Home For Christmas: Silver Dollar City opens new gifts this season

Home For Christmas: Silver Dollar City opens new gifts this season
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

From the homespun rituals of the holidays — like carols, hot chocolate and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — to an eight-story Christmas tree with 400,000 points of light, Silver Dollar City prides itself on bringing the holidays of the past into the future.

As a result, An Old Time Christmas is the four-time reigning champion of USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards “Best Theme Park Holiday Event,” says spokeswoman Lisa Rau. With a fifth nomination secured, she adds, and everything that is new at the Branson theme park in 2021, she feels sure the title will come home again to Silver Dollar City.

“This year will be livelier than ever before,” Rau says with her trademark enthusiasm. “There are two new Broadway-style productions, ‘Home For Christmas’ — a $500,000 original production featuring 28 songs and over 40 costume changes — and a newly restaged and rescored ‘A Dickens’ Christmas Carol.’”

And that’s not to mention a new Christmas Princess in the twice-a-day parade and the return of all the “fan favorite” foods, from prime rib and root beer-glazed ham to cashew chicken and sweet and sour shrimp cones, red velvet funnel cake, hot apple pie with homemade cinnamon ice cream, hot chocolate, wassail and much more.

‘A Dickens’ Christmas Carol’

“A Dickens Christmas Carol has been a huge part of Christmas at Silver Dollar City for [what is now] 18 seasons,” says Dwight Jordan, show director and co-composer. “From the beginning, for so many people, it wasn’t Christmas until they saw this show. With a season off last year, we realized it was a perfect time to write the original music that this one-of-a-kind production deserved. It is still the same heartwarming version of Dickens that has been at Silver Dollar City for all of these years, but now the music is exclusive to this production. My hope is that everyone will once again feel the warm hug that this show brings and that our audience will fall in love with it all over again.”

New Yorker Robert Cookman is the show’s musical director and co-composer.

“I love the challenge of the tradition of ‘Dickens’ Christmas Carol’ at Branson,” he says. “This project was an interesting challenge for me because not only were melody and chords involved, but arranging, lyrics, a slew of technical stuff like creating click tracks for the live musicians, recording all of the other instruments that make up the track; the list goes on and on. Usually I might get to do one of these jobs on a project.”

While Casey Robertson, SDC director of entertainment, says many guests won’t notice the show has changed — “we continue to use the same script we used for the last 17 seasons” — the three on-site musicians will be backed up by strings, horns and woodwinds recorded at the Grammy Award-winning John Kilgore Sound and Recording Studio in New York City. “The players for the soundtrack are Broadway musicians, Juilliard graduates and teachers, and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra members,” Robertson marvels.

Longtime friends of Silver Dollar City should also know that “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” now pays tribute to its creator, Brad Schroeder, who passed away in 2019.

“There is a lyric that is in one of the new songs that is dedicated in the memory of Brad: ‘There is a light in the night, a star sent from heaven to guide us.’ His inspiration and guidance will always be felt by everyone associated with Dickens, and our gratitude will now be represented in every performance.”

‘Home For Christmas’

“‘Home for Christmas’ is a show all about the experiences you have with your family at Christmas,” says Robertson of this season’s new Broadway-style production. “When I was growing up, my family and I would always go to pick out a Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, [and] we would also go to church on Christmas Eve and at the end of the service, we would always sing carols as a congregation. Those two experiences I had — and many others did too — are a part of our new show.

“By far my favorite part is the North Pole section,” Robertson adds. “I don’t want to spoil it, but Santa has a little mishap with his sleigh, and the elves have to repair it in record time so all the boys and girls can get Christmas presents this year. And we also have an original song in this part of the show named ‘No Snow (I Know Snow).’ We all know what it’s like in southern Missouri during the winter, but now we get to see what it’s like at the North Pole during Christmas, too!”

The Park & The Parade

Between the end of the Harvest Festival and the beginning of An Old Time Christmas, Silver Dollar City staff has one week to turn “15,000 pumpkins into 3 miles of garland, 6.5 million lights, thousands of wreaths and an eight-story Christmas tree,” says Rau. “There is no comparison to other light shows around the country because there isn’t a place in America that does it quite like Silver Dollar City.”

“It takes 200,000 ultra-bright LED bulbs and one very famous nose to light up our 10 musical floats,” adds Amanda Carson, entertainment supervisor, about Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade. “Rudolph leads the parade along with everyone’s favorite Abominable Snow Monster, Bumble! And we have a new Christmas Princess joining some of our old favorites, Santa, Grandma and her dancing Candy Canes.”

Carson and her team start work on the parade in August, and putting the show on the road takes up to 55 people every evening. Parade times are 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., starting in the Grand Expo area.

“There’s really not a bad place to see the parade, but the square has a beautiful backdrop with our eight-story Christmas tree,” adds Robertson. “Every year when the costumes arrive and when we see the floats start their testing, we know: It’s Christmas time!”

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FAQ

An Old Time Christmas

WHEN — Through Dec. 30; days and hours vary

WHERE — Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.

COST — Tickets start at $74

INFO — silverdollarcity.com

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The Faces Of Christmas

All your holiday favorites are back at Silver Dollar City during An Old Time Christmas through Dec. 30. But which one is YOUR favorite face of Christmas?

nwaonline.com/1114xmas/

Categories: Cover Story