By Dave Woods
BRANSON, Mo. — John Fitzgerald said he and his family drove more than 10 hours to get to Branson. When he started planning their summer vacation online, the one thing the family agreed on was that they wanted to tackle the new Roaring Falls water ride at Celebration City.
“This ride is a great time,” the 28-year-old father of three from Chicago said while dripping in a puddle of water at the base of the five-story attraction. “Even my youngest said he wanted to ride it again and again. It was awesome!”
His 8-year-old daughter, Savanna, was not so sure. “It was scary going down that big hill,” she said, wide-eyed. “It’s like falling.”
The Kettle family from Sedalia only had to drive a couple of hours to get drenched at Celebration City.
“It doesn’t seem like you are going to get wet, but you get wet, really wet,” Adam Kettle, 32, said as he dried himself off after plunging down the steep flume of rushing water.
Olivia Smith, 7, a family friend who was along on the excursion, was impressed by the ride, too.
“It was awesome,” she exclaimed as she emptied water from her shoe, “I want to ride it again. It makes you laugh a lot.”
Kettle’s daughter, Lexi, 8, quickly concurred. “Same as her,” she said, “I want to go on it again.”
That was the story you heard time and time again recently as riders disembarked their Roaring Falls river rafts wringing water from their cloths and hair.
Celebration City’s new star attraction is the largest multi-million-dollar ride installation in the amusement park’s history and is drawing families from near and far to take the plunge.
Twenty people at a time climb onboard river rafts and make the short, but steep climb to the top, then suddenly make the 50-foot, 55-degree drop into the pool below. When the raft hits the churning pool at the base of the ride, a wall of water engulfs the raft, drenching passengers from head to toe.
Mary Kettle, 30, Adam’s wife, put in plainly, “You get soaked!”
Kids Fest fun
A few miles away at Silver Dollar City, the annual Kids Fest is in full swing.
For two months every summer, the 1880s Ozarks-themed park provides the long-loved rides area residents remember from their own youth, but adds several attractions tailor-made for safe and wholesome kid fun.
The “Circus of the Century — On Ice,” a “Kid Concoctions” attraction and, of course, the “VeggieTales” show will keep the kids busy all day.
Brad Thomas, the park’s general manager, said that all of the Kids Fest acts and entertainment offer “Sunday-morning values with Saturday-morning fun.” Even the “Magic of Peter Gossamer,” he said, is “kid friendly.”
“It’s fun, bright magic, not dark, evil magic,” he explained.
During Kids Fest, the town square is full of free activities for young and old to share.
“It’s a great opportunity to sit back with the grandchildren and play some checkers, listen to some music or watch a little comedy,” Thomas said. “It’s a great place to make that generational connection.”
In the “Kid Concoctions” section, you can find free activities, create your own fun and let your imagination run wild.
“This place lets me flow my creativity,” 11-year-old Reanna Geddes said as she water-colored an oversized paper flower made from coffee filters. “I like to draw, so this is really fun.”
In addition to the free stuff, children can create their own lip gloss, lotions, scrubs and spa bubbles there for around $10.
”We give (Reanna) a set amount to spend,” said her mother, Renita. “She gets a budget and that’s it. With gas prices the way they are now, it’s important to teach them how to manage money, and this is a good place to teach her that.”
Want to go?
Celebration City offers the “Ignite the Night” fireworks and video spectacular nightly on the Great Lawn, the “Extreme Parrots Show” and a new show called “The Skinny Improv.” Go to www.bransoncelebrationcity.com for ticket information. Kids Fest at Silver Dollar City runs through Aug. 10. Go to www.bransonsilverdollarcity.com for show schedule and ticket information.
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