Fantastic Caverns and Silver Dollar City

New photos from Fantastic Caverns will be showing up “soon” in the gallery. Near Kansas City you start seeing billboards for this place as you head south. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were hundreds of them on the way to Springfield, Missouri. There was one moment where we could see five of them at the same time. This, and tourism brochures, must be where they spend their advertising budget.

For those who have never had the pleasure to see all these billboards, they show a red jeep, loaded with passengers, pulling a red trailer, also loaded with passengers, through a cavern of stalagmites and stalagtites. This is what sets Fantastic Caverns apart from the half dozen or more caves I got to explore when I first visited the Branson, Missouri/Eureka Springs, Arkansas area as a teenage in 1984. All the other caverns you spend walking down (and up) stairs. I had incorrectly throught doing a “ride through” cavern tour would be lame, so I never put forth any effort to go see it.

After finally deciding to put forth effort to see it last year, we spent the extra $5 to upgrade to a yearly pass. This allowed us to see it again this year for free. Bonus.

You can find some photos from 2023 here. As I went to copy that link, I realize I have incorrectly placed Fantastic Caverns in my Branson, Missouri gallery, and it is about an hour or so away from Branson. I guess I’ll fix that when I update with this new batch.

Meanwhile, Silver Dollar City is a place I got to explore in 1984, and I told myself back then I should really do this again in forty years. So in 2024, I did. The three things I remembered from my first visit were still there! The Flooded Mine (though now it is a shooting gallery ride, and was missing one specific scene I was looking for), Grandfather’s Mansion (kind of a tilt house), and Fire in the Hole — an indoor roller coaster dark ride. Fire in the Hole actually closed in 2023, but a brand new one was built elsewhere in the park for 2024. The new remake is great, though I do not remember any specific details of the original to know how close or different it is to the original. (I did notice a female fire fighter mannequin in it, which I expect was not there in the 1970s version.)

The park has very strict photography/video rules, and only allows it on the steam train and Flooded Mine, so those will be the only rides I have any on-ride photos from. (Yep, lots of rule breakers on YouTube, I know.)

There is far too much to see and do at Silver Dollar City in one day, so my photos from this trip will barely scratch the surface of what this park has to offer. I was far more than I expected or remembered.

And all of it was up hill.

Both ways.

More to come…

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