Silver Dollar City named best holiday festival, invites riders for last days of Fire in the Hole

Silver Dollar City named best holiday festival, invites riders for last days of Fire in the Hole

It’s been a stellar year for Silver Dollar City. Visitors have flocked to the Branson theme park to catch the final season of Fire in the Hole, an iconic 51-year-old roller coaster that set a standard for indoor steel coasters; a new iteration of Fire in the Hole has been announced for spring of 2024 at a cost of $30 million; and now USA TODAY’s 10Best has named An Old Time Christmas “America’s Best Theme Park Holiday Event” for the sixth time.

In the contest, which had a four-week voting period, Silver Dollar City collected the most accolades among 20 nominees, including Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Legoland parks. Nominees are chosen by a panel of experts, including USA TODAY editors and theme park experts, according to Dalton Fischer, communications manager for Silver Dollar City.

“We sincerely thank our friends and fans from all around the globe who took time out of their busy schedules to vote every single day,” Brad Thomas, president of the Silver Dollar City Company, said in a news release. “Christmas is such a special time for us, and we’re so grateful to our fans for highlighting The City as the nation’s must-visit holiday destination.”

Thomas credits the 1880s theme park’s employees — “Citizens” — for bringing Christmas spirit to each guest who comes through the gate.

“The energy and joy our Citizens bring to our visitors creates an unforgettable and immersive experience,” he says. “There truly is no better or brighter place to spend the holidays with friends and family.”

The now six-time winning An Old Time Christmas festival features more than 6.5 million lights, Fischer enumerates, two Broadway-style Christmas shows and Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade.

“At the top of the park, an eight-story Christmas tree is the centerpiece of Joy On Town Square, a light-filled production equipped with LED-mapping technology synced with music, shining and displaying angels, shepherds, ornaments, snow, and other images around the tree,” he describes, and “Christmas in Midtown, The City’s most concentrated light display, fills 70,000 square feet with 145 miles of lights.”

Then there’s the chance between now and Dec. 30 to take one of the final rides on Fire in the Hole.

“When Fire In The Hole opened more than a half century ago in 1972, one needs to keep in mind that steel coasters were in their infancy,” says Tim Baldwin, editor of RollerCoaster! magazine. “Up to that time, the larger coasters were still made of wood. This ride preceded Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain by three years! The fact that the park had the creative vision to place it indoors and make it a fusion of a dark ride along with roller coaster drops for a finale was rather groundbreaking.”

Calling the ride a “sacred cow,” Thomas said a story “so rich and so important” had to be preserved. And he promised the new Fire in the Hole, announced Aug. 14, will be the same rite of passage for families, “where one generation introduces the next generation to this adventure and where the heroes of today spark the heroes of tomorrow.”

“We’re celebrating the final public rides of the original Fire In The Hole in some very special ways on Dec. 30,” Fischer says. “It’s going to be a full-day celebration, with pop-up prizes given out randomly each hour to riders, entertainment and more!

“We close at 10 p.m. on Dec. 30,” he adds, “so those final rides will take place after the 10 o’clock hour.”

The ride runs four different trains, each holding 12 riders per train. So the final public rides will consist of 48 people total, Fischer says.

“Seats will be given out via a variety of channels — Facebook, Instagram and TikTok — through Dec. 18. Winners will be announced via the channel the giveaway was hosted on,” he adds. “Not all seats will be given away on those channels, as some guests will be randomly selected from those who are visiting us at The City on Dec. 30.”



Silver Dollar City

Open Through Dec. 30

A full schedule for the rest of 2023 is available at

Categories: Family Friendly