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A trip to family-friendly Silver Dollar City amusement park in Branson, Missouri can be all fun and games if you have a game plan before heading back in time (and through the gates) to the 1880s. If you’re visiting Silver Dollar City with younger kids, knowing which thrilling rides and attractions to skip is helpful. Here are our tips on how to have a successful and fun visit to Silver Dollar City with little ones in tow.
Silver Dollar City Made Simple: No-Cry Survival Guide
Branson, Missouri, is the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” a nickname that is sometimes also referenced when speaking about Las Vegas. But unlike “Sin City,” Branson is a bustling little town with wholesome family fun around every bend in the road. Silver Dollar City is second only to Disney if you ask me, but we, of course, encourage you to go find out for yourself! But don’t go without a little pre-planning, starting with these handy tips on how to make it a fun experience–especially if you have really young kids in tow. This is your unofficial official survival guide to the ins and outs of surviving (and enjoying) the park with kids.
Tickets for Silver Dollar City
If you’re heading out for a day of family fun it can be very worthwhile to check specials first. Currently, specials for 2 day passes, discounts for entry before noon, Wednesday discount pricng and after 5pm discounts are available. If your visit will fall on a Thursday you can buy a $35 all day ticket from a local partner. Check sale locations here.
While promo codes for Silver Dollar City tickets are available, most are tied to Corporate Discount Partners. This is a free program for employers of 300+ people who are located within 125 miles of Branson. If you work for the state of Missouri or a local company be sure to ask your employer for the discount code!
Silver Dollar City military discounts for 2020 are available including complimentary tickets for kids. Find out more here.
Children 3 and under are always free.
Park Basics – Visiting Silver Dollar City with Kids
First of all, try to designate at least one FULL day of fun to Silver Dollar City exclusively. You can do it in a half-day, but you won’t see it all. You’ll just skim the surface really. This includes nap time in the park if you can swing it. Bring a stroller if possible, if you have kids five and under. Even if they normally hang ten with the grown-ups and can hike with the best of them, between the heat, sun, waiting, hills, and expansive nature (over 61 acres) of the park, they’ll tire faster.
Stroller rentals are available in Silver Dollar City. Singles are $15 per day and doubles are $20 per day. I recommend advance reservations because there’s no guaranteed availability without one.
Just as it’s a good idea to get to Disney for “rope drop,” I recommend getting parked and being ready at the gate when Silver Dollar City opens. Check the hours for Silver Dollar City on the website and plan accordingly, as there are many seasonal elements. Traffic on the road in is quite heavy around 10 a.m. so plan to be there early.
Please note COVID-19 may impact operating hours and guest experiences. SheBuysTravel recommends calling or visiting the Silver Dollar City website in advance of your visit.
If you live nearby or plan to spend time in the park more than once in a calendar year, season passes may be the most cost-effective for your family. Then you’re free to enjoy the summer fun as well as the world-class festivals during Christmas. Another reason to invest in a season pass it to enjoy some of the yearly events at Silver Dollar City, such as the Old Time Christmas Festival and the Bluegrass & BBQ Festival.
Current specials include a buy one day get the second free deal. Definitely look into this option if you have two days in the area and younger kids who can’t handle a full-day visit.
Silver Dollar City Parking- Is preferred parking worth it?
There is a ton of free parking at SDC. Preferred parking is $14. This is the option we went with, thinking that we’d save ourselves when we were tired in the afternoon sun with a little shorter walk back. We were wrong. The only way this option would be worth the money is if you get to the park late in the day. We were there around 9:30 a.m. and the free parking spots that were closest to us were only a hundred yards (if that) from our $14 spot.
Some of the basics for life with kids have been handled by the fabulous folks running and planning park operations and logistics. For instance, there are four nursing stations located throughout the park, which are featured on the Silver Dollar City map (pick one up when you come through the gates.) Nursing stations are located by the washrooms at the Hospitality House, Red Gold Heritage Hall, Geyser Gulch and The Giant Swing. They all offer a quiet, air-conditioned place to nurse, change diapers, rock sleepy babes, or attend to other motherly needs.
Stroller parking is available near every major ride or attraction in the park. We did not have any trouble with theft as we left our stroller many times unattended during our day at Silver Dollar City. Strollers will not fit easily through many of the shops in Silver Dollar City. We learned quickly that we were going to have trouble with some areas of the park due to the stroller.
You can bring your own food.
At the time of our visit we found a lot of the food options to be “fair-style” food. More recent feedback from visitors has mentioned improvements. Food available spans bbq to pizza to sandwiches to bakery goods. If you’re looking to save money, bring a small cooler and some sandwiches or snacks. Turkey legs are probably the most bang for your buck behind the all-you-can-eat places when it comes to quantity of food.
Rides at Silver Dollar City – Recommendations for Parents
Although there is much to do at Silver Dollar City besides riding rides, the rides are going to be the main draw for any families visiting a theme park. Here are my family’s picks on what to ride and what to skip when you’re visiting with younger kids.
The best rides for kids at Silver Dollar City
Our favorite attraction was Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast. This ride is often overlooked for the American Plunge. We got head-to-toe drenched on RiverBlast. The other left us with only damp rear ends from sitting in puddles from the last rides’ splashing.
The Frisco Silver Dollar Steam Train is a family-friendly roll through the entire park. One thing to keep in mind with this one that we were not aware of is that there is a skit in the middle of the ride that lasts ten or so minutes. The train comes to a full stop and it was difficult to keep our youngest son (then six months old) entertained during the skit, which has mild gun violence that might scare your little ones. All in all this was a nice way cool down and rest your feet while seeing the layout of most of the park.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t miss checking out the demonstrating craftsmen! Take time to visit the resident craftsmen (over 100 of them), they will educate your kids about blacksmithing, candle making, glass blowing and so much more! You’ll feel like a time traveler that stepped back into the 1800’s as you watch these demonstrations.
Rides to Skip if you have younger kids
Have your kids measured at the The Official Measuring Station when you first get to the park. They’ll measure your child’s height and give you a free wristband with contact information should you get separated. You also get a little printout that says which rides are off-limits for their size so you can avoid those (and avoid meltdowns.)
Rides that your younger child (preschool age) could be eligible to ride based on height might still be too much for them to handle. Our brave and adventurous four-year-old was tall enough to ride Thunderation. It his first-ever full-size roller coaster ride. It may also be his last for a long time! He was pretty petrified. The measuring station might say it’s OK but that doesn’t mean it is an appropriate thrill ride for your child.
I also recommend skipping Outlaw Run, Powder Keg and Fire in the Hole. They’re fun roller coasters but probably best-suited for older kids.
New in 2020: Mystic River Falls
We’re excited about the new ride Mystic River Falls (white water raft ride) which is now open! Catch a POV video of Mystic River Falls below.
Mystic River Falls nighttime POV from Silver Dollar City on Vimeo.
Marvel Cave (temporarily unavailable due to social distancing challenges)
Entrance into Marvel Cave is free with your admission fee, although reservations are required. Silver Dollar City is built on a cave and Marvel Cave is a fun place to explore. However, there are lots of steep steps and some darkness involved so use your best judgement when taking your kids. Children under eight must be accompanied by an adult. Those under 8 cannot participate in Lantern tours.
Silver Dollar City Ride Height Restrictions and Guest of Size Limitations
When you head to any theme park it’s nice to know ahead of time what you can and cannot ride. Here are height restrictions for kids and a list of rides that may be difficult if you are big or tall. Height restrictions listed are the minimum height to ride. Some rides may require a guest to be taller to ride without a supervising companion.
Height Restricted Rides at Silver Dollar City
American Plunge- 36″ tall to ride
Electro Spin- 48″ tall to ride
Elephant March- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
Fire-In-The-Hole- 36″ tall to ride
FireFall- 48″ tall to ride
Fireman’s Flyer- 36″ tall to ride (and no taller than 52″)
The GIANT Barn Swing- 48″ tall to ride
The Grand Exposition Coaster- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
High-Low Silos- 40″ tall to ride
The Ladybugs- Must be 36″ but no taller than 55″
Magnificent Wave Carousel- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
Mighty Galleon- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
Outlaw Run- 48″ tall to ride
PowderKeg- 42″ tall to ride
Racing Regatta- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
Royal Tea Party- Minimum 36″ to ride with supervising companion
Thunderation- 42″ tall to ride
Time Traveler- 51″ tall to ride
Wildfire- 52″ tall to ride
Restrictions for Large and Tall Guests
If you weigh more than 200 lbs, have a chest dimension of 52 inches or more, or a 40 inch or above waistline you may not be able to ride on: Electro Spin, Elephant March, FireFall, The GIANT Barn Swing, The Grand Exposition Coaster, High-Low Silos, Magnificent Wave Carousel, Outlaw Run, PowderKeg, Regatta, Thunderation, Time Traveler, Up the Ladder and WildFire. Guests over 80″ cannot ride the High-Low Silos.
Beating the Heat: How to Stay Cool
Though the park is surprisingly shady, Branson is pretty warm and humid in summer. Being in line for long periods, on your feet on dark asphalt adds up to overheating.
Make sure to bring a water bottle or two for each person in your group and refill them at the water fountains. The bottled water sold is expensive. There are several misting machines around the park that can provide temporary reprieve. Or choose to cool off on the water rides.
Lastly, many shops around the park are air-conditioned, so browsing is a nice way to cool down. If you need a sit down break, you can check out one of the live shows.
Silver Dollar City Add-Ons: Water Park, Camping and Dinner Cruise
Make it even more of a vacation with all of the extras in the area. Your family could stay busy for days exploring.
Silver Dollar City’s White Water
This 13 acre water park is the perfect spot to cool down on a hot summer day. With a designated kiddie area, fun wave pool and freefall drop slides it has something for all ages.
Showboat Branson Belle
Looking for evening entertainment? Book a ticket for the Showboat Branson Belle. You’ll enjoy a show while sailing on a real riverboat. You can book this as an add-on to a SDC ticket or waterpark ticket for $40 (saving $20).
Silver Dollar City Campground
Why not get the full experience? Whether you love to camp or would rather steer clear the SDC Campground is the perfect spot to stay close to the parks. Campsites, RV sites, trailer rentals, and log cabins are available and all include a free shuttle to SDC so you don’t have to worry about parking. Cabins sleep up to 6 people. RV pull through sites are available with 30 or 50 amp hookups.
Read More: The Ultimate Family Camping Packing List
Learn More: Renting an RV for Vacation: Complete Guide for Families
We hope that this tips and tricks that we discovered after our visit help you! These little details are worth noting and planning ahead to avoid mid-day meltdowns. Is there anything else you would add to this list after your visit? Drop us a comment!
Gary Perkins says
Does Silver Dollar City allow pets
Karen Massey says
How much would tickets be for silver dollar city for me and my husband. I am 64 and my husband is 67
What rides are available for 3 yr olds?
Just thought I’d comment with an update: The Lost River has been taken out and they are building something new in its place. I’m not sure when the reveal is though.
We have five kids, so *if* we decide to eat in the park we always hit up the Molly’s Mill or the Mine which has all-you-can-eat options and the kids can easily pick what they want. The food is very good. I’ve had a few disappointments elsewhere in the park but I’ve always been pleased with those two (up by the Gazebo).
Thank you for all the great tips! I must, however, disagree with you on the parking recommendation. We arrived just after opening and were directed to a parking lot that was down a steep hill. We waited 20 minutes in full sunlight on a very hot day for a tram and were already cranky by the time we made it to the front gate. Then we got to reverse the process on the way home. We also found out that we could have arrived early and eaten breakfast in the park. Next time, we definitely will!
Very nice tips though I do have to disagree about the food. They have a lot of different options that aren’t just fair foods. The skillet meals are delicious and the homemade cinnamon rolls or bread is to die for! One of the main reasons we go to SDC is for the food!
We have several older kids and a two-year-old who is, to say the least impatient. Would you recommend we purchase the wristbands that allow us to skip the line for the rides? We plan on attending the park on the weekend.
Amanda Williams, Rural SheBuysTravel says
We visited in mid-August, on a Thursday morning and didn’t find the lines to be too long for our preschooler. However, if you can afford to splurge on the Trailblazer pass (remember — good for 8 rides) — it might maximize your time in the park. PS – they are $3 cheaper if you order them online ahead of time! We also found it helpful to “divide and conquer” if you have the availability to separate your group a bit and entertain the younger child with some small rides while the bigger kids wait in line for the coasters! Have fun!
To say that SDC food is average fair food is a laughable statement at best. Did you even shop around or try? Did you just fill out your blog. The Mill has fresh baked bread. The skillets are fantastic and cooked fresh all day. The Rib house has great food. Molly’s Mill has the a wonderful breakfast (if you are a season ticket holder you get 20% off) Yes bring your own drinks as they are very costly in the park . The food in the park is great and NOT a waste of you time. Might have to get out of the box to find great choices.
Amanda Williams, Rural SheBuysTravel says
Thanks for your input!
Any advice on how to NOT get soaking wet on Tom & Huck’s? Bring a poncho? My 4 year old would freak if his clothes got soaked! Hah.
Amanda Williams, Rural SheBuysTravel says
Honestly? Yes! A poncho would be a great idea! It’s ultimately timing and the participation of guests on the bridge (totally unpredictable) if you’ll get super soaked or not. You can also try to shield your kiddo, as I did that to make sure that no one got a stream to the eye! Good luck!
Jeanne M Murphy says
Is there a place to picnic outside of the park or is it better just to bring a small cooler inside? Will a small cooler fit in a locker?
Amanda Williams, Rural SheBuysTravel says
Hi Jeanne! The park is directly adjacent to the parking lot. It’s busy and largely a concrete/tar area with little grassy areas. I’d picnic in the park — there are ample benches and tables. SDC does allow small coolers. We didn’t rent a locker, so depending on your cooler size, it’s hard to say. IF you are bringing in a stroller though, you can always just stow it away in the bottom, perhaps? Dimensions of family-sized ($8) lockers are not given online, so I would call and ask to be sure. Have a great time!
Thank you for all of this wonderful information! I have been several times before but it has been quite awhile and I have never taken my kids. I have been trying to find information online and there hasn’t been much so this was very helpful!
Amanda Williams, Rural SheBuysTravel says
You’re welcome! I’m glad our experience is helpful to you!