What’s different about Silver Dollar City’s 2020 Christmas festival?

This year has been anything but ordinary, but Silver Dollar City’s nostalgic “An Old Time Christmas” festival is underway — and we need it now more than ever!

The park’s 6.5 million Christmas lights are now officially lit for the season, and you can enjoy over 1,000 decorated Christmas trees, a variety of shows and entertainment, holiday comfort foods, shopping, and more, now through Dec. 30. Check out our Ultimate Silver Dollar City Christmas Travel Guide for full details.

While the festival has returned, some relatively minor changes have been made to ensure a safe experience for everyone in attendance. We’ve outlined those changes — and confirmed that some things haven’t changed — below. We do expect operations to be tweaked as the season goes on so we’ll be updating this page as changes are announced.

Park Capacity

Park capacity is limited to allow for proper social distancing. We’re told maximum capacity is now around 9,000 guests. For comparison, record-breaking attendance days of past Christmas seasons saw crowds of more than 28,000 people.

So, even a “sold-out” day this year is only 30% of a “sold-out” crowd in previous years. This should provide a much more pleasant experience for everyone, even on Saturdays which are traditionally the busiest of them all.

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Tickets & Reservations

Because capacity is limited, the park is requiring guests to make reservations if they plan to attend on any Saturday in November or December, or on these dates: Nov. 26-27, Dec. 20-23, and Dec. 27. Reservations are required for all ticket types, including annual pass holders. Reservations can be submitted online here.

You can submit reservations for other days to ensure entry, but they aren’t required.

If you’re purchasing tickets via the SDC website, the attendance date you choose during the purchase process serves as your reservation, and no further steps are required.

There are a few new ticket types being offered for a limited time, including a $40 “after 6pm” ticket (valid any operating day), a “buy 1 day, get the 2nd day free” ticket (valid any operating day), and a “visit before 3pm, pay kids price” ticket that must be purchased at the gate and is only valid certain days. We write more about finding the best prices on SDC tickets here.

If you’re purchasing Thursday $35 Price Cutter tickets, you can make reservations, but it’s not required as of now. 

Park Entry Process

You’ll enter the park by first passing through a temporary tent setup in the front parking lot. Here you’ll be asked a series of questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and exposure, and your temperature will be taken via infrared thermometer. Once you pass these two “tests,” you’ll be handed a wristband to wear for the rest of your visit, and can then proceed to the usual park entry process (including ticket office).

A face covering (mask) is required to be worm over your nose and mask at all times, unless you’re actively eating or drinking. There are staff roaming the park to make sure folks are properly wearing masks.

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Shows

All shows are taking place in outdoor theaters, but there are 11 shows with over 40 performances scheduled each day. Returning shows include The Living Nativity, Frontier Fa-La-La Follies, Tinker Junior’s Toy Shop, and more. A new “Cool Yule” show with a live band and singers is also being performed at a new “Plaza Stage,” setup behind Red Gold Heritage Hall (an area that’s only otherwise used during Pumpkin Nights).

Unfortunately the two Broadway-style shows — “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Dickens’ Christmas Carol” — aren’t being produced this year, but some of the actors from these shows (including Scrooge) are cast in the new “Cool Yule” show or are part of caroling troupes who roam the park’s streets performing favorite holiday tunes.

We wrote more about the 2020 Christmas shows here.

Parade

You’ll be able to enjoy the same Rudoloh’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade as normal. The floats, characters, and dancers are the same. The parade is scheduled to take place each night at 6 and 8:15 p.m., however we’re told the actual timing may be adjusted. The SDC mobile app will be updated if changes are made, and a “clearing crew” also walks ahead of the parade to let folks know it’s about to start.

If you are viewing the parade from or near the square, pay attention to the sections painted on the pavement, as some areas are marked with “Do not stand” messaging to encourage social distancing. However, if you prefer to avoid crowds, we’d suggest viewing the parade from somewhere other than the square. The areas near Red Gold Heritage Hall or the Opera House/Fire in the Hole are good options.

We wrote more about the 2020 parade plans here.

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Buffets

In previous years, three different buffets were served at the restaurants located off the main square near the park’s entry. This year, only Molly’s Mill is open, and they’re serving a family-style holiday meal.

It’s still all-you-can-eat, and the traditional holiday platter includes glazed ham, hickory smoked turkey, mashed potatoes, apple raisin dressing, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole. Dinner rolls, gravy, winter slaw, ambrosia salad, and cranberry relish are also supplied to the table. The traditional holiday platter is $18.99 for adults and $8.99 for children 11 and under. 

If you choose to add prime rib to the entire table’s platters, prices increase to $24.99 for adults and $9.99 for children.

Restaurants & Table Seating

Almost all food stands are operating as normal (except the buffets mentioned above, and Percy’s Southwest Grill, which is closed). Some tables have been removed or relocated to allow for proper social distancing.

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Joy on Town Square

The amazing 80-foot-tall special effect tree that debuted last year is operating as usual this year, with light shows choreographed to music every 15 minutes starting at dusk. As of now, the “lighting ceremony” that was normally held right before the 6 p.m. parade is not on the schedule, but everything else is the same.

Christmas in Midtown Spectacular

Like previous years, this area (seen in the featured image on this article) is covered in over 1.5 million lights, and is operating as normal.

Rides

Amusement rides and coasters are running as normal (assuming the weather is warm enough), but not all seats may be available to allow for proper social distancing. This includes the Sing-A-Long Steam Train.

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Visits with Santa

You can still share your wish list with Santa this year by visiting him at Santa’s Cottage. In the new socially-distanced setup, Santa is seated behind glass with microphones and speakers on both sides. It sounds more awkward than it is, and the kids we saw didn’t seem to mind or notice the difference. You can still get photos with Santa or his elves.

Meet and greets with Rudolph, Clarice, and Bumble are unfortunately not taking place this year.

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