Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri may have gotten its start as a hole in the ground, but today, the 100-acre theme park offers much more for visitors of all ages.
This post was originally published on 7/08/2014. It was updated on 2/10/2018.
It may sound cliche or cheesy to say that stepping inside Silver Dollar City felt like stepping into a simpler time. But you know what? I’m going to say it anyway. From the costumed bakery workers to the dozens of skilled craftsmen and quaint, historic buildings, this attraction aims to preserve the heritage of the Ozarks and it meets that goal in a fun and entertaining way.
Tucked into the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Silver Dollar City combines history with amusement park rides, incredible shows, and yummy food one comes to expect at theme parks and it’s all family friendly.
An Overview of Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, wasn’t much more than a hole in the ground in the early days. The very first attraction and the one the entire amusement park is built around is Marvel Cave, aka Marble Cave in those days. The cave was discovered by Osage Indians in the 1500s, and mined by Union Civil War veterans in the 1880s for nitrogen-rich bat guano used for gunpowder and fertilizer. It opened for public tours in the late 1890s when it was purchased by Canadian mining expert, William Henry Lynch.
Mr. Lynch operated the cave with his two daughters until his death in 1927. The Lynch sisters operated the cave touring business until the late 1940s. When the Lynch sisters decided to retire, they offered the Herschend family a 99-year lease on the cave. The Herschends loved the area and were committed to making their new family business a success. The family built a mining town replica, similar to the one the park’s foundation was built upon, where local craftsmen could sell their wares.
In 1960, the recreated 1880s mining village, called Silver Dollar City, was unveiled to the public, drawing record crowds.
My husband and I visited during one of the seven annual festivals held at Silver Dollar City. The theme park was decked out in patriotic red, white and blue for the Star-Spangled Summer, which runs from June 9th until July 22nd this year, and kicks off with the Flying Ace All-Stars. This show features Olympic athletes, world champions and future hopefuls who perform amazing stunts in a high-energy show.
Visiting the theme park was a bit emotional for me. My husband and I were days away from flying to San Antonio to watch our younger son graduate from basic training in the Air Force. The tribute to the current military personnel and veterans who have served our country, which included the raising of the flag in the town square, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem, may have moistened my eyes a bit. It was refreshing to see that display of patriotism in a country that is increasingly indifferent to our service men and women.
My husband and I spent all morning and part of the afternoon exploring Silver Dollar City. We enjoyed the shows, rode rides, and watched the craftsman demonstrate furniture making, pottery, and glass blowing. If you think American Craftsmanship is a thing of the past, you’ve not been to Silver Dollar City.
This is one attraction that my teens were disappointed to have missed. Especially once I told them about the Outlaw Run, a wooden roller coaster ranked 15th on CoasterBuzz’s Top 100 coaster list. It is the world’s only wooden roller coaster to send riders upside down three times, and the only wooden coaster with a double barrel roll.
This season, a brand new, record-breaking coaster, the Time Traveler, will be added to the lineup. This new coaster is sure to make it onto the Top 100 coaster list. There’ll be plenty of “Look Ma, no hands!” moments on this exciting coaster. Hold tight as you experience three inversions, the most ever on a spinner coaster. Feel the full force of the 100 foot, 90-degree vertical drop. Don’t take my word for it, check it out on this short video.
Silver Dollar City offers several festivals and events each year so you can visit several times a year and experience something new every time.
What to Know Before You Go to Silver Dollar City
1. Pick up a copy of the Pathfinder guide when you enter the park and take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it. This is your guide to places to eat, schedules, discounts and map of the park. You will refer to it often.
2. If you prefer, you can download a mobile app that also offers a locator map, ride wait times, show schedules, advanced ticket purchases and exclusive offers only available through the app.
3. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking and on your feet a lot.
4. Silver Dollar City is scattered along the hillside among trees. While this makes for a scenic park, it also means you’ll be traversing up and down those hills. For those with decreased mobility, maneuvering those hills can be a challenge. There are stroller, wheelchair and electric cart rentals available for those in need. Wheelchair, electric cart and stroller reservations must be made in advance and are not available the day of your visit. For everyone else, you’ll find benches and places to stop and rest along the way. Be advised that some areas, like Homestead Ridge, are situated at a steep grade and wheelchairs are not permitted.
5. Wear clothing that dries quickly. It’s not comfortable to walk around the park soaked for hours. If you like, you can bring a spare set of clothes to change into after you’ve finished riding on all the water rides. Plastic bags are available to store your belongings in. If you don’t want to carry your wet clothes around the park, you also have the option of using one of the many lockers available throughout the park.
6. Like most theme parks, Silver Dollar City draws crowds. There are several things you can do to make the most of your time while visiting the park. Purchase your tickets ahead of time, either through Silver Dollar City website or the Silver Dollar City mobile app to avoid long ticket lines. You can get a head start on the rush by visiting first thing in the morning.
7. Don’t miss the craft demonstrations. Silver Dollar Craftsmen share their artistry at booths and shops scattered throughout the park. Watch a blacksmith turn metal into works of art. See handcrafted candies created right before your eyes. Be amazed as you watch glassblowers transform sand, water, and fire into beautiful glass cups, pitchers and other interesting items. Even if you think they will bore you, it’s always good to learn something new and you may just find them fascinating.
8. Plan for a full day, two if you are planning to attend during festivals. My husband and I were there for about six hours and I feel as though we missed half the park. This probably isn’t true, but there is so much to do that you won’t do it all in one day. The After 3, Next Day Free special might be a good idea here so that you can spread out your visit to the park a bit. If you arrive after 3 p.m. during the months of May through October, you can visit the park until closing time then use your ticket to return the next day free of charge.
9. Vacation packages are available that will allow saving big when you to bundle attractions and lodging. Again, the After 3, Next Day Free option might be a good idea. You can visit another attraction early in the day, then head over to Silver Dollar City after 3 p.m.
10. Remember that cave I mentioned? It’s still there and entrance to the cave is included in the cost of admission for those who are interested. Looking for more adventure? Marvel Cave Lantern Light night tours are available for an additional fee for those adventurers over 8 years of age.
11. Looking for a way to maximize your time spent at the park? Silver Dollar City offers Preferred and Premier Parking which allows parking spaces closer to the main entrance to the park. Skip the long lines and wait times for eligible rides by purchasing Trailblazer Ride Options.
Silver Dollar City Ticket Prices and other Important Information
Check out Silver Dollar City’s Frequently Asked Questions page for more detailed information regarding park details such as restrictions, amenities, group information and rules on bringing in outside food and beverages. The Branson Travel Office website claims they have better travel discounts than any discount site, just give them a call at 800-504-0115 to hear their latest discounts. You can look up individual sites for their available discounts for AAA and Military Discounts.
Silver Dollar City Address:399 Silver Dollar City Parkway Branson, MO 65616
Phone: Toll-Free 1-800-475-9370 or Locally 417-336-7100
Hours: Hours vary. Refer to the website for an updated calendar of the Silver Dollar City hours of operation.
Ticket Prices (updated 02/2018):
Adults (ages 12-61)- $65.00
Child (4-11) – $54.00
Child (0-3)- free
Senior (62+)- $63.00
Special discounts and a Silver Dollar City Season Pass are available. Refer to the website prior to visiting.
Follow Silver Dollar City on Social Media for tips, deals, and updates.
Have you visited Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri? What did you enjoy most in the park? If you’re headed that way, check out Fun things to do in Branson, Missouri for more ideas of what to do in the area.
Just so you know, my trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri was part of a press tour offered through the US Family Guide. As always, all opinions are my own.
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© 2014 – 2018, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.