Silver Dollar City Attractions President Brad Thomas is seemingly never bored. After all, it’s an exciting time for the 1880s-style theme park, first established in 1960.
In August, Thomas, along with other SDC officials, unveiled a new, $26 million planned roller coaster dubbed Time Traveler. When it opens in the spring, it will be the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest spinning coaster.
“No one can ride it any other place, on any other continent,” says Thomas, who has worked 27 years at SDC.
In addition to the coaster, a new restaurant featuring grilled cheeses and chicken sandwiches will be nearby.
“We’ve been testing those recipes for over a year now,” Thomas says.
New plans are also being made for White Water and the Showboat Branson Belle, which Thomas also leads.
“Showboat has a new show that will be opening in the spring. It’s also added two new programs targeted to families with young children,” Thomas says. “White Water’s looking at some neat experiences during Night Water. It’s a growing time of the season for us – extending those park hours into the evening and into the night help lengthen the day.”
The ideas don’t stop there, Thomas says.
“We’re actively looking at what we’re going to do at Silver Dollar City in 2019 and 2020,” Thomas says. “We try to plan out five years ahead of time.”
As leader of three of Branson’s largest attractions, overseeing 2,000 employees at peak season, Thomas says he must always stay on top of new trends.
“Just look at what has occurred in 10 short years,” he says. “Look at how smartphones have engulfed technology. As we look forward to the future, we have to recognize there will be new technology. I must always be learning. We can’t sit back and think we’ve been at a job for a long time and we know it all.”
Thomas tries to instill the same passion for the job in the employees who work for him.
“We must recognize and appreciate every singular business group within our particular parks,” Thomas says. “I want to make sure our employees are having fun and that the guests are having fun. Those are two incredibly challenging goals.”
It must be working. According to the Branson Tourism Center, the city has up to 7.2 million visitors annually. Silver Dollar City averages 2.1 million annual visitors. In addition, the Showboat sees roughly 250,000 and White Water has about 230,000 visitors every summer.
“Some of those visitors will come for a day or multiple days,” Thomas says. “They’re driving past gas stations, hotels and area restaurants. They certainly spend their money.”
417 Cocktails LLC moved; 7 Brew Coffee added its first shop in Lebanon; and Branson outlet store for Baltimore, Maryland-based sports apparel retailer Under Armour relocated.