I enjoy the "City" due to its emphasis on citizenship and family, as well. If one takes one's time, one will notice this emphasis in the details around the park. After a lifetime of visiting, I can always find at least one thing I have not noticed before.
This year's addition replaced the old 1980s kid area called Geyser Gulch. The new addition has most of the same features, but places them in the better setting of a "fireman's fair". With "Fire Station No. 3" also comes some new rides to the park, as well as some old favorites from the past and from the nearby defunct Celebration City. All have been completely refurbished and color-coded to the area. It's exponentially better than the mauves, pinks, and blues that never belonged there in the first place, and it really improves the shoreline at Lake Silver.
- Patrons used to park in the main square: The shops there included Man's Land, craft-souvenirs, and refreshments, built originally to appease visitors waiting for a tour of the sole attraction of Marvel Cave.
- The first theme park ride, outside of regular sources of transportation, was called The Flooded Mine. Mining continued the theme of Marvel Cave as its history includes the mining of marble and bat guano.
- Roller Coasters ThunderaTioN and Powder Keg also refer to area mining. Powder Keg is all about the mining of bat guano and its part in making black powder. Outside the ride, if you're paying attention, you will find a tower. A look inside will reveal the process for making the lead balls propelled from shotguns. Hot lead was carried to the top of the tower and dropped. As it plummeted toward a tank of water at the bottom, the lead formed a sphere and solidified as it cooled. ThunderaTioN is more of a traditional runaway mine coaster, where riders shoot past a mining camp. Pay attention to the signage for the Marble Cave Company.
- Another classic ride, Fire in the Hole, carries on the theme of vigilante characters that plagued the area in the 1800s. These men met on treeless hills called bald knobs, and thus the group was called Bald Knobbers.
- The Bald Knobbers are said to have been responsible for the burning of the town of Marmaros, which supposedly was located on the current site of the main square at Silver Dollar City. Fire in the Hole tells this story well.
- The taffy shop at the front of the park is called Phoebe Snapp's. Phoebe Snapp was the real-life daughter of a man killed by the Bald Knobbers.
- During the regular season, the Frisco Train is robbed by Ralph and Alfie Bolin. It is said there was nothing good about Alf Bolin, who was a real person. When Bolin was stabbed to death, people danced and celebrated in the streets. During Alf Bolin Days, people renew the celebration with a festival in nearby Forsyth, Missouri. Thankfully, the fellow in the Silver Dollar City hold-up is slightly more mild-mannered, providing a perfect example of romanticized history.
- American Plunge, the third of the staple classic rides, is a traditional log flume ride, recounting logging efforts where logs are floated down the river. The current ride still follows some of the original channels of its predecessor, The Jim Owens Float Trip, in which riders floated leisurely through scenes depicting the White River.
- Other water rides came later. Current offerings include The Lost River of the Ozarks. This attraction takes its name from a real waterway that's located beneath the City in Marvel Cave. The theme of this raging river, inner tube ride was better depicted in its earlier days. Riders are supposed to be in search of the Fountain of Youth along with some of the early European explorers to the area.
- Lost River replaced an attraction that many old timers still lament - Rube Dugan's Diving Bell, which harkens once again to a fictitious time line in which two miners competed to extract silver from the lake. This simulator ride was decades ahead of its time. When originally offered to Disney, Disney said it couldn't be done. Silver Dollar City took a chance at brought it to the park. Riders would enter a newly engineered "diving bell" theater, when none other than actor Burl Ives could be heard interacting with his nephew, portrayed by a live actor who operated the bell. The whole theater moved and creaked as it was "navigated" through the murky waters of Lake Silver, leaking terribly and threatening to destine riders to a torturous demise on the lake bottom.
- Tom and Huck's Riverblast is the latest of the water ride expansions. While Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are not characters from the region, they are the creations of Mark Twain, a favorite Missouri author.
- The most modern area additions - sadly - are less about the original theme of Silver Dollar City. The Grand Exposition takes patrons to a traveling fair, and feels more like something from The Music Man than from 1800s Ozarks. The rides here don't fit with the rest of the City, which may be why they are somewhat separated from the core park.
- In the Wilson's Farm area, you can ride the Giant Swing and Outlaw Run. While these are two of the most fun rides for thrill seekers, their themes are somewhat generic.
- In Fireman's Landing, there are rides for smaller children, much as there are in The Grand Exposition, but again, they are a stretch to the theme and things in the area appear more plastic.
- It is sad to see the specific theme of the park being compromised of late. There are even rumors that the classic Flooded Mine may be removed in the next two years to make way for more "progress". We're hopeful that nostalgia will win in this idea.
- Silver Dollar City is also known for family-friendly music and comedy shows. The Courthouse Theater was renamed The Riverfront Playhouse, several years ago. Some of the best comedy shows were located in this venue. I remember seeing the courthouse show when I was a kid. In this show a character was sentenced to the electric chair. My favorite of the shows was called Hatfield's Haint, in which characters searched for ghosts in a haunted house. The last comedy show here was Timothy Turnbuckle's Time Machine, which selected a character embedded in the audience and took him back to the 1800s.
- The greatest productions were performed in the Opera House. We've enjoyed mini-Broadway-styled musical presentations based on Mississippi River exploration, the Civil War, and Westward Expansion. Nowadays, we miss these shows, settling for repeats of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol only at Christmas time. This is the best of the shows and never gets old. In addition, a Cecil Floyd/Joplin High School graduate and a Webb City graduate perform in the starring roles. David and Rachel Wallace portray Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present (Rachel is also the daughter of our library assistant, Mrs. Weisensee, and plays other roles of a villager and the angel statue in the cemetery.).
- Rachel and David are also pivotal in the evening show in the amphitheater at Echo Hollow. This nightly concert is a showcase of country music. David sings bass, has solo parts, and has speaking parts, and Rachel is the comic relief (who eventually sings a duet with the main emcee. All of this comes after her portrayal of the saloon owner in the daytime show at the Silver Dollar Saloon.