The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 16, 2012

Spring break heralds Silver Dollar City visitors

By Dave Woods
Digital market development manager

BRANSON Mo. — Lisa Rau is ready for spring in the Ozarks.

“We are always excited about spring break,” said Rau, director of public relations at Silver Dollar City. “Spring Break Days is a good kick start to the season and a great time to meet spring break families from throughout the Midwest.”

A longtime Silver Dollar City staffer, she’s witnessed the Ozarks-themed culture and amusement park grow into a spring break destination, nationally recognized for its hospitality and family appeal.

Silver Dollar City staff surveyed the schedules of school districts within a 300-mile radius of the park and determined the best weekends in March to open for Spring Break Days.

“Families know they can get into their cars and drive to Silver Dollar City and Branson, have a great time and still not break the vacation budget,” she said. “Branson is packed with things to do, but it’s still affordable.”

Food, rides and family

While roller coasters don’t operate under threat of lightning or when temperatures dip below 45 degrees, they continue to be the park’s most popular attractions.

“When the weather’s good the rides are flying,” Rau said. “The Giant Swing and Wild Fire and Powder Keg and the Grand Expo area are open and people are flying.”

Each morning when the park opens, Rau said, it’s the same scene. Known to park staff as “dropping the chainâ” younger park guests are often quick to dash down the hill Ñ not advised by park staff Ñ to be first in line at one of the roller coasters along the asphalt trail.

“Kids prefer to run down to the left side,” Rau laughed. “That’s where you find Wild Fire and Powder Keg and the bigger rides for the bigger kids. Giant Swing and those thrill rides are a very big deal to the teenage school set.”

Half Dollar Holler and the children’s rides at Grand Expo meet the needs of the younger set. One of those options, Doc Gizmo’s Science Theatre is a popular attraction at the park. The interactive science class/performance art show wows audience members with the wonders of science.

“It’s a lot of making things and learning and fun,” she said. “It’s educational fun, very popular and returning this year.”

After a day of hiking asphalt covered Ozark hills, riding roller coasters and chasing the kids, a snack might provide the energy needed to make it back to the cabin.

“People eat their way through Silver Dollar City,” Rau said. “Anybody who is a (Silver Dollar City) fan has a first food choice here. We see families run, one going to funnel cakes, one going to get to ice cream, another for something else. Then they converge at a park bench and each family member has something different to share and eat. It’s so great to see.”

Festivals outlined

From World Fest, the park’s annual international celebration, through the Christmas season, Silver Dollar City will debut several new shows and attractions, Rau said.

This year’s World Fest includes a new Italian heritage and culture area. Featured entertainers include The Mariachi Divas from Mexico, internationally recognized flag throwers, stilt walkers and country music entertainers from Hawaii.

“The park’s Bluegrass and BBQ festival will be a blast,” Rau said of the May and June festival.  “Kids’ Fest is filled with new shows and attractions and Southern gospel nights have been added to The Showboat Branson Belle’s schedule.”

New this Christmas is a stage production of the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s based on the classic film will and will hit heartstrings for people,” she said. “People love our Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carolâ’ and they will love ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

On tap

Young Christians Weekend: March, 30 through April 1.

World-Fest: April 12 through May 6.

Bluegrass & BBQ: May 10 through June 3.

National Kidsâ Fest: June 9 through July 22.

Want to go?

Silver Dollar City: Open Thursdays through Sundays, March 15 through 18

and March 22 through 25 for Spring Break Days. Go to for attraction, festival and ticket information.