Silver Dollar City

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Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City logo.png
Location Branson, Missouri, U.S.
Coordinates 36°40′02″N93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389 Coordinates: 36°40′02″N93°20′20″W / 36.6671°N 93.3389°W / 36.6671; -93.3389
OpenedMay 1, 1960(62 years ago) (1960-05-01)
Owner Herschend Family Entertainment
General managerBrad Thomas
Operating seasonMarch – December
Attendance2.2 million [1]
Area61 acres (250,000 m2)
Roller coasters7
Water rides4

Silver Dollar City is a 61-acre (25 ha) amusement park in Stone County, Missouri, near the cities of Branson and Branson West. The park is located off of Missouri Route 76 on the Indian Point peninsula of Table Rock Lake. Silver Dollar City opened on May 1, 1960. The park is an 1880s-themed experience that fits Branson's vision as a family-friendly vacation destination with down-home charm. Silver Dollar City's operating season runs from March until December, with the park closed for two months. Silver Dollar City is owned by Herschend Family Entertainment.



Marvel Cave

The Marvel Cave entrance as viewed from the landing area of the walkway near the bottom of the rubble pile. Marvel Cave Entrance.png
The Marvel Cave entrance as viewed from the landing area of the walkway near the bottom of the rubble pile.

Silver Dollar City is situated at the site of one of the Ozarks' oldest attractions, Marvel Cave. Henry T. Blow, a lead mining magnate, explored the cave with six miners. They found no lead, but were convinced that the flat ceiling of one room was composed of marble, they originally named the cave Marble Cave. [2] The cave remained undisturbed until 1882 when a group led by T. Hodges Jones and Truman S. Powell entered the cave in hopes of finding lead. Jones and Powell instead found huge amounts of guano and a flat wall which they also believed to be marble. Two years later Jones bought the property and formed the Marble Cave Mining and Manufacturing Company. The company planned a town, Marble City, on the rough hilltop near the cave and in 1884 recorded a plat map at the courthouse in Galena, Missouri. [3] By 1889 much of the guano had been mined from the cave, the marble wall proved to be limestone, and no lead ore was found. The mining company ceased operation.

In 1889, William Henry Lynch, a Canadian miner and dairyman, purchased the cave and a square mile around it for $10,000 (equivalent to $302,000in 2021). [4] Lynch, with the aid of his family, proposed to open the cave to sightseers. The Lynches began operation of the sightseeing venture on October 18, 1894. [5] The venture was not immediately profitable and was closed until Lynch raised additional capital to reopen the cave sometime after 1900. The cave has remained open since, making it one of the oldest continuously running tourist attractions in the Ozarks. [6]

Herschend family

When William Lynch died in 1927, ownership of the cave passed to his daughters and the name of the cave was changed to Marvel Cave. The Lynch family operated the cave for nearly fifty years until a Chicago vacuum cleaner salesman, Hugo Herschend, purchased a 99-year lease on the cave in April 1950. [7] [8]

After Hugo's death in 1955, his wife, Mary, took over the day-to-day operations of the venture. [9] [10] With the aid of her two sons, Jack and Peter, she was able to make vast improvements to the cave, including the inclusion of a narrow gauge funicular railway, whose trains pulled visitors a distance of 218 feet (66 m) from the depths of the cave up to the surface. [11]

Once the railway was in operation the Herschends felt the development of the cave was complete, so they decided to create another attraction which would bring even more tourists to the cave.

New theme park

Mary, Jack and Peter began building the 1880s Ozark village. Mary wanted authenticity and preservation as well as preserving the natural beauty of the area. The Herschends built the Ozark frontier town on the land surrounding the site of the cave. Silver Dollar City originally was the site of five shops, a church, a log cabin, and a street production reproducing the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys several times daily.

The name was inspired by Ozark Jubilee script writer and publicist Don Richardson after the promotional idea of giving visitors silver dollars in change. [12] The scenic designer for much of the original attraction was Andy Miller, who had been the set designer for the Jubilee in nearby Springfield. Opening day, May 1, 1960, included an appearance by Uncle Cyp and Aunt Sap Brasfield. [13] In its first year, Silver Dollar City drew more than 125,000 people, four times more visitors than the number that toured Marvel Cave. "We discovered we were in the theme park business," Pete Herschend said. [14]

In 1968, the park started charging admission.

In 1972 Genevieve Lynch, the last of William Lynch's daughters, died and she bequeathed the land under Silver Dollar City and Marvel Cave to the College of the Ozarks and Branson Presbyterian Church. [15] The Herschends continue to operate it.

In 1976, the Herschends purchased the Goldrush Junction theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, which they renamed Silver Dollar City Tennessee. [16] In 1986, the Herschends partnered with Dolly Parton and renamed the park Dollywood.

Silver Dollar City expanded its entertainment over the years by adding attractions such as a stage coach ride, a narrow-gauge steam railroad, interactive activities and various thrill rides. The park is also home to resident craftsmen who can be seen practicing their craft and exhibiting and selling their work to park visitors.

Pop culture

The Clampett family of CBS-TV's The Beverly Hillbillies decided to pay a visit to Silver Dollar City (treated as an actual town, rather than a theme park) to start off the 1969–1970 season. The plotline involved Granny (Irene Ryan) attempting to find a husband for Elly May (Donna Douglas) back in the hills, while Jed (Buddy Ebsen) socialized with hotel clerk Shorty Kellems (Shug Fisher). They visited the blacksmith Shad Heller, soapmaker Granny Ethel Huffman, and woodcarver Peter Engler, and Miss Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) was seen in the Ozark woods. The Hillbillies were from the area surrounding Silver Dollar City and Branson, and references to Jim Owens and his White River float trip business and some Missouri mountain locations were made throughout the show's nine-year run. Five episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies were eventually shot in the park.

In 1999, Silver Dollar City was the site for the 14th annual Stihl Timbersports Series Championships. Jason Wynyard became the champion for the third consecutive year.

On July 5, 2007, Silver Dollar City was featured in an episode of the soap opera As the World Turns .

On December 5, 2007, ABC's Good Morning America spotlighted the park’s Christmas festival, “An Old Time Christmas,” and declared it as one of the top five holiday events in the country. The park was featured as part of the show’s segment called “Good Morning America Lights Up the Holidays.” [17]

From June 21–23, 2009, the park hosted the American Coaster Enthusiasts' national summer convention.

The park was featured in the book The Man Who Loved Clowns .

Layout, attractions and general information


Silver Dollar City is divided into eleven districts.


Recurring shows

Rides and attractions

WildFire Wildfire Silver Dollar City.jpg

Roller coasters

Fire in the Hole Fire in the Hole at Silver Dollar City (exterior).JPG 1972Silver Dollar CityEnclosed Powered CoasterThe park's first and oldest roller coaster. Guests ride in a dark building with scenes that tell of a town set ablaze by the Baldknobbers overnight.
Thunderation Thunderation track image.jpg 1993 Arrow Dynamics Mine Train CoasterA steel mine train roller coaster. Originally, the third and fifth cars of each roller coaster train faced backward, but they were repositioned to face forward sometime after the 2010 season.
Wildfire WildfireSDC.JPG 2001 Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M)Sitting CoasterBased on an 1880s Ozarks tale of Dr. Horatio Harris, an inventor who was working on a flying machine. "Wildfire" was the name of the fuel he created for this machine.
Powder Keg Powder Keg station.jpg 2005 S&S Sansei Air Launched CoasterThe "Powder Keg" is a significant modification and extension of the park's former Buzzsaw Falls water coaster (1999).
Grand Exposition Coaster Grand Exposition Coaster 1.jpg 2006 Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster 80STDThe park's kid coaster.
Outlaw Run Outlaw Run Roll.jpg 2013 Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC)Wood/Topper Track CoasterThe world's second steepest wooden coaster and the first featuring three inversions. It is the first wooden roller coaster manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) and the first wooden roller coaster with multiple inversions,
Time Traveler Time Traveler (Silver Dollar City) 2.jpg 2018 Mack Rides Xtreme Spinning CoasterTime Traveler was the first installation of the "Xtreme Spinning Coasters" model produced by Mack Rides, which feature spinning trains with an eddy current brake located underneath each car to control the rate of spinning. Upon opening, Time Traveler became the tallest and fastest spinning roller coaster, and the first of its kind to feature three inversions.
Steam locomotive #14, built in 1938 by German engineering company Orenstein & Koppel, chugs under Outlaw Run. 14 at outlaw run.jpg
Steam locomotive #14, built in 1938 by German engineering company Orenstein & Koppel, chugs under Outlaw Run.


American Plunge1981Barr EngineeringLog Flume
Electro Spin2006 Zamperla Mega Disk'O
Elephant March2006 Zamperla
FireFall2015 S&S Sansei Double ShotRelocated from Celebration City.
Fireman's Flyer2015
Fire Spotter2015
Fire Wagon Frenzy2015
Flooded Mine1968Silver Dollar CityIndoor Float-Through
Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train 1962 Orenstein & Koppel, Ceskomoravska Kolben-Danek. St. Louis San Francisco Railway, Davenport Locomotive Works, Silver Dollar City 2 ft (610 mm) Narrow-Gauge Steam RailroadHeritage railroad and family attraction with a variety of engines from German, American, and Czech industrial backgrounds. A train robbery skit is held halfway through the 1.6-mile ride.
Giant Barn Swing 2007 S&S Sansei Screamin' Swing
Grandfather's Mansion1960Silver Dollar CityAnti-Gravity House
Happy Frogs2006 Zamperla Jump Around
High-Low Silos2007
Hugo and Mary's Carousel2006
Ladybugs2006 Zamperla Jump Around
Lucky's Dizzy Dogs2015
Magnificent Wave Carousel2006 Zamperla Flying Carousel
Mystic River Falls 2020RES, Barr EngineeringRiver RapidsTallest rapids drop in western hemisphere. This new ride replaced the former Lost River of the Ozarks rapids ride and officially opened to the public on July 21, 2020.
Racing Regatta2006 Zamperla Regatta
Royal Tea Party2006 Zamperla Tea Cups
Mighty Galleon2006 Zamperla Galleon
Tom & Huck's River Blast2010 Mack Rides River Battle
Up the Ladder2015
Wings of Wonder2006 Zamperla Jump Around

Other attractions

  • Birdle's Cabin - An authentic log cabin with displays about pioneer life.
  • Elsie the Milk Cow – A fake cow with udders that allows guests to pull and retrieve their own "milk".
  • Half Dollar Holler – A kids' play and ride area.
  • Homestead Animal Barnyard – A petting zoo with animals such as goats, chickens, hens, and other farm animals.
  • Marvel Cave – The cave offers two types of tours. The Traditional Cave Tour is a one-hour guided tour through a half mile of lighted passageway. Throughout the tour, geological and historical information is explained. The Lantern Light Tour is a one and a half-hour guided tour through a little over a half mile of unlit passageway. A narrow gauge funicular railway is employed to take visitors from the far end of the cave back to surface level.
  • McHaffie's Homestead – A real, hewn-log cabin built in 1843.
  • Oak Trail School – A 19th-century school house where everyone is invited to pick a desk, sit down and learn about school in the 1800s.
  • Swinging Bridge
  • Wilderness Church – An old-time church with a view of the Ozark and Boston Mountains of Arkansas. Services are held on Sundays.
  • Case Traction Engine - A 1915 propane-fired steam traction engine that executes sawmill operations, typically during the Harvest Festival.

Former rides and attractions

  • Sam’s Minin’ Shack – Closed in 1968 and re-themed as Grandfather's Mansion.
  • Buzz Saw Falls – This was a roller coaster that incorporated a water type boat for the vehicle. The ride opened in 1999 and was largely promoted, however it was constantly plagued with mechanical difficulties. It was closed in 2003 and construction began to modify the ride into the current Powder Keg: A Blast in the Wilderness, which opened in 2005.
  • Rube Dugan's Diving Bell – This was an attraction that simulated a Jules Verne-style fantasy submarine ride, the first simulation ride of its kind. Disney Imagineers told Silver Dollar City that it would be hard to do but secretly advised them on how to create the attraction.[ citation needed ] It was removed in the mid-1980s to make room for the Lost River of the Ozarks, a ride that could run more people through per hour. Slim Pickens was the voice of Rube Dugan.
  • Lost River of the Ozarks – This ride was a whitewater rapids adventure using 6-person inner tube shaped boats. Signage cautioned riders that they would get "bathtub wet." It was constructed on the former site of Rube Dugan's Diving Bell. The Lost River of the Ozarks opened May 4, 1985 at a cost of $2 million [18] and was demolished following the 2018 season. This ride has been replaced by a new river rapids ride called Mystic River Falls, which officially opened to the public on July 21, 2020.
  • Jim Owens Float Trip – This was an outdoor boat ride (1969 to 1980) around a man-made river with animatronics. Silver Dollar City removed this ride after the 1980 season and remodeled it into the American Plunge log flume. However, the original channels still exist and can be seen as guests make their way to Wildfire and from the queue line for American Plunge.
  • Stagecoach – In the early years of the park, an authentic stagecoach took guests on a bumpy ride around the perimeter of the town square pulled by sturdy draft horses. It was removed five years after the park opened.
  • Runaway Ore Cart – This was a small children's roller coaster that was removed after the 2004 season.
  • Tom Sawyer's Landing – Added to the park in 1984, this play area featured rope towers and rides with Becky's Carousel as its center piece. Silver Dollar City's craftsmen hand carved each horse on the carousel. The most notable aspect of the structure were the large rope nets upon which visitors bounced and climbed.
  • Huck Finn's Hideaway – This was a large playhouse built several stories above the ground on stilts. Visitors entered the attraction via a tiny spiral staircase built into a fake hollow tree. They had to crawl on hands and knees across a narrow bridge from the top of the hollow tree to the tree house. The exit from the attraction led visitors through an artificial cave featuring an infinite mirror illusion and Christmas lights to make it appear that they were walking through a large open space with "stars".
  • Waterworks Waterboggan – A flume-type water ride, mostly through a dark tunnel so the sudden turns took riders by surprise.
  • Splash Harbor – was located near the bathrooms of Geyser Gulch.
  • Geyser Gulch – This was an area built in 1997 with two large buildings. Kids could run throughout the building located by the "lake" and shoot each other with water guns, while dodging balls being thrown by other kids or through tubes. There were also water sprinklers outside the building where children can run through. Geyser Gulch closed permanently on August 3, 2014 to make way for Fireman's Landing, which opened the following year in 2015.


Throughout the operating season Silver Dollar City hosts eight different festivals:

Former festivals

Throughout its operation, Silver Dollar City has hosted different festivals that have since been replaced.

  • Festival of Wonder (April): Replaced by Street Fest
  • Kid's Fest – Replaced by Family Fest.
  • Family Fest – Replaced by Star-Spangled Summer in 2014.
  • Star Spangled Summer- Replaced by National Kids Fest in 2022
  • World-Fest (April – May) - An international event showcasing different cultures and performers from around the world; replaced by Festival of Wonder.
  • Spring National Crafts Festival (New in 1977) - Featuring fine furniture, stained glass, calligraphy, and macrame. [20]

Stages, multipurpose buildings and theaters

See also

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<i>Wildfire</i> (Silver Dollar City) Steel roller coaster

Wildfire is a steel roller coaster located at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The $14 million ride was built by Swiss manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard and opened to the public on April 4, 2001. Wildfire is themed as a flying machine developed by an 1880s Ozark inventor.

Fire in the Hole (Silver Dollar City) Enclosed roller coaster

Fire in the Hole is an enclosed roller coaster located at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The three-story steel coaster was built in-house by Silver Dollar City in 1972. The ride is often considered a cross between a dark ride and a roller coaster. A similar ride, "Blazing Fury", was built at Herschend Family Entertainment's Silver Dollar City Tennessee, now known as Dollywood, in 1978.

American Plunge

American Plunge is a log flume water ride at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The queueing line of this ride is parallel to the path to Silver Dollar City's steel looping coaster, Wildfire.

Marvel Cave

Marvel Cave is a National Natural Landmark located just west of Branson, Missouri, on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County. The cave was known by the Osage Indians in the early 16th century, after a tribe member fell through the cave's main entrance, a sinkhole. There is evidence that in 1541 the Spanish explored the cave, but the first recorded expedition was in 1869, led by Henry T. Blow. The unofficial Stone County chapter of Bald Knobbers, a local group of vigilantes, were rumored to have taken people to the top of Roark Mountain, and thrown them in the sink hole.

Dollywood Express Heritage railway at Dollywood

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Outlaw Run Roller coaster at Silver Dollar City

Outlaw Run is a wooden roller coaster located at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The ride was the first wooden roller coaster designed by Alan Schilke and built by American manufacturer Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) and the first wooden roller coaster with multiple inversions, in which riders are turned upside-down and then back upright. The 2,937-foot-long (895 m) ride features three inversions and a top speed of 68 miles per hour (109 km/h), making Outlaw Run the sixth-fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. The 162-foot-tall (49 m) first drop of the ride is the fourth steepest in the world among wooden roller coasters, at 81°.

Time Traveler (roller coaster) Roller coaster in Missouri

Time Traveler is a spinning roller coaster located at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The roller coaster was manufactured by Mack Rides in collaboration with the park's in-house team. The original concept for the roller coaster was conceived from a prototype train tested on another roller coaster, Blue Fire, at Europa-Park in Germany. Time Traveler opened in 2018 and is themed to a fictional backstory about time travel involving characters Charles Henry, a clockmaker, and his daughter. The roller coaster reaches a height of 100 feet (30 m) and a maximum speed of 50.3 mph (81.0 km/h).

Mystic River Falls Water ride at Silver Dollar City

Mystic River Falls is a river raft ride located at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The ride is an upgraded installation and direct replacement of the former Lost River of the Ozarks attraction, which was removed following the 2018 season, as well as an investment to celebrate the park's 60th anniversary. As of its construction in 2020, Mystic River Falls holds the record for the Western Hemisphere's highest drop on a raft slide at 45 feet (14 m) tall, as well as a total linear length of 2,100 feet (640 m) and a unique elevator lift. Mystic River Falls soft opened for members on July 5, 2020 and officially opened to the public on July 21, 2020.


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