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Messages - ThemeParkFan

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General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: 2023 Crowds / Trip Reports
« on: October 09, 2023, 09:33:33 PM »
Had a wonderful trip this weekend, my first of the year. I was on the fence for a variety of reasons to visit now or just wait until December, but I bit the bullet and ultimately I'm glad I did.

One of the big reasons I was hesitant was because I slipped on the ice in January, and had to have ankle surgery. It's been a long recovery process, and for much of the last year the ankle can only take so much before it needs to rest. Furthermore, it's been very sensitive to inclines and slopes-something SDC has more of than most any other park I can think of. I'm happy to say that I may have turned a corner, because at no point did my ankle give me any grief during (or after) my two days at SDC!

In terms of unambiguous improvements, I have to say, the parking lot redesign was much needed. Granted, I only parked near the new Stop 2, but the process of getting out of the lot especially has been streamlined for the better. Overall I felt the new lot is much more functional and fixes problems I hadn't even realized were problems. The aforementioned issue with trams was not one I experienced, and in fact I'd say they were among the best staffed I have EVER seen with trams. They had plenty running and were getting people to and from the park very quickly-I was actually very impressed with how smoothly everything ran. 

The park was slammed, so ultimately I didn't ride many of the coasters. At this point, I've done them all so many times that I'm just not willing to wait beyond a certain threshold, and that threshold was reached many times over during the last two days. As much as I love the original, more quaint areas of the park, on days like this weekend, pretty much everywhere was slammed, and it was quite clear that many of the older smaller structures and areas of the park (Bakery, Grist Mill, etc) were struggling to meet demand. To the park's credit, it seemed like the park was for the most part staffed appropriately to handle the crowds.

There is palpable enthusiasm for everything FITH at the moment, which is nice to see. I really hope they deliver with the new version, because it's clearly been embraced as a park signature by guests. By contrast, I am a bit concerned for the future of Flooded Mine, which also seems primed for an overhaul (basically none of the guns in my boat worked properly, in addition to the ride being visibly quite old in every respect), but pointedly has always seemed to me a distant second in the mind of the public when compared to to FITH, even before that ride's closure was announced. I must confess that while I appreciate that it's there, I don't know if I can really say I love it in the same way I love FITH, so perhaps I'm just projecting my own feelings and presuming to speak for everyone else on the topic here. But the fact that the ride on most days only gets a line around the time the train boards to me is pretty telling. They certainly could/should invest in a proper refresh and make the entrance to the ride more noticeable, but will they? I'm uncertain that they will.

It was quite cold on Saturday, and I didn't put enough thought into the weather when I packed, so it was quite chilly much of the day. Definitely my fault for failing to adequately prepare for the conditions. At least I wasn't one of the teens riding Mystic River Falls after the sun had gone down and it was 50 degrees (but it was fun to listen to them scream as they came to realize what a bad idea it was to go on that ride in those conditions).

Foodwise, new to me things I tried were the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie, the Pumpkin Chili, the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake Funnel Cake, the Sausage and Potato Skillet, and the chicken sandwich from Time Traveler's Stop. The whoopie pie was too sweet for me, but I really enjoyed everything else.

Entertainment-wise, I'm happy that I got to see the 50th Saloon Show and 'normal' train robbery (though I was a bit too far back to hear what was being said-they could stand to invest in better mics here), but the real surprise was walking by the Homestead and seeing Aunt Judy! For whatever reason, she is the one person I remember from my first visit to the park in 05, and so to me she IS Silver Dollar City in a way no one else quite matches. In my head she had retired (I'm fairly certain the last time I saw her was a few years before covid), so it was a pleasant surprise to see her there. And when she finished, I was in place for the Pickers. In my head, Danny had already retired during the summer season, so it was a shock to see him come out and perform with the group, but very much a positive one. He's going to be hard to replace-so much of the comedy and antics come from him and him alone. I also saw the new show at the Dockside, and I have mixed feelings-on one hand, it was nice to see something a bit more modern at the park, but the musicians didn't quite mesh with each other in the way they needed to for the music to really soar. I did notice at one point when I was over by the pottery store that I heard music that sounded distinctly louder and more modern than what I'm used to hearing at the City, and eventually it became clear that it was from this show. Not bad, per se, but an idea/group that could benefit from a little fine-tuning IMO.

One new-to-me happening was seeing them use the Shingle Saw on Saturday. Mostly I overheard this while watching the Pickers, and by the time I made it over, I had missed the demonstration. But I talked to the citizen over there, and she explained that it was the first time they had fired it up since 2019 (I had never seen or heard of this happening and was convinced it was just a static prop at this point). She encouraged me to come back at 3 where they would, if the machine cooperated, do the demo one last time. I didn't quite make it in time, but did get to hear some of the stories. I don't believe the Shingle Saw fired up for the 3:00 demo, and it appeared that there may have been an issue, because there were no signs of life at all yesterday. The citizen I had talked to recognized me and must have felt bad that I missed the demo, because she insisted I take a cedar shingle that had been cut from the saw for my closet, which is definitely the most unusual park souvenir I've ever received. I'm bummed that I missed seeing the shingle saw in action, but hey, I got a free shingle out of the experience at least!

I'm sure the pumpkins were expanded from last year, but it didn't really feel like it to me. Personally, I'm ready for them to change it up a little at this point. 

The Pathfinder, which shrunk in 2020 but then grew back a bit last year has shrunken a bit again. I don't much care for being directed to look up the seasonal menus through a QR code. Not something that's the doing of SDC here, as more and more parks just don't offer maps or brochures at all anymore, but disappointing for me as someone who likes to collect these things.

Overall it was a great visit and I'm so happy I visited! Hopefully the OTC visit will be just as enjoyable.

Most of my visits are by myself. No one else I know is really interested in the park, nor is anyone I know local.

In my experience, no one really pays any attention to any groups in the park other than their own, so that isn't a personal concern.

Most of my travel has been solo for more than a decade, and honestly, it's great. As has often been said, you get to do what you want when you want, and since I stopped waiting for other people, I've actually done a lot more attractions and travel than I did before. I've just gone and done things I wanted to do rather than waiting for other people to have the money and/or interest to do them with me, and it has really worked out well. And if you've ever had a trip to SDC (or anywhere else) ruined by another person, it's nice to be on a trip where that's not really a possibility!

Random Talk / Re: Your Travels Thread for 2023
« on: March 11, 2023, 12:42:16 PM »
Hutchinson was not a place I had any knowledge of, but now it's on my radar. Thank you to those who brought it up! It's possible I may be able to visit both museums this summer.

My travels-I'm recovering from an ankle injury which may prove to be a hindrance, but it's also supposed to be fully healed by the time the trip happens, so hopefully it won't be a big deal. I'm definitely headed to California-revisiting Disneyland, USH, and Knott's is definitely part of the plan, as is going to San Francisco for the first time. The Bay Area parks would be included also, some of which are new to me, and I'd really like to get one more visit back to 'the other Great America' before it closes forever.

What's more up in the air is whether or not I fly or drive out there. From IL I've driven a fair amount west before-within the past two years I drove out first to Salt Lake City and back, and then to Monument Valley and back-so there's a part of me that just wants to go all the way and hit the west coast, just to say that I've done it. There would be various stops along the way, and IL to San Francisco wouldn't be particularly hard to fill-the aforementioned Kansas museums, revisiting Lagoon for the new ride, checking out Reno/Carson City/Lake Tahoe, and so on all seem compelling. It's the way back that would be the struggle. It would also pretty much put me back at home right before the school year starts and have me immediately shifting back into teaching mode, which is a major con of driving out there and back. But if it means I don't have to fly and get to visit a bunch of cool new places along the way, it may well be worth it.

Sirwillow, Lagoon is a fantastic park! Hopefully Lakeside will be better off this year than last-the wooden coaster was advertised as down the whole year on their site, so I was able to get on Wild Chipmunk, but no dice with the wooden coaster. Definitely go at night-the park has seen better days, but at least the lights help disguise that to some degree. I also recommend the train, not just for the view of the place reflected on the lake, but also for the eighth wonder of the world, the backside of Walmart. I'd opt for tickets over the POP (which their website was actually advocating for last year anyway) unless you can be sure everything you might want to do is open.

Elitches...well, I'm grateful I was able to get the Arrow shuttle coaster credit, but I'm not sure I have it in me to go back for the Half Pipe. The Meow Wolf dark ride is really cool though! Although if the dark ride interests you, another possibility instead would be to visit the actual Meow Wolf location in Denver as an alternative. It's immersive art, and I did all of the Meow Wolf locations around the country last year. I highly, highly recommend Meow Wolf while you're in town-it's just an incredible place to visit and explore. Better than any of the actual parks in Denver by quite a lot IMO.

If you're driving between Denver and SLC, I'd highly recommend Glenwood Caverns-it has three coasters now (four with the alpine coaster), two cave tours, a huge variety of excellent dangle-you-off-the-top-of-the-mountain thrill rides. Not sure if they'll ever reopen the drop ride, but it was one of the best ones anywhere. And they have one of the roller coasters from Celebration City! It's better than both the Denver parks. If your route between Denver and SLC takes you by Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, definitely stop there-it's a really cool museum with dozens of dinosaur fossils embedded into the land.

Construction/Rumors / Re: SDC's 2023 Project(s) and Park Developments
« on: February 19, 2023, 04:30:27 PM »
My comment earlier about going to SF instead of SDC was not meant to say SF is better than SDC or they are the same.  My point is we did in fact get SF passes this year to try it out and may or may not do SDC in 2024.  I have not yet been to SF STL but have done the one in DFW and it is a fact that if your goal is to ride a lot of different coasters and rides, then SF probably beats SDC in that regard. You will find more of them at a SF park. 

Six Flags St. Louis is similar to Six Flags Over Texas (in DFW) in the fact that both are original-build Six Flags parks, meaning both are among the three parks Six Flags actually built themselves. In that sense, you're already prepared too for a park layout that's a bit of a mess. It's the opposite of SDC in that if you go uphill you're going further into the park. You'll recognize some rides from Texas (Mr. Freeze and Batman are both mirrored from their Texas counterparts, they have the DC dark ride), and it can be a good park if you like wooden coasters. I'd say it's a bit more family oriented than some of the other Six Flags parks. The water park is almost certainly better than White Water-it used to be included with admission, I'm not sure if that still stands under Six Flags' current disaster of a CEO. They've been doing a fair amount of refurbishment work over the past decade, so parts of the park look reasonably nice, but it being a Six Flags park you can anticipate neglected areas as well.

THAT SAID, the coaster collection pales in comparison to SFOT and even, I'd say, to SDC, and illustrates that more is not necessarily better. Batman, Mr. Freeze, and American Thunder are great, and while I don't know that I'd say the park has anything irredeemably awful (others may disagree), the worst coasters at SFSTL are worse than the worst coasters at SDC or Worlds of Fun. Theming is muddled and confused even by Six Flags standards.

My top recommendation is to go in with modest expectations. I like the park, and think it is a bit underrated, but SFSTL has more consistently disappointed people I've tried to share it with than any other park-less because of anything the park actually did (it has decent customer service and operations by Six Flags standards), but simply because it's more modest compared to other Six Flags parks and they were expecting something more grandiose.

Construction/Rumors / Re: SDC's 2023 Project(s) and Park Developments
« on: February 15, 2023, 10:21:04 AM »
Shave, I agree with a lot of that. They definitely have taken a turn towards prototypical ride systems that don't always work the way they should, and that can definitely get in the way of things functioning properly. That said, I don't feel like Time Traveler is all that different in level of theme from any of the other coasters (other than perhaps Wildfire), even if not everything that was supposed to be built made it into reality. Sure, the first floor is bare, but how often is it even used? Maybe it is and I just haven't seen it, but it does seem like the popularity of the ride has settled somewhat, and I can't imagine that most of the time they can't fit everything onto the second floor, which has never struck me as particularly bare. Then again, I'm not super familliar with what was promised vs. what was built.

I think for the most part the redone areas of the park have been tastefully done and have helped solve crowd flow issues. I wouldn't say that there's any part of the park that's been ruined by the changes.

Palladin: I don't agree with the contention that Six Flags is honest about what they are and SDC is not. Silver Dollar City is a theme park, and so far as I know have always advertised themselves as being one. It has rides and shows and eateries and all of those things-just as a theme park does. They had all of those things in 2005 and they still have them now.

The balance has changed, and I can understand longtime visitors not being happy about that, but I feel like the core of the park is still there. But changing focus happens to every business on some level. Six Flags itself used to be much more heavily themed and strive for a higher quality experience; it wasn't fully until the late 90s that Premier bought the parks and the modern "Six Flags day" became reality. Just because Silver Dollar City is adding more rides than it has at any other point in its history doesn't mean that SDC will at some point fully become just another Six Flags. A park can have several roller coasters without being "an orgy for thrill-seeking children", and I'd argue that SDC has taken efforts to make sure that they're building coasters that aren't just that, and if they haven't always been entirely successful, they are at least trying harder than most other parks to retain some level of balance.

Granted, as I said, I'm a relative newbie in all of this, so I can't possibly know all of the little things, nuances, etc. that had meaning to other people that no longer exist. But the park I first visited in 2005 (and have continued to visit roughly twice a year for a decade) still appears to be very much intact to my eyes, and most of the changes have been for the better in my view. But from my context (which includes visiting an average of 20 different theme parks a year), both the death of the park and Six Flags-ification of it have been greatly exaggerated.

Construction/Rumors / Re: SDC's 2023 Project(s) and Park Developments
« on: February 15, 2023, 07:08:54 AM »
I guess I'm not really sure what some of you were expecting, or if there's any way to make some of you happy.

The deteriorating state of FITH, and the knowledge that the building and ride were going to need to be replaced sometime soon, have been discussed on here for years. People spent a lot of last year speculating that 2022 would be the last year for the ride, and it turns out the ride is getting one more full year with an appropriate send-off. That's not something to just take for granted from any park. It's far more common for rides to get closed with minimal notice (a la Lost River) or no notice at all. So the park should be commended for handling the closure in a way that appears to be, at least at this juncture, about the best way they possibly could be.

In terms of why they aren't just announcing the replacement right away, that's typical too. It gives people time to focus on what's most important in the short term-the old ride is leaving-and then they can pump up the new ride after people have had some time to digest the closure and they can hype up new season passes, as was already mentioned.

As for various statements of park grievances-my experiences with the park only go back so far (2005), so I wasn't there for the old days. While I can't ever fully understand what I missed out on, or how the park differed then vs. now, I still think you all have an outstanding park in your backyard and that they have been doing a mostly outstanding job at sheperding the park forward.

"Not in Miss Mary's Time"-Mary Herschend has been gone for forty years. At this point the park has operated far longer without her than with her. I'm not saying this to be harsh, or to say that there weren't undoubtedly things that were done better then or that everything is perfect now, but to point out that this expectation that things remain unchanged forever and stuck in amber is and was never going to happen. Life doesn't work like that, and parks, companies, and places all change over time. It's not always great, but that's what happens.

And I'd still say a lot of what's there is still pretty good and done pretty well. And it seems to me like the general pattern over the years I've spent reading and lurking on this forum has been skepticism at a lot of the changes, only for people to be surprised, again and again, at the level the park is still operating at and the work they are still doing that a lot of times goes unacknowledged. As of now, I still trust them to to a good job with this. I am absolutely bummed that FITH is leaving, but I'm also realistic that this is something that has been planned for a long time, and unless they open the new version and its a total bust, they will retain my trust. They are still operating at a much higher level than most other parks around the country and to my eyes are doing a good job at working on needed infrastructural changes while retaining the feel and many of the touches of the park's history.

As for "I'll go to Six Flags instead of SDC" comment-you do you I guess. To me the notion that Six Flags St. Louis does literally anything better than Silver Dollar City is insane, but if that's what makes you happy, who am I to stop you?

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: Old Time Christmas Shows poll
« on: October 22, 2022, 03:58:33 PM »
It depends on what the songs are that would make them subject to copyright. A lot of classic Christmas carols and songs aren't really under copyright, and so wouldn't be affected.

But SDC, off the top of my head, used over the last several years:
1. You Got a Friend in Me
2. POTC theme music
3. Somewhere in My Memory from Home Alone (Christmas Carol)
4. Money Makes the World Go Round (It's a Wonderful Life)

Probably some others I'm not remembering too, but point is, they got caught/dinged/whatever and that caused them to reassess.

Perhaps the other shows in Branson were properly paying to license songs, or the songs just weren't under copyright. A lot of Christmas staples aren't. But you can't just, say, use songs from Disney movies, not pay for it, and expect that it won't catch up with you. That's entirely on them.

If they wanted to do Santa Claus is Coming to Town, they would likely need to license all of that separately. Additionally, the fact that they are licensed to use the Rudolph characters in a certain context does not likely mean they can do whatever they want with the Rudolph story. That would likely be separate. Chances are they have permission to use the characters in a few clearly specified instances and nothing more.

Construction/Rumors / Re: SDC's 2023 Project(s) and Park Developments
« on: October 21, 2022, 10:08:10 PM »
I haven't been following the rumor mill super closely, but if the new ride just isn't going to be ready for next year, is there a possibility that FITH could soldier on for another year in the meantime?

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: Year round operations
« on: October 21, 2022, 08:25:41 PM »
I absolutely could see Dollywood going to year-round operations sooner rather than later, but I don't get the impression that it's coming for SDC.

In order for that to be feasible, there would need to be year-round interest in Branson as a destination. I'm certainly not local, so I can't pretend to be an expert, but I don't get the sense that there's a ton of interest in coming to Branson during January/February. If Branson itself won't draw people then, I don't picture SDC being any different.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: Old Time Christmas Shows poll
« on: October 21, 2022, 03:52:25 PM »
I actually didn't like IAWL. To me, it wasn't a good adaptation of the story, and it had a nasty habit of showing all of George's bad sides and just telling us about the good ones. By contrast, the new show last year was a breath of fresh air and exactly what the park needed IMO. Wonderful singing and just a pleasure. The fact that it is apparently getting changes makes me wonder if I'm in the minority on that, but for me it was exactly the sort of show the park needed. I'm not entirely sure why it apparently wasn't received well enough to stick around in the same fashion as it was last year.

Christmas Carol with the changes wasn't as good, but I understand they didn't really have a choice. Honestly, it might have been stronger if they had changed more of the story around the songs too-it felt all the more jarring and noticeable since essentially everything other than the songs stayed the same.

I'm guessing no one will agree with me, but I think MORE of the park's Christmas entertainment could stand to be overhauled-some of it's a bit musty. Not that they need to chuck everything they're doing out entirely, but see what they can do to freshen some of it up a bit. Some of those shows have been around seemingly unchanged for well over a decade.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: 2021 Crowds/Trip Reports
« on: November 15, 2021, 07:13:35 PM »
Had an enjoyable three day visit for OTC that just wrapped up. I didn't 100% love old Dickens but I do think its a miss that they didn't take the opportunity to rethink portions of the show instead of just going with soundalikes pretty much the entire time. The new Scrooge isn't bad, but why is he there? But the staging and set design are essentially unchanged, and those were two of the strong suits anyway, and the new changes, while not great, aren't catastrophic either.

As much as I miss the Saloon show being in the Saloon, it seemed noticeably easier to get into the Playhouse. I have to wonder if replacing the Saloon with one that's larger is in their long-term plans.

I really enjoyed Home for the Holidays. If there is any minor critique that I have, it's just that the title and description make it seem like there's going to be a plot, and there just isn't one. That said, the singing was fantastic. For me, this was a definite upgrade from IAWL.

If I have any critique of the park over the weekend, it lies in the park's (mostly ride) operations. Namely that the park has decidedly shifted to being more ride-oriented, and the crowds have responded accordingly, even during OTC. The park's philosophy towards ride operations, however, seemingly hasn't changed at all since my first visit in 2005 when they were still more of a novelty, and so they're still doing things like single train operation on Powder Keg and Time Traveler on an OTC Saturday that's hosting an enthusiast event. It just feels like something is institutionally broken in operations if there are two attractions that are very obviously more popular than others and yet those are the same attractions they are parting out or (potentially, from what I've heard) selling trains from! I'm not saying it can't be nuanced-Thunderation isn't going to need two trains running at the same frequency as some of the others. But SDC-you WILL fill those two 16-seat trains on Powder Keg and TT 95% of the time in any crowd conditions. Just run multiple dang trains on them, please, so that those of us who like those rides you've built can ride them other than at the start and close of each day!

Oh, and I think it's time to just open everything on the square already during that preview hour. Many things are open, sure, but not everything, and on Saturday because the buffet didn't open until later the only place to get anything to eat during that hour was the bakery, which was, naturally, mobbed. During OTC especially there were plenty of people hanging out that likely would have spent more money on food/souvenirs if they were given the opportunity to do so. They're leaving money on the table by keeping a lot of things closed. I get that it costs money to staff things but I bet they'd more than offset those costs in increased sales.

It was also Columbus Day weekend, which certainly wouldn't have helped the crowd levels.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: Starbucks in the park?
« on: April 05, 2020, 09:40:47 AM »
I'm not opposed to Starbucks being in the park, but I'd rather not see it in the mill, personally.

Nor do I want to deal with the long lines that come with any Starbucks should I decide to get Cinnamon Bread from the new Bread location.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: Its a Wonderful Life
« on: February 28, 2020, 05:54:45 PM »
Honestly, if this is true? Good.

While I'm not opposed to the idea of an IAWL musical, I felt like the execution was not up to par.
1. I did not think the songs they added were well integrated into the show at all. The songs added to Dickens ultimately fit better and at least conveyed more effectively the mood of each scene. During IAWL, I felt each time a song came about, it stopped the story cold for no good reason other than "well, I guess it seems like a good time for a song."
2. The projected backgrounds were never easy to appreciate with the raised platform cutting them in half.
3. Show vs. Tell imbalance. Whoever adapted the material made the strange decision to keep the moments that show all of George's worst qualities while only telling us about most of his good deeds. Some of it is undoubtedly due to the difficulty of staging some of those aspects, and we do see him help Mr. Gower. But we don't see him save his brother, him stopping the run on the bank, or the scenes after Potter when he is genuinely shaken. We just hear that these things happen and have to reconcile them with the main character who we often see treating others like a jerk (held over from the film, but somehow Jimmy Stewart's skill/charm made the character's rougher aspects easier to ignore). This makes it harder to relate to and root for George, which is catastrophic because the entire story falls apart if the audience isn't in his corner. Instead we largely have to take the Angels' word that he's as good as they say he is.
4. The religious elements felt like they were poorly shoehorned into the story. Which is funny, because on the surface they would seem to fit more organically than with, say, Dickens, but that's not how it played in reality.

I expect no one to agree with me, but I couldn't get past those parts of the show. I do hope it is replaced by a new production.

General Silver Dollar City Talk / Re: 2020 Season Passes
« on: November 04, 2019, 06:37:40 PM »
As of now, I'm planning on renewing. I still love the park and feel like I get enough value out of it to make it worth the drive from the Chicago area. $100 isn't terrible at all for what you're getting, IMO.

That said, $100 for White Water is obscene.

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