9th Annual Elvis Festival will positively rock Branson with amazing entertainment

Finalists gather at 2014 "Branson Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest."

Finalists gather at 2014 “Branson Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest.”

“The annual ‘Branson Elvis® Festival’ offers another unique and exciting activity for all Branson visitors, but especially for Elvis fans,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. The 9th Annual Branson Elvis® Festival will take place March 27 – 29, 2015, at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, the home of Branson’s Legends in Concert Show on the world famous “Branson Strip.”

The highlight of the Festival is the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ which will be held on the Legends in Concert stage, Saturday, March 28 starting at 7:00 PM. The winner of the Branson contest receives a prize package and the opportunity to compete in the “2015 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Finals” presented by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. which will be held August 8  -16 in Memphis, Tennessee during Elvis Week.

Legends in Concert’s General Manager, Jeannie Horton said that the Branson Contest will be hosted by “Dean Z,” who won the “2013 Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ Final.” in Memphis. “We are really excited about the quality of the 16 contestants and the fact that it’s the most contestants that we have ever had. It’s going to be a great evening of entertainment!” she added.

In addition, to the Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ the Branson Elvis Festival includes several other exciting events including:

Friday, March 27 – 5 PM: Elvis Meet & Greet Dinner at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill. Call the box office (417-339-3003) for reservations as “family style seating” is limited.

Friday, March 27 & 28 –  10:15 PM: Elvis Contestant Karaoke at Club 57. Tickets for both nights are available at the Legends box office and are $5 plus tax. Limited space available!

Saturday, March 28 9 AM to 4 PM: The Elvis Vendor Village will be open in Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater lobby.  Vendors from across the country will be selling unique Elvis merchandise.”

Saturday, March 28 – 10 AM: A new event, the Junior and Senior Youth Division Contest, for kids (ages 5-18). It will be held on the Legends in Concert stage and a $25 entry fee and registration is required. Call 417-339-3003 x 3015 to request more information on this event, or email tbailey@legendsinconcert.com.

Saturday, March 28 7:00PM: The Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest

Sunday, March 29 – 10 AM: Free Branson Gospel Sunday Service will be held at the Hamner Variety Theater featuring some of Elvis’ favorite gospel numbers.

Sunday, March 29 – 8 PM: Guest appearance of the 2015 Branson Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest™ winner during the 8 PM performance of Legends in Concert Show.

For additional information or tickets for the Legends in Concert Show, The Ultimate Elvis® Tribute Artist Contest,™ or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their web site www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Mickey Gilley gives Branson 26 years of amazing memories

Music legend Mickey Gilley.

Music legend Mickey Gilley.

“Bob Hope’s theme song, ‘Thanks for the Memories,’ comes to mind when one thinks of all that Mickey Gilley has meant to Branson and its visitors over the past 25 years,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. Wood made the comment in connection with Gilley’s recent announcement that 2015 will be his last season performing at his Branson theatre. Gilley indicated that he plans to continue doing road shows and will maintain his Branson residence.

In connection with his 25th year in Branson Gilley sat down for an exclusive interview with the Branson Tourism Center and shared an up close and personal interview about his career and his first 25 years in Branson. The interview used a “Question and Answer” format with Branson Tourism Center’s questions preceded by “BTC” and Gilley’s responses preceded by “MG:”

BTC: What is your favorite childhood memory?
MG: Telling my sister that I was not going to go to the back of the house while she was sweeping and cleaning the front room floors. I grabbed the door and shook it and she ran after me. The race was on, and I outran her.

BTC: Of all the professional moments and performances you have had, which has meant the most to you?
MG: When I met Conway Twitty in 1974 and opened a show for him in my night club in Pasadena, TX.

BTC: What was one of the “highs” of your life and one of the “lows?”
MG: High in my life was in 1974 when “Room Full of Roses” hit and went to Number 1 for me. The “low” [with a grin] was trying to follow my cousin Jerry Lee Lewis for 17 years before I had the hit.

BTC: Of all the hits you have had which one is your personal favorite and why?
MG: That’s a hard one to answer because my fans have given me 17 top ten songs. I will say that “Room Full of Roses” has a special place in my heart, “Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time” was the best song ever given to me and that my favorite recording and one of my favorite records is “That’s All That Matters To Me.”

BTC: What one song do you enjoy performing the most?
MG: “Stand By Me,” a beautiful song, from the soundtrack of “The Urban Cowboy.” I am using to close my show this year.

BTC: Do you have a little known fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about?
MG: In 1959 I had a chart record, “Is It Wrong For Loving You,” that Kenny Rogers played the base on. Also, probably a lot of people don’t know that I had a Commercial Pilot and Instrument Ratings and have flown my airplane for over 8,000 hours. I am also in the process of bringing Gilley’s Beer back on the market.

BTC: If you could perform on stage with any other performer, living or dead, who would it be?
MG: Elvis Presley because he was always one of my favorites.

BTC: What is your favorite part in your current Branson show?
MG: When we do the music from the soundtrack of “Urban Cowboy” because it has some great music in it.

BTC: Was your first trip to Branson, business or pleasure?
MG: My first trip to Branson was in 1987 when I played for Mr. Jim Thomas at the Roy Clark Celebrity Theatre.

BTC: What was your first impression of Branson?
MG: Was wondering what was going on in this little town that I had never heard of.

BTC: In what year did you open your own theatre?
MG: Jim Thomas opened the “Mickey Gilley Theatre” in 1989 and in 1990 I it took over.

BTC: How many years have you been performing in Branson?
MG: This is my 25th year.

BTC: Are you celebrating that in a special way?
MG: We’ve got a celebration coming up on October 5th. We are going to start at 2:00 p.m. and go until the ending. I don’t know how long that’s going to be, but we have a lot of other people coming in to celebrate with us. I don’t know who they are because it’s supposed to be a surprise.

BTC: Where and when were you born?
MG: I was born in Natchez, MS on March 9, 1936.

BTC: What relationship is Jerry Lee Lewis to you?
MG: First Cousin.

BTC: What relationship is Jimmy Swaggart?
MG: Second Cousin.

BTC: Did either, separately or together, have any influence on your decision to become an entertainer?
MG: Jerry Lee Lewis.

BTC: How?
MG: He played piano, sang and had “hits” in the 50’s. I was making $1.25 per hour doing construction work and when I saw the kind of money he was making I thought, “If he can do it I can too” and decided to jump in. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that everyone was going to compare me to my cousin Jerry Lee Lewis. Actually, although I didn’t think about it at the time, in essence, what I was doing was performing a tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis and I was successful because I could do his music.

BTC: How long have you been performing professionally?
MG: Since 1957.

BTC: Where and when did you make your first professional appearance?
MG: That’s hard to pinpoint, but the first successful run I had in a “nightclub” was at The “Nesadel Club”, located on Spencer Highway in Pasadena Texas from 1960 to 1970. I worked six nights a week, did four sets a night and played piano, organ and sang along with a little three piece band.

BTC: When did “Gilley’s open?
MG: In 1971. I had decided to throw in the towel as far as recording goes and a partner and I started “Gilley’s,” a honkytonk bar located on Spencer Highway not too far from the “Nesadel Club.” In the first month in business with him I made more money than I had made since I had been in the music business period.

BTC: How did you get back in the recording business?
MG: In 1973 the lady who had the juke boxes in the club wanted me to record the song, “She Called Me Baby All-Night Long.” I told her I had not made a record in three and a half to four years, but I went in and made the recording for her putting “Room Full of Roses” on the flip, “B,” side. It took off locally in the Houston area in 1973 and became my first national hit in 1974.

BTC: What made you decide to open a theatre in Branson?
MG: My friend Jim Thomas thought it would be a good mix with those who were already performing here and I was ready to get off the road.

BTC: Anything else you want our readers to know?
MG: I would like them to know that Branson has some great entertainers and shows, we have a lot of wonderful people who are trying very hard to please the people who come to Branson and with all the great things it has to offer is a great place to come to vacation. I would like to invite everyone, “To come and see us.”

Click here for information, scheduling, pricing and tickets for Mickey Gilley’s 2015 Branson show or call 1-800-785-1550. Branson Tourism Center’s Wood suggests advance reservations to ensure availability and the best seats for the final Branson performances of the Mickey Gilley show.


“Buzzin in Branson” during April 2015

Top of the Rock with Table Rock Lake in the background.

Top of the Rock with Table Rock Lake in the background.

“Buzzin in Branson” is a concise and easy to read list of the major events taking place in Branson, Missouri during the month being “Buzzed,” which is April of 2015 for this issue. Each issue contains the “Branson Buzz of the Month” and a list of the major special events, shows and events for the month.

Branson “Buzz of the Month for April 2015

Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge – This event is not only an amazing opportunity to be in the company of World Golf Hall of Fame members such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw and more, but to experience the unique PGA format of the tournament itself. It combines 18 holes of play on the 18 hole Buffalo Ridge course with 36 holes of play on the Top of the Rock par 3 Course resulting in a unique golfing experience, presented amid the beauty of the Ozarks and near to all the shows, attractions and other activities Branson offers.

The following list of major special events, shows and activities in April is sorted by event date and contains pertinent and timely comments and contact information, through either a link or phone number, that can be used to obtain additional information:

Apr 1 – May 31:       Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
Apr 3 – Apr 4:           Easter Celebration at Silver Dollar City
Apr 4:                        Hollister Easter Egg Hunt
Apr 5:                        Easter Sunday
Apr 5:                        Easter Brunch at Keeter Center
Apr 5:                        Easter Shopping at Tanger Outlets
Apr 5:                        Easter Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
Apr 9 – May 3:         World-Fest at Silver Dollar City
Apr 11:                      Party With the Stars
Apr 11:                      Rick Springfield (Limited Engagement)
Apr 15 – Apr 19:       Kewpiesta 2015
Apr 17:                      Shoji Tabuchi Show opens 2015 season
Apr 18:                      Branson Moose Lodge Sporting Clay Shoot (417-365-9548)
Apr 18 – Apr 19:       Shindig Shopping Spree
Apr 20 – May 30      The Hits Starring the Osmonds (Limited Engagement)
Apr 22 – Apr 23:       Savor the Flavor at Welk Resort
Apr 22 – Apr 26:       Legends of Golf Tournament at Big Cedar
Apr 23 – Apr 25:       Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients
Apr 25:                      American Cheer Power
Apr 25:                      Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure
Apr 30:                      Hootenanny in the Park

“Buzzin in Branson” is produced monthly by the Branson Tourism Center as a service to its customers and others interested in what’s going on in Branson. If you have any further questions about these events or want information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or lodging 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.

Ten facts you should know about Silver Dollar City’s new $8 million Fireman’s Landing

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

‘Silver Dollar City’s $8 million” Fireman’s Landing” has ten rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy.

Silver Dollar City is surrounded by the beauty of the Ozarks and, from its inception, has been steeped in the tourism history of Branson. Indeed, over the years, as it has evolved from “Marvel Cave” into an international award winning theme park, it has “written” a large part of that history.

As Silver Dollar City begins its 2015 season, that tradition continues with the opening of its new $8 million dollar “Fireman’s Landing” featuring six new rides and four new attractions for families to enjoy together. Here’s a list of ten facts about Fireman’s Landing we hope you will find interesting and helpful:

1. The fictional story for Fireman’s Landing is based on the historical fact that “Marmaros,” an actual city located on the land now occupied by Silver Dollar City, burned to the ground in the 1880s.

2. Fireman’s Landing, while honoring America’s volunteer and full time fire service personnel, is themed on a fictional storyline that the reason the town burned down was because there was no volunteer fire department and a 1880s volunteer fire department recruitment fair designed to find “recruits” for the Silver Dollar City Fire Brigade to prevent it from happening again.

3. All ten of the rides and attractions at Fireman’s Landing are all related to that effort and enable potential “recruits,” or any other “kid” to have a lot of fun.

4. The center piece of Fireman’s Landing and all its rides and attractions is “Fire Station #3.”

Lucky's Dizzy Dogs, a bouncy ride on Dalmatians racing around a fire hydrant, is sure to be hit with the younger "recruits."

Lucky’s Dizzy Dogs, a bouncy ride on Dalmatians racing around a fire hydrant, is sure to be hit with the younger “recruits.”

5. The rides located near Station #3 are:

“FireFall, an 8-story fire tower free-fall drop ride for the more daring recruits.
Fire Spotter, with soaring balloons for spotting fire dangers.
Fire Wagon Frenzy, a bouncing ride for bucket brigade volunteers.
Up The Ladder, a smaller tower drop ride for junior recruits.
Lucky’s Dizzy Dogs, a bouncy ride on Dalmatians racing around a fire hydranT.
Fireman’s Flyer, a low-flying swing ride for little firefighters.”

6. The attractions located inside Station #3, and right outside of it are:

“Firehouse Splash Yard, with squirting water jets and pump hoses for outdoor play,
Firefighter’s Fire Drill, with buckets, pumpers, foam ball cannons and targets for showering mock fires.
Firefighter’s Fire Escape, an obstacle course of tubes, mazes, climbing structures and slides.
Firefighter’s Junior Fire Escape, a soft play area for toddlers.’


7. Except for FireFall, the rides and attractions of Fireman’s Landing will have the most appeal to the “younger recruits.”

8. FireFall is for adults and older kids, but Up The Ladder gives the younger kids a similar style thrill at a lot lower level with multiple riders in wider seats and extremely slower speeds both up and down.

9. The Dalmatians of Lucky’s Dizzy Dogs have two seats permitting adults to ride with the kids on the ride.

10. The landscaping walls around the planters throughout the Landing are set at a height and width to make it comfortable for parents and grandparents to sit while the watch the “kids” enjoy the fun and excitement of Fireman’s Landing.

"Lucky the Rescue Dog "and his trainer, "Abby Barker."

“Lucky the Rescue Dog “and his trainer, “Abby Barker.”

“Wait, you forgot something,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, “What about Lucky the Rescue Dog?” Oh my, how could I have almost forgot “Lucky?” He is a Dalmatian costumed character, representing the tradition of firedogs, who, along with his trainer, “Abby Barker” will be walking the Landing posing for pictures, answering questions and otherwise entertaining and interacting with kids and adults alike.

Shoji Tabuchi fiddling around with Bigfoot?

The incredible Shoji Tabuchi during a non Bigfoot moment.

The incredible Shoji Tabuchi during a non Bigfoot moment.

If you asked ten people in Branson the question, “Of all the Branson entertainers which, group or entertainer, is least likely to be involved with the Animal Planet TV show Finding Bigfoot?” I’m betting it would be Branson’s master violinist and fiddle player, “Shoji Tabuchi.” Yet, earlier this week when I talked with him about a rumor that he was going to be a guest on the show, he confirmed the rumor, but said he could not discuss any of the specific details.

Tabuchi said that he is excited about being on the show and is really looking forward to it. He explained that he has an open mind about the existence of a “Sasquatch” or “Bigfoot” as well as UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster and, with a twinkle in his eye, asked, “Who knows?”

What skill set does Shoji have that could be of interest to Bigfoot’s investigative Team? Don’t know for sure, but one of the cast members and founders of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization is a recognized authority on “Bigfoot” and is noted for his innovative use of sound “as a technique for locating Bigfoots.”

On March 6, there was a “Finding Bigfoot” meeting at the White House Theatre in Branson, which it could be presumed, was as a preamble to the Ozark’s area filming of material for Finding Bigfoot. Cliff Barackman, one of the co-hosts of the show was present as people shared information about seeing what they believed were sasquatch foot prints, an actual Bigfoot or other evidence that could assist the Investigative Team in deciding what areas to look for a potential Ozark’s Bigfoot. Could it be that the “Blue Man of Spring Creek” actually existed?”

The team consists of James “BoBo” Fray, a commercial fisherman by trade, who says he saw his first sasquatch in 2001; Cliff Barackman who analyses and interprets data, especially those related to Bigfoot footprints and owns one of the largest Bigfoot cast collection in the country; Matt Moneymaker who has been involved actively in Bigfoot research since the 1990s, launched the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website as well as being a very respected Bigfoot Researcher and Ranae Holland, a research biologist who, although she does not believe in Bigfoot, co-hosts of the show and is “fascinated by the phenomenon and excited to have found a way to combine her scientific knowledge, fieldwork skills, and love of the wilderness to investigate alleged sightings.”

Although there has been no announced date as to when the episode with Shoji will air on Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, Sasquatches aside, we do know one thing for sure; the 2015 season for the Shoji Tabuchi Show in Branson kicks off on April 17.

Branson Tourism Center illuminated in glow of BBB Torch recognition of marketplace ethics

The Southwestern Missouri Better Business Bureau's Torch Finalist plaque presented to Branson Tourism Center for Marketplace Ethics.

The Southwestern Missouri Better Business Bureau’s Torch Finalist plaque.

BRANSON, Mo., March 9, 2015 – “It is an amazing honor to have been selected as one of the three finalists in the 2015 Southwestern Missouri Better Business Bureau‘s ‘Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics,'” said Lianne Milton, the CEO of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “When my husband Larry and I started BTC 12 years ago, ‘excellence in customer care, marketplace excellence, advancing marketplace trust and consumer leadership’ were the cornerstones upon which we built our business model and are still the defining standards we strive to meet on a daily basis.”  These are also the principles embodied in the Torch Award.

BTC was notified of their selection as a top three Finalist for the prestigious BBB award by Tim “TJ” Loudis, BBB’s Community Outreach & Development Director. In the notification, Loudis said that their independent panel of judges were unanimous in their belief that BTC’s nomination exemplifies a business with a rich history of strong integrity and marketplace ethics.

Branson Tourism Center, established in 2003, is a marketing company specializing in packaging and individual sales of shows, attractions and restaurants within Branson to prospective visitors. Over the last 12 years, BTC has sold well over 4 million show and attraction tickets and hundreds of thousands of room nights in the Branson marketplace as it has built trusted relationships with vendors and customers alike. “Our primary purpose is to make sure our customers have a quality vacation, and we are blessed with vendors who share our commitment and work hand in hand with us to ensure that happens,” Larry Milton said.  BTC has been an accredited member of BBB since 2003 and enjoys an A+ BBB Rating.

Although BTC did not win the Torch award, it received a Finalist plaque at the “BBB Torch Award Banquet” on the evening of March 5 at the Ramada Oasis Convention Center in Springfield, Missouri. Tammy Johnson, the General Manager of BTC, received the award on behalf of BTC and said, “This award represents the ethics we apply in our daily business dealings, automatically every day, whether someone is ‘looking’ or not, simply because it is who we are. We are so grateful to be in the top three for this award.”

About Branson Tourism Center

Branson Tourism Center is the area’s largest providers of Branson travel services and employs close to 100 people. It is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Missouri with an A+ rating. Among other organizations, it is a member of the Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), American Bus Association (ABA), National Tour Association (NTA), American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA), Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce (BLACC), and  Branson Lakes Area Lodging Association (BLALA). Branson Tourism Center may be reached by calling 1-800-978-1999.

Why Branson’s amazing intangibles promise Branson visitors a fantastic vacation

Branson's "amazing intangibles" are given life by by those dedicated to ensuring that you and your family have a great Branson experience.

Branson’s “amazing intangibles” are given life by by those dedicated to ensuring that you and your family have a great Branson experience.*

Branson’s amazing shows, attractions, lakes, natural beauty, shopping and many other exciting activities are experienced by millions of visitors every year. Yet, in terms of the total vacation experience its visitors will have, it is Branson’s “amazing intangibles” of service, friendliness, comfort and hospitality, as much as “the things” Branson offers, that guarantees that you and your family will have a fantastic vacation filled with the kind of memories that will bring you back again and again.

The “Branson Promise” reminds those of us who live and work in Branson how important those intangibles are to the total experience its visitors will have while in Branson. In addition, it shares with prospective visitors what “we believe” and encourages an expectation that transcends “things” and “activities.”

In addition to all the “things” Branson has to offer, you will be surrounded by people committed to not only making sure you are entertained and have fun while in Branson, but showing you that we truly “believe:”

1. In our American values and celebrate them every day, respect for God, the individual, patriotism, faith, hope, optimism, family, courage, generosity, and opportunity for all.

2. In the home.

3. A vacation is not an escape from reality but a connection to what is real, you, your family, laughter, music, pure fun, and doing the things you really want to do, together

4. In families, and that vacations can belong to everybody in the family.

5. You deserve to take a break from your regular life while preserving the security and comfort that comes from feeling “right at home.”

6. The best experiences are live and personal. They affect you – and you affect them. The most memorable experiences have always been personal and uniquely spontaneous and unexpected, not planned or manufactured.

7. That every guest can be a part of our Branson family. From headline performers to the folks who sell the tickets, we invite you to become part of the fun we create every day as the families who built this community.

8. That money is hard earned, and respect the work that sits behind every dollar spent by our guests. We still think it’s possible to be surprised about how much money can buy, especially in Branson.

9. That new people aren’t strangers, just friends who haven’t visited.

10. In Branson, Missouri, nestled in the lakeside beauty of the Ozark Mountains.”

“These beliefs are an inherent part of ensuring that our customers see and experience the spirit of Branson along with all its fun, adventure, excitement and entertainment,” said Tammy Johnson, the General Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, Branson’s largest provider of Branson show and attraction tickets and lodging. She adds, “The words of the original Branson Promise say it so beautifully; ‘We’re proud of who we are and where we are going. We’d love to show you around, because we love the ways in which we will surprise you. We’ve found what we want in Branson, and we know you’ll find what you want here too. Our doors are open, come on in.'”


* Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City

The powerful synergy between an Irish Celebration on the Titanic, a hat and the vibrant Bridgette Delia Mc Dermott

Miss McDermott admiring the statute at the foot the Titanics' Grand Staircase. S

Miss McDermott admiring the statute at the foot the Titanic’s Grand Staircase.

The “Irish Celebration on the Titanic” is  Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction’s (Titanic) annual celebration and remembrance of Ireland’s involvement with the “RMS Titanic” lasting the entire month of March. The “hat” and “Bridgette Delia McDermott,” both their story and the way it is presented, not only tells the story of one of the luckiest people aboard the ship that night, but illustrates just how special the Irish Celebration on the Titanic is.

From the ships conception to the tragic end of her first and last voyage on the night of April 14 and into the early morning hours of April 15 of 1912 when she hit an iceberg and sunk into the icy depths of the North Atlantic, “Ireland” and the “Irish” have been an integral part of the Titanic’s history. She was built in Belfast, Northern, Ireland in about three years, by Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilders for White Star Line, through the efforts of over 3,000 workers, most of them Irish.

When she left her last port of call prior to starting her fateful voyage across the North Atlantic it was from Queenstown, on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. On board were 184 Irish passengers and crew of which 14 were from the little Irish parish of Addergoole, near Ballina in County Mayo and one of those was Third Class Passenger, Bridgette Delia McDermott, who had a brand new hat with her that her mother had purchased for her just before she left.

Every day, the “crew” of the Titanic Museum Attraction and the museum itself remember and tell the stories of those who were on the ship, let today’s passengers experience a taste of the adventure and excitement of that voyage and provide their “passengers” one of the most unique and memorable entertainment experiences available in Branson. During March, the Titanic’s Irish Celebration enhances that experience with its crew donning period costumes and “becoming” one of the passengers during the celebration.

Folks, this is a Legends in Concert  quality type of experience. When you met and talk with them it seems so real and its more than just the costumes; they really “know who they are,” I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with “Miss Bridgette Delia Mc Dermott, a 28 year old passenger.

She explained, that like a lot of people in Ireland at the time, it was her dream to come to America even though, in that time and place, it meant leaving your home and family and probably never seeing them again. She boarded the ship at Queenstown with 13 other people from the small parish of Addergoole. Prior to boarding the ship she had gone shopping with her mother who had brought her a new hat because her mother had said, “All ladies in America wear hats and gloves.”

She was amazed at the accommodations aboard the ship. The Titanic’s “Third “Class” accommodations” were the equivalent of any other ships “Second Class” accommodations with running water. “Imagine having running water,” she said. “We had no running water and had to go outside to a well whenever we needed water.”

When asked about what happened when the ship hit the iceberg she said she came up on deck with others who had been told there was nothing to worry about. When they determined that there was a problem, she was one of the first on a lifeboat because she was already on deck.

As soon as she got in the boat she noticed that she did not have the hat her mother had brought her and jumped out of the lifeboat, went to her cabin and got the hat. When she returned, the boat was long gone and one of the last boats was already being lowered. She said that she went down a “rope ladder” and dropped 15 feet into the boat.

“Miss McDermott pointed out that of the 14 people from Addergoole, only she and two other women survived. As part of this year’s Irish Celebration the Titanic is premiering a video telling the Addergoole story including how it has preserved the memories of the “14” for over 100 years.

A voyage aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction is always special, but to me, there’s just something a little extra special as the ship’s Irish heritage is celebrated. For additional information or tickets for the Titanic Museum Attraction please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.


30 amazing kid friendly activities that your kids will absolutely love doing while vacationing in Branson

Kids and adults alike will never forget their first "DUCK"   "splashdown!"

This is just the beginning; kids and adults alike will never forget their first big “DUCK Splashdown!”

There’s so much to see and do in Branson that it is sometimes hard to focus in on specific things that you might want to see and do. That’s true whether you’re an adult or child. The headline refers to “your kids,” and the following list is written for them, with “age appropriate” help from an adult where needed with younger children, to give them an overview of the exciting, fun and entertaining things they can enjoy while in Branson:

It is in a “check list” form so that items of interest can be checked off for further checking if they are of interest. The extensive linking will take you to additional information on the item such as scheduling, pricing and, in many cases, pictures and videos. The information is provided by the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services.

Whether a “kid,” or an adult planning a trip to Branson with kids, we hope this list will help you to plan to have a great Branson experience whether it’s on one of the 40 rides at Silver Dollar City; meeting “Polar, the Titanic Bear or “Madison,” the tiger; feeding the ducks; exploring a cave or, “well, you get the idea:”

  1. ___ Ride one of more of Silver Dollar City’s over 40 rides with rides for every member of the family.
  2. ___ Have an up close and personal meeting with the giant  dinosaur, “T Rex,” at the Branson Dinosaur Museum.”
  3. ___ See the horses in their stalls at Dixie Stampede.
  4. ___ Sit in a lifeboat at the Titanic Museum Attraction.
  5. ___ Feed the ducks at Scotty’s Trout Dock and Marina.
  6. ___ Experience the “big splashdown” while riding on “Ride The Ducks.”
  7. ___ Go deep into Marvel Cave and ride the “tram” a half a mile from the bottom of the cave to back to the top.
  8. ___ Enjoy kids just like you performing in Branson shows such as “Presleys’,” “Duttons,” “Clay Cooper,” “Hughes Brothers” and others.
  9. ___ Hear the “sounds of an orchestra” coming from just the voices of SIX
  10. ___ Meet a giant “Transformer” standing outside of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
  11. ___ Watch a dog peddle a bicycle and cats jump through hoops at Amazing Pets
  12. ___ Swim at Table Rock Lake’s “Moon Shine Beach.”
  13. ___ See the Acrobats of China perform amazing acrobatic feats.
  14. ___ Ride the free downtown Trolley
  15. ___ Get some “old time” candy at “Dick’s 5 & 10″
  16. ___ Take a train ride on the Branson Scenic Railway.
  17. ___ Meet “Madison” a white tiger, who is one of the many tigers and other “big cats” at the National Tiger Sanctuary.
  18. ___ Eat an Andy’s Custard.
  19. ___ Watch a “grist mill” grind grain at the College of the Ozarks’ “Edward’s Grist Mill.”
  20. ___ Enjoy seeing thousands of toys in the World’s Largest Toy Museum
  21. ___ Laugh with Herkimer, Cecil and Cecil Jr. at Presleys’ Country Music Jubilee.
  22. ___ Play mini golf on one of Branson’s many mini golf courses like Shoot For The Stars Mini Golf
  23. ___ See “Savanah,” a giant Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Branson’s Wild World who has trouble floating because she got hit by a boat.
  24. ___ Go ” nose to nose” with giant Rainbow and Brown Trout, at the aquarium in the “Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery.”
  25. ___ Talk with Titanic Museum Attraction “Polar, the Titanic Bear,” who is based on a toy bear owned by 1 of the 133 children that sailed on the Titanic.
  26. ___ Walk amid 1000s of live butterflies in the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure.
  27. ___ Ride on one of 4 world class coaster, like the iconic “Wildfire” at Silver Dollar City.
  28. ___ See a giant “fish” swim out over your head while watching Jonah.
  29. ___ Enjoy the fun and adventure of the new $7 million “Fireman’s Landing” at Silver Dollar City with its ten new rides and activities for the whole family.
  30. ___ Splash, play, slide and “plummet” in 2 million gallons of watery fun at White Water

In terms of all there is for kids to see and do in Branson this list is like the “tip of an iceberg”. For additional information on anything in this article or for information on “anything Branson,” please feel free to call 1-800-785-1550 for the help of one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners who will be delighted assist you in any way they can.

How Devil’s Den Became A Marble Marvel On Its Way To Becoming Branson’s Silver Dollar City

Looking back toward the top of the Marvel Cave.

Looking back toward the top of the Marvel Cave while descending into the cave.*

The tourist destination of Branson, Missouri has been evolving for over 115 years into the wonderful place that enables millions to be entertained, have fun and create special family memories that will last a lifetime. Today Branson visitors have a marvelous choice of attractions, live shows and activities, all surrounded by pristine lakes and the beauty of the Ozark Mountains, that is unrivaled anywhere. Yet, it wasn’t always that way and started its evolution from the place the Osage Indians called “Devil’s Den.”

Osage legend has it that the name came about when a young bear hunter and a bear fought on the edge of a great hole and fell into it one evening. When they came back the next day all they saw was blackness and a hole that seemed to have no bottom, hence legend says, the name “Devil’s Den.” Legend also speaks of early Spanish explorers exploring the cave, but the first recorded record of the caves exploration was in 1869 as the result of an expedition lead by Henry T. Blow, of St. Louis, who was involved with lead mining.

At that time, as it had been since the days of the Osage and before, the cave’s access was through a big sink hole through which those exploring the cave were lowered. Although they did not find lead, they thought they had seen “marble” in the ceiling of the cave and named it “Marble Cave.” A “bat guano” mining operation developed along with the very small town of “Marmaros” near the mouth of the cave, but the mining operation had ceased and the town had burned down when William Lynch, along with his two young daughters, Genevieve and Miriam, purchased it and began operating it as an Ozark tourist attraction in 1894.

Lynch, ran the cave with his daughters until his death in 1927. The name of the cave was changed to “Marvel Cave” shortly after his death and his two daughters operated the attraction until leasing it to the “Herschend family,” Hugo, Mary and their two teenage sons, Jack and Peter, in the mid 1950’s. The Herschend family has operated it continually since.

“After signing a 99 year lease, the Herschends made many improvements to the cave, but wanted something for people to do up on the surface while they were waiting to tour the cave. Hugo’s vision was to have Ozark craftsmen demonstrating their crafts. That vision, along with some insight about Marmaros were the seeds which were planted and nourished by the Herschend family and blossomed into an 1880s themed town named “Silver Dollar City,” located at the entrance to the cave, which opened May 1, 1960.” The rest is history.

Tours of Marvel Cave, a National Natural Landmark and Branson’s oldest continuously operated attraction, are still conducted daily and are actually included in the price of admission to Silver Dollar City. The 60 minute walking tours depart every half hour and are guided by trained cave guides who take visitors over 500 feet below the surface into the “wet limestone cave” via a combination of stairs, trail and ramps. Once at the bottom, cave visitors get a half mile ride back to the surface via a unique “cable train” installed in 1957.

For additional information on Silver Dollar City, Marvel Cave, or other Branson shows and attractions or Branson lodging please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.


* Pictures courtesy of Silver Dollar City