Silver Dollar City offers a wide range of attractions in Branson, Missouri. The celebrated theme park is home to rides, concerts, festivals, and seasonal celebrations. And its newest offering, opening this spring, is an exciting new roller coaster, Time Traveler. This is no ordinary roller coaster: the coaster is billed as the fastest, steepest, and tallest complete circuit spinning roller coaster in the world. The $26-million ride launches riders twice, flips them upside down three times, and offers stunning 360 degree views while rotating. But, that’s not all – the ride will reach a top speed of 50.3 miles per hour.
But marketing director Lisa Rau says that as exciting as the new roller coaster is, the revolutionary new ride is not the only thing about Silver Dollar City that makes it unique. “After nearly three decades with Silver Dollar City, and lots of involvement in the amusement industry, it still strikes me how Silver Dollar City continues to build as a one-of-a-kind park. We have global-footprint rides that you can’t find anywhere else on the planet, such as Outlaw Run with the world’s first double barrel roll on a wood coaster, and now, Time Traveler, so unique that people are inquiring from all over the globe. Along with ride and festival innovation, we maintain a culture that is about family – we believe in supporting one another, putting our guests first and celebrating our heritage and the history of the colorful Ozark Mountains,” she says enthusiastically, adding with a laugh, “Did I mention that I love this place?”
And so do many of the park’s guests. The 1880s-style park has
received awards such as the Applause Award for excellence, the THEA Award - Themed Entertainment Assoc. - for theming, and the Golden Ticket award as the “Friendliest Park” in the theme park industry. In 2013, the park’s then-new wood coaster Outlaw Run won the Golden Ticket Award for Best New Ride worldwide, and the following year, it was spotlighted by CNN.com as one of the 12 biggest game-changers in the history of theme park attractions.
As impressive as these credentials are, the park had a humble start. Silver Dollar City began as a re-creation of the mining town that once stood at the mouth of Marvel Cave, a natural cave that’s located under the park. Originally, the park’s owners, Hugo and Mary Herschend, leased the cave imagining a summer cave tour business. In 1960, the family opened the 1880s replica mining town above ground, with a staff of only 17 people. In the first year, Silver Dollar City drew more than 125,000 people, four times more visitors than had toured Marvel Cave. And the family’s theme park business began.
Today, the park includes over 100 acres, and draws approximately two million visitors each year. It’s owned by Herschend Family Entertainment, now the nation’s largest family-owned theme park corporation. And, the park offers 40 thrilling rides in all.
But it’s not just about the rides. As Lau notes, there are ten festivals and events throughout the year, from Festival of Wonder in the spring to An Old Time Christmas during the holiday season.
The Festival of Wonder, which runs mid-April through the end of the month, offers larger than life acts such as the Earth Harp Collective which features the world’s largest playable stringed instrument; the X-Pogo Stuntmen, an extreme Pogo performance team that is new this year; and also new, performances by CirqUnique, featuring contortionists, the DiabloDiva juggler, an extreme pole-balancing duo, fire juggling and a slack wire artist.
Park attendees also get a taste of the Foods of Wonder including waffle tacos with chicken or pulled pork and chipotle coleslaw, and what the park calls the “Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.”
Other popular events run by the park include a May Bluegrass and BBQ event with a special Memorial Weekend concert that this year features acts such as Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. In September, the National Crafts and Cowboy Festival is dedicated to the Great American Cowboy with crafts, and trick riders; Native American artisans are a part of the mix with a village exhibition produced in partnership with the Cherokee Heritage Center of Tahlequah, Okla. And of course, there’s the park’s renowned Christmas festivities, featuring the signature event Christmas In Midtown, a 70,000-square-foot area filled with light displays 9 stories high, two 40-foot long moving trains, dozens of stars and snowflakes, and a 50-foot tree, along with Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, and two original musical productions: A Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and the final year of It’s a Wonderful Life, adapted from the Frank Capra film.
In fact, it seems that everything is big and bright in Silver Dollar City, and the Time Traveler roller coaster is poised to become its biggest and brightest attraction of all. The ride was designed and developed by renowned coaster manufacturer Mack Rides of Waldkirch, Germany. It’s attracting international attention, and advance reviews are glowing.
According to Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions “This coaster’s state-of-the-art controlled spin provides riders a unique thrill experience while still appealing to families.”
Christian von Elverfeldt, CEO of Mack Rides adds “The car is the most advanced roller coaster car in the industry, featuring a free-spinning rotation on a launched roller coaster…an on-board magnetic brake limits the rotation speed to allow the most enjoyable ride experience.”
The ride’s excitement starts right as the cars leave the load station, with a spin and a 10-story drop straight down, racing down a mountainside and through the trees.
“Since Silver Dollar City’s opening day in 1960, guests have taken a journey back in time with unique and world-class experiences… That continues in 2018 with Time Traveler,” Thomas adds, dubbing the ride “a revolutionary coaster ahead of our time.”
In short, the world’s fastest, tallest, and steepest spinning roller coaster has found its home in Branson, Missouri.