Celebration City rolls out good times in Branson

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BRANSON, Mo. -- The 20th century may still be fresh in most folks' memories, but it's not too early to look back at it nostalgically -- or to turn that nostalgia into an amusement park.

That's the idea behind Celebration City, a new theme park created by Herschend Family Entertainment, operator of Silver Dollar City here.

The $40 million park, slated for a grand opening on May 30, features 30 themed rides, attractions and activities, including a wooden roller coaster called the Ozark WildCat.

Celebration City is divided into several areas, all of which evoke different time periods of the 20th century.

The entrance to the park, called Celebration Street, is designed to recall the early 1900s, with water sculptures that dance to music and a vintage-style carousel.

The Electric Boardwalk features amusement rides, games and arcade attractions.

A rendering of Branson's Celebration City, which will have its grand opening May 30. The area known as Route 66 focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, with an emphasis on automobiles and drive-in restaurants along with themed rides, shops and eateries. One of the attractions in this section is the Ozark WildCat roller coaster, which reaches speeds of up to 45 mph and drops eight stories.

The Ozark WildCat is one of 30 rides and attractions, including three coasters, at Celebration City. A 60-foot-high steel coaster, the Thunderbolt, takes riders to speeds of up to 35 mph, and the 52-foot-long Jack Rabbit roller coaster also goes that fast.

Additional thrill rides include the Accelerator, a tower ride that launches riders 80 feet into the air before plunging back down. A ride called Fireball swings and spins riders more than 60 feet into the air, and the park also has a 95-foot-high Ferris wheel, called the Electric Star Wheel.

The park, which is open into the evening hours, is designed to attract crowds after dark and has several attractions specifically designed for nighttime.

One such feature is a nightly outdoor, multimedia laser production called "Celebrate!" which represents a kind of "time travel" through the 20th century, with music from various decades, accompanied by lasers, a water screen, projections and fireworks. Events represented include VJ-Day parades; man's first steps on the moon; and the arrival of rock 'n' roll, disco music and the computer age.

The park's live performance space, called the Celebration Theatre, hosts appearances by Chapter 6, a men's a cappella group that performs jazz, gospel, pop and rock songs.

Themed restaurants include the '50s-style Last Chance Diner; Kate's Cookies and Cream; Mickey's Pizza, a sports-themed cafe; and Mustard's, which serves Nathan's hot dogs.

Ten themed shops include the Baldwin Theater, a photo shop that resembles a turn-of-the-century movie house, where guests can have photos taken with backdrops from the first half of the 20th century.

Margo the Magnificent, another shop, sells novelty items like costumes and lava lamps.

In the Route 66 area, a shop decorated to resemble an old-fashioned gas station sells Route 66 memorabilia.

Celebration City is open daily from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Sept. 1. From Sept. 5 to Nov. 1, the park is open Fridays through Sundays, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For tickets and information, call (800) 831-4FUN or (800) 888-PASS or visit www.silverdollarcity.com.

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