Lighting Mystic River Falls

Justin Loftis at Mystic River Falls Justin Loftis at Mystic River Falls

Mystic River Falls® opened earlier this summer to rave reviews. One of our guests’ favorite elements of the new ride has been how it transforms once the sun sets each night. We sat down with Justin Loftis, Master Craftsmen of Maintenance & Construction, to learn more about the team that makes the Tallest Drop in the Western Hemisphere glow. 

Silver Dollar City: What is your role here at Silver Dollar City?

Justin Loftis: I work on the new construction team and we take care of a lot of the electrical, audio, camera, lighting and theatrical stuff for the maintenance division.

SDC: How many people were on your team to create the nighttime experience for Mystic River Falls?

JL: On my crew I would have anywhere from 4-8 people depending on what we were working on. But we’re not just talking about Mystic River Falls, this project included the new Smokehouse and all of Rivertown too.

SDC: In general, what was unique about this project?

JL: With the lighting design, we wanted an experience that could be changed throughout the year… so we designed this to look great not just for Moonlight Madness, but Pumpkins In The City, and Christmas too even though the ride itself isn’t open during that festival.  

SDC: What was the biggest challenge?

JL: The terrain, different elevations and large footprint of the ride made this a real challenging project. Even in the queue and load buildings themselves we had a lot of high locations that needed to be lit. And with Silver Dollar City specifically we work to hide the technology so everything stays in theme. As a guest, you only see the pretty parts and not the receptacles or wiring so it will stay thematically consistent. 

SDC: What and where are some of those fun thematic lighting elements that guests can see?

JL: We have over 150 vintage lanterns and pendants on the ride itself and surrounding the perimeter of the Rivertown Smokehouse. We also have over 100 theatrical lights to do up-lighting on the buildings and to illuminate the Mystic River channel. 

SDC: Is there a particular element that you are most proud of?

JL: I think the splashdown area, for sure. The lighting designer, Matt Cooper, created a look that gives the impression of movement and running water. There are certain aspects of the ride where there is movement in the lights that give guests a completely different experience at night than they would get during the daytime. 

SDC: What’s next for your team?

JL: Currently we’re prepping for the Harvest Festival presented by Humana® and Pumpkins In The City. There’s a lot of work that goes into each individual carved pumpkin and lighted icons to make sure they are working like they should. 

SDC: Have you ridden Mystic River Falls?

JL: Not yet! I don’t want to get wet at work, haha! But, I haven’t even ridden Time Traveler® yet either. I did get in line once though…


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