Silver Dollar City has taken the top spot for “Best Theme Park Holiday Event” in USA Today’s 10Best poll for the fourth time, park officials announced Friday.
The 1880s-style theme park’s “An Old Time Christmas” festival grabbed the top spot after four weeks of online voting from fans and guests along with local, regional and national celebrities and influencers.
“10Best readers love the holidays, and the Best Theme Park Holiday Event award is always one of our most hotly contested categories,” explained Lydia Schrandt, Sr. Photo Editor and Readers’ Choice Production Manager of USA Today’s 10Best. “The fact that ‘An Old Time Christmas’ has clenched the award for the fourth time speaks to the caliber of the event,” said Schrandt.
An Old Time Christmas has been a staple of the Silver Dollar City experience since 1988, beginning with strands of lights decorating Town Square and some Christmas caroling for entertainment. Since that first celebration, this festival has grown to be one of the park’s most popular festivals, and it continues to grow year after year.
Silver Dollar City Attractions President Brad Thomas shared what it takes for a theme park to be named the “Best Theme Park Holiday Event.
“It takes 6.5 million Christmas lights. Not outlining just the buildings on the streets of Silver Dollar City, but lighting every board of every single building at Silver Dollar City. It also takes Christmas in Midtown, where in that special section of the city, we don’t just light every board, we light every square inch of the buildings,” said Thomas. “It takes Christmas shows that talk about a story and a journey and may actually impact how someone chooses to live their life, because of Dickens Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life or the incredible living nativity. It also takes holiday food … and incredible craftsmanship from our artisans and our crafts colony who are constantly making things right here, not only in America, but right here at Silver Dollar City.
This year added an eight-story multi-effects Christmas tree with hundreds of thousands of lights, capable of projecting angels, falling snowflakes and carolers onto its evergreen branches with a million points of illumination, part of the new Joy on Town Square, which Silver Dollar City Co-Founder and Co-Owner Peter Herschend said is one of his favorite new editions.
“You just have to talk about the tree. Eighty feet high. Both the story and visual story that it tells and then when you stop and think about it, how complex it is to make that happen,” said Herschend. “Four-hundred thousand individual lights so the tree can make a combination of four million colors.”
Herschend added that being bestowed this honor by USA Today for the fourth year in a row makes him proud, but added the credit for the award doesn’t go to him.
“I didn’t win the award. Brad Thomas, general manager, didn’t earn the award. There’s 2,000 men and women who are all part of Silver Dollar City. Some small parts and some big, big parts. It’s like the engine of a car,” Herschend said. “It takes the big parts and the little parts all working together and we have that with the men and women here.”
In additional recent features, Silver Dollar City was named number one in Big 7 Travel’s The 50 Most Festive Cities In The World, The Daily Meal’s The Most Amazing Christmas Light Displays in America, HuffPosts’ 19 Lesser-Known Amusement Parks Worth Visiting Around The World, The Points Guy’s 9 Can’t-miss Theme Parks During the Holidays and MSN Travel’s The Most Christmas-y Towns in All 50 States. These recent accolades join Good Morning America, Wall Street Journal and The TODAY Show recognizing An Old Time Christmas.
“I think what it really, really says is the tremendous loyalty that our guests have, particularly to Christmas,” said Herschend. “Christmas is a powerful word and it means something. We try to honor Christmas here, and that’s a deeper meaning, more than skin deep. That goes to the heart and soul of individuals.”
Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas runs through December 30, which is followed by a New Year’s Celebration on December 31 and January 1. Visit silverdollarcity.com.