Silver Dollar City on Tuesday unveiled plans for its newest attraction: the $23 million Mystic River Falls.
The water raft ride replaces the Lost River of the Ozarks, which was a staple at the Branson theme park for 34 years until it was demolished in December 2018. Mystic River Falls is expected to open in summer 2020.
“It’s like a river adventure unlike no other,” said SDC President Brad Thomas. “It’ll have a splashdown like you’ve never seen at Silver Dollar City.”
The nearly half-mile-long ride features a 45-foot drop, reputedly the tallest raft ride drop in the Western Hemisphere, Thomas said. SeaWorld’s Infinity Falls claimed the record last year when it opened with a 40-foot raft drop, according to media reports in Orlando, Florida.
The cost of SDC’s new attraction, Thomas said, will bring the total amount invested in the theme park to $100 million over the past decade. SDC produced record attendance numbers of 2.18 million guests in 2018 after opening its costliest coaster to date, Time Traveler, clocking in at $26 million, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
“Every one of those investments is a novel and unique investment that causes a family from Houston, Texas, to Chicago, Illinois, to say, ‘We never considered going to Branson, but that is so significant that it’s worthy of us going to Silver Dollar City,’” Thomas said.
John Haslar, manager of maintenance and construction at SDC, said crews began work in January on the project. He expects construction to wrap up in May 2020. Along with a 10-person crew from SDC, Haslar said he is working with subcontractors including Springfield’s Interpres Building Solutions LLC.
Mystic River Falls ride will feature natural rock and plant landscaping throughout, Haslar said, as well as its own water system. He said Lost River had used water from the adjacent Lake Silver.
Haslar said construction has gone smoothly so far, though workforce challenges have been present.
“The contractors, we hire them, and I know they are having a hard time with labor,” he said.
Roman Rodhe with Ride Engineers Switzerland engineered and designed the ride. His firm focuses on amusement rides, and he said this is the first attraction he’s worked on in Missouri. The 45-foot drop on Mystic River Falls is the first of its kind, he said, with four lift platforms to maximize the number of people the ride can transport. The ride will last about five minutes.
Alongside Mystic River Falls is a new eatery, Rivertown Smokehouse, which officials say represents the largest dining investment in park history at $4 million. Both investments are part of the new Rivertown district at the park.
Element Springfield South opened; Outlaw Gentlemen Barbershop added a second location; and wellness studio Stretch Zone launched.