Exceeding Expectations

Exceeding Expectations

Silver Dollar City brings tradition, innovation together


It isn’t always Christmas at Silver Dollar City. On the other hand, it’s never too early for a little magic of the season in Branson, Mo.

In 2019, designated “The Year of Shows & Festivals,” the 1880s theme park is planning millions of dollars in additions with new and original productions, larger-than-life shows and festival adventures, says John Ancona, director of events and entertainment. And one of those giant-sized innovations is an 80-foot-tall, state-of-the-art Christmas tree.

The traditions of a family Christmas seem a unique reflection of the “incredibly special place” Silver Dollar City is, says Ancona, who is in his seventh year there.

“It’s just an incredible culture, with just such an unbelievably seasoned veteran team, from the ground up or from the top down,” he says. “People who have been in these roles for 10, 20, 30, 40 years and just want to make your day better, to create memories worth repeating.”

When he goes out onto the park, Ancona says, his eyes and ears are open to what the staff is doing and what families are saying. In other words, he’s eavesdropping, just as he was at an airport recently, where a young girl, maybe 10 years old, was crying about leaving her parents to fly alone. A friendly TSA agent was trying to calm her and asked her her favorite thing to do. Her answer? Ride Wildfire at Silver Dollar City. The topic immediately brought smiles amid the tears, Ancona says.

“Here’s this sweet little girl, struggling, and what took her to her happy place was Silver Dollar City,” he says proudly. That, he says, is why the park has “such a loyal fan base. It’s just home to them. So many of them have been coming for decades and have such a rich history with Silver Dollar City. They’ve created memories worth repeating — I don’t mean to harp on our mission, but it’s true — and they want to continue.”

That’s why it matters to Ancona that with everything newer, bigger and better, there’s still “wonderful guest service and fun foods and great rides and the best entertainment” and parents sharing the first taste of kettle corn or the first piece of taffy with their children.

“They know we’re going to exceed expectations.”

He admits that he thinks that will be especially true this year, even though there’s no new giant like Time Traveler in town. Instead, the focus this year is on the 51 new shows that will highlight the season — among them a $1 million, Broadway style show for summer, “Reuben’s Swashbuckling Adventure,” and for fall, a spectacular evening experience called Pumpkin Nights, with thousands of glowing pumpkins brought to life throughout the streets of the city, creating the biggest fall in the park’s 59-year history. Plus there’s Phoenix Fire, a black-light, laser and fire show, in the spring and dancing lumberjacks in the fall.

And that’s not to mention “one of the things that’s really exciting for us this year,” Ancona says. “We continue to grow our concert venue in the Echo Hollow Amphitheater, with 52 separate evening events in addition to our new Echo Hollow show starting at park closing most of the season. We’ve got gospel artists, bluegrass artists and legendary rock and country performers.

“We’re a place you can get state-of-the-art rollercoasters and experiences; our food team continues to reinvent themselves every year with fantastic offerings for every season; and we have top-notch world class entertainment,” he enthuses. “Where else can you go and have that experience? No place anywhere close.”



Silver Dollar City:

Spring Break

WHEN — 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. March 13-17, 20-24 & 26-31

WHERE — Branson, Mo.

COST — $58-$68

INFO — silverdollarcity.com

Categories: 'Tis the Season