Trip Planing Questions about SDC

Edited: April 18, 2017, 6:44 PM

I update my Article to those Questions that are open:

Regarding SDC I need to know:

Lantern Tour:

When I buy at day of visit I save the Processing Fee? (Greyhound arrives only once a day at 14:30, not know how likely it is sold out then - today only 2 Tickets been sold....)

About the Trailblazer:

How much is it sold before Tax in the Park?
Processing Fee only on online Sales?
How I get Code for Discount on Online Sales?

They recomend to buy Season Pass if someone visit 2 days. I not understand because I saw an Offer for 73,90 after Tax and Fees to get in first day at 3 pm, 2 nd and 3rd day full (on that I need to leave at 1:30 pm to catch that Greyhound Bus again)?

If I look on Satelit Images I can not see an Fence around. Is SDC realy not fenced all around?

As SDC and also some Theaters like Shoji or Staffard is surrounded by not to dense Wood that is Ideal for wild Camping I not see any Sense in spending out 52,29 but as I am Autistik I always want to have an Backup Plan: So in Case someone real will make me an Problem could I give just something like 50 Bucks at that point for an money making Campsite? 52,29 is the Price with Online Penalty - so I guess it is cheaper paying on Site. Or you think primitive Wilderness Sites will get "booked out" June 23/24? What I do then? Well Humans not explode themself at Night... Or you think an "Away Chaser" would acept some money for to leave me in Peace?

Anyone know the Rates at nearby (24 min walking from SDC) Tall Pine Campground for non Electric? (Webpage is down)

Replies (12)

Edited: April 3, 2017, 1:39 PM

For the Marvel Cave Tour, I haven't done this specific cave tour, but typically guests are not allowed to venture into unimproved/unexplored parts of caves. I'm a geologist, and have asked (even presented my Professional Geologist Certification) to be allowed to go off the path without success. Ultimately, the cave operator would be taking on liability if they allowed you off the path for self exploration, and even if you signed a waiver, they would still have some liability if something were to happen outside the licensed attraction. National Parks/Forests and some State Parks allow for trailblazing (Carlsbad in New Mexico and Mammoth in Kentucky most notably), but most private commercial caves are at the mercy of the lawyers.

For any theme park, I would not expect to receive any sort of comp from a media director just because you identify from an online media outlet and will write a review about your visit. I've noticed that unless you have an established relationship with a park, they are tending to grow skeptical of online media comp ticket requests. Sadly, I think a few fan groups and the like may have taken the generosity of some parks too far, and aside from a few exceptions want to see some credentials from a print or televised media outlet. I would never bash a park for not providing free or discounted access, even if I had been writing about the park for decades. That's their prerogative how they want to handle the PR for the park, and while you could mention that you had to pay to access the park, it's not a detail worth criticizing. In fact, if you did receive a comp or discounted admission, or any other consideration in exchange for your review, you're required to disclose that under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations. The idea here is that in the world of Yelp, Trip Adviser, and the like, it needs to be clear to consumers when companies are paying for positive reviews from bloggers, online media, and "brand ambassadors".

I can't help you with the specifics for camping at SDC, but I doubt anyone would appreciate a stranger walking up to their campsite asking to share their space. Branson is a family focused tourist destination, and I doubt you'll receive a warm reception approaching campers while trying to save a few bucks.

When camping, I prefer to stay at National Parks/Forests or State Parks while avoiding private campgrounds. I have nothing against commercial campgrounds, and in fact, most tend to have better amenities like WiFi, pools, mini golf, and rental watercraft. However, I've found the experiences in commercial campgrounds to be highly variable and difficult to ascertain through online reviews. The Branson region doesn't afford much of an option (like Dollywood with the nearby Great Smokey Mountains National Park), so if you really need to rough it, I'd check on TripAdvisor for reviews and ratings of nearby campgrounds that you find favorable in terms of amenities and price.

It sounds like you're putting together a very complicated itinerary with lots of variables and moving pieces. At some point you might want to consider spending blocks of time in different locations with an open itinerary and just paying extra for day of visit tickets. Many attractions have coupons available in hotel brochures, coupon books, and local retailers/restaurants that can come close or even match online discounts even for same day ticket purchases. Nonetheless, it's much better to pay a little extra as you go than to pay a discounted rate up front for something that you may completely miss out on due to a missed bus, connection, or weather. Public transit in the United States is not nearly as reliable/efficient as in Europe (except for the major metropolitan areas, and very few theme parks are located within those cities' mass transit networks), and you should build an itinerary that accounts for that. I'd also recommend trying to keep to the major metropolitan areas (of which Branson doesn't really qualify) to avoid getting stuck somewhere remote that unhinges your plans.
Don't forget to consider online ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft for local travel from your hotel/campground to attractions. Depending upon where you are, you could save a lot of time getting a ride versus walking, at a rather minimal cost.

Edited: April 3, 2017, 7:04 PM

Hi Rusell

Thanks for your detailed Response. I had not expect anything different about Marvel Cave. Carlsbad does also Wild Cave Tours for money. (I did 2007) It may be interesting for you (or you know it already/been in their) that their is an undevelooped Cave not to fare from Branson: Left of the Road halfway to Springfield you find an very short Down path that just accomodate one Car if I remember right from 1996.
Very close to the Road is the Entrance and you come out thru an Spring!

Actualy I not expect from any Theme Park Comp Tickets, but I always try.. Specially Major Theme Parks not give out Comp Tickets, but if an Conversation been started and a Theme Park responded and I gave all asked Informations it should be a good Sound to respond at least "we are not interested" instead of just NOT responding on that...

In this particular Case I not even ASKED for Comp Tickets... I offered them 200 USD for Acess from 15:00 June 23 to 13:00 June 25 including primitive tent Side, Water Park, Lantern Tour, Normal Cave Tour with Keather and Show Boat. I not wanted to write for any of the Media you mentioned. I am running an Radio Show.

You can not imagine how much I hate the Word STRANGER. How you ever get know other people if you never talk with strangers? Not you personal but SOOOOO many people are set up like that to talk only to people they know for decades. They look at you with big eyes if you presumably to try to talk with them... How people with this Atitude ever could go to an Restaurant where thye NEED to talk with the Server..?

I not understand what is the difference:

Scenario 1: Campsite 1 10 SM 1 tent Campsite 2 10 SM 2 tents
Scenario 2: Campsite 1 10 SM 2 tents Campsite 2 10 SM 0 tents (or also 1 or 2)

Each one is sleeps in his own tent. What is important for people that only 1 tent stands on10 SM because they not know the Person that sleeps a few m from them. What is the big difference between their are 8m between or just 4?

It is not my Style to pay for Camping. I gone twice around the World by Bike never staying at those Campgrounds you talk about. For me the World is a big Camp Ground with just a few Spots you need to pay for... When I be at SDC from 9:30 on, see a Show afterwards and then may go to Ripleys (for that I by the way have an World Wide complimentary Lifetime Admission Cooperate Card) and getting back to my tent at Midnight do I real have time for rental watercraft or mini golf? It is also not my interest to play Mini Golf Courses by myself again and again as they are more or less all the same. I played ONCE Adventure Golf. That is enough!

My itinerary is long worked out. It is just going about Details. And yes I use UBER always if walking is longer as 30 min and no public Transport is availiable or using public Transport would cut my Parktime by more as 45 min. In Branson UBER is not availiable...

I have 3 Phone No. theire from Taxi: (all 417) 332 2227, 336 2625 and 598 0227 Know they charge all the same Price or must I always make 4 Phone calls?

Edited: April 4, 2017, 3:46 AM

The Lantern Tour is a little longer, quite a bit darker, and the guides tell a few new stories. You cannot go off path, but they do go down a few paths the normal tour does not. It is a nice change of pace for repeat visitors, but if it is your first time, the normal, non-upcharge tour should be fine.

Saturdays are busy at SDC, and the younglings will be out, so headliner attractions like Outlaw Run and Powderkeg will have very long lines. If you get to the park early and hit these rides first thing, you might could avoid buying a trailblazer pass, but once the park gets crowded all bets are off. Better to go on non-weekend days (Sun - Thur) if you want to avoid the longer lines.

April 4, 2017, 12:06 PM

It is my 2nd time SDC. I will do both Tours. Questions in the Article about when to buy Tickets stay valid. I will edit my Article again to that that remains unanswered.

When you do an 90 day Theme Park Tour you can not realy avoid to go to some Parks on Weekend.
The ACE Convention is dictating here the Shedule. As I like to ride each Coster Multible Times their is no way around Trailblazer as I guess "very long" means over 30 min... I will be in the Park also Friday after 3pm and Sunday until 1 pm. It stays open I can buy Trailblazer at the Park maybe cheaper because of that stupid "Processing Fee"

April 4, 2017, 2:42 PM

You buy tickets in the park for the Lantern Tour, day of, as far as I remember. Didn't think you could buy them for future visits. Been a couple years since to took that tour, though.

April 5, 2017, 6:49 AM

Yes you can buy in advance, but an >Fee< is added!

Edited: April 5, 2017, 7:48 AM

Just a couple of notes to respond...

Most US business do not barter, so it's likely when you e-mailed SDC offering a sum of money for access to certain attractions, they ignored the request. Also, I'm not sure if you're using an online language translator, but it's also possible that someone reading a request written in a similar style that you've presented above would immediately discard it as it doesn't read professionally or legitimately. Cyber crime is a huge concern for everyone, and a message delivered in broken English is one of the first tip offs to a potential scammer. You seem like a very sincere person Holger, but that's just a fact of life in the world we live in today. I wouldn't be surprised if your message never even made it to the person you sent it to, and instead ended up quarantined by a spam filter.

Which brings me to the subject of "strangers". It would be a wonderful world if anyone could walk up to any other person and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Unfortunately, that's just not the way our world works, and definitely contrary to the way most people in this country go about their business, particularly in America's Heartland. Branson is very much a family destination, and most parents tend to be very protective of their children. News stories flood our airwaves of kidnappings, thefts, and vandalism around the country, and families flocking to Branson expect a safe, child-friendly environment for their vacation. That means an unknown person walking up to a family campsite is going to be treated with a certain amount of skepticism, and likely won't be welcomed. It's very possible that you might find success from a group of campers more than happy to share their space with you, but I think there's a much better chance you could meet a lot of resistance and may end up having to explain yourself to authorities. The United States has slowly started embracing a sharing economy, but when it comes to a place to lay your head down, sharing your sleeping accommodations with someone you just met, whether it be in the same room or an adjacent tent, people in this country are going to be hesitant. The concept of a hostel and community living is a foreign one to most Americans, particularly those in the middle of the country. You're certainly welcome to try to shack up with some friendly campers, but I'd plan on having confirmed reservations for yourself before arriving.

Edited: April 6, 2017, 9:34 AM

No SDC answered and asked me something. On that then the talk died down. Did wrote that also in the first Version of my Article.

Thanks for giving an deeper inside how "Americans" "work" - reading that and comparing it with my own knowledge of Humans you are unfortuenately RIGHT I which I could say something different, but that is the REALiTY.

Contoray to how I WANT to life, theirefor I have more adapted to NOT talk to Strangers until THEY talk to me. Just to avoid that sour/angry and psychical unstabile making feeling to be turned away, starred at with big eyes or even get in trouble with Security. I just remember that one time I been thrown out of an Themepark (Knotts in 1996) for asking an under age Person to ride with me that great Juniorcoaster they had that time Adults been only allowed acompained by an non Adult. Reading a Sign like that is screaming at me "You need to ask an Child to ride that Coaster".

Certainly I not had ANY other intention as riding that Coaster! But no one understands...

Regarding Sleeping I can mentaly not hurt (yes paying money in this case HURTS Me) myself just because others have an Problem with I ask them to share. Since ever I have adapted to ESCAPE Humans to Sleep, to HIDE before those "keep on moving" Monsters, to camp out of the Side of any Street or Way.

But that is moore dificult without a bike.

In Case I get chased away I would not just ask other Campers for my own Preotection unless I got an Permission from Management to do so (what is extremely unlikely)

Actually their are some Hostels in NYC, Niagara Falls, LA, Madison, Richmond, Philadelphia for Example. And if you sleep in an Homeless Shelter it is ALWAYS dormetry Style.

Thanks for talking with you!

Regarding my English you are more then WELCOME to Correct what I made wrong! Learning by doing. I would say I talk and read/write English fluent. At least over the average Level of 50 Year old Germans and 90 % better as Potuguise Basic School Education...

It is always AMAZING for me that 70 % say they have not an Problem understanding me while 20 % understand nothing and 10 % ask "What Language you speak?"

April 10, 2017, 8:25 AM

Your example of trying to "borrow" a child to ride a kiddie coaster is a good one that reinforces America's trepidation of strangers. Toy Story Midway Mania at DCA used to have a single rider line, and when my wife and I visited the park our first time back in 2008, ride ops were clearly hesitant to place single riders with odd-numbered families where a child would be seated next to the single rider. Some cast members would ask the family if they minded riding with a single rider (occasionally asking if one of the adults could ride next to the single), while others would simply let single seats go empty if there was a child in the row. When we visited a few years later in 2013, they didn't even bother running the single rider line anymore (they may still run it on peak attendance days). I occasionally ride solo, and I almost always ask the person standing next to me in line if they mind me riding with them, even in a roller coaster where you can barely touch the person sitting in the seat next to you. It's just common courtesy and recognition that many people do not want to sit next to a stranger.

The bottom line here is that theme parks and surrounding resorts are expected to be family friendly zones free of the worries of the "real world" where child molesters, gropers, voyeurs, and the like constantly infiltrate our perceived safe spaces. These fears are almost assuredly responsible for the HB2 law in North Carolina that was recently modified. Parents will take whatever action they think is necessary to protect their children, even if it means being racist, bigoted, cruel, or illegal. If they feel their child is in danger in a space they would otherwise think is safe, they are likely to retaliate with great vigor to preserve the safety of their children and lash out against strangers that they feel are invading the personal space of their kids.

I am aware of some hostels in the US, but my understanding is that they are few and far between with many representing borderline unacceptable living conditions - very few live up to the standards present in Europe. Nothing against you Holger, but my opinion is that homeless shelters are for the truly homeless, and not for wandering travelers. Shelters are frequently run by charities that solicit donations to manage the facilities' upkeep and to help those less fortunate to have a consistent place to have meals and to call home, not to house travelers passing through without hotel reservations or available campsites. I'm all for traveling on the cheap, but taking advantage of the goodwill of those supporting the truly homeless is crossing a line in my book. Charities are to support those in need, not for people trying to save a few bucks on their vacation.

If you cannot afford the minimal costs of a vacation (airfare, ground transportation, attraction fees, food, and nightly accommodations), I would question your motivation for planning this trip, or at least the scope of it. Perhaps you should either shorten the trip, or take some more time to save more money to afford all the necessities of an international vacation.

April 11, 2017, 8:16 PM

I also ask others they are Single and may mind I ride with them.

On Travelling I useally not stay in Homeless Shelters. Simple just because you need to be their at an specific time, that not fits into Travel Plans.. I prefer wild Camping to avoid unneccessary Transfers (money and time)

Their been 2 Aceptions: 1. On my first Travel in 1996 I stayed one Night at an Shelter in NYC but not in the Dorm - Security gave me Permission to sleep with my own Equipment in an unused Building Basement in that they looked me in under my Agreement. 2. In des Moines 2015 after Police got me out of an Trailwaysbus because the Driver wanted to create an Problem. I am Autistik and can not deal with such unjustice in an town I even never heared the Name of...

That I mentoned Shelters was only because they also not use Single or Double Rooms.

I can aford my Travel. Currently I have 12.839 USD Cash. I never will be able to save more money. Actually People made me Homeless in Germany and I escaped to the Azores where it is not freezing in Winter. But it is a) unpossible to get work as an foreigner and b) I would earn more money in Germany, so it would not make sense.

I have finished with my fate and life soley from the Revenue of my Former work.

I not do wild Camping every Night. I you like to know more send E-Mail to and I give you acess to an Google Doc that is Listing everything and if you like to we can Discuss it in Detail..

But Back to Branson:

I found now some Info about Discounts for SDC and ask:

Why I get discriminated because I am NOT Resident of US?

1. US Residents can get 40 USD Tickets for SDC. (I guess after atending an Timeshare Presentation)
2. I have an 2 day Ticket for SDC in the Shopping Card from "Reserve direct". While I can choose Portugal as Country their System not understands, like so many times in US, that living in a other Country you NOT LIFE IN AN US STATE. You can not choose "Outside of US". Theirefor they authorized twice my Credit Card but not charged me because the Adress Verification MUST Fail.

Same with Waldemmer and Hershey, Knoebbels

I not like to pay more because I not born in US by Mistake.

April 12, 2017, 5:52 AM

The idea is to discount tickets for locals to get them to come to the attractions more frequently. I am also discriminated against because I am not a Florida or California resident, who are given special discounts to the Disney parks, though I don't take offense to it. The thinking is that guests from foreign countries (states) are likely only to visit once (or certainly far less than locals), so managers need to extract the most money from them in a single visit while still making the attraction affordable to attract those foreign guests. Theme parks are not unique in this. American public universities do the same thing (though for different reasons since state taxes help to fund higher education) with in-state residents getting reduced tuition compared to their out-of-state counterparts. Life isn't fair, and if we spend so much time anguishing over why one group gets preferential treatment over another, we won't have any time left to enjoy what life has to offer.

I still find it concerning that you feel it's appropriate to stay in a homeless shelter while on vacation, whether planned or not. I'll reiterate that these facilities are supported by charities to help those in need, not for foreign visitors looking to save a few bucks. I would implore you to reconsider any itinerary that would consider using a homeless shelter even as a contingency for sleeping accommodations. It's simply not right.

Edited: April 14, 2017, 1:34 PM

I not have ANY Location in my planned Travel neither it was planned in an previus Travel to stay at a Shelter. As I not live in an normal House I'm actually concidered "Homeless" by many and WOULD be eligible to stay in a Shelter but not do it. We even not have one on Pico and where Shelters exist I not use them for a) the timing Reason b) the often heared Stories of stealing and because of maybe 50 people sleep in one Room. I always found Alternatives beside what I described.

In NYC not any donated money was wasted as - like I sad - I stayed in an unused Building Part.
In Des Moines it was in exchange for Housekeeping Work. I was definitely eligible to stay their after I got out of Jail with dismissed Charges.

You can get also as an Traveller in an Situation that you are eligible to stay at a Shelter. It was just about to start to Snow. It was not planned to stay in IOWA so late in the Year. It was even not planned at all to leave the Bus their.. Read the whole Story below:

Every Minute was planned. Many months before this Trip I bought a Greyhound-Ticket Chicago-SLC for to get the Boarding Nr 1. That Detail was important for me, because I have Autism and I am unable to sit 24 h in a single Position with Shoes on and to sleep in a seated Position. In this way I was able to occupy the 2 right Seats behind the front Row and stretch out my feet to a seat across the Gangway where only a Cooler rested. For this I bought new socks, that never have been worn before.

The Driver yelled and acted to the Costumers like in a Military Boot Camp. He dropped Luggage from other Travelers from a 1,50 m Height on the Gangway, that breakable items brake apart likely. I noticed the Driver, that I have Autism and that I didn't understand every thing he jelled quickly.

Until Des Moines - a 6 h Drive - the Driver accepted my sleeping Position and I made always room for other Passengers at upcoming Stops well in Advance. I did not cause any Problem until the Bus Driver caused a Problem to me. I talked with the Bus-Driver about my sleeping Position also at a Rest-Stop at 2:19 am and he accepted it. I got told from a other Bus Driver that you can not take off Shoes on the front Row, but at all other Rows.

In Des Moines everything should be different: Suddenly the bus driver came to me and said that I had to put on my shoes NOW. It is unhygienic. Arguments which he had accepted it all the time and the fresh socks it had died away.

Although I followed under protest the amended rule, the police were called. At their arrival, I had already calmed down, but was asked to leave the bus. For me it was already difficult to deal with the unfair behavior of the bus driver, but I could not deal with the end of my journey. As I left the Bus it was CLEAR that Lagoon, Discovery Kingdom, San Francisco, Great America, Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland, Seaworld, Magic Mountain, Legoland, my birthday party, and the Getty Museum as well as all the venues I later wanted to visit dissolve in air, because all tickets were only valid for a specific day. All that I realized with leaving the bus and broke in a Apathetical state along next to the bus.

Logically, I could not leave as requested from the police the grounds of nowhere and was admitted for "Trespassing" in the Polk County Jail. There, all clothing was taken away from me and all the bracelets been cut, which roughly is for me, as if you would cut off my arm, as they all get invalid in this way as they been tampered.

If I see today Films like "Auf der Flucht" where it is shown how felons are put in jail in the abdomen, hand and leg irons, this is traumatic for me because that is just as I was treated for to take off the shoes. It is absolutely a paradox!

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