It’s not at all unusual that a theme park has multiple locations throughout the world. Disney has a total of 12 theme parks, Six Flags has 26 and Universal has four.
But only die-hard fans know that Dollywood, despite its unique appearance on the surface, also has a sister park located 700 miles away in Branson, Mo. And it goes by the name of Silver Dollar City.
Now if that name sounds familiar, there’s a reason.
You see, Dollywood also used to be called Silver Dollar City. And both are still owned, at least in part, by the same company: Hershend Family Entertainment.
Hershend Family Entertainment used to be sole owner and operator of our beloved Pigeon Forge theme park before Dolly Parton stepped in as a partner in 1986. That’s when the Pigeon Forge location officially became known as “Dollywood”.
Today, Dollywood is operated as a partnership between the Parton and Hershend ownership.
And while Dollywood remains unique in its own right, those who have visited both locations have noticed more than a few similarities between the two parks.
Some might go so far as to say that visiting Silver Dollar City is almost like stepping into a Dollywood fringe universe of sorts.
Below are five eerily similar “twin” rides and attractions that both parks share (or in some cases shared), that might just make you look twice.
1. The Flooded Mine
Allow me a Frankenstein moment – “It’s alive!! It’s ALIVE!!!!!”
That’s right, Dollywood aficionados will instantly recognize this beloved doppelganger.
The Flooded Mine was a simple indoor boat ride that carried passengers through ‘”flooded” prison mine shafts as prisoners desperately try to escape. (Think Disney’s “It’s a Small World” with prisoners and less singing).
The Dollywood version closed in the late 1990s to make way for Daredevil Falls. But The Flooded Mine attraction at Silver Dollar City remains standing today, featuring a multitude of familiar scenes that are sure to jog your nostalgic Dollywood-lovin’ memory.
The Flooded Mine has, however, gone though one major upgrade at the Silver Dollar City location that never made it to the Dollywood version: Laser pistols.
A POV video has been embedded below for your entertainment:
2. Fire in the Hole (Blazing Fury)
Fun fact: Fire in the Hole, Blazing Fury’s sister coaster, was actually one of the world’s first indoor roller coasters.
Built in 1972, six years before Blazing Fury, Fire in the Hole is nearly identical to its sister Dollywood coaster. It differs in a handful of scenes, different dialogue and the noticeable presence of something called “Bald Knobbers.”
That’s right, Molly isn’t worried about anyone’s weak back, Sarah hasn’t been kissing any steam trains, and Baldknobbers (a group of vigilantes from the 1880s infamous throughout southwest Missouri) are clearly to blame for the cause of the fire that engulfed this little animatronic town.
In the Fire in the Hole version of the ride, rather than getting ready to “jump” you can hear Molly instructing her significant other to “come back here and put on your pants”, to which her partner replies, “I ain’t got no pants no more, the dang Bald Knobbers took ’em!”
While it’s not entirely clear why Blazing Fury is missing the Bald Knobber backstory, one might imagine it’s a storyline that wouldn’t have been quite as familiar to a bunch of East Tennesseans as it is to Missourians.
Regardless, it’s an interesting factoid. I’ve never once stopped to think about what actually “caused” Blazing Fury’s fire. And now we know it was those pants-stealin’ Bald Knobbers all along.
Again, a POV of Fire in the Hole is embedded below for your viewing pleasure.
3. Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast (River Battle)
Here’s another blast from the past (get it, blast): Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast!
River Battle was basically a slow moving boat ride with man-operated water blasters. It was a rather short-lived attraction at Dollywood, opening in 2007 and closing less than a decade later in 2017.
It’s actually one of the only Dollywood rides I personally never tried. It just lacked any sort of thrill or mystery for me. I could stand around in my own yard at home and ask someone to shoot me with a water gun.
Regardless, River Battle’s sister ride, Tom & Huck’s RiverBlast lives on at Silver Dollar City complete with 80 super soakers and over 150 targets.
4. The Giant Barn Swing (Barnstormer)
This is another one that will look quite familiar. These two rides are virtually identical to one another. In fact, both launch guests through barn doors at 45 mph at a 230-degree rotation (giving guests the feeling that they are about to go upside-down).
At Dollywood, Barnstormer is located in an area named “Owens Farm” which is a nod to Dolly’s mother’s family, the Owens.
If that name sounds familiar, congratulations you’re ready for Dollywood Trivia Night. The name also happens to be the family of Pete Owens, head of Dollywood’s publicity department.
At Silver Dollar City, The Giant Barn Swing is located in the “Wilson’s Farm” section.
5. Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train
Like Dollywood’s Klondike Katie and Cinderella – two authentic WWII-era steam trains, Silver Dollar City also has a fleet of their own historic coal-fired steam trains: Engine 13, Engine 14, Engine 76, Engine 504 and Engine 43.
Clearly, Dollywood is much better at naming trains.
Like their sister engines at Dollywood, The Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Trains take guests on a leisurely ride throughout the park.
Both parks also once featured a cute live-actor shoot-out and train-robber scene mid-ride. Dollywood’s mid-ride show has since been removed.
6. Honorable Mentions
While we’ve already mentioned the majority of the eerily similar sister rides and major attractions that the two parks share, it’s worth noting that the similarities don’t stop there.
Both parks also feature many of the same or similar traditional theme park rides.
Like Dollywood, Silver Dollar City also features Mystic River Falls. The Falls is essentially a modern take on the River Rampage. And the American Plunge is reminiscent of the old Log Flume.
Also shared between the two are a collection of common carnival-style rides. Examples are the Electro Spin (Dizzy Disk), Happy Frogs (Frogs and Fireflies) and the Magnificent Wave Carousel (The Waltzing Swinger).
Silver Dollar City also features a variety of historical properties on-site, similar to Dolly’s homestead replica including Birdle’s Cabin, McHaffie’s Homestead and Wilderness Church.
Have you ever been to Dollywood’s sister park in Branson, Mo? Let us know in the comments!