Travel With Kids: Silver Dollar City

Travel With Kids: Silver Dollar City 1

Located in southwestern Missouri in the bustling city of Branson, Silver Dollar City is a 100-acre amusement park with 12 stage venues, 40 rides and attractions, 18 restaurants, 60 shops, and 100 resident craftsmen.

The park's theme is centered around the 1880's, which was a period of economic growth and prosperity in many parts of the world, especially Europe and the Americas. Many modern cities emerged during this time as did the construction of the first skyscraper. In fact, brush off your history books and you'll see that this decade was a part of the Gilded Age (1874–1907) in the United States and the Victorian Era in Britain. The feats accomplished during the 1880s were truly remarkable and changed the world forever - including the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, the first movie, and the first automobile. If you were to travel back in time to the 1880's, you might meet Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Robert Loius Stevenson, Mark Twain, Fyoder Dostoevsky, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, or Billy the Kid.

Prior to our visit this summer, we had never even heard of Silver Dollar City and we were pleasantly surprised when we walked through the entrance gates to find a clean, beautifully decorated, expansive, and thematically immersive experience. Costumed employees were friendly and well-trained. The park's designers and architects especially deserve kudos for their careful selection of fonts, posters, and decorative elements that can be admired throughout the park.

TICKETS AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Theme park tickets start at $74 per person per day for ages 12-64. There are ticket discounts for ages 4-11 and ages 65+. Young children (ages 3 and under) are free.

If you are visiting when the weather is hot and are able to spend several days in the area, you can purchase a ticket bundle that includes tickets to the adjacent White Water park.

Since our family only had one day in area, we were not able to visit White Water so this guide will focus exclusively on Silver Dollar City.

PARKING AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Parking is close, convenient, free, and plentiful at Silver Dollar City (compare that to Disney parks, which charge $25-$50 per day). You will park in a sprawling lot and then hop on a complimentary tram that will pick you up and take you to the admission gate.

Although there are two paid parking options (Preferred and Premier), we did not find this to be a needed amenity since trams ran continuously and the park was nearby. In fact, at the end of a full day in the theme park, we ended up just walking to our cars instead of taking the tram - an easy walk (even for our 5-year-old) wherein we could see our vehicle from the exit gate of the theme park.

ROLLER COASTERS & DARING RIDES AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Our entire family commented that we were surprised by the quality, variety, and number of rides at Silver Dollar City. We have been to Disneyland, DisneyWorld, HersheyPark, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, SeaWorld, and LegoLand - and Silver Dollar City held its own!

The daredevils in our group rode Time Traveler on-repeat. This $26-million, record-breaking ride features three inversions, a 95-foot vertical loop, and two launches at 50+ miles per hour. Riders who have a need for speed will also want to try Outlaw Run, PowderKeg (which has an explosive start), The Giant Barn Swing, Thunderation, Electro Spin, and WildFire.

KIDS & FAMILY RIDES AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Don't worry if you have little ones with you! There are MANY attraction options for young children.

Our 5-year-old had a ball on Hugo & Mary's Carousel, Ladybugs, American Plunge (a log ride), Elephant March, Fire-In-The-Hole (an inferior Pirates of the Caribbean-ish experience, but in cars), Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train, Tom & Huck's RiverBlast, FireHouse Play Place, Grandfather's Mansion, Half Dollar Holler, Mystic River Falls (an 8-person whitewater rafting ride that is always a favorite for groups, families, and teens), and - his favorite - Grand Exposition Coaster!

If your group isn't prone to motion sickness, you will find a whole host of other options for your child as well - Fire Spotter, Fireman's Flyers, Happy Frogs, Lucky's Dizzy Dogs, and Royal Tea Party, among others.

Since our party had a wide range of ages (5 to 44) and varying levels of tolerance for spinning, high-flying rides, we were grateful that there were a number of rides and experiences that could be enjoyed by all.

While we are on the topic, it is worth noting that there is a good mix of rides for family, kids, and older teens/adults so that every member of your party can enjoy the day.

DINING AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Dining at Silver Dollar City appeared to be standard theme park fare at standard theme park prices. We had lunch at Rivertown Smokehouse, a barbecue joint featuring smoked chicken, beef, and ribs. One fantastic part of Silver Dollar City is that you can order and then find seats (often indoors or in the shade!).

From perusing the menus, I noted that on our next trip to Silver Dollar City, I think I'd be interested in trying the jumbo corn dogs on Hugo's Hill Street or the Calico Potato & Sausage Skillet at Hatfield's Tater Patch.

Those with hearty appetites may enjoy the all-you-can-eat lunch or dinner buffet at Molly's Mill Restaurant. An all-you-can-eat Ozark Mountain Breakfast Buffet is also available from 8:30am-11:00am seasonally at Molly's from March through October.

SHOWS AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Who knew that Silver Dollar City was a mecca for live music and performances? Be sure to check the schedule prior to your visit to allot some time for concerts, magic shows, and circus performances.

HISTORY AT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

In hindsight, we wish we would have had time to wander through the various historical buildings and replicas at Silver Dollar City - including Birdle's Cabin, McHaffie's Homestead (which features live music!), Oak Trail School, and Wilderness Church (check the schedule for the Hymn Singalong).

SILVER DOLLAR CITY WITH A BABY

Silver Dollar City is one of the most baby-friendly theme parks in the USA! Since I nursed babies for a total of 8+ years, I am always on the lookout for companies that offer amenities and quiet spaces where parents can care for their little ones. Silver Dollar City is a stand-out in the number of clean, comfortable spaces they offer in this category. If you need to change a diaper, breastfeed, or spend some quiet time with your baby, there are four nursing stations inside Silver Dollar City!

WHAT TO WEAR TO SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Wear breathable, quick-dry clothing since you may get splashed (or soaked!) on Mystic River Falls, American Plunge, and Tom & Huck's River Blast. Athletic shorts and a t-shirt or long-sleeved sun shirt are a good pick for a summer day.

When you reach for your shoes, opt for comfortable, supportive footwear - preferably shoes that are waterproof, mesh, or quick dry.

Last, but not least, don't forget to slather on the sunscreen. Note, though, that the planners of Silver Dollar City deserve an award for the amount of shade throughout the park. Large trees are thoughtfully planted to ensure that guests don't have to fight for shady spots.

TIPS FOR VISITING SILVER DOLLAR CITY

Want to maximize your experience at Silver Dollar City? Here are seven tips to help you make wonderful memories with family & friends:

  • Make note of the closing time. Silver Dollar City closes early (6:00pm or 7:00pm) during some parts of the year, which will make for a more time-crunched experience. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, select a date with a later closing time (9:00pm, 10:00pm, or Midnight).
  • Arrive early. Line rides are typically the shortest right at park opening and in the early morning.
  • Buy your tickets in advance to bypass lines on the day of your visit.
  • Download the Silver Dollar City app to keep track of your location, get the lowdown on ride wait times, and see the show schedule.
  • Request water/ice at any restaurant. Don't forget to hydrate! You can request water and ice at any dining venue.
  • Beware of motion sickness at Silver Dollar City. Some of the rides at Silver Dollar City spin, twirl, or are dizzying due to other factors. Follow the basic rules to prevent nausea if you are prone to motion sickness: (1) Eat enough, but not too much. (2) Drink plenty of water the night before. (3) Know your limit and take a break.
  • Beware of motion sickness around Branson and in southern Missouri. Roads are very windy around Branson and in the surrounding area. See above tips, plus pack vomit bags, mints, cinnamon bears, or potato chips for the car ride.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN BRANSON, MO

When researching Branson, Missouri, we were surprised by the number of shows and activities available. I'm already researching our next trip and have my eye on the following attractions:

  • Aquarium at the Boardwalk
  • Beyond the Lens
  • Dolly Parton's Stampede
  • Fritz's Adventure
  • Hollywood Wax Museum
  • Parakeet Pete's Steampunk Balloon
  • Parakeet Peet's Waterfront Zipline
  • Promised Land Zoo
  • Sight & Sound Theatres
  • The Branson Ferris Wheel
  • Titanic Branson
  • WonderWorks
  • World's Largest Toy Museum

When we return to visit Branson, we would also be interested in taking a Dinner Cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SILVER DOLLAR CITY

What is the best season or month of the year to visit Silver Dollar City?

For optimal weather, visit in April, May, June, September, or October when highs are in the 70s-80s and lows are in the 40s-60s.

We hear that the holidays are magical at Silver Dollar City as well! Experience over 6.5 million twinkling lights, live holiday shows, and signature menu items at Old Time Christmas®. Dress warmly if you visit during this time as highs will likely be in the 40s and 50s and lows may drop into the 20s!

Which days are the most and least crowded at Silver Dollar City?

As with any amusement park, choosing a weekday is likely your best best for enjoying the park with shorter lines and lesser crowds. Arriving early is a smart way to maximize your day and to go on popular rides before the crowds descend. The ride lines also tend to slow down in the evening. One of our daughters rode Time Traveler seven times in a row right before the park closed!

What theme park is a good alternative to Disneyland or DisneyWorld?

If you have been googling "alternative to Disneyland" or "amusement parks like DisneyWorld," I hope you landed right here to discover Silver Dollar City! Silver Dollar City is sparkling clean, wonderfully thematic (A+ for attention to details!), and has plentiful rides for the whole family.

If you are wondering about a size comparison, Disneyland sits on 85 acres and has 58 attractions, Disney's California Adventure is on 72 acres with 34 attractions, and Silver Dollar City is on 100 acres and has 40 attractions.

Can you bring outside food & drinks into Silver Dollar City?

Yes! You are welcome to bring snacks, beverages (no alcohol, please!), and even small coolers with you into Silver Dollar City. This may help you to enjoy the park on a budget.

Are there gluten-free menu options at Silver Dollar City?

Yes. Consult the Allergen-Free page on the Silver Dollar City website to find gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan menu options.

Is Silver Dollar City a Christian theme park?

The park's mission statement is to "bring families closer together" and part of that vision is to "constantly improve...in a manner consistent with Christian values and ethics." These values are consistent with our own and we were thrilled to see glimpses of faith around the park.

What is the height restriction for my favorite ride at Silver Dollar City?

Silver Dollar City has generous height restrictions, meaning that if you have a younger child who loves thrill rides...SDC is probably a good pick! Find height restrictions for each ride here.

How many hours/days should I plan to spend at Silver Dollar City?

One day park tickets are perfect, but be sure to arrive early and stay until closing to maximize your day.

If you live nearby, season passes are an amazing deal and there are enough shows, special events, holiday festivities, and rides to ensure that you'll want to return multiple times throughout the year.


Have a wonderful time at Silver Dollar City!

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