Since opening its doors in 1960, Silver Dollar City has continued to raise the bar for other theme parks by supplying its park guests with new festivals, foods, live entertainment or attractions each year. That bar rose a little higher this week following the announcement of Mystic River Falls, coming Summer 2020, and other park investments.
In typical Silver Dollar City fashion, Mystic River Falls will be more than your traditional water raft ride. This river adventure ride is themed to the history and legend of Silver Dollar City’s Marvel Cave and features a four-platform rotation elevator that will lift raft riders eight stories into the air. Once at the top, riders will travel along an elevated river channel for 180 linear feet before being dropped down a four-and-a-half story waterfall into what is being dubbed “The Wettest Splashdown in the Park’s 60-Year History.”
In a press release, Silver Dollar City officials said that Mystic River Falls will serve as the highlight of a new themed area of the park called Rivertown. Once soaked to the bone, riders of Mystic River Falls can dine at the all-new Rivertown Smokehouse, which will be erected along the banks of the Mystic River, and serve the park’s famous BBQ, plus new favorites, and seat up to 450 people.
At the end of the 2018 park season, Silver Dollar City began the demolition of fan-favorite Lost River of the Ozarks to make way for the new attraction. Silver Dollar City Attractions President Brad Thomas explained why 2018 was the final season for the “Lost River.”
“Silver Dollar City will soon be 60 year’s old, and that means that some of our rides and our attractions, obviously are growing older. As we look toward the future, we have to look at those things we can refresh and those things that it’s just easier to say they need to go away and they need to be replaced,” said Thomas. “We have a masterplan that maps, that outlines, those kinds of answers for our future, and we’re following along that master plan. So this is just part of that overall plan.”
When the park began discussing bringing a new water ride into the park, Ride Engineers Switzerland was also brought into the discussion. Ride Engineers Switzerland Technical Director Roman Rothe said, while a project like this is not unusual, the addition of a few uncommon elements makes it challenging.
“The ride itself, it’s not new, but it has very new elements and just the size it has. Some impressing things,” said Rothe. “The amount of water coming here is just incredible. You cannot imagine until you see it. The elevator system, which is a brand new, first of its kind in this world. There’s no example.”
Mystic River Falls will experience a maximum water flow of 200,000 gallons per minute. The ride itself will last approximately five-and-a-half minutes and will house a total of 18, eight-person rafts. Barr Engineering Company Senior Engineer Al Fandrey said he’s really excited to be part of the creation of this ride.
“The attraction itself is world-class. The river’s going to be some of the fastest and longest in this type of ride system,” Fandrey said. “They’re going to be steeply banked. The boats are going to spin. It’s just going to be a fun ride on the river for the riders, and then you get the world’s largest drop in the western hemisphere here.”
Fandrey also addressed some of the ride challenges, specifically the location and space the ride is going into.
“On more of the technical side, think about adding a half-mile river to Silver Dollar City. It’s already jam packed with a number of really great attractions and shows, so how are you going to fit a half-mile river there, plus a new large restaurant that seats 450 people. Just fitting all that in between Silver Lake and Barn Swing, that was a challenge,” said Fandrey.
“The drop itself needs quite a bit of logistics to go straight up with that and to spin. There’s just a lot of back-of-the-house stuff that takes space and energy and power and the splash zone. You can imagine when you’re dropping 45 feet, you’ve got to stop in the next 50, 60, 80 feet, and that takes a lot of space.”
The basis for the story for Mystic River Falls is a unique mixture of both fact and fiction. For the factual side, the story turns to Botanist S. Fred Prince, who in the late 1880’s discovered and documented an underground body of water, called Mystic River, that seems to come from and go nowhere inside Marvel Cave.
The storyline then takes a turn when riders are introduced to the historically-based functional character of Pearl Brazen. Riders will be transported back to the 1880’s to join the young intrepid explorer on her quest to find the headwaters of the Mystic River, according to the press release.
Silver Dollar City Creative Director Erica Rutledge said the part of the project that has her most excited is the integration of stories for the ride and how people will learn about the adventure ahead while waiting in the load station.
“It’s our 60th Anniversary, and we’re taking a piece of our park’s actual history, and we’re bringing that to life for our guests. A new and improved river ride. So it’s going to be pretty amazing,” said Rutledge. “It’s going to tell this rich story about Pearl and all of the history that she went through to get people onto this adventure and to take them through the river.”
According to the release, Silver Dollar City’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee will begin in March 2020 along with the park opening. The anniversary celebration will launch the weekend of May 1, 2020, followed by Mystic River Falls opening during the summer season.
“This ride will be a very fun experience. Coasters are fun and thrilling for those who seek fun and thrills. But some folks say ‘You know I’m not going to do a roller coaster.’ But this ride can entertain the grandmother in the family, but can also entertain the younger kid in your family, and that my friend is something that is unique and kind of a surprise, because it’s adventure, but it’s family adventure,” said Thomas. “I’m also excited about the new BBQ restaurant.”
In the coming year, Silver Dollar City will be making a total investment of $30 million into the park, $23 million for Mystic River Falls and $4 million for the Rivertown Smokehouse. Come September of this year, the park will be decorated with more than 8,000 pumpkins for the Fall Harvest Festival’s Pumpkin Nights, a $2 million investment.
“This is a G Rated, family-friendly pumpkin experience” said Thomas. “There’s nothing haunted about it. This is for the 2-year-old all the way up to the 92-year-old.”
Pumpkin Nights will also include a nighttime black light band party, Canadian acrobatic lumberjack production show Cirque Eloize and more.
Silver Dollar City is also taking its Christmas season to new heights this year with the investment of $1.5 million in an all new custom-engineered and designed eight-story, lighted, special effects Christmas tree. The tree will replace a five-story tree in the center of town square.
Thomas says the park will be making more announcements over the course of the coming months in regard to the 60th Anniversary celebration, as well as a couple of other surprises for Rivertown.