2019 Silverwood Trip Planning Guide
This post is intended to help you get started in planning a trip to Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park. If general information is what you're after, this
is the page for you! Here we will discuss several topics, including best times to travel, recommended number of days, what to bring, where to stay, and more.
We recognize that folks have a multitude of different reasons to make a trip to Silverwood Theme Park. You might be a die-hard coaster geek who's itching to
get a few more credits, a family looking for a nice getaway, or just taking a day out of your week in Couer d'Alene to head up highway 95 and see what all the
fuss is about. No matter your reasons, we'll try and cover as much info as possible here. Keep in mind that we fall into the "coaster geek" category,
so our opinions may slant slightly in that direction. :)
We realize that a large portion of Silverwood guests come from the local Spokane/CDA area, and many are likely season pass holders. To those who fall into
this group of people, note that this information is more intended for the family coming in from out of town for a visit to the park. We still think you may find
some good tidbits of info though, even if you've visited the park more times than we have.
Finally, before diving into the details, a quick note on 2019 updates...or lack thereof. As no new attractions or major changes have been announced, this guide
remains largely unchanged for this year. The last "regular season" addition to the park was three years ago with Riptide Racer; if you just consider only
the "dry park", the latest addition now dates
back to FIVE YEARS AGO with the Krazy Koaster and Puppy Go-Round in 2014. We'd only be kidding ourselves if we tried to hide our frustrations with this fact.
Still, we are hopeful that something big may be on the horizon soon. But for now, Silverwood seems quite
content with its current size and offerings, focusing instead on smaller improvements to increase the detail, landscaping, and beauty of the park. To be fair, not
many parks spend much time worrying about those types of things, so it's nice to see one that does. Alas, we'll
just have to suffice with Silverwood for another year as we've come to know and love it.
WHEN TO VISIT
We've been visiting Silverwood each year with our families for 20 years in a row, sometimes going multiple times a year. We've visited at various
different points of the spring, summer, and fall seasons, so we think we've got a pretty good sense for what to expect in any given month.
If you're not into water parks, or you want low crowds and cheap ticket prices, go to the park in May or September. The park is only open on weekends, and
Boulder Beach will be closed (with the exception of Labor Day weekend), but you can get some of the best deals on tickets during this time. For example, on
opening weekend every year, the park tickets are $19.88 each, in honor of the parks' inaugural season in 1988. That's less than half the cost of a 1-day
ticket during the summer. Other weekends feature promotions, such as free admission for those over 65 years old during Grandparents Day weekend, and free
admission for Mom's on Mother's Day weekend.
As for the crowds, most rides will have little to no waits, and you can easily get most of the open rides and attractions knocked out in one day. We went
one year on opening weekend and were shocked at the low crowds in the park. Having said that, in May and September you are rolling the dice with the
weather. There can be some beautiful days, and there can be some pretty nasty ones too.
Next, let's discuss summer. Even if you're not a huge waterpark fan, we still highly recommend Boulder Beach. It's a top-notch water park with something
for just about everyone. So, unless you fall into the "May/September" group that we discussed above, you should plan to go when both parks are open. In
terms of crowds, the earlier you go, the lighter the crowds will be. There's a good reason for that, as you're also likely to encounter cooler weather.
Indeed, August tends to be the hottest month, and also the busiest.
So, what's the best option? We have found that the week just after the 4th of July is a nice "sweet spot". Usually the weather is good enough; often
it's in the 90's. And, since most people have already been traveling for the 4th of July, the crowds tend to die down a bit during this week before
picking back up for the remainder of the summer. Sure, we've had the occasional year where the weather has been awful, but most of the time it works
out in our favor.
If you really want to guarantee that you'll be there on a hot day (or two or three), then late July to early August is your best bet. Be warned
though, the crowds will definitely be at their peak during this time.
As for October...well, that's going to warrant its own article. Scarywood is a completely different set of variables to work with! We love Scarywood
and would highly recommend it for those old enough (it is definitely NOT for little kids), but we'll save the details on that for another day.
WHERE TO STAY
Unlike Disney World, your options at Silverwood are much more limited. The only "on-site" place to stay is the adjacent RV park and campground across
the highway. We've never opted to use this facility, but we know there are folks who love being right across the street from the park. If it were a
hotel, we'd completely agree. But we're just not that into camping as it is. The idea of sleeping in a tent, waking up to ride coasters and water
slides the next day, only to return to a tent later that night really does not appeal to us. Thanks, but we like getting a good nights
sleep in an air conditioned room with a real bed! Bottom line, we're probably not the best people to ask! If camping is your thing, or you have an
RV, it can certainly be a great option. Book as early as you can, as we're told these can sell out quickly in peak season.
Outside of that, you're simply looking at your standard set of lodging options you'd find anywhere else: various hotel chains, Airbnb, etc. The
ultimate question ends up being how close you want to be to the park. Coeur D'Alene is a resort community, and as such the hotels tend to be pricier.
You can still find some good "middle-of-the-road" hotels though. Spokane and Spokane Falls will give you generally more affordable room rates. The
downside, however, is you'll be stuck with a 30-40 minute drive to (and from) the park, as opposed to 15-20 minutes if you stay in CDA.
There are two locations we'll highlight here, both of which are indoor waterpark resorts. One is the Triple Play in Hayden. This is pitched as
the "closest hotel to Silverwood", and being a mere 13 minutes away, that's probably the truth! This hotel features an indoor waterpark, miniature
golf, and a go kart track. It can be a great option if you end up having a day of bad weather, especially if you have kids. The other is the Silver
Mountain resort in Kellogg. It's a bit nicer of a resort in terms of theming and attraction offerings, but it's an hour drive from Silverwood. If
Kellogg is closer to some of the other activities you have planned for your vacation, it might be worth a look. But if all you're doing is Silverwood
and you want to stay at a hotel with an indoor water park, Triple Play is the one to go for. Save the Silver Mountain resort for winter when
you can also go skiing. :)
Our bottom line recommendation is to stay as close as you can, within your budget. At the end of a long day at the park, it's much nicer to be back in
your room quickly, rather than facing a longer drive.
HOW MANY DAYS
It wasn't too long ago that our Silverwood trips consisted of getting up early on a Saturday, driving from Tri-Cities up to the park, and returning
home that night after closing. While you can still attempt this, we are firm believers that this will result in a lot of disappointment. There truly
is too much to do in just one day, and one could argue that it's getting to the point where two days is not enough as well. The answer to this
question ultimately depends on the type of theme park traveller you are. If you aren't into the big thrill rides, or water parks, you could probably
do both parks in one day. But let's be honest, if that describes you, you're probably not really reading this! If your family consists of nothing
but "ride warriors" like both of our families are, you'll need two days, at least.
One major reason for this is that Silverwood offers nothing in the way of a "front of the line" pass, not even for an additional fee. As such, there's
no way to strategize or "pay" to cut down on your wait times. And while most of the lines rarely get over 30-40 minutes long, there's a surprisingly large volume
of rides you won't want to miss, and many you'll probably want to do more than once. Add to that the entertainment, and meals, and one day will
likely not cut it for most families. On the other end of the spectrum, three days is probably more than most will need to get a good dose of the
parks, unless you're the type who likes to re-ride everything multiple times. For the average family, two days will be just about right, especially
if you arrive at the park before opening, and come with a plan. Check out our 2 Day Itinerary post for a more
in depth guide to how to best spend your time in the parks.
As far as dining options are concerned, most of Silverwood's food stands and restaurants serve what we consider to be typical "theme park food". But
if you know where to go, there's some pretty good spots that you won't want to miss. We'll mention a few of our favorites here and dive into the details
in another post. Lindy's is the only table-service option in the park, and it's definitely worth your time. We usually dine at Lindy's for one of
our meals each day we visit the park. It's got a fun, laid back atmosphere, good food choices, and both indoor and outdoor patio seating. If the
weather isn't too hot, get a table outside and you'll literally be right next to the train tracks. It's fun to watch the train pass by as it makes
its way back to the station while you enjoy your meal. They have great burgers, salads, and daily soup. The Gingham Salad is our go-to, and it is excellent! Also
noteworthy is the Pizza place inside the Magic Theater. Be warned: it can get really busy in there during Nick Norton's shows, so plan accordingly.
As for snacks and treats, the Coffee Shop at the front of the park serves cinnamon rolls and blueberry muffin tops, made from scratch daily. Grabbing
one of these as you enter the park is a great way to start the day. And the ice creamery inside Country Carnival serves up delicious "single scoop" (more
like 8-scoop) ice cream cones. We like to end the day there. :)
We often hear people asking whether or not it's worth it to eat in the park. With the park opening at 11am, many find it's worthwhile to save a few
bucks and eat lunch outside the park before arriving. We don't advocate for this option. And not because Silverwood is a treasure trove of elegant
dining (it isn't). It's because those first few hours in the park are absolutely critical. If you frequently visit theme parks, you'll know that
a key to effectively working your way through a park is to arrive before opening. The start of your day will arguably be the most efficient
time to be there. And with Silverwood opening later than most parks, there's really no excuse to show up late. Trust us, the money you would
save by eating lunch outside the park isn't worth the lost time.
Also note that, like most theme parks, Silverwood won't allow you to bring your own food into the park, aside from kids snacks and water. If you
want to bring your own food, there's a picnic area across from the parking lot next to the RV park. Since you're allowed re-entry to the park all
day, you can leave your packed food in the car, and simply exit the park anytime to eat at this picnic area. Although better than eating lunch
before arriving to the park late, we would still caution against this strategy. Leaving and re-entering the park will take more time away from
your day, and you might lose your spot in the water park (more on that later). But it can be a good option for families with kids who need a
break from the hectic theme park atmosphere.
WHAT RIDES SHOULD I NOT MISS?
Silverwood and Boulder Beach have a wide spectrum of attractions, ranging from off-the-shelf to custom built; mild to wild; fast thrill rides
to 30+ minute shows. It will be impossible to go through all of it here, so we'll focus more on a general strategy for now. Click here to
check out some of our in-depth ride reviews
on some of the bigger attractions. Also, check out our
2018 Silverwood Rides and Attractions Guide
or check out our 2018 Boulder Beach Attractions Guide
, for comprehensive run-downs of
everything offered at both parks.
As mentioned above, it is critical to arrive at the park before it opens. We're talking at least 45 minutes early. This will give you enough
time to park, go through bag check, grab a treat at the coffee shop, and snag a spot in line at one of the two park entrances. You have two
options: either line up at the entrance to Boulder Beach, or the entrance to Country Carnival. Our recommendation is to start at the water park.
First, it allows you to grab any spot you want to set up ?camp' for the day, and second, you'll be able to hit up Avalanche Mountain and Ricochet
Rapids before the lines hit. Those two slides (Ricochet in particular) have the longest, slowest waits of any attraction at either park.
We've waited over an hour for both, even on days that were otherwise not that busy. So be sure and get couple rides on each first thing.
Spend as much time in the water park as you like, until the crowds start to fill in. We've noticed that the waterpark tends to get much busier
in the afternoon when it's hotter, so we usually make our way over to the "dry park" in mid-to-late afternoon. This is, of course, assuming it's
a warm enough day to warrant doing the water park in the first place.
Aside from those general tips, it's important to be aware of any height restrictions (especially if you have kids), and again it's worth noting
that Silverwood does not offer any "front of the line" pass options. Also, remember that just because something has a long line, that doesn't mean
it's a good attraction. On the flip side, many of the best things in the park often have little to no wait, so don't use the line length to judge
any of the rides.
Here is what we would recommend for "do not miss" attractions at each park (in no particular order):
- Avalanche Mountain
- Ricochet Rapids
- Riptide Racer
- Elkhorn Creek Lazy River
- Velocity Peak
- Timber Terror
- Panic Plunge
- Nick Norton's Magic Show
- Train Ride
- Spin Cycle
- Thunder Canyon
By far, the best way to save on multi-day tickets it to buy online directly from Silverwood. As mentioned earlier, the park does offer a lot of good deals
in May and September, so be on the lookout for those as well. For single-day tickets, you used to be able to get discounted ones at Costco, but the
park discontinued this a few years ago.
For additional deals, sign up for their monthly newsletter where they often have bonus discounts you can get. And if you're really feeling lucky, follow
their Facebook page where they regularly hold free ticket giveaway contests.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?
The Spokane-CDA area offers a multitude of fantastic things to do outside of Silverwood, so there is plenty to choose from if you are looking for more
than just 2 days at the parks. Lake Couer d'Alene itself has day cruises, golf, hiking, fishing, boating, parks, playgrounds, and more. Over in
Spokane, the Riverfront Park has a small collection of rides (including a wonderful vintage carousel), several historic landmarks, and the skyride
over Spokane Falls. And that's just to name a few of the things this area has to offer. We'll dedicate a separate post to cover some of this
in more detail.
That about covers it for our basic trip planning guide! Remember, this
is just a high-level overview of some of the key points when planning a trip to the park. Be sure to check out our other blog posts if you want to dive deeper
into these aspects of the park.
If you liked this post and found it helpful, let us know and share it with your friends! Let us know how you'd plan your trip differently. Feel
free to share what tips you'd suggest to first-timers, and long-time visitors alike! Also, if you have a trip planning question that we didn't
cover, leave a comment and we'll be sure to answer! Last but certainly not least, let us know what other topics you'd like to see covered.