From Tame to Thrilling: The Coasters of Silver Dollar City
Before Silver Dollar City opened as a theme park, it operated as a cave tour destination for nearly 100 years. Marvel Cave is still home one of the largest cave entry rooms in North America. In 1960, under the ownership of the Hugo Herschend, the transformation from single attraction to full-blown theme park began to take shape. Rides started popping up around the mountaintop with the first roller coaster being built it 1972.
Over the next 50 years, Silver Dollar City’s coaster collection would grow to seven. While it’s not the largest lineup out there, it holds its own among the best by being some of the highest quality and unique rides out there. Not only does the park have some world class thrills, but also great beginner coasters.
Like in the previous versions of our “Tame to Thrilling” series, we have created a “natural progression” of Silver Dollar City’s roller coasters, so that “thrill seekers in training” can work their way up from the tamest roller coasters at the park to the most thrilling. We’ve divided the park’s roller coasters into four “levels:” Thrill Seekers In Training, Thrill Seekers, Thrill Junkies, and Extreme Thrills in order to help future park visitors learn more about the roller coaster lineup.
Level I: Thrill Seekers in Training
1) The Grand Exposition Coaster
Every thrill seeker in training has to start somewhere! This single helix Zamperla family coaster stands in at a whopping 13 feet tall. These family models are typically more adult-friendly than normal kiddie coasters and don’t force parents to sit with their knees in their throat. With a track length of only 262 feet, riders can expect to get several laps in even on the busiest days.
2) Fire in the Hole
The first and oldest coaster at Silver Dollar City, Fire in the Hole, is an indoor (mostly) powered coaster. The course winds slightly upwards through scenes of an 1880’s town set ablaze with a series of small gravity powered drops along the way. While the theming may be a bit more than mild for younger riders, this should be your next step in the thrill-level at the park. Blazing Fury at Dollywood, Silver Dollar City’s sister park, is nearly an identical ride built only 6 years later.
Level II: Thrill Seekers
After conquering the first two coasters on the list, Thunderation will be a must. Quite possibly the oddest coaster at the park, it is built on the side of a very steep hill where you board the ride at the top and immediately start into the course. The main section of the ride is filled with large helixes as you make your way down the hill. In a non-traditional convention, the lift hill is located at the end of the ride to take the riders back to the station (with one last drop before hitting the brakes). With the perfect amount of thrill, speed, and intensity, this mine train coaster is definitely one of the hidden gems of Silver Dollar City.
This coaster has an interesting history. Originally, it was built as a water coaster. BuzzSaw Falls opened 1999 and was built by Premier Rides. After only four years of operating, the coaster was closed for refurbishments and reopened in 2005 as PowderKeg. S&S Power came in and redesigned the ride, keeping parts of the track, lift hill, and drop intact. This coaster shows no signs of age and runs as smooth as a brand new ride.
After boarding the train, you pull out onto a transfer track and are moved up and to the left onto the launch section. Once the lights turns green, riders are launched up a 98 foot hill at 53 mph before plummeting down a 110 foot drop. The middle section of the ride is full of tight turns, helixes, and plenty of airtime. Just like Thunderation, the lift hill is at the end of this ride.
PowderKeg is also perfect for younger riders who have that need for speed, but lack the height to fit on most larger coasters. The minimum height requirement for this ride is only 42 inches if riding with an adult! While not quite making the Thrill Junkies category, it is good to note that PowderKeg is still quite a jump in intensity from Thunderation. In my opinion it is the most underrated roller coaster at the park.
5) Time Traveler
Time Traveler is Silver Dollar City’s newest roller coaster and is also only one of two Mack Rides Xtreme Spinning Coasters in the world! Fitting right into the park’s theme of non-traditional ride layouts, guests start their journey on Time Traveler with a 90 foot drop out of the station. Some may be surprised that this coaster isn’t in the next category, but for the most part it is an easy going and well-paced ride. Yes, it has inversions and launches, all while spinning, but it is all done in a very enjoyable manner. If you have a thrill seeker ready for their first looping coaster, Time Traveler is the ride for them.
Level III: Thrill Junkies
Situated in one of the most picturesque scenes in all of theme parkdom, Wildfire sits on top of a ridge overlooking the Ozark mountains and lakes below. This coaster is one of the most re-ridable B&M sit downs we’ve been on; Silver Dollar City does a great job of maintaining all of their rides to be operating in peak condition. Enjoy the view as you make your way to the top of the 120 foot lift hill because once you make the 155 dive, the rest of the ride will be a blur of speed and huge inversions!
Level IV: Extreme Thrills
7) Outlaw Run
Outlaw Run is in the Extreme Thrills category all by itself and rightfully so. There are very few coasters that are so crazy that they leave you speechless and Outlaw Run is one of them. It may be short, but the pacing is incredibly fast and the layout is constantly twisting. If Wildfire is a nice run through the park, Outlaw Run is a 40 yard dash. Along the track you’ll find insane moments of airtime, speed, sudden turns, and the cherry-on-top double barrel roll finale.
If you are lucky enough to visit Silver Dollar City during one of the few days they are open after dark, make it a priority to ride Outlaw Run at night. The pitch black ride will leave you so disoriented even if you know what’s coming next. Night rides here rival those you can find on The Beast and The Voyage. The park is open late select nights in the summer and during An Old Time Christmas in the winter.
Have you visited Silver Dollar City? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to read our other “From Tame to Thrilling” Articles! Carowinds, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, and Walt Disney World! More parks are always on the way, so check back soon!