Ben James

Published: April 28, 2009 at 11:51 AM


Ii haven't been in years and this report makes me remember why I need to go back. Good Job! maybe I'll head out there this summer or fall.

Derek Potter

Published: April 28, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Good stuff James. I am a huge fan of this park. The whole country music theme wasn't my cup of tea, but I greatly appreciated the fact that they took great care in the detail of the park. Even when they installed all of the flat rides, they used a theme that lends itself well to such attractions. The food is great (mostly), the employees are great, the rides and shows are great, the atmosphere is great, and the park is themed as well as anything. Out of all the several parks across the country I've visited, SDC remains one of my most favorite.

I've lobbied quite a few times to add Silver Dollar City to this website. Make this another one. It's high time that we add it.

James Rao

Published: April 28, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Thanks Ben & Derek, and thanks Robert for posting my report on the blog flume - my parents/wife/kids will be so proud of me! =)

We had a great time at Silver Dollar City last week, and look forward to another trip in late May before area schools are out for the year. I highly recommend a visit for those who are theme-starved in the Midwest.

One note of caution for those considering a visit: I do not think our SDC trip would have been nearly as much fun during a busy summer day. It just does not seem like a park that will handle huge crowds well. The walkways are narrow, the availability of A/C seems somewhat limited, and many of the subtle nuances of the park will be lost in the masses of humanity. So, if you go, avoid the weekends and holidays, and make sure you have some sort of touring plan to help you manage your time.

Don Neal

Published: April 28, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Nice review James! Enjoyed the pictures and detailed accounts of everything. Sounds like a nice place.
Joshua Counsil

Published: April 28, 2009 at 7:48 PM

You've got my mouth watering. Great report.
Stephen Tuday

Published: April 28, 2009 at 8:05 PM

Great report! I have never been to SDC but being a passholder at a sister HFE park, Wild Adventures in GA, I might have to take advantage of the discount they offer for other HFE parks. The overall absence of waiting lines is alluring and the care taken on cleanliness and theming makes this a must-visit!
James Rao

Published: April 28, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Don, Josh, and Stephen.

Stephen, keep in mind that the reason we experienced little or no wait times is because we went during the school week in the off-season. A friend of mine went to SDC this past Saturday and said the lines were out of control.

SDC packs in 2 - 3 million visitors a year, and most of them will visit the park on weekends in May, September, and December, and during the June/July/August summer season. Time it right, and your visit will be excellent, time it wrong, and I think you'll be miserable.

Having said all that, you might look into visiting Dollywood instead which is a bit closer to your home park (I think) and offers the same 50% discount on admission. Either way, good luck, and have a great time!

Anthony Murphy

Published: April 28, 2009 at 8:26 PM

The skillet made the report for me! Simple and its own show!

Great job! I always like your reviews~

James Rao

Published: April 28, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Thanks, Anthony. The skillets we tried were excellent. I am not sure why Disney does not have something similar in Frontierland or over at the Fort Wilderness Resort. Seems like the perfect fit. I would love to see what the Chefs at WDW would concoct given the freedom of fresh ingredients and a huge cast iron skillet!
W McDougal

Published: April 28, 2009 at 9:33 PM

Great review, if I were ever in the area I would certainly visit this park. I wish it were added to this site for others to add on reviews; it has a nice unified theme unlike Six Flags parks.

Published: April 29, 2009 at 9:02 AM

Great report son! You were right, Mom and I are proud of you! I always knew you would be a great writer. Your report was so good it almost made me want to go! Alas, being old and decrepit the only thing there I could really enjoy would be the food and shows. In fact your description of the food made me hungry so I am off to make myself some breakfast. Really enjoyed your report. Keep up the good work. Dad
James Rao

Published: April 29, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Wow... told you my parents would be proud! Thanks, Dad!

And by the way, you are certainly not OLD! ;)

Jeff Carroll

Published: April 29, 2009 at 6:05 PM

James, I loved your excellent review. I could not agree more with your positive view of this gem of a park. Every time I set foot in SDC I feel like I have been transported to another world. I think it is second only to Disney in providing a totally immersive experience. I also think that the customer service and the quality of the staff is near Disney. The family atmosphere is enhanced by the exceptionally friendly staff, many of whom I encounter year after year.

I also agree that SDC is one degree below a Busch Gardens, but not in overall quality. I think the difference can probably be explained by their comparative budgets. You also have to consider that SDC will give you a season pass for the price of a Busch Gardens ticket.

One suggestion for anyone considering a visit to Branson. We like to stay at the Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club resort. The quality of this resort is exceptional and the price is reasonable. We usually can get a two bedroom suite with a full kitchen and living room (w/ pull out couch) for about $200 a night. If you collect Marriott points and enjoy more than a little elbow room after a full day at the park, this is a bargain. The pools and facilities are fantastic.


James Rao

Published: April 29, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Thanks, Jeff, for the kind words, and your eloquent post. You are spot on about SDC and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and when I rated SDC slightly below BGW it was only to point out just how well Herschend has done with their park on a far more limited budget. The fact that it is even comparable in quality to a park backed by a huge multi-billion dollar corporation is a testament to the fact that Silver Dollar City is doing a lot of things right.

I realize from your post that I neglected to mention anything about where I stayed while in Branson. I did some research on the Horizons by Marriott resort you mentioned and it looks absolutely beautiful. However, this past trip we stayed in a one room (6 person) suite at the Comfort Inn and Suites on Gretna Blvd. The hotel is about 10 minutes from SDC, and nestled away from the downtown Branson traffic. The room was beautiful, the staff exceedingly nice, and the pool was indoor, decently sized, and well maintained. The complimentary breakfast was very good, with a mixture of cereals, breads, and fruit. With my 15% SDC season pass holder discount the room came to $100 total including tax. If you are looking for a one or two night hotel, I am not sure the Comfort Inn and Suites on Gretna can be beat.

I do look forward to staying at Horizons by Marriott on a future visit. Since I don't have a Marriott Rewards card, Jeff, maybe I can give you the points for my stay! ;)

Robyn A.

Published: April 30, 2009 at 8:28 PM

James - lovely review! I'm a former SDC "CM", transplanted to the KC area 4 years ago. (I enjoy WoF, but my only "daredevil" is still too small to ride the coasters with me!) I'm thrilled to know folks are enjoying the many changes the Herschends have made to SDC to appeal to the family demographic. We trekked down there on Easter weekend to visit my sisters and many friends that still work in the park (most people who stay more than one summer are in it for life!) - loved Powder Keg, still love the Giant Swing, and I'm glad you recognized the atmosphere they were going for with the Exposition area near Red Gold. If you missed Buzzsaw Falls a few years ago, SDC made a very smart move by taking it out to bring in Powder Keg. (I'm wondering if Buzzsaw landed at Dollywood....)
Yes - SDC puts far more effort into their food than most parks do. So much is made from scratch in the giant kitchens behind the Mill/Mine restaurants. (Mosey back by First Aid - the delicious scents coming from the main kitchen there always smelled just like my grandma's kitchen on Sunday afternoons.) Unfortunately, SDC never has done all that great with their attempts at ethnic foods for WorldFest. We weren't so impressed with the chinese food either, but the greek food was pretty tasty. If you get back down there next month, I can promise you'll love the BBQ during the Blues/BBQ Festival (for those not aware, SDC's season is one long series of various themed festivals, beginning with WorldFest and ending with the amazingly magnificent Old Time Christmas - not to be missed!).
One more comment - you are correct that SDC is not laid out well for capacity crowds on hot days. 15,000 on park will have many guests parking at Notch (let your imagination run wild with that), 2 hour waits for
the "good" rides, and yes, any place with A/C will be standing room only. The beautiful Ozark Mountains are a blessing and a curse - how many theme parks have a "heart attack hill"? Not so bad on a nice Spring day; killer in the summer. Early April is the best time to visit - sounds like you must've hit the bus tour crowd (which would explain the long lines for shows on weekdays). Late April, early May, and Sep/Oct are big bus tour months.(Translation: lots of people with blue hair and walkers.)Most Mondays & Tuesdays in the summer aren't terribly crowded either.
Thanks for sharing your experience - so good it made me homesick! Maybe we'll see you around some time ;)
James Rao

Published: May 1, 2009 at 6:24 AM

Hi Robyn - thanks for the feedback and all the inside info. Your perspective is very intriguing to me, especially since you confirmed many of my suspicions!

We are going to try and head back to SDC for two days in late May to catch the Waterworks Waterboggan (opens Memorial Day), the refurbed Marvel Mine, and to sample some more of those amazing skillets (and the BBQ you mentioned). In talking with the folks at our hotel, the Branson school year has been extended to the beginning of June because of excess snow days, so I am hoping the last week of May won't be too busy.

We're also looking to head back in mid-September (sounds like we'll be hitting the bus tours again!), and early December for the Christmas Festival. I really enjoyed my visit to SDC and look forward to returning soon.