One thing you should absolutely not miss at Branson’s Silver Dollar City?

Silver Dollar City's new $8 million" Fireman's Landing" has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

Silver Dollar City’s new $8 million” Fireman’s Landing” has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

“One of the neatest things about Silver Dollar City is that it has so many exciting and fun-filled rides, shows, and activities to experience. Not only does it have something for everyone, but it has multiple things that everyone loves and that’s why it’s Branson’s most popular attraction and has been helping families ‘create memories worth repeating’ for over 50 years,’” said, Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information.

Garrison’s comment was based on responses, from a portion of the over 32,000 people who interact with Branson Tourism Center’s Facebook page, to the question, “Branson’s most popular attraction is Silver Dollar City; what’s the one thing you would advise a friend visiting SDC for the first time not to miss?”

Interestingly, the vast majority of those responding, although asked for the “one thing they would advise a friend visiting SDC for the first time not to miss,” listed more than one. Perhaps the reason why is best summed up by the comment of Amanda Cox Cranfield when she said, “EVERYTHING- don’t miss a thing!”

Silver Dollar City is an international award winning 1890’s style themed park that, combined with Marvel Cave, around which it is built, is Branson’s longest continuous running attraction. It features six annual world class festivals, of which its Old Time Christmas is its longest running and most award winning; over 40 plus rides and activities, shows, demonstrating craftsmen, and much more. There is so much to see and do, especially if you take a tour of Marvel Cave, that many people buy a two-day pass which costs less than $6.00 more than a one day pass.

Silver Dollar City's iconic world class coaster "Wildfire."

Silver Dollar City’s iconic world class coaster “Wildfire.”

It has rides for every age from world class coasters, such as the exciting iconic Wildfire and the heart-pumping roller coaster, Outlaw Run, voted the “Best New Ride of 2013” by Amusement Today, to rides and activities for the smallest members of the family, such as Happy Frogs, Lady Bugs and Half Dollar Holler. One of the things that keeps Silver Dollar City so popular is that it is constantly adding new things to see and do, such as the new $8-million-dollar Fireman’s Landing, featuring six new rides and four new attractions for families to enjoy together which was added in 2015.

Silver Dollar City is noted for the quality and variety of the food that is served throughout the park, from full meals to snacks and more, but let’s let two of the commenters sum it up in their own words:

Kevin L. Wilson: The succotash!!!!! The fried okra and corn and onions and grilled chicken and, well, I’m getting hungry.

Joe Slay: Kevin Wilson stole my thunder. I also recommend the kettle corn, pork rinds, funnel cakes, and fudge. Get to the succotash kiosk early ’cause the line gets long fast. Yeah, I’m all about good grub and SDC has it.

By age, it’s Branson’s oldest attraction, yet it remains one of its newest in terms of maintaining its freshness and excitement by constantly updating and adding exciting new things to see and do, making it the number one single paid attraction in Branson, both in terms of why people pick Branson as a vacation destination and what they actually do while in Branson. Why? Perhaps the words of Erin LeBlanc-Wise sum it up best when she answered saying, “The craftsmanship and peanut brittle….pretty much everything Silver Dollar City has to offer. It’s the best theme park ever!!!”

“Moon River and Me” is no Charade, it’s sensational Branson entertainment

Jimmy Osmond performing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

Jimmy Osmond performing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

As would be expected from a show with “Moon River” in its title, Moon River and Me is first and foremost a musical tribute to the life, talent, and music of the incomparable Andy Williams. The “Me” in the title begs the question, “Who is ‘Me?’” When one realizes that it’s Jimmy Osmond, who at the age of three made his first TV appearance on the Andy Williams Show, was mentored by Andy throughout his career, and the friendship they shared, it’s easy to realize just how special this show is going to be.

The show starts with a short video “montage” of photos and video clips of Andy’s life, from childhood on shown on a large screen in the center of the stage. As it concludes with a clip from an interview, Andy says, “That’s what I want to be remembered for, my music,” and, as the screen rises, Jimmy Osmond does just that with the first of the show’s many songs remembering Andy for his music, a beautiful rendition of Charade, which was immediately followed by Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Charlie Green singing one of Any's earliest hits, "Butterfly."

Charlie Green singing one of Andy’s earliest hits, “Butterfly.”

In keeping with Andy’s tradition of fostering and helping young entertainers get started, Jimmy is immediately followed by a 19 year-old singing sensation from Great Britain, Charlie Green, who was a favorite with both fans and judges when he competed on “Britain’s Got Talent.” He became an ardent fan of Andy’s at the tender age of five when he heard him sing Moon River, which is still his favorite Andy Williams song. Charlie does an excellent job of singing Butterfly, one of Andy’s first hits, which was a Number 1 hit on the charts in both the U.S and Great Britain in 1957, 40 years before he was born, and Born Free.

And that’s just during the first few minutes of the show! Throughout the show, both together and individually, they performed a number of Andy’s hits which are accentuated with timely short displays of photos and short video clips shown the large center stage video screen that was lowered and raised as needed. The tasteful manner in which the large screen is integrated into the show for short periods of time, showing pertinent photos and videos, adds another wonderful dimension to the show.

Fully realizing that yours might be different from mine and picked from many, I customarily mention a few of my personal favorite moments from each show I write on. Those would be the medley of Andy’s hits that Jimmie and Charlie performed during the first half of the show, Jimmy’s performance of The Way We Were while photos and video clips were showing on the large video screen, and my absolute favorite, Jimmy singing Moon River live onstage, simultaneously with Andy singing it on the large video screen. It was so beautifully sung and choreographed.

Andy’s tradition of having variety in his show was also honored. Chipper Lowell, “one of the entertainment world’s most imaginative comedic masters of trickery,” presented his fast paced and energetic magic and comedy routine. It included audience participation, “mind boggling” magic and comedy that kept the audience amazed and laughing while wondering what he would pull out of his trunk next.

The “Moon River Band” performs a wide variety of music flawlessly throughout the show. This amazing group of musicians is composed of Greg Gray, -piano, vocals, and arranger; Steve Mason-drums; Gene Puckett-guitar and vocals; and Shaun Munday, bass and vocals.

Jay and Jimmy Osmond reminiscing with the audience.

Jay and Jimmy Osmond reminiscing with the audience.

The show also featured Jay Osmond in the second half performing on the drums, reminiscing about the Osmonds and their association with Andy, accompanied with pictures and video clips on the big screen sharing some of those moments. Jimmy and Jay closed out the set singing a couple of Osmond hits including One Bad Apple and Through The Years, which was also accompanied by highlights and pictures from the Osmond’s career shown on the big screen and touched my heart.

Moon River and Me is an awesome and touching entertainment experience, not only for Andy Williams and Osmond fans, but for anyone who loves great music. It has a short Branson run, ending on May 12 when it leaves Branson to perform in England later in the year. For additional information or tickets for this or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

The one thing that makes Presleys’ Country Jubilee so special

Steve, Scott, Gregg, and John Presley performing  "Midnight Special".

Steve, Scott, Gregg, and John Presley performing “Midnight Special”.

When the Presleys opened the first theatre, on what is now the famed Branson Strip, in 1967, they had no idea of the iconic status they would achieve or the millions of people they would entertain and whose lives they would influence. What they did have was a dream and, most important of all, the “togetherness” to achieve, sustain, and evolve that dream while keeping it relevant to the changing times and audiences they have been entertaining over the last five decades.

The following points, taken from recent interviews with Gary and Steve Presley and, with permission, from their book, “The Presley Family Story,” testify to that togetherness and why Presleys’ Country Jubilee has been, is, and will continue to not only be one of Branson’s most popular shows, but epitomize what Branson family entertainment is all about:

Mountain Music Theatre: When the Presleys originally built the first theatre on what has become the famed Branson Strip in 1967, it was built in partnership with the Drennon family and called the Mountain Music Theatre. Within three years of opening the Drennon’s had sold their interest in the theatre to the Presleys and the theatres name began its evolution to its current name Presleys’ Country Jubilee.

Ambrus Presley performing  "Over the Rainbow."

Ambrus Presley performing “Over the Rainbow.”

Miss Smith Goes On National TV: When young Ambrus Smith won Ed McMahon’s “Next Biggest Star,” on national TV at age 13 with her performance of Break It To Me Gently, she had been performing, very successfully, in a variety of Branson shows since she was eight. A few years later she started performing for Presleys’ Country Jubilee as a lead vocalist, met John Presley, and the rest is history.

High school sweethearts marry: Both Steve and Gary married their high school sweethearts; Gary to Pat Adams in April 1967 and Steve to Raeanne Miller in 1976. That tradition continued when Gary’s son Eric married his high school sweetheart Kelli Codgill in 2001.

Theatre or Boat Storage: Steve Presley said, “When we built the theatre in 1967, we built it with a flat floor and big double doors in the backside. We didn’t know how the business would do so Dad and Gary had the thought that, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work as a theatre, we can always use it for boat storage.’” Well, it has worked really well as a theatre for almost 50 years now, and as Lloyd Presley once, smilingly said to his sons, “Tell you what…we never had to store any boats in the theatre, did we boys?” In an interview on April 28, 2016, Gary Presley said that although the door is gone, the original opening and door frame is still there.

They Had to Have Real Jobs Too: When the theatre initially opened in 1967, in addition to performing in the show and working in the theatre until late at night, Gary and his mom, Bessie drove to Springfield every day to work at Royal Typewriter, Lloyd was a fishing guide, and Pat worked at Security Bank in Branson. There were some long days put in by those family members performing as well as those working everything from concessions, marketing, costuming, parking, fixing the air conditioning, and whatever else had to be done, but they did it together.

Branson Performance Record: In 1967, when they started performing in the theatre Gary Presley was 20 and Steve was 10. They have been continuously performing in the show since that time and set a new Branson record every night they perform.

Three generations of Presley comedy, Herkimer, Grandpa; Cecil, Son and Cecil Jr. Grandson

Three generations of Presley comedy, Herkimer, Grandpa; Cecil, Son and Cecil Jr. Grandson

Three generations keeps them laughing: Gary Presley, as Herkimer, has had the joy of working with his son Eric, playing Herkimer’s son Cecil in the show, for many years. In recent years that joy has been compounded as they have been joined for key spot appearances by Eric’s young son Ben, as Cecil Jr.

A Funny Moment Springs Up During Show: One of Gary’s funniest memories involves a spring that runs right under the front stage and the culvert outside where the water goes on down the hill. He said, “Dad and I used to keep our crawdads in that spring. It was so cold so they stayed good and alive. Well, one night during the show there came a huge rain, and that minnow bucket full of crawdads caught in the culvert just perfect and plugged it like a cork. It was more toward the end of the show, when I’m dressed in a nice suit, and all the water started backing up into the theatre. I was out there in that suit, waist-deep, trying to pull that crawdad bucket out of that culvert.”

Togetherness, values, and sincerity are keys to the Presleys’ success: Sure, the great entertainment that Presleys’ Country Jubilee provides is a major part of their success. However, at the end of the day it is the fact that “the audience can feel the fun that the Presley family is having onstage,’ their sincerity, and togetherness that adds to the audience’s experience and makes an evening with the Presleys so special.

Steve Presley said, “We give mom and dad all the credit for that. They raised us with good values and respect for each other, and we’ve tried to pass those same values along to our kids. We’re a family, and an audience can always tell whether you’re sincere or not.” Gary Presley adds, “From the very beginning it has been the whole family working together that built the theatre and made the show what it is today. It’s their combined efforts, contributing the very best they had, wherever and whenever it was needed, that has brought us this far on our wonderful journey together.”

Best of Branson Insider Highlights for May 2016

One of Branson's hottest new shows the Million Dollar Quartet, the incredible Ray Stevens, and the $1.7 million dollar Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin, pictured here with Branson's premier violinist, Shoji Tabuchi are just some of the amazing events taking place in Branson during May.

One of Branson’s hottest new shows the “Million Dollar Quartet,” the incredible Ray Stevens, and the $1.7 million dollar Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin, pictured here with Branson’s premier violinist, Shoji Tabuchi, are just three of the amazing things Branson visitors will enjoy during May.

“From the opening of most of Branson’s shows, attractions, and other activities to boating, swimming, and other aquatic sports and activities on Table Rock Lake, Branson’s exciting 2016 season comes roaring out of the gate during May,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. It’s one of the most exciting months of the year with adventure, excitement, and entertainment at every turn,” he added.

Along with our highlight list, containing of what some of the best of what’s going on in Branson during May, here’s our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month:

Featured Show of the Month: Premiering during the summer of 2015, the Million Dollar Quartet has quickly become one of Branson’s most popular do not miss shows shows. This year marks the 60th Anniversary of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history 2016 that took place on December 4, 1956, in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records. It was a once in a lifetime impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis that would have been a forgotten page of history, but for the resurfacing of an unknown recording of that jam session decades later. That jam session and the four rock n’ roll legends involved became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet that shares the music, spontaneity, and drama of what happened that day, as these four legends performed together for their first and last time. When I first saw the show I wrote, “Over the last three decades, I have seen many Branson shows of all types, but never one like the Million Dollar Quartet! An outstanding cast, timeless music that everyone knows, and a great storyline combine with the show’s unique set and great production to create an incredible entertainment experience for the whole family that should not be missed.”

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: The incredible Ray Stevens returns to Branson for one night only, May 14, in what’s sure to be an epic night of laughter. Don’t miss this opportunity as Stevens once again commands the Branson stage with a load of funny, a dash of feeling, and songs that tickle our funny bone and touch our hearts.

Featured Event of the Month: The last 29 days to see the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction presentation of a 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit, the $1.7 Million Dollar Bandmaster Titanic Violin. RMS Titanic bandleader, Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions. The Hartley Titanic violin will be on display in Branson, along with the only Bible to survive the Titanic through May 29, after which it will move to the Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum Attraction, where it will be displayed from June 7 through Labor Day Weekend.

 LIMITED ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCES (Sorted by starting date)

The Texas Tenors.

The Texas Tenors.

 

May 2-May 12: Moon River and Me
May 2: Larry’s Country Diner-T. Graham Brown
May 3-13: The Texas Tenors
May 3: Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune
May 4: Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson (Sold Out)*
May 6-7: Boot Daddy Presents Branson Gospel Reunion
May 5: Larry’s Country Diner-Mo and Holly Pitney
May 6: Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Wills
May 7: Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Lowry
May 14: Ray Stevens
May 14: Engelbert Humperdinck
May 18: Moe Bandy and Johnny Lee
May 20-21: Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent
May 25: Chubby Checker
May 27: Roots and Boots Tour starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Raye
May 28: Boot Daddy Presents Jason Pritchett
* Call to see if there are any cancellations.

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

May 1-May 29: Titanic Museum Attraction – $1.7 Million Wallace Hartley Violin
May1-May 31: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
May 1: Silver Dollar City World Fest Festival (Last day*)

May 5-May 30: Silver Dollar City Bluegrass & BBQ Festival
May 6-May 7: Scott’s Challenge Firefighter Combat in Branson!
May 7: Walk: MS Branson 2016
May 8: Mother’s Day Cruise on Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Big Cedar Lodge
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Keeter Center
May 8: Mother’s Day Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
May 14: Promenade Pop-Up Shop
May 14: Saturday Shindig Shopping Spree
May 14- May 15: 2016 Divas Half Marathon & 5K in Branson
May 19: Shindig Festival – Jammin’ at Area 57
May 21: Armed Forces Day
May 21: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure on Lake Taneycomo
May 27: Makenna & Brock + Leather & Lace in Concert
May 27-May 30: Memorial Day Weekend Sidewalk Sale at Tanger Outlets
May 28: Shindig Festival – The Shindig Shuffle
May 28: White Water opens for its 2016.
May 29: Big Cedar Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks
May 30: Memorial Day

For additional information on these events, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550.

How to get absolute lowest guaranteed rates on amazing Branson Hotels

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s "Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program."

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s “Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program.”

“From luxuriously appointed suites and condos to Resorts, budget conscious motel rooms, and lakeside cabins, finding the perfect place to stay in Branson with your family on vacation is easy,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. Wood goes on to point out that although Branson is known for its value priced lodging, finding the lowest price on a given lodging establishment for specific dates is not that easy, unless you use Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, in which case, it’s as simple as making one phone call to 1-800-785-1550.

There are a number of online national companies that purport to offer the lowest rate on Branson hotels. Generally, however, there are a lot of “small print” conditions that must be met and, if there is a problem while in Branson, there is no one here to help immediately resolve the issue.

With Branson Tourism Center’s (BTC) Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program you are dealing with one of Branson’s largest and most respected providers of tourism services. They are a BBB A+ rated business who has sold over 4.5 million Branson show and attraction tickets. The guarantee applies to some amazing Branson hotels and resorts, has minimal conditions, and is provided by a company with over 100 employees located in Branson.

Simply select one of the amazing participating Branson hotels, indicated by the “Lowest Rate Lock” icon to the right of their name in the list, book your reservation through BTC, and subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay for your lodging is guaranteed to be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

The following four hotels and resorts have all received excellent reviews from Branson Tourism Center (BTC) customers; represent a good cross section of the lodging available in Branson in terms of amenities, location and price, and participate in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program:

Grand Plaza HotelAt the “Grand Plaza Hotel,” you’ll enjoy a fabulous view of the Ozark Mountains. Centrally located, it’s just a block off the famed “Branson Strip,” right next to fantastic shopping at Tanger Outlets and near the great lineup of shows at the Kings Castle. Its amenities include an incredible pool complex with an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness room, and game room.

Radisson HotelThe “Radisson Hotel” in Branson offers a wide range of amenities throughout this stunning property that recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. You’ll find a spectacular indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, and a top-notch fitness center as well as beautifully appointed, updated guest rooms. It is located within easy walking distance of the great lineup of shows at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre.

Scenic Hills Inn: Branson’s Scenic Hills Inn is located in the scenic Shepherd of the Hills area of Branson, where you’ll stay away from the busyness of the Branson Strip, yet still be very close to it and all the wonderful shows, attractions, shopping, and dining for which Branson is known. Recently renovated, the Inn prides itself on its warm and inviting atmosphere with personalized service and amenities including an outdoor pool and hot tub, flat panel televisions, complimentary WiFi access, deluxe complimentary breakfast with homemade, mouth-watering cinnamon rolls, and much more.

Welk Resort: The Welk Resort boasts a perfect location; close to all of Branson’s exciting activities yet located where you’ll find beautiful views of the Ozark Mountains and close to Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach, Discover beautifully appointed rooms, a mini-golf course, a patio overlooking landscaped gardens, and an amazing 10,000 square foot “Splash-A-Torium” indoor water park! It is a full service resort, the home of the Welk Theatre, featuring Branson’s newest show, the Million Dollar Quartet and is located across the street from the Pointe Royale Golf Course.

For additional information on Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, other Branson lodging or shows, and attractions please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Amazing country music and comedy with Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett

Billy Dean doing what he does best and enjoying it!

Billy Dean enjoying what he loves to do.

Simply put, Billy Dean is one great entertainer; no gimmicks, just great music, most of it sung by the man who wrote it, surrounded by a great band, and one of the funniest comedians in Branson. The Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show is two of the most musical, unique, funny, and fun filled hours most people, but especially those who love country music, will ever experience.

The opening number sets the musical tenor for the show with Billy Dean and Jason Pritchett singing a duet of their new song, Already a Dead Man. As is the case with many of Dean’s songs, it tells a story; this one of a young gunslinger trying to make a name for himself by challenging an older gunslinger to a duel and how there really is no winner for those who live by the gun. It was beautifully sung and played by the pair, with Jason singing the part of the younger and Billy the older. What a wonderful way to open the show.

Dean’s band, the Steel Horses, consists of Jason Pritchett, acoustic guitar; Steve Leach, bass guitar; Robbie Blackwood, drums; and Matt Hanshaw, lead guitar. They are superb musicians and vocalists using their talents to add a wonderful element to the vocal performances. Moments such as Matt Henshaw’s guitar feature during Deans performance of Only Here For A Little While and Jason Pritchett’s opening duet with Dean, as well as his performance of his hit single, Good Show added another dimension to an already great show.

As would be expected from a man who’s combined writing and singing have resulted in more than twenty hit singles on the Billboard country charts, eleven of which were Top Ten hits, the show features a number of hits that were written and performed by Dean. How special is it to sit in a theatre and not only hear hit after hit performed by the man who wrote them, but to be able to get the story behind many of them?

And, it’s not just what he does, but the way he does it. There is that Neal McCoy way of interacting with the audience that reeks of genuineness and just adds so much to the entertainment experience of the audience he draws them into the performance. Three of my favorite show highlights was the opening duet of Already A Dead Man by Dean and Pritchett, his performance of Only Here For A Little While with Henshaw’s guitar feature, and his performance of his first hit, Somewhere In My Broken Heart, as he plays the piano and relates how he came to write it.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

The comedy of one of Branson’s most beloved comedians, Jarrett Dougherty is woven in strategically throughout the show. As the show’s emcee Dean gets to be the “straight man” for some pretty funny characters such as “Jay Walker,” “Afelia Payne,” and “Cam Payne.” Dougherty is one funny man and one thing is for sure, once you hear Cam Payne’s political platform for president you will have a different perspective on the national presidential campaign and might just want a brokered convention to get him on the ticket. At least that way there would be something “serious to laugh about.”

If you want a show filed with great music, personality, fun, and comedy that will have you leaving entertained and inspired two hours later, wondering how the time passed so quickly, this is the show for you.

For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show, or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

How did the amazing acapella group SIX really get its start?

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

This and other questions were answered recently when Kevin and Jak Knudsen, two of the six brothers making up one of Branson’s most popular shows SIX, were interviewed by the Branson Tourism Center. Highlights from that interview are presented below in a Q & A format and provide interesting perspective and insight into this amazing family of performers:

BTC: How did SIX come to be?
SIX: Our parents started having children. They really wanted a girl, but they kept having boys. and ended up with ten. Our dad taught us how to sing and the SIX oldest have been singing together since the late 70s. We are the longest running original cast acapella group in the world.

BTC: Tell us about the colorful SIX cars.
SIX: It’s a good way for each of us to drive a fun car while we promote our show. Each new high performance Camaro is decorated to promote the show as we drive around town. It’s really neat to see the way people react to the cars, especially when we all get together and form the “SIX Train.” As we go by, you see people taking pictures and smiling It’s pretty good when you can get in your car and, just by driving it, make people smile.

BTC: It seems that each of you has a “color” theme associated with you in terms of jackets, stage props, and promotional pieces. How did you pick the colors and decide which one would get what color?
SIX: Well the colors kind of picked us. About 20 years ago we were in Los Angeles and went shopping for jackets. They had seven different colors. We picked out which size fit us and that became our color. [Lynn – yellow, Curtis – blue, Barry – red, Owen – Purple, Kevin – Orange, and Jak – Green.]

BTC: What’s your personal favorite part in this year’s show?
KEVIN: The country medley that we do including, Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Rhinestone Cowboy.
JAK: The Eagles medley is a blast to do and I have a lot of fun doing it. We sing Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight and others.

BTC: You guys do a lot of interviews, but is there one question that you wondered why they didn’t ask or isn’t asked very often?
SIX: What differentiates you guys from other shows?
BTC: And the answer would be?
SIX:  It’s all live with every sound coming from our voices. In this day and age, we might just be one of the few truly live 100 percent shows left. We don’t use any tracks, or sick tracks. If someone is sick, we adjust the performance accordingly or pull the number.

BTC: What can someone who has never been to a SIX show expect to see when they attend for the first time?
SIX: They will experience a fast moving show filled with comedy, music, and our unique acapella musical performance, covering just about every genre of music, both vocally and instrumentally except, there are no instruments! They will think they are hearing instruments, but every sound they will hear comes from our mouths. [Authors Note: As many times as I have seen SIX perform, I still look for the band even though I know there is none and that every sound is coming from them. It’s simply amazing!]

BTC: Why are you guys still together?
SIX:We love doing what we do and it’s nice to know you are working with people you can trust and who you care about.

For additional information or tickets for SIX, or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Sure fire popular Branson shows younger kids will really love

Just one of the colorful and exciting acts that kids and their families will see in the "Acrobats of China."

Just one of the colorful and exciting acts that kids and their families will enjoy in the “Acrobats of China.”

“Kids just love all there is to do in Branson,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From lakes and go-karts, to zip lines, acrobats, tigers, rides, amusements of all kinds and live shows, one would be hard pressed to find a place anywhere in the world where kids and families together can have a more fun filled vacation than in Branson, Missouri,” she continued.

Branson is known far and wide for the quality, variety, and quantity of the live shows it offers on a daily basis. That said however, Wood points out that while the content of all Branson shows is certainly suitable for children, not all shows will be as enjoyable to younger children as some others.

In this writer’s opinion, based on observing younger children’s reactions to Branson shows over the last 30 years, their enjoyment of a show will be directly proportional to the parts of the show that appeals to the things that they like. Although there are certainly individual cases that are an exception, this typically involves color, action, or something they can relate to such as the characters, story, peer performers, appreciation for a particular type of music, or some other factor. Typically, the longer that relationship lasts throughout the show the more they will enjoy it. The following shows are among some of our most popular Branson shows that, in our opinion, do that:

Acrobats of China is a colorful fast moving “circus” type of show appealing to children because of its many different acts of strength, agility, coordination and daring, along with constant action, colorful costumes, beauty and pageantry. The same thing that makes it a great entertainment experience for children makes it a great show for adults too

These pets do some truly amazing things!

These pets do some truly amazing things!

Amazing Pets will hold children’s interest from the beginning to the end. It combines the antics of well trained cats and dogs, many of whom were rescued from animal shelters, and beautiful exotic birds with costuming, and an execution that provides a great entertainment experience for children and adults alike. Without spoiling the surprise, one thing is for sure, whether it’s the most unusual marriage ceremony most people have ever seen or a duplication of the cat jumping from the wire in the movie “Big Fish,” the antics of these pets are truly “amazing.”

Buckets N Boards Comedy Percussion Show features co-creators Matt and Gareth sharing their impeccable and slightly wacky skills that include precise percussion on a variety of surfaces, accompanied by delightfully silly songs, tap dancing, and lots of laughter! Kids and families just love this show and, when not in Branson, it is one of the most requested shows on Disney Cruise Lines.

Dixie Stampede features exciting entertainment and a fantastic four-course feast eaten “Dixie Stampede Style.” “Dixie” boasts a variety of fun features that include lumberjack relay, racing pigs, buffalo, 32 beautiful horses, all presented amid constant excitement, color, and pageantry. Add in the excitement of a friendly competition and you have an adventure and entertainment experience that the whole family will be immersed in from beginning to end.

it Starring the Hughes Brothers & Their Families combines color, action, and the incredible talents of this family into one of the most entertaining shows on any Branson stage. It simultaneously entertains both adults and kids throughout the entire show. From a kid’s perspective, in addition to everything else it offers, the strategically placed peer performances from kids of various ages throughout the show, holds their interest and increases their enjoyment from the beginning to the end.

Sight and Sound’s Moses brings the classic Bible story to life in an exciting production on their 300-foot surround stage. The color, excitement, live animals coming on an off stage, astonishing sets, stunning costumes, and a story that most kids can relate to combine in a spectacular production that will hold the interests of kids and their families throughout the whole show.

What kid doesn’t love magic? Here are two of Branson’s best:

Illusionist Rick Thomas will have you wondering if it’s only an illusion…or truly magic? He uses his exceptional showmanship and incredible gracefulness, honed by years of ballroom dancing, to present a Branson show of stunning illusions and spectacular beauty! In doing so, he demonstrates an amazing ability to interact with the kids in the audience, actually uses some of them in his illusions, and has a special inspiring message for them.

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The amazing Reza!

Reza – Edge of Illusion, starring the magical master illusionist Reza, will bewilder and befuddle your brain with everything from big dazzling illusions to charming sleight of-hand trickery! He always leaves his audiences scratching their heads; struggling to rationalize what their eyes have seen with what they know is humanly possible! He is a young magician and kids love not only his magic, but the relationship he builds with them as he shares his cutting edge magic with them and get them invested in his performance.

For additional information or tickets for any of these shows or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Amazing Branson entertainment for the right people at the right time

It doesn't get much more exciting and entertaining than this!

“I am just so excited about the variety, quality, and timing of the entertainment we are presenting at the Starlite Theatre this year,” said Linda Merkling, the theatre’s General Manager. “We have the right talent for the right people at the right time of the year,” she added.

She points out that their resident shows, those other than one or two-day limited engagement shows, offer an unrivaled variety of quality entertainment. Anchoring the schedule from now until December 30 are such nationally recognized entertainers as Billy Dean, The Blackwoods, and The Texas Tenors along with the unique standup comedy of Paul Harris. The young cutting edge illusionist Reza and Buckets N Boards, a show that is one of the most requested show on Disney Cruise Lines, will be on the schedule during the months when families and younger audiences are in Branson. The net result is one of the most dynamic, demographic responsive, and exciting line ups of any theatre in Branson.

Merkling points out that the Billy Dean and Jarrett in Concert show is a mainstay on the schedule. For 2016 Billy has completely redone the format to provide a more intimate and personal interface with the audience, including him playing the piano. The show provides a unique opportunity to hear the man who wrote them sing, hit after hit, including Let Them Be Little; Somewhere in My Broken Heart, Billy The Kid, and his debut single, Only Here for a Little While, a song that grabbed an impressive top five spot on Billboard’s Country Charts along with many more.

The music would be enough, but it’s his ability to connect with the audience on a personal level through that music, and the stories of his life and how the songs were written, that injects a unique special element to the show. Add the comedy of long time Branson favorite Jarrett Dougherty, with his funny characters, rapid-fire wit, and perfect comedic timing, honed by more than 20 years on the Branson stage, and you have a show with about as much fun, excitement, and entertainment as most people could ever want!

Here’s a list of the Starlite’s resident shows sorted by opening date along with a link that provides more information on the show including a description, scheduling, pricing, and ticketing:

Resident Shows:

Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett: Through Dec 30
Paul Harris Comedy Show: Selected dates through Dec 30
Reza Edge of Illusion: Through Sep 7
The Blackwoods Morning Show: Through Dec 30
Buckets N Boards: Apr 20-23 and Jun- Aug 12
The Texas Tenors: Apr 26-May 13, Jun 6-10, Sep 12-Nov 30*

“We are also excited about the array of National stars that will be rounding out our schedule with limited engagement performances throughout the year through ‘Boot Daddy Presents’ and ‘Larry’s Country Diner Series,’” Merkling said. Here’s a list of the Starlite’s limited engagement shows sorted by opening date along with a link that provides additional information on the show including a description, scheduling, pricing, and ticketing:

 Limited Engagement

Larry’s Country Diner-T. Graham Brown: May 2 & Sep 23
Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune: May 3 & Sep 21
Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson: May 4 & Sep 20
Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Wills: May 6
Boot Daddy Presents Branson Gospel Reunion: May 6 & 7
Larry’s Country Diner-Mo and Holly Pitney: May 6 & Sep 22
Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Lowry: May 7 & Sep 24
Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent: May 20 & 21
Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson: Apr 22 & 23
Boot Daddy Presents Jason Pritchett: May 30, Jun 25 & Jul 30
Larry’s Country Diner-Rhonda Vincent: Sep 19
Boot Daddy Presents Suzy Bogguss: Sep 29 & 30
Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune: Oct 24 & 25, Nov 14 & 15

Merkling believes that the combination of resident and limited engagement shows at the Starlite provides a unique combination of entertainment designed to meet the different needs of the Branson visitor throughout the year that is unmatched in terms of its quality, variety, and excitement. She also points out that its central location right on the famed Branson Strip, near its intersection with Gretna Road, the Titanic Museum Attraction, the Clay Cooper Theatre, and numerous other Branson shows and attractions makes access to the Starlite a breeze. With a twinkle in her eye she said, “And our parking lot just might be the biggest flat piece of ground in Taney County, no hills to climb.”

For additional information or tickets for any of the Starlite’s Shows, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

*All November shows will be Christmas Shows

Is Table Rock Lake Branson’s best kept secret?

Early post-dawn shot of a small portion of Table Rock Lake.

Early post-dawn shot of a small portion of Table Rock Lake.

“Definitely not! That’s why its water quality is so important,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. His comment pertained to the overall importance of Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo to the Branson experience of many Branson visitors and the recent water quality assessment of Table Rock Lake by David Casaletto, President and Executive Director, of Ozarks Water Watch, a not for profit organization dedicated to, among other things, preserving the water quality of Branson’s lakes.

Casaletto said that, as in the past, Table Rock Lake’s waters are ready for both locals and visitors alike to enjoy during 2016. The most recent testing shows that it is safe and clean for swimming, boating, fishing, and other water related activities that Branson’s millions of visitors might want to do.

Even though many of Branson’s visitors might never see it, Table Rock Lake is a virtual aquatic paradise consisting of over 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline. It offers and hosts, a variety of recreational activities including hiking, sightseeing, hunting, skin diving, fishing, and water sports such as swimming, boating, water skiing etc.

State Highway 165, which can be accessed from its terminus at State Highway 76 commonly called “The Strip,” is one of the main access routes to Table Rock Lake and its attractions. Just south of the entrance to the Chateau on the Lake is the turn off to Moonshine Beach, a public access area offering swimming, a sand, beach boat launching ramp and many other amenities. There is another public boat launching ramp located at the Table Rock State park just south of the dam and the Show Boat Branson Belle’s White River Landing. The State Park Marina is a full service marina, with boat rentals, other aquatic attractions, and activities, as well as a bait and tackle shop.

The Dewey Short Visitor Center is located on State Highway 165 at the south end of the dam between Moonshine Beach and the State Park. In addition to having information about all the public access areas and other information about Table Rock Lake the $10 million center has an exhibition area detailing the natural history of the Ozark Mountain region, its earliest inhabitants, and the construction of Table Rock Dam. A 20-minute film entitled, “Taming of the Riviera Blanche” explains the history and construction of the dam itself.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison points out that the really neat thing is that it offers all of this within a few miles of everything else Branson has to offer. Where else can you dock your boat, leave the beach, or come in from a fishing trip and be enjoying the shows, attractions, activities, shopping, and other activities that Branson offers within minutes?

For additional information on Table Rock Lake or Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.