, the park provided some of their most pleasant memories during childhood. How fun for them to return as adults! They, too, notice it as a place where timeless values and the spirit of the season are celebrated.
As kids become adults, it is often difficult to shop for them for Christmas. For many, “experience” gifts are what matters. Activities that families of adult children, or with kids of any age, can do together. Old Time Christmas is something you can do each year, creating memories for future generations.
Add-Ons: The park can be very crowded. If you plan to enjoy rides, entertainment and the evening lights, consider purchasing one of several passes to speed you along. You’ll avoid the lines giving you more time for more shows, rides and other entertainment. The Show Lover’s Pass allows you to skip the long lines and get in first. If rides are your thing, purchase a TrailBlasers pass giving you first access to the rides. As for food, the Christmas Tasting Passport offers 5 different food items that can be purchased at your leisure throughout the day. At $35 per adult, it will more than cover lunch, dinner and snacks in between.
Dress in layers. Missouri’s coolish to warm fall days can lead to chilly evenings, considering most of your time will be spent outdoors. They do have lockers for rent.
Arrive Early. Be there when the gates open. Then head to your “must do” ride.
Plan your shows: Shows are the perfect time to rest from the walking. Spread them out during the day. Don’t forget to see the Living Nativity.
Sales: We purchased our day passes during a “flash sale” on the SDC website. Keep your eyes open!
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice
Editor’s note: We purchased our tickets and produced this story because we love Silver Dollar City.