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article imageSilver Dollar City, America's 'friendliest park', turns 50 Special

By Kay Mathews     Jun 14, 2010 in World
Branson, MO - The 50th anniversary celebration at Silver Dollar City, which began in April and continues through December, features new rides, shows, and events while staying true to decades of tradition.
Martha Hoy Bohner, Senior Publicist for Silver Dollar City Attractions, told via e-mail that the tale of Silver Dollar City is “really a great story: 50 years of growth as a tourism destination and a true American success story.”
The story began on May 1, 1960 when SDC was established in Branson, Missouri by Mary Herschend and her two sons, Jack and Pete. The 1880s theme park was created “to showcase the natural beauty of the Ozarks and to bring to life the colorful history and heritage of the area,” said Bohner.
Five decades later, 40,000 people attended Silver Dollar City’s three-day long 50th birthday celebration the weekend of April 30 - May 2.
Exactly 50 years after SDC opened for business, a High Noon Birthday Bash was held at the Echo Hollow Amphitheater on May 1. Appearing at the event was U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, members of the Herschend family (co-owners Jack and Sherry, and Pete and JoDee), and performers including The Haygoods, the Lennon Sisters and a surprise appearance by country-music star Louise Mandrell.
Louise Mandrell and The Lennon Sisters joined the party as the 1880s theme park Silver Dollar City  ...
Louise Mandrell and The Lennon Sisters joined the party as the 1880s theme park Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Missouri, celebrated 50 years with celebrities, performers, proclamations and near record crowds of 40,000 people visiting during the 3-day extravaganza.
Courtesy of Silver Dollar City Attractions
Lisa Rau, Director of Publicity and Public Relations for SDC, told, “While that event was held on the real birthday, exactly 50 years to the day of May 1, 1960, we are celebrating all year. The idea of the kick-off weekend was to enter into this landmark season with a look at our history and heritage while introducing the ‘new’ with a big splash.”
A new ride that’s a big splash, opened in concert with the 50th anniversary celebration, is the $7M Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast. Hailed as “America’s Biggest Water Battle,” RiverBlast is a “super-soaking water raft ride themed around the adventures of fun-loving, mischief-makers Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.”
Silver Dollar City celebrates its 50th birthday all year  presenting the new $7 million ride Tom & H...
Silver Dollar City celebrates its 50th birthday all year, presenting the new $7 million ride Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast, a super-soaking water raft ride themed around the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
Courtesy of Silver Dollar City Attractions
Additional 2010 Festival Highlights include KidsFest (June 5 - August 8), Southern Gospel Picnic (August 26 - September 6), National Harvest Festival (September 11 - October 30), and An Old Time Christmas (November 6 - December 30).
Attendees are reminded that anyone celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary or a 50th birthday this year gets a free season pass.
According to Rau, “There are so many generations of Silver Dollar City loyal fans, and so many people have memories from childhood through becoming grandparents – it’s very touching to be part of a park that is so emotionally connected to our visitors, 80 percent return time-and-time again.”
Those generations of loyal fans are invited to share snapshots, videos, memories, and memorabilia of their SDC experiences over the past 50 years on an online scrapbook. The scrapbook, called “Our Times Together Scrapbook,” can be found here.
In 2009, Silver Dollar City received coveted Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards. SDC was named “the ‘Friendliest Park’ in the entire theme park industry,” and also garnered other awards for Best Christmas Event (#2), Best Food (#2), and Best Shows (#3).
Sign at entrance to Silver Dollar City.  Branson  MO.
Sign at entrance to Silver Dollar City. Branson, MO.
When asked, What is the key to SDC’s success over the past five decades?, Rau replied:
OUR PEOPLE, called Silver Dollar City Citizens. This park is made of a warp and woof that cannot be copied because it is a montage of craftspeople and culinary experts, shows and performers, themed rides with friendly ride attendants … the success is in exceeding expectations whether that means homemade food specialties you will never believe to find at a theme park (such as real bakers baking real bread and desserts), or in Broadway-caliber show presentation. We cannot rest on our reputation, as we know we must keep things innovative and interesting, while holding on to the best of the traditions. The citizens are the ones who make it all happen.
The Branson, Missouri theme park is open through December 30. For additional information, call 1-800-831-4FUN or visit SDC’s website.
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