While warmer than usual temperatures caused a dip in attendance at Silver Dollar City over the summer, it appears they’re helping now.
Lisa Rau, director of publicity and public relations for Silver Dollar City, said attendance has been strong for several Saturdays recently.
"It’s not record-breaking, but we’ve had 20,000 to 23,000 people for several Saturdays in a row,” Rau said.
“Sundays and Fridays have been strong too.”
She said large crowds are expected this Saturday too, and as a result the park will continue to extend its Saturday hours.
Back in May, Silver Dollar City, owned by Branson-based Herschend Family Entertainment, reported attendance up 10 percent for the year.
Triple-digit temperatures over the summer resulted in a decline, Rau said, noting that the heat wave was one of the hottest on recent record in many midwestern states, including Missouri.
The Christmas season has again been booming, however, with a 15 percent jump in attendance from last year’s holiday.
That spike has put Silver Dollar City’s overall yearly attendance back ahead of 2011.
Overall the park has seen approximately 1,807,300 visitors this year, up by under 1,000 from last year, or less than 1 percent.
Season ticket sales also have been strong, with an estimated 250,000 pass holders.
Rau said those pass holders visit the park nearly four times a year on average and receive extra perks including email blasts and information and invitations to special events.
Rau said Showboat Branson Belle also has seen an increase in attendance of almost 2 percent from last year, reporting just under 200,000 passengers on the year, an increase of 3,500 from 2011.
“The Christmas trend is what really is the story,” she said. “We’ve seen some very strong days and some very strong trends. It’s very important to the economic climate of Branson, and it speaks to the popularity of Branson as a Christmas destination.”
Silver Dollar City is perhaps seeing another trend develop.
This past weekend, the park was named one of Yahoo Travel’s most popular travel destinations along side Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, both in California state, the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas and the cities of Hollywood and Gulf Shores, Ala.
Earlier this year Yahoo listed Silver Dollar City as one of the country’s best places for holiday lights, while USA Today included it on its list of 10 great places to put a spin on the Christmas spirit.
That’s in addition to previous accolades from CNN Travel, The Travel Channel, Good Morning America, AOL Travel and MSN.com since the park debuted it’s festival, An Old Time Christmas, more than two decades ago.
Rau noted that Silver Dollar City’s popularity may cause some traffic issues, but it’s an issue the park is working constantly to improve.
Rau said the park is anticipating a strong 2013, as well.
The new Outlaw Run roller coaster, being touted as the world’s most daring wood coaster, is scheduled to open in the spring.
Rau said the $10 million ride is expected to attract 75,000 new visitors to the park.
The coaster is the only in the world to include a 720-degree double barrel roll and a near-vertical, 81-degree drop. It also is the only wood coaster to twist upside down three times and is the second-fastest wood coaster on the world and the fastest wood coaster on steel wheels with a top speed of 68 mph, according to information from park officials.
Rau said the coaster “speaks to all of Branson about our commitment to Branson and to continuing to make the Branson area a world-class tourist destination.”