Holidays get even brighter at Silver Dollar City

Holidays get even brighter at Silver Dollar City


There are two tales of Christmas at Silver Dollar City — the ever-bigger, ever-brighter story told by 7 million lights and a new 80-foot state-of-the-art computerized tree and the more traditional celebration that can still be found in the tiny Ozarks town that started it all.

“There’s so much magic to the lights of Silver Dollar City, but they are the icing on the culture of our 1880s theme park,” says Lisa Rau, director of public relations for Silver Dollar City Attractions. “Think back in time, and you can picture strolling carolers, families gathering for hearty home-style holiday meals — maybe a worship service with a Christmas message. One can easily believe candy-making was an important part of the holiday season, along with gift-giving of handcrafted items that might become family heirlooms.

“The lights and the holiday foods have been around the longest, with some entertainment, but nothing like today,” adds Rau, who has worked at Silver Dollar City for 30 years. “1988 included a lighted square, holiday food and some carolers. Back then, the idea was to walk before we ran to see if a Christmas festival could work. Well, now, three decades later, we are considered among the best in the nation!”

As far as Brad Thomas is concerned, the best can only get better, and as president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, he’s invested $1.5 million this year to prove it. The centerpiece of the new additions to An Old Time Christmas is that tree, eight stories tall and the first of its kind anywhere, according to its creator, S4 Lights of Atlanta.

“We engaged a team of the world’s most-celebrated lighting geniuses to create this just for Silver Dollar City guests,” says Thomas. “This Christmas tree has been on our radar for several years. Every point of light on it is state-of-the-art technology and can be a couple of million shades of color. We can have angels spin around the tree, flickering candles, bells that move to the beat of the song.

“And on top of all of that,” he enthuses, “we are placing lights on the buildings on the town square that also have that same technology, so if we want the buildings to be all red, they can be all red or all white or all blue. It allows us to have an environmental kind of experience on the square, even more in depth than we have before. Lights have gone on and off, so they could be red when we needed red, blue when we needed blue, but the buildings couldn’t be red and blue and green and yellow, and with this technology, they can!”

Along with Joy on Town Square, the theme park also has 680 miles of lights, 600 wreaths, more than 3 miles of garland and 15,000 yards of ribbon, plus Christmas In Midtown, with colorful, twinkling light tunnels and lighted angels, reindeer, stars and snowflakes; Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, with nine musical, lighted floats with animated features like huge drumming bears and cymbal-playing penguins; two Broadway-style productions, “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”; and even a holiday-themed Saloon show.

But there’s also the old-fashioned Sing-Along Steam Train ride through the Ozarks; Rudolph’s Christmas Town with crafts and activities; and yet more food — make-your-own s’mores, apple dumplings, hot chocolate, wassail, fresh-baked fruitcakes and award-winning ginger cookies.

And if you take Rau’s advice, you might discover that “sitting quietly has its own twist at Silver Dollar City.”

“For example, one can visit the authentic McHaffie’s Homestead, home to the traditional favorite Homestead Pickers, yet the whole square surrounds you so you can watch it all unfold — where a hillfolk pickin’ party meets the highest lighting technology in the land,” she says. “My personal favorite? Stay late and take in Christmas in Midtown when it’s quiet … there’s nothing like it.”



An Old Time Christmas

WHEN — Open late through Dec. 30

WHERE — Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.

COST — $61-$71; season passes, $105-$115


Categories: 'Tis the Season