I'm home! A day early and with lots to tell about our Spring Break! Here goes:
I had a blast at the Midwest Blogger meet-up with Kaci of Mrs. Hoffer's Spot, Elizabeth from Mrs. Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids, and Erica from The Eagle's Nest. Shopping, talking and laughing like you wouldn't believe! If you are a KC area blogger we are definitely getting together again this summer, so keep an eye out for another meet-up, you definitely won't want to miss it! I have lots of pics to share and I want to show you some classroom goodies I bought (and introduce you to a marvelous teacher store!) but that will wait for tomorrow's post once I unpack :)
Today thought, I have a bit of a bummer of a story to tell. After the KC meet-up we headed to Branson, MO to visit Silver Dollar City for the first time. They have a good military discount, and we'd heard good things, especially about their new roller coaster, the Outlaw Run, so we were excited to check it out. Usually, I don't share much personal stuff, but I figure that all teachers have Spring Break (at least in the States) so you all might be looking for vacation ideas and its only fair to warn you.
I can sum up our visit in 4 words: "long lines" and "big disappointment"!
After parking (which was free, gotta give them thumbs up for that), we headed to the gate to buy our tickets. The park opened at 9:30am and we got there at 10am, so you can imagine our confusion when we stood in a non-moving line for over an hour to buy tickets! Sure, you expect a bit of a wait at the ticket lines, but we literally stood still for 45 minutes before they opened up more booths and we were finally able to shuffle forward a bit.
We finally got our tickets (1 hour, 15 minute wait time) and got inside the park. We headed for the measuring station because the parking lot tram operator had advised us to do this to avoid wait times at rides where our youngest would have to be measured again and again all day - far better to get measured one time and get a handy wristband so we knew up front which rides he could go on. Well, guess what? Another 25 minute wait! Yep, we stood in the measuring line for 25 minutes because they only had one employee on duty. Good news was, he was tall enough to go on every ride in the park except for the Wild Fire roller coaster!
We rode the Royal Tea Party ride which was fun for the kids, then headed over to the Powder Keg roller coaster. The line didn't seem long, so we settled in to wait some more. It took 45 minutes to get on the ride! (For those keeping track, that's 2 hours and 25 minutes of line time now). My family enjoyed the ride, and was excited to keep riding. We headed over to the Fire in the Hole ride but that line was at least 45 minutes as well. By that time it was 1:30, and we were getting hungry.
Every food booth in the park was crowded with 15+ people standing in line and no where to sit, so we decided to hit up a restaurant instead. At the front of the park they have a Lucky Silver Mine restaurant that features an all-you-can-eat buffet of brisket, chicken and beef stew. The line didn't look long from the outside of the building, so we hopped in it. Soon we were inside a mine shaft, heading down into the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were deep in the shaft when we realized this was not going to be a short line. Still, we chitchatted with other guests and made the best of inching our way forward. Ultimately we arrived at the restaurant only to see tons of empty tables. Hmm, if there are empty tables, why the long wait? Ahhh, because the waitresses were also acting as hostesses and busboys, so as you went through the buffet you then had to wait in line to be seated because the waitresses were trying to serve drinks and bread, clear tables, and write tickets, all while people were waiting to be seated! It was a 1 hour and 30 minute wait that even the good and plentiful food did not make up for!
After lunch we headed for Thunderation roller coaster which was the highlight of the trip - my family thoroughly enjoyed the ride and said it might perhaps be the perfect family ride - not too scary for the little ones, but still fun for Dad. Amazingly, this had only a 30 minute wait time!
My husband really, really wanted to ride the new Outlaw Run roller coaster, so we headed to the back of the park next. All day long we had kept an eye out, and often seen the ride not running, or running with empty cars. We figured they were still working some bugs out, but hoped that it would be running smoothly by afternoon. When we got to the back of the park the sign said it was an 84 minute wait, but it wasn't actually running. My husband checked with an attendant who said they were working on it, but it shouldn't be long. My husband and one son decided to get in line while I took the rest of the kids to the Hi Lo Silo ride where we stood in line for another 30 minutes for a ride that was literally 75 seconds long.
Next I took the kids over to the Fire in the Hole ride. This may have been more fun in warm weather, but since it was cold they had turned off the water effects, which meant it was a bit boring. Certainly not worth the 25 minute wait! Once we got off the ride I figured we still had time before my husband was done with the Outlaw Run, so we stopped for a cookie and hot chocolate break which was yummy and the prices were on par wtth other amusement parks.
Once our snack was done we headed back to Outlaw Run only to find a flood of people exiting that area. Luckily we ran into my husband almost immediately. He and my middle son were very disgruntled. Apparently, they had stood in line, watching as the staff ran empty cars and then a car with a mechanic through through the ride. As the mechanic passed the line he gave the thumbs up signal and everyone in line cheered. At that point the line started moving, and finally, after a 75 minute wait, the station was in sight! Unfortunately, there was some kind of medical issue with a passenger either on the ride or in the station, and they shut the ride down again. In order to get the paramedics to the person, they cleared the entire line out and announced that they would not reopen the ride that day. Yep, 75 minutes of waiting for nothing!
We decided to head back to the Grand Exposition to some kiddie rides in hopes that the lines wouldn't be long. Thunderation's line was only about 10 minute long at that point, so it got another spin. Then we headed to the Magnificent Wave Swing Carousel. The line was very short and after 5 minutes we were on board. And then we sat. And sat. Apparently there was an issue with the wind and whether the ride could still operate. So we sat and waited for the phone to ring. After 15 minutes total wait time (10 minutes actually on the swings), we exited the ride without riding. By this point three of our kids were begging to go back to the hotel. My youngest wanted one turn on The Electro Spin ride, so we stood in line for that one a good 15 minutes. The park had announced with was staying open until 7pm, but no one was interested in staying any later, so we headed for the exit.
We boarded a tram for our parking section and then sat and waited for more people to fill it. Then we sat and waited some more. At this point, we were so accustomed to waiting that we didn't even wonder why, it just seemed to be the modus operandi of the park. After about 10 minutes of waiting, we were instructed to disembark and reload onto another tram, as ours was experiencing some sort of difficulty.
We finally got back to the car and took stock of our day. All in all we were at the park for 8 1/2 hours. In that time we rode 7 rides and stood in lines for 6 hours! Is it any wonder that today, when we woke up and asked the kids if they wanted to head back to Silver Dollar City to use our 2nd day pass, that they unanimously said "No way!" and had no problem with packing up and heading home a day early?!
To be fair, we did talk to other guests during our wait times, and most said that it wasn't usually this busy at Silver Dollar City. One lady was flabbergasted that she had spent an hour in line for lunch at a food booth that only served hotdogs and nachos. It seems that usually the park is run much better. It appeared to be a bad case of not enough staff for a day that was busier than expected. However, considering that they opened for the season last week, one would expect them to have hired all their staff by now. It was especially disheartening to see all the "Sorry folks, no shows today!" signs at the various show locations. If the lines are this long, and the shows this non-existent early in the season, how on earth are they going to cope with larger crowds in the summer? I'm not sure if management has changed, or if the park was trying to cut costs by not hiring as many people, but there was definitely a break down somewhere in their system.
I'll be keeping an eye on the situation to see if it improves, but until I see evidence that the problems are fixed, I'd have to advise everyone to pick a different park for their vacations. It simply is not worth the time and money to go to Silver Dollar City in my opinion! My kids are eagerly awaiting the 4 day weekend in May where we will go check out Six Flags over Texas. As far as they're concerned Silver Dollar City was a big disappointment and not on their list of places to go back to!
Anyways, I am off to stock up on groceries, then I will be making some new products that I thought of while on break - love how a vacation can clear the mind and provide tons of inspiration! I will be having some flash freebies of the new things this weekend, so be sure to check back so you don't miss it (hint, I will be posting the flash freebie times on my FB page, so be sure you like it to get the updates!).