At some point mid-August, my friend Eileen and I realized neither of our families had plans for Labor Day Weekend. And we’ve been talking about taking the kids on an overnight playdate for months. So it came together — as the best plans do — just that easily. Silver Dollar City. Labor Day Weekend. Done.

I’ve lived in Northwest Arkansas nearly 15 years and had never been to SDC — shocking, I know. I’ve barely even been to Branson! But I can’t say THAT anymore.

The six of us make a low-drama, realistic-expectations, go-with-the-flow kinda team. We are so grateful for friends like this.

I can’t go any further without getting this out: Silver Dollar City is ADORABLE. The whole place. It’s just so cute. It’s a late 19th century-themed park with an impressive level of authenticity. Sure, it has roller coasters and $8 lemonade (what theme park doesn’t?!) but it also has employees in period dress, a blacksmith, and a real, working, steam-driven, wood lathe. You heard me.  You can lose your funnel cake on the teacups AND learn to churn butter. ADORABLE.

The bad news is harsh, direct sunlight combined with fast-moving children on faster-moving theme park rides doesn’t make for crisp, clear, beautiful photos. The good news is it absolutely doesn’t matter, and we took plenty of photos anyway.  The sweaty faces in these pictures are some of my favorites around.

Click any photos to enlarge.

Walter saw the teacups as a personal challenge and Eileen warned me of his “reputation”, but I reluctantly agreed to go thinking he’d have mercy on me because of the kiddos. We all survived – lunch intact!

Most of the rides have the kiddos get on the inside, parents on the outside. I always thought this was a silly rule until this pirate ship ride — if the kids had been on the outside they would have suffered death by centrifugal force! Ha!

The kids were awesome all day. We brought snacks and water, took our time, and were surprised by short-ish lines on a holiday weekend.

Jeff and I had vowed to get outta there without buying anything but food. But then we stumbled across the opportunity to buy a $7 bag of dirt and pan for gold and gemstones. Best $7 bag of dirt you ever saw.

I knew going in to this thing there was potential for a water ride. I was ready. It would be a nice way to cool off and the kids were already talking about how much fun it would be to get “soaked”. And SDC had water rides… But they also have THIS.

This takes water rides to the next level. It’s tough to tell from these pictures, but the boat is armed with water cannons — that can shoot spectators. But spectators on the sidelines ALSO have water cannons — to shoot the people on the boats. EVERYONE gets soaked. The kids came off this ride looking like they fell IN the water! Walter and Eileen were such good sports — while Jeff and I spent our time trying to dodge the spray and take a few photos.

Fun for the whole family! Ha! We think the adults were actually “enjoying” the water cannons more than the kids. Walter and Eileen said there were some full grown men around the last turn of the ride taking out some serious 8-to-5 aggression on those water gun cranks.

I’m a roller coaster fan. And until now, Colt had been on a few small rides at the fair and Sea World, but we were anxious to see how he would react to a “real” roller coaster.

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I had no good way to take a photo of it, but as long as I live I will never forget the look on his face during that ride. Laughing, smiling, desperately trying to hold his hands up in the air. At one point, the roller coaster paused to climb a hill and he started to panic. But before he could get good and worked up, we were off again! Whhheeeeeeee!

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Walter, Eileen, Scout, Sarah, Colt | Thunderation!

HE LOVED IT. As we pulled into the end, he smiled BIG. Inexplicably, there was no line so he asked if we could ride again. Of course! We had to “get in line” again so we ran around the corner and zipped through the empty corrals, back to the top and back on the ride! Round 2!

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My roller coaster buddy!

As we wandered, winding down for the day, we happened upon the section of the park that includes the old “homestead”. Log cabins, a church, and a one-room schoolhouse. Like I said — ADORABLE. We sat in the air conditioning (Jeff will tell you this was his favorite “ride” of the day) and let the kids learn about school in the 1880s. The sweet teacher taught them to spell S-I-L-V-E-R D-O-L-L-A-R C-I-T-Y on their slates and made them hats out of the park map. Did I mention the air conditioning? Ahhhhhh.

A quick stop at the small petting zoo on Pet-A-Goat Junction (the cuteness never stops…) and we had hit our limit for the day.

Colt & Scout | the dynamic duo
Colt & Scout | the dynamic duo

These two have been in school together since they were babies — they don’t remember life without each other. Such sweet, funny, loving friends.

And their parents aren’t too bad either.

Jennings and Hoods | Silver Dollar City | August 2014
Jennings and Hoods | Silver Dollar City | August 2014

In keeping with the low-maintenance, minimal-planning spirit of the weekend, we had reservations at a hotel a few minutes away that let the kids exhaust every last remaining ounce of energy at an indoor waterpark (all the rage in Branson — MANY hotels have this) and let the parents relax and visit and NOT have to pile back in the car for the ride home — just yet. We had our pizza, burgers, and bucket-of-beer dinner delivered poolside and enjoyed the clear, beautiful evening — punctuated by the occasional trip down the waterslide.

Thanks for a perfect weekend, Branson — we’ll be back for more! Soon!

Hood Family | Silver Dollar City | August 2014
Hood Family | Silver Dollar City | August 2014

2 thoughts on “Silver Dollar City | A Weekend Adventure

  1. Every single summer growing up and then every single year since I had Erin (usually during the week and during school when NO ONE is there) I have gone to SDC. The nostalgia of it cleans my soul. The smell of the asphalt, the tar, kettle corn, the sound of the train, Fire in the Hole…the entire thing. I just love it. Glad you finally made it over.

    1. I can only imagine the memories! How fun is that. And how special that you have that tradition.

      I can’t wait to go back!

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