Over 40 miles away from Springfield lies one of Missouri’s largest theme parks: Silver Dollar City. While the park has tons of things to offer for thrill-seekers, there are still things to do for younger kids that don’t involve major rides.
Lisa Rau, director of publicity for Silver Dollar City, said one of the park’s main priorities is making sure child riders “progress into rides they are comfortable with,” specifically creating attractions for every age range.
“They say you can’t be everything for everyone,” Rau said. “Well, we can do an awful lot of things for an awful lot of people.”
Several portions of the park cater to families with young children. These include The Grand Exposition, Fireman’s Landing and Half Dollar Holler.
The Grand Exposition
The Grand Exposition, a 2-acre portion of the park, is themed after the World’s Fairs and other 19th-century events dedicated to discovery. While it includes rides for older children, there is a section for littles. These rides are smaller versions of things found in the park, such as swings and a miniature roller coaster.
The main section for little kids is the “Insectarium,” complete with whirling bug-themed rides. The Ladybugs and Wings of Wonder allow kids under 3 feet to ride with someone bigger or by themselves.
Carnival games are also found throughout the area, rewarding kids with stuffed animals.
Family Calming Space Available
This space is a new addition to SDC to help soothe guests with sensory processing disorders.
Features Include: Comfort colors, soft seating, low lighting, books and a mural of the Frisco Silver Dollar Train. The mural is three-dimensional, with textures such as wood, stone and glass for users to touch.
How: Approved by Mercy Hospital and private for a single family with no time limit. The door is locked and guests need to call the number on the door for an attendant to let them in.
Where: Just before the Grand Exposition
Who: Designed by Jessica Loftis, SDC Project Manager
Fireman’s Landing is a newer part of the park themed around an 1800s volunteer fire department. Its main draw is the FireHouse Play Place, a large space for kids to climb on, complete with foam ball shooters and plenty of targets.
It also includes several low thrill attractions such as Fire Wagon Frenzy, Fireman’s Flyers, Up the Ladder and Lucky’s Dizzy Dogs. These pirate ship, swings, drop tower and spinning styled rides are available for children 36” tall. For slightly bigger kids, the Fire Spotter spinning balloons take flight upwards and around a central point.
Replacing the former water-heavy Geyser Gulch, Fireman’s landing also has a splash zone for summer heat.
Half Dollar Holler
Half Dollar Holler is SDC’s main area for little kids. It boasts Hugo and Mary’s Carousel and the Frisco Silver Dollar train depot. The steam train pulls guests around the park during all seasons.
Winter Christmas Lights or Summer Kids Fest
During the winter season, guests are able to enjoy the countless lights SDC is known for.
During the summer, SDC hosts its annual KidsFest event from June 11 to July 24. The summer is filled with fun activities for kids of all ages. This year’s stars are Nik Wallenda’s ‘Zirkus’ (circus in German) and the train-centered Chuggington Adventure Depot.
The former is a daily show in the Opera House, the latter a set location in Carousel Barn in Rivertown.
The ‘Zirkus’ was created specifically for the park. According to a press release, it boasts “soaring acrobatics, aerial stunts, human pyramids, trick bicycling, and dangerous high-wire acts.” Guinness World Records winner Wallenda said the main reason behind the show is positivity; if kids set their minds to it, anything is possible.
Chuggington Adventure Depot is mainly directed toward younger children. The attraction allows kids to explore a recreation of the world. It comes complete with models of the characters and a train table.
Marvel Cave (for slightly older kids)
For kids a bit older and able to explore on their own, there is Marvel Cave. Found at the beginning of the park, it is the oldest attraction in SDC. The massive cavern has been outfitted with a walking tour for guests to explore 500 feet below the earth.
Rau, SDC’s head of publicity, encouraged parents to “use their judgment” when bringing their children through the cave. Strollers are not allowed and the tour takes around an hour to complete.
Parking and Mobility:
Certain portions of the park are free. Patrons can either walk or ride a complimentary tram to get to the park’s main gate.
Strollers are able to be rented inside the park just past the security gate. Costs are $20 for a single stroller and $25 for a double stroller.
Discounts for Springfield residents:
How: Tickets are available through Price Cutter for both SDC and White Water
When: Thursdays June 2 to Aug. 11
Pricing: $50 for Silver Dollar City or $35 for White Water
Tinsley Merriman is a general assignment intern at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He’s currently a senior at Missouri State University studying journalism, and most recently worked as section editor of Campus Life for the student-led newspaper The Standard.