Silverwood Theme Park, located in Northern Idaho near the town of Coeur d’Alene, is about 47 miles from Spokane, Wash., and nestled in a bucolic, wooded setting. It’s also the Pacific Northwest’s largest amusement park, with a bevy of popular, crowd-drawing attractions.
From the wave pools of Boulder Beach Bay to dining in a Victorian-style setting or riding one of the park’s major, thrilling rollercoasters, everyone in the family will have something to enjoy, which is the park’s philosophy, according to marketing director Jordan Carter.
“Our most popular rides are probably our two wooden roller coasters, Tremors and Timber Terror, closely followed by our two steel coasters, After Shock and Corkscrew,” he relates.
The Corkscrew roller coaster originally was housed at Knott’s Berry Farm, and was the first modern roller coaster to go upside down. Spincycle is another thriller, termed the first of its kind anywhere. This 104-foot tall ride has a cylindrical-shaped vehicle that rotates 360 degrees, swings like a giant pendulum upside down, and brings riders all the way around over and over at 3.5 times the normal gravitational pull. The sensation leaves riders screamingly happy.
“While rides on the roller coaster side do well, we have many other rides that draw our guests,” Carter relates. “We have a whitewater rafting ride, Roaring Creek Log Flume, that every year our guests vote on as their favorite ride, it is always a winner. And on the waterpark side of our park, we have Avalanche Mountain and Richochet Rapids that are both family-oriented raft waterslides that everybody loves.”
Avalanche Mountain allows guests to walk up a mountain trail, climb aboard a raft, and splash down a 650-foot slide before landing in a below-ground canyon. Geared to simulate the Idaho terrain, the ride cascades down the mountain side, replicating the thrill of whitewater rafting. Ricochet Rapids has a similar dynamic, with riders zooming down a 40-foot mountain into a 30-foot valley with the added thrill of a drop into a mega tube that simulates a half-pipe experience.
Carter says that virtually all of the park’s rides are appealing for families, with certain rides geared toward the youngest family members. “In our kiddie rides section we have a lot of fun for younger children,” he attests.
The Barnstormer, which gives young riders the sensation of flying is one such ride, located in the Garfield’s Summer Camp area of the park. There’s a carousel, and the Butterflyer, a giant swing. The Climbing Trees are the perfect spot for parents to let their children enjoy themselves on their own, even the tots. There are Kiddie Copters, a Puppy-Go-Round, and the Red Baron plane, all geared toward the smallest park guests. Little kids enjoy appearances by costumed Garfield and company characters, too.
“One ride that just appeals to everyone is our 1915 steam locomotive,” Carter explains. “It takes people all around the park, and includes a stunt show out in the woods. People just love riding it, and the unique show that’s a part of it is highly interactive. The entire ride takes about a half hour.” The train was the park’s original ride, and has been at the park thirty years.
“The train was our first ride, it’s what started it all,” Carter says, noting that this year marks the park’s thirtieth anniversary.
“We are family owned, and Gary Norton who started it in 1988 is very hands-on. He really has a fascination with airplanes and trains and vintage autos, which is a strong part of the park. In fact, we had air shows at the very beginning, along with the train, and a small town ‘Main Street.’” The quaint Main Street is also still a part of the park, and offers a variety of retail experiences.
“We began adding the smaller rides first and then the roller coasters; in 2003 we added the water park and its really taken off.”
This year, the park is focusing on its 30th anniversary, with a celebration planned for June 20th, the actual founding date. “We’ll have giveaways throughout the park, and we’ll just be exploring the nostalgia, which is important for guests at Silverwood who have grown up with the park.”
When it comes to marketing, Carter relies on “a little bit of everything. We’ve moved into the digital, to the social media side of things this year, and have been doing a lot of social media advertising. That has become a big tool for us. We also do a lot of email marketing. We’ve been very successful growing our e- mail list every year.”
Carter explains that the park has a large demographic range, pulling guests from as far away as Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, and the state of Montana. Currently, the park uses 221 acres of the 600 that Silverwood owns, so there is plenty of room for expansion. And if they build more attractions, there’s no doubt that people will come.
“Last year was our best year ever, we are up considerably, about 8% over the previous best year ever, and we are forecast for this year to do even better than last,” Carter attests. “We are very excited about that.”
The park offers promotions such as an early-bird special that goes on until Silverwood officially opens on May 5th. “It’s $70 for any two days during the summer, not necessarily two consecutive days. And we also offer $39 admission for one day. We are affordable; we don’t want to gouge people,” he laughs.
The park also runs special events throughout the season and weekend specials in May and September when the waterpark is still to open. On May 5th and 6th, celebrating the park’s anniversary, guests will only pay $19.88 to enter. A Mother’s Day weekend special lets moms in for free. The waterpark opens June 9th through Labor Day this year. The park also runs shoulder-season specials directed at bringing in locals from the Spokane, Wash. area.
“To sum things up about the park, I would say what we always say -- Silverwood is in the business of smiles, and we are family friendly, a very clean park that is in the middle of a beautiful part of the country in Northern Idaho.”