Greetings my Loyal Reader(s), and welcome to the latest edition of the Branson Beat, your home for all the news on the Branson entertainment scene.

As always, feel free to drop me a line at jclark@bransontrilakesnews.com, or send me a message via our Branson Tri-Lakes News Facebook page.

Now, let’s get to it. 

Silver Dollar City construction update  

Late last year, the Lost River of the Ozarks, one of Silver Dollar City’s oldest and most popular rides, was demolished, and construction began on something new, which is set to open next year.

Fencing that stretches from Fireman’s Landing to the Giant Barn Swing has been erected to hide the construction site. It also appears as though the park’s Riverfront area will also be redeveloped as part of the project.

Even though representatives from the park have teased the middle of August (Aug. 15) as the date they’ll let everyone else in on what they’re building, my fellow Branson Tri-Lakes News writer John Robinson visited the park last week and took full advantage of the fact curious park-goers can get glimpses of the construction site from several vantage points, including from the The Giant Barn Swing, as well as from the train.

While we’re still more than a month away from the announcement, there is plenty of speculation on both a local, and world-wide level, as to exactly what they’re building.  

As far as any rumors go, I’ve heard two.

The first one was, “who said (they) were only building one thing,” and the second rumor, courtesy of Silver Dollar City President Brad Thomas, is they’re building a “Possum Race Track.”

The Lost River of the Ozarks originally opened in May of 1985 at a cost of $2 million. It took the place of Rube Dugan’s Diving Bell, which was an attraction that simulated a journey similar to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Ride at the Walt Disney Parks. The Diving Bell was removed in the early 1980s.

The last few rides and attractions have not only gained near-universal acclaim, but they’ve also been record-setting efforts.

In fact, last year’s opening of the Time Traveler carried along with it a $26 million price tag, the park’s biggest investment and attraction ever. Designed by Mack Rides, a family-owned German company founded in 1780, the Time Traveler became a world record-breaking coaster featuring the fastest top speed, steepest and tallest, as well as the first and only spinning coaster with three Inversions different inversions. Time Traveler is also the first and only double launch spinning coaster.

In 2015, the park debuted Fireman’s Landing, an $8 million development featuring six rides and four interactive play zones for children and families.

March of 2013 saw the opening of Outlaw Run, a $10 million wood coaster that included several firsts, as well as records for the world’s first and only double barrel roll on a wood coaster, with a 720-degree (double) barrel roll, as well as the only wood coaster to twist upside down with a record-breaking three inversions. 

Outlaw Run was voted Best New Ride of 2013 worldwide.

2010 saw the addition of Tom & Huck’s River Blast, a $7 million water ride dubbed “the wettest, wildest river adventure in the Midwest,” followed by The Giant Barn Swing, a $6 million ride, debuted in 2007. 

Silver Dollar City unveiled the Grand Exposition expansion in 2006 at a cost of $8. In what was the park’s biggest expansion for kids, the Grand Exposition features 10 family rides of all shapes and sizes. 

One of the park’s most popular family rides and my personal favorite, Powder Keg, which launches riders from 0 to 53 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds, opened in 2005. The $14 million WildFire, the park’s tallest and second-fastest ride, opened in 2001. 

The park’s lone misstep when it comes to new rides came in 1999 with  the ill-fated BuzzSaw Falls, a $7 million “Liquid Coaster” which was a flume ride/roller coaster prototype from Premier Rides. Buzzsaw Falls proved to be unsustainable and was closed at the end of 2003 to make way for Powder Keg.

1993 saw the opening of Thunderation, Silver Dollar City’s first “large-scale” roller coaster. 

Of course, the park’s first coaster, Fire-In-The-Hole, which debuted in 1972, is still up and running and is a must ride for folks visiting the park. Built in-house by Silver Dollar City, this 3-story indoor steel coaster and dark ride is a perennial favorite for guests who have grown up coming to Silver Dollar City.

As you can see by this long list of awesomeness, Silver Dollar City consistently goes above and beyond expectations, no matter what they’re doing, and I’m completely and utterly stoked for this new ride, or attraction, or whatever they’re building out there.

Keep reading the Branson Tri-Lakes News, Branson Live and the Ozark Mountain Visitor for more. Also, folks can visit silverdollarcity.com/theme-park/20news and sign up for email alerts regarding the new construction.

Cast announced for ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

From July 18-21, the Branson regional Arts Council is presenting “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Historic Owen Theatre.

This version of the original Broadway musical tells the tale of “an eclectic group of six awkward spelling champions who learn that winning, and losing,  isn’t everything.” 

As the students vie for the title, they candidly disclose hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, spelling their way through a series of “potentially made-up words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming ‘ding’ of the bell that signals a spelling mistake.”

The production is under the direction of Jacob Estes, and additional production members include vocal director Caitlyn Secrest, choreographer Kristen Dasto, assistant director Jacob Deck, and producers Kim Hale, Lisa Murphy and Karie Dykeman.

The cast features Josh Powell as “William Barfee,” Aryn Bohannon as “Marcy Park,” Brenna Kellem as “Olive Ostrovsky,” Janie Johnson as “Rona Lisa Peretti/Olive’s Mom,” Ellie Maji as “Logainne ‘Schwarzy’ Schwartzandgrubennierre, Patrick Mulheron as “Mitch Mahoney/Dan Dad/Olive’s Dad,” Sean Myers as “Douglas Panch,”  Conner Paulson as “Leaf Coneybear/Carl Dad,” and Declan Rhodes as “Chip Tolentino/Jesus.”

A friendly reminder to my Loyal Reader(s), this production is rated PG-13.

Visit BransonArts.org/tix, or call the Historic Owen Theatre at 417-336-4255.

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