BRANSON, Mo. — Featuring what is being lauded as a four-story drop, Mystic River Falls, a water raft ride set to open in the summer of 2020, is the centerpiece of $30 million in investments announced by Silver Dollar City officials on Tuesday.
“This is a ride like we’ve never had at Silver Dollar City, and it’s an experience that we’ve never offered (here),” said Brad Thomas, park president.
Mystic River Falls draws inspiration directly from historical documents pertaining to the park’s Marvel Cave, discovered in the late 1800s and the catalyst for creation of the theme park six decades ago. Switzerland-based manufacturer RES is working with Silver Dollar City to build the one-of-a-kind water adventure ride.
The ride itself consists of a half-mile river adventure navigating turns, high tides and a hidden mine shaft. A unique feature, found nowhere else in the world, will be an 82-foot tower, using elevator platforms to lift the slowly rotating rafts high into the air. After riders float through an elevated river channel 180 feet above the ground, with the park spread out below, a “waterfall” will drop the eight-person rafts 4.5 stories to splashdown. Total ride time time is 5 minutes, 30 seconds.
Make no mistake about it — “you’re going to get wet,” Thomas said with a smile.
Mystic River Falls will replace The Lost River of the Ozarks, which opened in 1985 at a cost of $2 million. The popular whitewater raft ride closed last year.
“What I love about (Mystic Falls) is that it’s taking a part of our park’s history and really bringing it to life,” said Erica Rutledge, Silver Dollar City’s creative director. “And with the combination of that and our 60th anniversary (in 2020), I think that’s really special.”
Other portions of Silver Dollar City’s $30 million investment include:
• A new themed area located in the center of the park, called Rivertown. Situated next to Mystic River Falls will be the Rivertown Smokehouse restaurant, “the largest dining investment in corporation history,” Thomas said. A $4 million investment, it will serve the park’s famed barbecue and have seating for 450 with scenic views of the Mystic River ride.
• A new fall season event, scheduled to run from Sept. 25 through Oct. 26, will be called Craft Days and Pumpkin Nights. A $2 million investment, it will feature 8,000 carved pumpkins, a Pumpkin Plaza dance party area as well as a new Woodland Hike, featuring handcarved owls and woodland creatures along a leisure walking path.
“Make no misunderstanding here, this is about families with children,” Thomas said of Pumpkin Nights. “There is nothing in here that will be frightening to a 2-year-old, (and) there’s nothing frightening for a 52-year-old, either.”
• The park’s Old Time Christmas has been positively received nationwide for years now, and from Nov. 2 through Dec. 30, Silver Dollar City officials are investing $1.5 million for the new Joy on Town Square, which replaces the park’s iconic 5-story Christmas tree with a brand new tree eight stories tall. Every single light on the tree, Thomas said, can display over 2 million shades of color, meaning images and graphics can be displayed at any moment around the tree. The current lighting technology will also be decorating nearby buildings in the park’s Town Square, for a coordinated light effect.
Adding Tuesday’s $30 million investment announcement along with other past projects — 2013’s Outlaw Run ($10 million investment), the first wooden roller coaster with multiple inversions, and last year’s Time Traveler ($26 million investment) — Silver Dollar City has invested $100 million in the past 10 years.
The goal, Thomas said, is to inspire families from as far away as Chicago, Illinois, and Houston, Texas, “to get into their cars, pass other lakes … pass other theme parks … to come to Silver Dollar City.”
The park counted 2.2 million visitors in 2018.
“That’s why we do what we do,” Thomas said.