It happened without a lot of fanfare -- because, let's face it, it's been a strange season at Silver Dollar City. But the much-anticipated new water ride, Mystic River Falls, officially opened for passengers on July 21.
The $23 million addition to the Branson theme park was announced in August 2019. Designed by the park in partnership with Swiss firm RES -- Ride Engineers Switzerland -- and Barr Engineering, the ride's claims to fame include "tallest drop on a water raft ride in the Western Hemisphere" and a "one-of-a-kind rotating, four-platform, eight-story lift."
Passengers in round boats will ascend an eight-story tower, travel along 180 feet of waterway elevated six stories and splash down a 45-foot waterfall. Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, said when the ride was announced that passengers might "laugh so hard you snort -- and you will certainly get wet!"
The ride isn't the only thing new in that section of the theme park. The adjacent Rivertown area, just behind the Riverfront Playhouse, includes a new barbecue restaurant, Rivertown Smokehouse, adding another $4 million to the construction tab. Thomas said an SDC team traveled to the best barbecue restaurants in the country to choose the menu for the 400-seat facility -- the largest restaurant ever constructed in the park's history -- creating a menu of smoked-on-site brisket, turkey, pork, sausage and chicken, along with signature scratch-made sides and desserts.
Also, just across the way is an all-new bakery, Clara Belle's Cinnamon Bread, specializing in Silver Dollar City's famous cinnamon bread -- only now each loaf bakes in an individual pan designed to capture all the gooey icing, butter and cinnamon. The bakery offers peach, apple and original versions along with a variety of other items.
"Rivertown is a culmination of years of guest feedback," Thomas said last week. "Mystic River Falls is packed with unique thrills that the family can enjoy together. The only place on the planet to experience this ride is right here at Silver Dollar City. Now add in the new Smokehouse, with 400 seats overlooking the banks of the roaring river, slow cooked meats, awesome sides and the unbelievable bread pudding made with our very own cinnamon bread! And finally, our new cinnamon bread bakery bakes hundreds of loaves of fresh bread throughout the day."
While coronavirus concerns have changed many operations of the park, requiring masks and creating social distancing, spokeswoman Lisa Rau says Silver Dollar City continues to celebrate making family memories.
"With so much of what we do and how we operate different this season, it's really invigorating to sink our teeth into something this exciting -- to finally being able to say Mystic River Falls is open," Rau said. "My favorite part of developing this ride is the how history meets lore. Marvel Cave has a Mystic River inside its depths. As far back as 1893, scientists have tried to find the headwaters of this mysterious waterway, documenting it in a book from the 1890s-1940s. Even modern day scientists aren't sure where the waters travel. That truth, mixed with lore of adventurers seeking the headwaters, makes it all so 'Silver Dollar City.' And guess what? That 4-and-a-half story waterfall? Yes, riders find the headwaters!"
The park had intended to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020, but many of those festivities will be postponed until 2021. That doesn't mean there isn't plenty to see, do and experience, Thomas said.
"For 60 years, Silver Dollar City has been building and growing. Every ride, every attraction, every festival has been created based upon feedback from our guests. The culmination of all of this -- Mystic River Falls and Rivertown -- truly takes Silver Dollar City to a different level of experience for families."