BRANSON — With Christmas just around the corner, a nearby amusement park is decorated for Christmas.
This year, a total of 4 million Christmas lights are up and running during Silver Dollar City's An Old Time Christmas festival.
During An Old Time Christmas, Silver Dollar City is open Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 23, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and open daily Dec. 26-30. Hours are 1 to 9 p.m. most days, with extended hours on Saturdays.
Check the website for exact schedules. For more information, contact 800-831-4FUN(386) or visit www.silverdollarcity.com.
Martha Hoy Bohner, senior publicist for Silver Dollar City Attractions, said the event is a sight to see.
"It is spectacular when you see it spread throughout the park," she said.
"It is not that every building is in lights, every board of every building is in lights. We have a feature that is very, very unique this year, we have five massive trees on the square that are wrapped from bottom to top – 40 foot trees wrapped from bottom to top in lights and they have a very unique effect, they are called snowfall lights, where it looks like there is snow falling in the branches. It is a beautiful effect. (It is) a brand new for wrapping these trees. They are just stunning. We see people on the square taking pictures all of the time."
The Christmas lights attraction began back in 1988 and this year, park employees began decorating back in August.
When visitors enter the park, they will also see a five-story special effects tree, donned with lights.
"The center piece on the square is the massive five-story special effects tree and that has 350,000 LED lights on it, just that one," Bohner said. "It is an amazing sound and light show, when it plays. The music plays, the lights blaze (in sync) to Christmas songs. It is very, very fast, 100 lights change in a second. Also, the lights on trees and around the square are also tied into that music, so the whole square is sort of a surround sound and light show. It is really something amazing to see."
Aside from the Christmas lights, spectators will also have the opportunity to see a Christmas musical, "It's a Wonderful Life," adopted from the Frank Capra classic.
"It's a Wonderful Life is real Americana, a story many people already love, but our production takes the audience through it in unexpected ways," according to writer/producer Brad Schroeder, Silver Dollar City's director of entertainment and events in a press release. "Telling this classic story with music adds a new connection, making it even more emotional and impactful."
The show also features unique special effects and a talented cast of 14 singer/actors.
Page 2 of 2 - The new production joins Silver Dollar City's acclaimed Broadway-style production, "A Dickens' Christmas Carol", another original musical adaptation of a famous classic, which is also featured during the festival. A Dickens' Christmas Carol includes elaborate sets and visual effects, flying spirits, pyrotechnic special effects and a talented cast of 15, accompanied by a live band.
Besides the Christmas lights, spectators can also see craftsmen.
The park's 100 demonstrating craftsmen create one-of-a-kind handmade holiday items, from blown glass ornaments, angels and snowmen to pottery dessert platters and scotch-pine scented candles. Guests sing Christmas carols as they ride the Silver Dollar Steam Train and for nighttime thrills, most of the rides and the park's five roller coasters are open after dark with great views of the lights from above.
The park also presents the Midwest Living Culinary & Craft School, offering classes on holiday specialties. The tastes of the season are in abundance throughout the park, including a prime rib buffet and traditional favorites such as turkey with apple-raisin dressing. Festive holiday treats from apple dumplings to hot wassail can be found throughout the park, and the bakery cooks up homemade fruitcakes, cookies and breads. For kids, there's a lunch with Santa, available weekends throughout the festival.
Bohner said the Christmas festival is one of the fastest growing festivals at the park and also a tradition for families.
"We have bigger attendance during some of the other festivals that last longer," she said. "As for single day attendance, Christmas (festival) has the highest attendance. It has become a very popular Christmas tradition for families to come."