Silver Dollar City is rated as one of the top 5 amusement parks in the USA. It has all of the features you would expect in such a place — high speed roller coasters and other thrill rides, arcades, county fair style food, a world class water park and outdoor musical entertainment.
But it also has other features that make it uniquely “Ozarkian.” First is the “old timers” theme. We have been to two amusement parks previously that started out with an “old west” theme (Lagoon, near Salt Lake City, and Silverwood, near Spokane). But that faded away as these parks invested heavily into fancier coasters and more elaborate water parks. Nowadays, these sections of the park either don’t exist or are afterthoughts.
Silver Dollar City, by contrast, has retained and reinforced its “mountain roots” feel. Building around original buildings from the 1830’s (!), the park has added new attractions that maintain the nostalgic feel of the originals. You will see that clearly in the pictures below. The old fashioned train ride around the park includes a hokey “hold-up,” which I remember from early Silverwood days. It was silly, but a lot of fun.
Secondly, the park is an openly Christian venue. In the picture below, you can see Ellen standing in front of an original frontier church that was relocated here. Several times a day, they open in to a half hour song session. A gifted pianist plays and leads singing, with the audience choosing any number in the hymnal. She knows them all, and plays heartily, with a Christian commentary accompanying the choice of songs. I am relatively sure that would not happen almost anywhere else in America. But this was not the only park venue where this happened. The main stage featured a gospel quartet. Another stage was shared by a kid-oriented magician and folk group that included gospel songs in their repertoire. And the “picker circle” inside the 1830 cabin shown below would feature a healthy mix of hillbilly gospel and high-energy banjo-pickin’. It was a very intimate setting of about 40 people crammed into this small cabin. Whoever created the bumper sticker that said, “Live Music is Best” could use this place as a exhibit A. Later in the season the big name acts will show up to perform in the impressive amphitheater. These will be a mix of Christian and other family-friendly shows, with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Craftsmen demonstrations are another key component of the entertainment package. All day long, you can witness knife making demonstrations, pottery making and glass blowing. I have pictures of these below. We also saw taffy making, leatherworking, and baking exhibitions. Later in the season, there will be wood lathe demonstrations. Shops selling their wares sit alongside all the other cash-absorbing tourist traps.
We bought a two-day pass and thoroughly enjoyed our time, despite the fact that we only rode one ride (the train). We tried two others — one was closed for repairs and one we didn’t fit the ride specifications.
Thank you to Larry and Mary Isitt for the great suggestion that we come here. It was terrific.