STONE COUNTY, Mo. — For the latest Chuck's Big Adventure, we traveled to Missouri for a trip that took us from big-city oddities to historic sites and showed us the magnificence of nature's creativity.
Silver Dollar City
Going into our trip to Silver Dollar City, I had in mind an idea of Ozark music, hot dogs to munch on and a few rides to test. I couldn't have been more wrong.
This park is now owned by Herschend Entertainment, the family-owned firm known for their work with Dolly Parton on Dollywood and several other properties.
It's 61 acres with lots of rides, 100 artisans displaying everything from pottery to Ozark themed paintings to wood working, and more than 60 restaurants.
Our food offerings weren't hot dogs and hamburgers. We sampled brisket, Ozark-themed dishes and even Chinese food.
But hey, for most visitors, a trip to Silver Dollar City isn't complete without enjoying a ride. I tested the spinning roller coaster Time Traveler, which, as you'll see in my television story, terrified me.
I also rode the fantastic and wet Mystic River Falls.
Laramie Lowe runs the ride, which features the only 45-foot raft drop in the Western Hemisphere.
"Last year, it went from being a 13-minute ride from start to finish, now it’s about seven and a half, eight minutes, depending on how many boats we have going," Lowe said. "From the time you get in the water to the time you get to the tower, it's about a three-minute ride or so a little more, just because we have a half mile of river to go through before you ever get to tower, which is more than what we had when this used to be Lost River."
What a thrill, cascading down the Mystic River!
The real joy came though from seeing a multi-generational park with different folks enjoying Ozark music, beautiful works of art, delicious food and great rides. However, I was most impressed by seeing the employees, who really seemed to love their jobs.
"A lot of our employees even will tell you that they started coming as kids, or as a family, and then they're like, 'I want to work here,' and so they start working here, and it gets in your blood, literally every time you walk in, you go through a time machine and you're back into the 1880s Ozarks, which is unlike any other place in America that period of time," Lowe said. "We're talking about a place. I mean Branson is a place that in some places didn't get electric or running water until the '90s, you know, so this is a place that kind of somewhat time has forgotten. One of our owners, both like to say, 'When you come to Silver Dollar City, you need to set your clock about 15 minutes back because that's how fast things move.' We move a little slower around these parts because we're enjoying everything a little bit more."
Silver Dollar City food offerings
I enjoyed it too and this is on a list to return. I am expecting my first grandchild in August, and this is going to be a place I want to share with him!