Mar. 14—By Kevin McClintock
BRANSON, Mo. — A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there doesn't appear to be anything that will keep Silver Dollar City from opening Wednesday.
In 2020, as the country moved into lockdown, the coronavirus delayed the theme park's opening for three months. When it did open in mid-June, it did so with safety measures in place and an attendance limit of 50% of park capacity.
This year, Silver Dollar City serves as the perfect weekend getaway for people who are ready for a brief escape outdoors, said Silver Dollar City's Lisa Rau. She added that most of last year's safety protocols will continue to be observed — masks, social distancing and temperature checks will be required, but making reservations for tickets will not.
"We believe what we did (last year) worked well," she said. "We found that (guests) were indeed looking for outdoor family options, and by creating more outdoor stages and activities, we were able to provide that getaway. People came to visit, people wore masks, they understood the line and ride spacing — and they had a ... great time."
Overall, she said, "2021 is looking to be a very positive season."
Because so many entertainment options last year were moved from indoor locations to outdoor venues, park officials have emphasized creating more outdoor entertainment options. New this year is "Street Fest," which runs from April 17 through May 2. It features street performers, music, comedy, teeterboard experts, steel drums, trick rollerskating and an array of foods to try with a new "tasting passport."
"We are also adding our new tasting passports for Street Fest in April and Bluegrass & BBQ in May that offers (sampling) food throughout the park," Rau said.
She said the pandemic hasn't affected the park's rides, which include the roller coasters Outlaw Run and Time Traveler. In total, Silver Dollar City offers 40 themed rides and attractions.
This will also be the first full season for the $23 million Mystic River Falls attraction, which opened last year and replaced the popular Lost River of the Ozarks.
"It is absolutely beautiful," Rau said, "and you truly feel like you are on a river adventure."
Kevin McClintock is features editor for The Joplin Globe.