Photo provided by SILVER DOLLAR CITY
Sydni Moore, Reporter
4/3/2017 12:44 PM
Two new Branson attractions are on development tracks this year.
Construction of a second mountain coaster, The Branson Coaster, is expected to be finished this summer, with a grand opening soon after, Collin Wheeler, marketing coordinator for Face Amusement.
Gray, Tennessee-based Face Amusement is constructing The Branson Coaster at 2115 W. Country Blvd., where Cool Off Water Chute once stood, said Wheeler. The property is just down the road from Ride The Ducks and the Andy Williams theater. The company’s investment in the project is undisclosed.
“North America’s original double alpine coaster – that’s the tagline,” Wheeler said. “It’s essentially like getting two rides in one.”
This coaster is coming to Branson following the August opening of the $5 million Branson Mountain Adventure Park’s The Runaway.
To make way for the latest coaster, demolition of the old water slides began in January. Opened in 1974, the water chute operated for over 40 years, according to the business Facebook page.
Face Amusement purchased Cool Off Water Chute in 2016 for an undisclosed amount, Wheeler said.
The mountain coaster work coincides with buzz at Silver Dollar City about a new ride that’s underway.
Nothing but a “tease sign” hangs on a fence inside Silver Dollar City to let customers know something big is in the works.
“Don’t look over this fence!” the sign says. Underneath, a web link is displayed and those curious enough to follow it find a web page that reads, “You looked over the fence, didn’t you?” Visitors can subscribe to receive updates regarding the new ride.
Lisa Rau, director of public relations and publicity for Silver Dollar City, said park patrons are welcome to come see the construction from different vantage points and take pictures, too. But whatever the construction may be, it won’t be officially announced until August. No one can even be sure it’s a coaster, but that hasn’t stopped coaster gurus and theme park fanatics from speculating. Websites, such as Screamscape, and various Facebook pages have regularly updated content regarding Silver Dollar City’s plans. On Jan. 20, Screamscape reported Silver Dollar City owners Herschend Family Entertainment filed a trademark to use the name, The Time Traveler.
Silver Dollar City concept art shared with Springfield Business Journal by John Warner, a main administrator for the CoasterNerds Facebook page, displays ideas for three rides.
Rau confirmed the legitimacy of the concepts.
“These concepts were part of a slate of several more that have been tested over the last couple of years,” she said.
The ideas include a rodeo theme inviting cowboys and cowgirls to take on the biggest and meanest broncos. Another invites explorers to travel through the rumored “silver caves” of the Ozarks. Finally, a third concept encourages riders to, yes, time travel.
“Herschend Family Entertainment is built on guest response,” Rau said.
“We often do online and in-person focus groups on concepts as much as two to three years before we begin the process of development.”
Warner, from Columbus, Ohio, is a roller coaster fanatic. Visiting up to 25 theme parks a year, he said Cedar Point and King’s Island, both in Ohio, are his favorites. Through March, Warner already had visited six theme parks this year.
As for Silver Dollar City, “I have physically never been there,” Warner said. But he’s planning a trip for later this year, despite the fact the new attraction won’t be completed until 2018.
“I can’t wait for the official announcement,” he said, adding he understands the new ride will be produced by international manufacturer Mack Rides. “They’re really solid, so I think it will be a solid addition to the park.”
Rau declined to disclose if Mack Rides is the manufacturer.
When Warner arrives at the park later this year, he plans to join in on the speculation and check out the construction for himself.
“I’ll peek around and get a good look,” Warner said. “I will be bringing my selfie stick.”
Developers of The Branson Coaster say they won’t consider Silver Dollar City’s latest ride as competition.
“They’re a theme park and we’re a stand-alone attraction,” Wheeler said. “It’s apples to oranges.”
The Branson Coaster is Face Amusement’s first project in the Ozarks.
Beyond the coaster, the company also plans to open a maze, arcade and shooting game at Branson Landing.
Face Amusement co-founder Rusty Mabe started the company in 2013 with his brother Bucky, and now has operations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, as well as Orlando, Florida. The Mabes are not connected with the Mabe family known for the long-running “Baldknobbers” show.
“We’ve always wanted to come to Branson. It’s a lot like Pigeon Forge,” Rusty Mabe said. “It’s a small town, but it’s a family environment.
“We’re excited about bringing those family experiences to Branson.”