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Topics - shavethewhales

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Construction/Rumors / Great Pumpkin LumiNights at SDC?
« on: October 08, 2017, 08:07:33 PM »
So Dollywood pioneered a new festival this year, "Great Pumpkin LumiNights". It's a whimsical, family-friendly take on halloween. What I think is really interesting about this event is that it splits DW into two areas: the modern halloween area with rides and the "old" park with the DW's version of the Gospel festival and the crafts. This is right in line with how DW is set up, it's already much more of a compartmentalized park with different areas with their own themes and ambiance. 

It begs the question though, how long until SDC tries to follow suit? By all accounts the event has been a massive success already, with the biggest problem being the massive crowds and DW's small pathways. Harvest time is SDC's "calm before the storm" ahead of Christmas. It's traditionally a time for the older patrons to come back and enjoy the things that originally made the park great like the various craft and gospel fests that have been tried at this time throughout the years. From what I hear though, visiting craftsmen are getting harder and harder to bring in, and we all know that halloween stuff of any kind is so, so hot right now. Just makes sense to go after something like this. The whole backside of the park from the Lumbercamp to FL would be perfect for it.

Other Parks / Adventureland
« on: June 09, 2017, 08:49:53 PM »
I finally made it to Adventureland last weekend. As a coaster enthusiast and specifically an enthusiast of classic parks and rides, I really fell in love with the place. I did a full photo TR on TPR that I'm too lazy to try to duplicate here:

In short, Adventureland has no theming at all per se, but it is a classic amusement park with a really nice selection of rides and some peculiar old-school operations. There are no station gates in a couple of the coaster stations which is super odd in 2017. They also don't give a flip about loose articles and in some cases even tell riders to take their backpacks and such with them on the coasters.

I love the classic Tornado wooden coaster, and the Underground is really unique and notable too as it is basically a wooden coaster that is entirely enclosed within a full circuit tunnel. They have massive new modern looping coaster called Monster that really steps them up in the coaster world. After Mystery Mine, I think it might be the best ride of it's particular "type".

It's definitely a very different experience than SDC, but if you are looking for a quality amusement park experience I suggest driving past Kansas City and hitting this place up. I stopped by Worlds Of Fun on this trip as well, and I just wasn't impressed at all. WOF still has some nice coasters, but seeing Adventureland right after it really drove home to me how important all the little details are in creating a fulfilling experience.

Dollywood Discussion / Lighting Rod's Continued Issues
« on: May 22, 2017, 09:19:58 PM »
So the park is now in full swing with the true start of summer coming fast this weekend, and Lighting Rod is still not fixed. If anything, it almost sounds like it has gotten worse with the way people have been complaining. I really thought they were going to hit this thing hard through the winter and have it running at least most of the time this season. I'm sure they tried, but it seems like there's no hope for this thing. There's a rumor going around that they will change it to a chain lift for the 2018 season.

I know there are all kinds of technical challenges that we can't even dream of, but I can't help but keep thinking that it shouldn't be so hard to add a launch to anything in this day and age. The material that the support structure is made out of really shouldn't make much of a difference, especially with RMC's designs where you could add a lot of steel in one part and no one could tell the difference. I've heard that one of the issues is the heat that the launch system produces and how they have to control it due to the wood structure - but couldn't they replace the wood with steel in the areas that are most affected? I'm sure that's a gross oversimplification, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

They say that in a few years this will all blow over like TTD, but I'm not sure that's a fair comparison. CP has so many coasters and TTD was such a huge outlandish thing at the time that no one was too surprised when it had issues. This is DW where they previously had a sterling reputation for ride operations, and this is supposed to be a big feature of the park. It's going to leave a bad taste in people's mouths even years down the road.

And just to run this long post even longer: the fallout is really adding up over this. The poor reviews of DW that have been coming out really show that the park is now truly dependent on the operation of it's rides. Fewer people than ever care about the crafts, shows, and charm. If LR isn't open, and one of the other coasters is down then most people seem to think the day is ruined. Back when they had just a couple of coasters it was no big deal when a ride had to close because that wasn't the sole focus of the park... Crazy how much has changed in just over a decade.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / The Return of the SDC Blog
« on: January 09, 2017, 07:17:58 PM »
Silver Dollar City has once again setup a blog (well, as of late October, but I just now noticed):

Anyone remember Conductor Sam's blog, and then the "Mom's Blog"? I'm pretty sure there was one or two others along the way as well. This "blog" is quite a bit more straight advertising-focused and less personal than the other attempts, but it's nice.

Branson Talk / New Ride Attraction to Replace Water Chute
« on: January 09, 2017, 07:09:26 PM »
I summed up the story here:

This slipped by the planning commission meeting minutes without much fanfare until now. I'm curious to hear what they are cooking up. It's hard to speculate without knowing how much property they were actually able to acquire. If they got the slide, rental homes, and the old Clay Cooper theatre property then they'll have quite a chunk to work with. The water chute itself is pretty small. There's also plenty of empty land for sale around it that has sat vacant for years.

Still, the hill isn't so big that it could accommodate anything huge in the way of the typical zip-lines, alpine slides, and mountain coasters. They probably could cram some ziplines in, but there are already so many in Branson and these probably wouldn't be anything special. The fact that they are interested in a sling shot as well though could indicate they are looking into multiple rides for this attraction, similar to one of the Track parks...

Dollywood Discussion / Dollywood 2017
« on: October 26, 2016, 10:01:11 AM »
Well DW finally came out with a big announcement for 2017 after all:

Not one, but two rides for 2017 including the long-awaited drop tower to replace Timber Tower. The kiddie coaster is sorely needed as well.

As always, hopefully this means more of the same for SDC down the road as well. I hope the tower is themed well so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. They did such a good job of integrating the rides into the landscape in that area.

Branson Talk / Dogwood Canyon
« on: August 11, 2016, 01:16:33 PM »
I stopped by Dogwood Canyon for a quick run-through on my way back last night. I got there at like 6 and they close at 7, so the lady actually let me in for free just to take a peek. I'll definitely be coming back at some point, it's a very interesting and beautiful place.

It's definitely kind of a manicured nature experience in a lot of ways - the grounds are regularly mowed, and it looks like the waterfalls are somewhat artificial? Nonetheless, it's done really well, and there are some interesting attractions such as the Mill, small museum, and a treehouse built by that guy from the Discovery channel. The fishing looks really good, although the area where you can actually do it without paying for a guide is pretty limited. I think the main thing to do is either take a tour on one of their little pulled trams, or bike through the place like a lot of people apparently do.

Kind of a pain to get to, but if you are coming from the West through Arkansas, it's worth working into a trip.

Random Talk / Hot Springs
« on: August 08, 2016, 05:14:59 PM »
Who else has made it out to Hot Springs recently? I guess it's pretty well known that the area has seen better days, but I think it's still a really interesting place.

I feel like it's another frustrating example of low expectations and missed opportunities though. You can tell there just hasn't been much unifying vision since the end of the bathhouse era. The original plans for the national park and Bathhouse row were so outstanding, it's a huge shame that never got built. So much of what was built has been taken down piece by piece in favor of parking and crap development that has already faded out.

Right now they are demolishing the old Majestic Hotel as I type this. Such a shame, although the part of it that was truly worth saving burned down in a suspicious fire right after the found somebody willing to make an attempt at saving it. That whole area north of the strip is a wasteland now, and I have a feeling it's going to be turned into dollar generals and strip mall development before too long.

I think the bathhouse concept with natural hot springs water could actually be brought back these days though. Not on the level of the 1920's, but spa's and resorts are getting more popular again. Throw in a small indoor waterpark and you have a real attraction on your hands.

Other Parks / Magic Springs
« on: August 08, 2016, 05:00:14 PM »
I finally made it down to Magic Springs last week. I posted a photo TR and review on TPR:

Basically I was really impressed with how they fixed up the place, but man, most of the coasters need some work. Premier/CNL seem kinda like the house flippers of the amusement industry. They put a lot of work into general things and surface appearance, but don't take time to understand the underlying issues with the main attractions. I guess they kind of are property flippers though since they've been trying to sell them off for the right price.

I sure hope they keep Arkansas Twister around. That was half the reason for driving down there. It's a fun ride despite being absolutely crazy rough and shaky. It won't survive running like this for much longer though, so either it gets fixed up this off season or it gets the axe.

Announcements / SDCFans Turning 9
« on: July 09, 2016, 11:39:13 AM »
SDCFans will be 9 years old next Thursday. I'm grateful for the years of discussions, friendships, and random craziness this board has provided all of us. I had no idea the site would last this long when I first started playing around with it in 2007, but I'll keep it going as long as people are interested and I am able.

I apologize for dropping off from time to time on the updates and what not. There's always something going on in my life that causes me to push the site to the bottom of the priorities pile.  I am planning another round of changes to the front page to make it more dynamic and continuously updated even when I'm not around. Basically I'm planning to pull in various news and social media feeds instead of trying to write our own stories every week. There will still be some occasional throwback thursday and construction update posts as well.

As always, let me know if anyone has any suggestions to make the site more useful, or if anyone wants to take a more direct role in creating content/managing things.

Construction/Rumors / SDC's 2017 Project Part 2
« on: June 26, 2016, 06:16:20 PM »
Since there is some sort of forum bug popping up when threads get to page 50, here is part two of the 2017 discussion. I will merge these threads after a fix is found.

So apparently this guy bought the original SDC stagecoach and has been taking it on cross-country rides. Unfortunately he just completed his last one, but now the stagecoach is coming back to be displayed at SDC this fall.

Other Parks / Castle of Muskogee Renaissance Fair
« on: May 16, 2016, 05:13:49 PM »
I've heard about the Castle of Muskogee for years, but it took finally passing through Muskogee on a weekend for me to actually check it out. I'm blown away - the place is huge! It's really not so much a renaissance fair at this point, it's essentially an amusement park without rides that operates for a month. It's really cool how built up the place is, and how niche and quaint it all is. It definitely seems like something the dogpatch crew would do if they had the time and money. All the buildings are obviously hand-built and open air, yet are full of details and personal touches. Lots of hand painted signs and humor in every nook and cranny.

But what really sets the place apart is the "citizens". Just like SDC used to do (and still does to some extent), each staff member has a role and brings their personality to it. You can tell how much they love it by how much they all put into it. Everywhere you look there are interactions, elaborate costumes, shows and activities, and what-not. I was thoroughly entertained for hours, even without anything to ride.

It's all a little campy, but it's the right kind of campy, if you know what I mean. Definitely something I'm going to hit up annually from now on.

Branson Talk / Branson Ziplines
« on: May 04, 2016, 03:41:52 PM »
I decided to do a quick overview of all the zipline attractions in Branson:

Did I miss anything? Maybe I should add in the skysurfer thing as well since I included Parakeet Pete's. It's not really in the spirit of a zipline ride though...

General Silver Dollar City Talk / American Coaster Enthusiasts
« on: April 01, 2016, 11:14:33 PM »
It looks like Paul Drabek is taking over the reigns of the Heart of America region for ACE. From what I know of him, he seems to be a dedicated enthusiast and a great guy to get along with, so I'm sure the region will be in good hands. That said, I'm still sad to see Jennifer and Jeff go. They certainly leave big shoes to fill.

ACE is responsible for a number of coaster enthusiast events throughout the Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas area (so basically the three big MO parks + Magic Springs). Coaster Christmas has been huge for fans of Silver Dollar City for years and often includes amazing stuff like backstage tours of Fire in the Hole and Wildfire's maintenance area.

It sounds like the next ACE event that includes SDC will be on June 17th in conjunction with WOF and Schiltterbahn as a precursor to the major ACE CoasterCon event (which is at SFStL and Holidayworld this year). I'm sure more details will be released soon, but from the post on their FB page it sounds like there'll be some exclusive ride time on some SDC rides in the evening.

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