A list of 12 reasons why you and your family should consider Branson for a truly amazing vacation

Silver Dollar City's record setting wooden coaster ,"Outlaw Run," is one example of the fun and excitement Branson offers.

Silver Dollar City’s record setting wooden coaster ,”Outlaw Run,” is one example of the fun and excitement Branson offers.

Curious about what Branson means to those who have visited it or heard about it; the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, asked the following question on its Facebook Page this week:

“Based on what you have seen, experienced or heard about Branson, what one word would you use to describe what Branson means to you?”

We believe that the following one word responses, from the dozens received, describe the ideal place for a family to have an amazing vacation filled with the excitement, fun and adventure that will provide wonderful memories for years to come and are presented without further embellishment:

1. Family
2. Memories
3. God loving
4. Fun
5. Happy
6. Fantabulous
7. Entertaining
8. Exciting
9. Comfort
10. Home
11. Relaxing
12. Enjoyable

While we are at it, let’s make it a “Baker’s Dozen:”

13. Wholesome

If this sounds like the type of place you might want to share with your family and you want more information about what Branson has to offer please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their Branson based Vacation Planners. There is absolutely no charge for this service. To get an excellent overview of all that Branson has to offer on line visit www.Branson.Com

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What everybody ought to know about Hollywood waxing Branson

 

King Kong presents an excellent photo opportunity.

King Kong presents a “gripping” photo opportunity.

“The term ‘waxing’ can mean a lot of things, but when it comes to Hollywood ‘waxing’ Branson it can mean only one thing,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “The opportunity to see some of your favorite Hollywood stars such as Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson and dozens of others, as you ‘share the spotlight’ with them posed in the ‘sets’ that made them famous, at Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum.”

You know you are in for something exciting when you walk by “Jack Nicholson” standing in front of a huge fierce looking face of “King Kong.” Of course when you look a little closer you will realize that he has his hand out and cupped for you and your family to step in and have a what used to be called “a Kodak moment.” The result will certainly be one of the most unique pictures your family has ever taken.

From there its one wonderful realistic wax creation after another on your self-guided tour through the museum. Whether it’s a monster or a star, each is featured in a realistic set relating to what made them famous. As you start your Hollywood Wax museum adventure one of the first stars you will meet is Tom Hanks as “Forest Gump” sitting on a bench with, you guessed it, a box of chocolates. Each of the sets has an “information plate” containing information about the figure, fun facts, awards they have won, “pet peeves” or some other little known “factoid.” Many of the exhibits have sound to enhance the experience such as the “Rocky Theme” near the Sylvester Stallone “Rocky” exhibit.

Guest interacting with Joe Black.

Guest interacting with Jack Black.

One really interesting feature of most of the exhibits is the ability to share the spotlight with the stars by posing with them. As illustrated in this photo, provided by the Hollywood Wax Museum, of Jack Black in a “pose” from his comedy “Nocho Libre,” the results can be quite interesting and entertaining.

Some of the “stars” you will meet on your tour include among others are Judy Garland, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Harrison Ford, Clark Gable, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Jackson, Nicholas Cage, Barbara Eden, Eddie Murphy, Marlon Brando, “The Terminator” and many more. Two of my favorites were the “Star Trek” set with William Shatner, Lenard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley waiting for Scotty to beam them up and the diner scene with Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Elvis Presley serving up ice cream.

As you go to the second floor you will be given the opportunity to take a short “Hollywood Trivia Quiz,” shoot in a shooting gallery, or try a variety of coin operated amusement machines. Then you enter the monster area with Frankenstein, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Elvira, Hannibal Lecter and others. There is a “Monster Bypass” for those who do not want to see the monsters.

After experiencing meeting a number of your favorite Hollywood stars your tour comes to an end in the museums fully stocked gift shop containing Hollywood gift items. For additional information on the Hollywood Wax Museum please call the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

“it” starring the Hughes Brothers, is an amazing show that will be totally enjoyed by you and your family

The Hughes Family during their touching  performance of "Happy Together."

The Hughes Family during their touching performance of “Happy Together.”

On the evening of January 17 I had the opportunity to see “it,” feel “it” and hear “it.” I absolutely loved it starring the Hughes Brothers and their families. When you weave the talents of the Hughes Brothers, their wives, children and a great five piece live band into a magnificently choreographed, colorful, high energy and fast paced production, the result is a magical inspiring cornucopia of great singing, instrumentals, comedy, dancing and entertainment, covering everything from pop, classical, country, gospel, patriotic and more that is truly one of Branson’s ultimate entertainment experiences.

The evening started with dinner in the theatre’s balcony dining area which was a delightful three course meal prepared on the premises by Chef Laurie and served by Philip. The meal started with a dinner salad composed of fresh crisp mixed greens, onions, tomatoes and croutons and with Ranch Dressing. The entrée consisted of a marinated honey glazed barbecue chicken breast and roasted pork topped with a honey Dijon sauce accompanied by oven roasted potatoes, fresh green beans and a dinner roll. The portions were more than adequate and it was topped off with a dessert of White Chocolate Champagne Cake lightly drizzled with raspberry sauce that was out of this world and just melted in your mouth. It was easily one of the best “show” meals I have ever eaten, both in terms of the quality of the food and the service. It should be pointed out that the show may be purchased separately from the meal.

The Hughes Family is billed as the largest family performing together on stage. The Hughes Brothers, Marty, Jason, Adam, Ryan and Andy are the stars of the show which also prominently features their very talented wives Cindy, Vikki, Carina, Myra and Becky along with about 32 of their children and a live five piece band consisting of Band Director Ray Harris who also plays keyboards and trumpet; Randy Luna, keyboards and arranger; Steve Habour, guitar; Marty Wilhite, Bass and R.J. Jacob, Drums.

That said, one thing should be made perfectly clear, every element of this show is a polished entertainment gem. It’s not just a matter of putting kids in a show. These kids are good! Some of my favorite performances were the boy’s high energy performance of “Seize The Day” from Disney’s “Newsies,” “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” from “Annie” and the children singing “I Am A Child of God” during the gospel segment.

Another of my favorite performances by the “kids” was the violin/fiddling performance by Kristina, the oldest performing Hughes child at 22, who is also a violin instructor, along with William, Hannah and Jacob Hughes. The set starts off with Kristina eloquently playing a violin solo of “Simple Gifts,” a Shakersong written and composed by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848 after which she was joined by the others as they performed a medley consisting of Aron Copeland’s “Hoedown,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Turkey In The Straw,” “Barber of Seville,” “The Sabre Dance,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It sure was a wow moment for me!

There’s a reason this is worth stressing. I think it can be safely said that all Branson shows, in terms of content, are “kid friendly,” but very few are “kid enjoyable” throughout the majority of the show. Still fewer simultaneously entertain kids and adults at the same time and level throughout the majority of the show. Simply put, this is one of the few that does and they do it ever so well.

When the Hughes Brothers sing together, their familial harmonies are just a joy to hear. Two of my favorite numbers, from among the many they sang were “Pure Imagination” and their acapella version of “America.” If all they did was sing that would be enough, but in addition, they kind of “MC” the show as they maintain a constant relaxed interaction with the audience through their comedy and sharing of information about themselves and the family as the show moves from one entertaining element to another.

Adam Hughes during his acoustical guitar performance.

Adam Hughes during his acoustical guitar performance.

That “element” may be another of my favorite sets in this show, the acoustic guitar performance by Adam Hughes as he performs a medley including “Recuerdos de Alhambra,” “Leyenda” and “Malaguena;” their wives performing the “Sunshine medley;” the brothers performing “How Deep Is Our Love” with their wives or the absolutely beautiful and touching performance of the whole family performing “So Happy Together.” The production and presentation of the shows gospel segment is one of the most unique, beautiful and inspiring I have ever experienced.

The thing is, whether it’s the Hughes Brothers singing or entertaining, their wives or the kids doing one of their sets the show is a constantly evolving carousel of some of the best entertainment on any Branson stage. The quality of the choreography dancing, singing, costuming, overall production and flow of the show makes it one of the most entertaining shows I have ever seen in Branson and, in the last 28 years, I have seen a lot of them.

“It’s,” a wonderful show that should be shared by families together as they are simultaneously entertained and inspired as the Hughes family shares their family and talents with yours creating a special family memory that will not soon be forgotten. I just have to believe that if you and your family see “it,” feel “it” and hear “it” that you will absolutely love “it” as much as I did.

For additional information or tickets for it starring the Hughes Brothers or for information or tickets for 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 calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson’s Residence Inn offers you and your family the peace and comfort of home

Main entrance to Residence Inn.

Main entrance to Residence Inn.

When Genesis Oltjenbrun, Sales Manager for Branson’s Residence Inn Marriott (Inn) was asked what one thing she would want to emphasize about why families should stay at the Inn, without hesitation, she said, “Our wonderful staff that treats you like family.” It resonated with me because it was exactly what I had found during my recent eight day stay at the Inn while tile was being laid in my house. From the front desk, to housekeeping, maintenance and the ladies who served breakfast and handled the social hour, the staff was just amazing in terms of their friendliness, hospitality and “how can I help you attitude.”

One of the Inn's one bedroom suites.

One of the Inn’s one bedroom suites looking from the bedroom into the living area.

The Inn has 85 spacious rooms, 15 of which are two bedroom suites, each with its own bathroom, and 70 are studio and one bedroom units. All offer the convenience of home with a full kitchen including oven with stove top, microwave, full size refrigerator, dishes, utensils etc; living and dining areas, a flat screen TV in each living area and bedroom, free high speed wireless internet and a full set of amenities. The Inn has an indoor pool and whirlpool; an exercise room and an outside area with a basketball net, barbeque, and fire pit and chairs which, weather permitting, provides a wonderful alternative place for the family to relax outside of their rooms. The Inn is one of the few pet-friendly hotels in Branson, with a one-time $100 non-refundable fee. The fee is used to deep clean the room and carpet after each occupancy by a pet owner and their pet.

The Inn's indoor pool and whirlpool. area

The Inn’s indoor pool and whirlpool. area

Its location is ideal, particularly if you are a golfer. It is directly across the street from the Thousand Hills Golf Course Club House. Even if you are not a golfer, its ideal location on Branson’s Yellow route provides convenient access to everything Branson has to offer while providing a quiet relaxing atmosphere away from the activity on the famed “Branson Strip” located not two minutes away.

In terms of shopping it is located 1 mile from Tanger Mall; about 3 miles from The Shoppes at Branson Meadows and 4 miles, or less than 10 minutes, from Branson Landing and the unique shopping offered in Branson’s historic downtown. Dozens of the most popular Branson shows are located within a 3 miles radius of the Inn including shows such as it staring the Hughes Brothers and Their Families, Grand Jubilee, Ayo, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Clay Coopers Country Express, the Haygoods, Sight and Sounds spectacular Jonah, SIX, the Duttons,  Billy Dean. George Dyer, Shoji Tabuchi and dozens more. The same is true for Branson attractions such as the fabulous Titanic Museum Attraction, Ripleys’ Believe It Or Not, Hollywood Wax Museum, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo and many others.

Although there is no restaurant or room service available on property it is located within minutes of restaurants such as Lone Star, Panera Bread, Buckingham’s Prime Rib and Steakhouses, Grand Country’s Buffet, McDonalds, Denney’s, Crispy Crème Donuts and many more. In addition the Inn offers a full breakfast including eggs, a breakfast meat, potatoes, waffles, cereals. breads, rolls, juice, fruit and more along with a “social” Tuesday night through Thursday night with a different light menu each night. As an example, one night they had chicken sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, macaroni salad, raw veggies with dip and potato chips.

“Our customers have been delighted with their stay at the Residence Inn,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It is in an ideal location and its amenities and facilities are great for families,” she added. Based on my recent personal experience at the Inn I would add “Amen, to that statement” and say  that the Inn’s combination of staff, location, the spaciousness of its rooms, generous breakfasts and amenities make it not only a good value, but a great place from which to begin and end each day of your Branson vacation in the peace and comfort of your “home away from home.”

For additional information or booking a reservation for Branson’s Residence Inn Marriott and to save money by “bundling” your lodging reservation with the purchase of show and attraction tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

Did you know this about the US Army Corps of Engineers and Table Rock Lake?

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake  Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

When Table Rock Dam was completed in 1959 it formed Table Rock Lake, with its 43,100 surface acres and 745 mile shoreline of aquatic fun, adventure and scenic beauty. Along with Silver Dollar City and Branson’s live shows,it is one of the lynchpins that helps make Branson such a wonderful unique travel destination.

Table Rock Lake is owned, managed and controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (Corps). The Corps is directly involved in all aspects of the lakes use, both by daily visitors and the many commercial operations on the lake that enhances its recreational value. Recently, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) had the opportunity to interview Mr. James Sandberg (JS), the Operations Project Manager responsible for all of the Corps operations at Table Rock Lake. His responses and insights are presented below in a “Q and A” format.

BTC: What is your position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and what does it entail?
JS: Operations Project Manager. I am responsible for all of the operations here at Table Rock Lake including natural resource management, recreation, flood damage reduction, hydro power operations and serve as the liaison between the public and our District office in Little Rock.

BTC: How long have you been at Table Rock Lake?
JS: I started as a Park Ranger in 1989 left for another assignment in 2002 and have had my current position since December of 2006.

BTC: What were the three main reasons Table Rock Dam was built?
JS: First and foremost, flood damage reduction, then hydropower and water supply.

BTC: Water supply?
JS: The allocation for water was for the fish hatchery [Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery] just below the dam. Right now there is no allocation for residential/domestic use.

BTC: Where does recreation and fishing come in under that hierarchy?
JS: Recreation is one of the Corps missions, but it was not one of the authorized purposes of the project. Recreation is an authorized mission, as well as natural resources, but we do not make any changes on the management of the Water Control Plan based on recreation or natural resource management.

BTC: Why do the “normal,” levels of Table Rock Lake fluctuate from 915 feet to 917 feet at different times of the year?
JS: We maintain a “normal conservation level” of 915 above MSL between December 1 and May 31 when it is increased to a “seasonal conservation level” of 917 above MSL until November 30. The increased level is authorized by the Water Control Plan so that we can make the minimum releases during that period required to maintain oxygen levels and water temperature downstream for the trout fishery.

BTC: Does the Corps manage tourism related activities on Table Rock Lake?
JS: Yes, we have 12 recreation areas that we run and 15 commercial marinas that we manage for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. In addition, we have more than 100 “Limited-Motel Resort” leases we manage that support recreational activities and tourism on Table Rock Lake.

BTC: So if there is a resort, marina or other business operation on Table Rock Lake it is operated in co-operation with the Corps?
JS: Correct. Table Rock Lake is a federally owned project and owns the vast majority of the lakes shoreline. As a general rule any commercial business on Table Rock Lake operates through a lease or other agreement with the Corps.

BTC: What are the primary Corps facilities or managed areas that Branson visitors are most likely to come in contact with?
JS: Table Rock State Park and the State Park Marina, the Dewey Short Visitors Center at Table Rock Dam, the recreation areas [which include camp grounds and boat launching ramps] at Indian Point, Cricket Creek Old Highway 86, as well as Mill Creek and Aunts Creek and of course “Moon Shine Beach” located on the north end of Table Rock Dam which is one of our most popular areas.

BTC: What is the impact of Table Rock Lake on tourism in the Branson area?
JS: I think it is a big part of the recreation and tourism in the Branson area. I have been given some number that recreation in Stone and Taney Counties is a two to three billion dollar industry of which Table Rock Lake is directly responsible for about 25% of that. It is estimated that visitors to just the Corps operated recreation areas spend about $60 million per year in the local economy and that’s not counting the other areas on Table Rock Lake such as Big Cedar, Chateau on the Lake, Table Rock State Park and Marina and the other commercial marinas, resorts etc. operating in cooperation with the Corps.

BTC: In closing, what one thought would you like to leave with our readers?
JS: The Corps wants to make sure that we maintain the resources that we have at Table Rock Lake so locals, visitors and their families can enjoy them now and that future generations will also be able to enjoy this precious resource. We want to be proactive in protecting the lake to make sure that it stays the lake that we all enjoy today.

 

 

“Buzzin in Branson” buzzes for February 2015

Dublin's Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies open their 2015 Branson season on February 12.

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies open their 2015 Branson season on February 12.

Branson “Buzz of the Month:” Branson’s 21st Annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show on February 2. This fabulous one night only show features music, entertainment and comedy acts from some of Branson’s best shows, all of which are open for Branson’s Hot Winter including Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Grand Jubilee; Legends In Concert; “it” from the Hughes Brothers Theater; Paul Harris & The Cleverlys; Acrobats of China featuring New Shanghai Circus; AYO – starring Voices of Glory and SIX to name just a few. While we’re at it, we are going to highlight another special day in February for many people by asking this question, “Could Branson be the perfect Valentine for your sweetheart?” “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. It is in a concise and easy to read format that conveniently provides pertinent and timely comments, information and a list of the major special events, shows and activities for the month being “Buzzed” which, in this case is February 2015.

February 2015 Buzzes

Feb. 1 – Feb. 28: Sweetheart Month at Titanic Feb. 2: 21st Annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show Feb. 13: Tri Lakes Building & Home Show Feb.13 – Feb. 16: Presidents Day Weekend: Just have to believe that there will Presidents Day Sales galore in Branson Outlet Malls, Branson Landing and many other places. Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day Feb. 14: 2015 Polar Bear Plunge Feb. 20 – Feb 22: VisionCon Anime, Gaming, Sci-Fi Convention Feb. 22: 2015 Branson Bridal Show Feb. 26 – Feb 28: 2015 Kenneth Copeland Branson Victory Campaign Feb. 27 – Mar 1: Edgewater USAG Woman’s Artistic Gymnastics Classic Feb 28: Vince Elfrink Memorial Fishing Tournament at Lilley’s Landing Feb. 28: World Sword Swallower’s Day Events at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Many of Branson’s shows close for a period during the winter months. Although it should be pointed out that there are shows re-opening on a regular basis, here is a non-inclusive list of the shows that will be performing during February as of January 8:

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies Grand Jubilee Haygoods Legends in Concert New Jersey Nights Pierce Arrow Absolutely Patsy Amazing Pets Bon Jovi Tribute Comedy Jamboree Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute Show Dixie Stampede Doowop Pop and Soul Tribute Show Eagles Tribute Concert Hot Winter Fun Big Show it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre Journey Tribute Ozark Mountain Jubilee Sunday Gospel Jubilee The Big Show

With winter weather and, the reopening of shows things can change. Please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, for additional information, tickets or hotel reservations by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Could Branson be the perfect Valentine for your sweetheart?

Valentine's DayWhen Thomas Hood wrote the words, “Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine” he just might have had Branson, Missouri in mind as the place to show that someone special that they “Art every day my Valentine!” “Valentine’s Day Falls on a four day weekend because Monday, February 16 is “Presidents Day,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, “and that, coupled with Branson’s shows, attractions, restaurants, shopping and everything else there is to do in Branson provides a unique opportunity to show your Valentine just how special they are.” Since the movie “Titanic,” with its beautiful love story and theme song “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion, romance has had a resurgence as part of the Titanic lore. The celebration, memory and history of the Titanic, her crew and passengers is a daily privilege for those working aboard the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction and February is “Sweetheart Month.” How special would it be to your Valentine to renew your vows or receive a proposal on the steps of the Titanic’s magnificent “Grand Staircase” that is an “exact full sized replica of the original and just like the one Rose and Jack ascended in the movie?” In addition, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, meet Helen Benziger, the Great Granddaughter of Margaret “Unsinkable Molly” Brown and see, for a limited time only, the display of her family’s prized possession, the LOVING CUP. For most, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a special meal. From the simple down home cooking of the “Branson Café” in historic downtown Branson, to the elegant cuisine of the “Level 2 Steak House” or the “Chateau on the Lake,” and many in between, Branson offers a variety of choices for every budget to help you and your Valentine have that memorable Valentine’s Day dining experience. A number of Branson’s shows will be offering a wide variety of live entertainment to share with your Valentine including: Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies Grand Jubilee The Haygoods Legends in Concert Absolutely Patsy Amazing Pets Bon Jovi Tribute Comedy Jamboree it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre Eagles Tribute Concert Pierce Arrow In addition to the Titanic Museum Attraction, many of Branson’s other attractions will be open for Valentine’s Day weekend. These include attractions such at Branson’s Promised Land Zoo, National Tiger Sanctuary, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and, weather permitting, the Thousand Hills Golf. Why not plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with your special Valentine, in Branson? For additional information on celebrating Valentine’s Day in Branson or tickets for 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 calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Magnificent Branson Landing Fountains are a gem of color, sound and excitement

The Branson Landing Fountain fire cannons lighting up the Lake Taneycomo Lakefront.

The Branson Landing Fountain fire cannons lighting up the Lake Taneycomo Lakefront.

Branson Landing is simultaneously one of Branson’s premier shopping destinations and “attractions.” According to the Branson Lakes Area CVB more Branson visitors visit Branson Landing than at any other Branson “attraction. “I believe that its popularity is based on a combination of its 100 retail stores and restaurants, location on beautiful Lake Taneycomo and its spectacular $7.5 million free water attraction presenting the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s dazzling display of water fountains shooting 120-foot geysers of water high into the air with fire cannons blasting out huge balls of flame, all synchronized and choreographed to light and music is an amazing thing to experience,” she added.

Here are a few things about the fountains and show that we hope you will find interesting:

1. Location – The centerpiece of Branson Landing, the fountains are located on the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo, at the east end of its Town Square in the center of Branson Landing, a $435 million public/private multiuse project spanning 1.5 miles of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo. It’s combination of luxury condos and over 120 retail stores, kiosks and restaurants including “eclectic shops, national retailers, fine dining, intimate cafes and nightspots,” a floating restaurant and the spectacular free Branson Landing Fountains makes it one of the most popular attractions in Branson.

2. Schedule and Frequency – The approximately three minute shows start at Noon and run through 10:00 PM daily, except Sunday when the last show is 9:00 PM. They are held every hour on the hour until 8:00 PM at which time, except for Sunday, they are every 30 minutes. Click here for the schedule of shows and the numbers that will be playing.

3. Best time to see the show – Although shows start daily at Noon, we believe that the best time to experience the full effect of the show with the lights interacting with the water and the blasting flame cannons is at dusk or after dark which, obviously will fluctuate with the time of the year you are visiting Branson.

4. Weather Impact – As would be expected with an outdoor show of this type, performances are weather dependent. As a general rule, the chance of this increases with colder weather and you should expect cancellations when the temperatures are 32 degrees or lower because of freezing spray or equipment freezing.

5. The Branson Landing Fountains Actually Use Water From Lake Taneycomo – About 1,000 gallons of water are pulled from Lake Taneycomo, filtered, shot 120 feet into the air and released back into the lake for each three minute show.

6. Rotation of Music – Each three minute show generally consists of one piece of music choreographed with the lights, water, fire cannon and movement of the fountain spray to present a dazzling and memorable experience of both sight and sound. The Noon show is always the “Stars Spangled Banner.” After that there is a selection of numbers rotated throughout the day. Click here for the schedule of what number will be playing and when. Tammy Scholten, the Director of Marketing and Entertainment for Branson Landing reminds us that the musical selections are updated periodically and said, “Don’t miss the newest fountain shows, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi and ‘Hoe-Down Rodeo Ballet’ by Aaron Copland – London Symphony Orchestra.”

7. Relationship to Bellagio Fountain show in Las Vegas – Although on a smaller scale, the fountains and show were created by “Wet Design,” the same company that created the Bellagio Fountain show in Las Vegas. In addition, it incorporated an element element the Bellagio Show doesn’t have, booming fire cannons spitting out their huge balls of fire.

Special preview on what’s new in Branson for 2015

Spirit of the Dance will again be performing in Branson as part of its encore tour.

Spirit of the Dance will again be performing in Branson as part of its encore tour.

“From a unique cave tour evolving into what is today, the international award winning 1880′s styled theme park, “Silver Dollar City” to “Branson Landing,” one of Missouri’s most unique shopping venues with over 100 specialty stores, restaurants and its free spectacular $7.5 million water attraction, Branson is constantly evolving and changing to provide its visitors with a fresh, new and exciting experience while maintaining its small town heart, spirit and visitor experience,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Here’s a list of some of the changes we are aware of for the 2015 Branson season that we believe Branson visitors might find interesting,” she added.

ATTRACTIONS

Fireman’s Landing (Silver Dollar City) – Its new $8 million “Fireman’s Landing, “containing 10 new family adventures,” will continue the parks 1880s theme and is themed and as an 1880′s volunteer recruitment fair with rides and attractions for ages 3 to 93. Brad Thomas, the General Manager of the park, said that one of the things he likes best about “Fireman’s Landing” is that “families will be able to have fun together and we love it when we can bring families together and allow them to have fun as a family unit.”

One of the featured rides will be “Fireman’s Firefall” rising 80 feet into the air for a beautiful view of the Ozark Mountains; “but,” says Thomas, “You’ve got to keep your eyes open because in a second you go from 80 feet in the air all the way to the ground.” Lisa Rau, said, “Construction is right on target for its April 2015 Grand Opening.”

Harlem Globetrotters (Silver Dollar City) – The “Harlem Globetrotters will perform three times a day during Silver Dollar City’s “Star-Spangled Summer, a family-focused festival, running from June 6 through July 19. This exciting and entertaining 30 minute show will feature “highlights from the Globetrotters’ one-of-a-kind touring show.”

Parakeet Pete’s Balloon Rides (Branson Landing) – When completed by next spring, the “tethered” balloon ride will tower 180 feet above Branson Landing. Its unique construction permits its riders to experience the thrill of a hot air balloon ride without the weather restrictions that hamper the operation of the typical tethered balloon ride operating outside of a tower. The ride will be handicap accessible and there will be no age requirements so virtually anyone will be able to experience the thrill and enjoyment of the ride.

SHOWS

Million Dollar Quartet _ “The Welk Resort Theatre is proud to present an all-new production of the “Million Dollar Quartet.” The Tony Award winning Broadway musical is inspired by the electrifying true story of one of the most famed recording sessions of all time, where Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought together icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for one unforgettable night. Featuring a treasure trove of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits from these music legends, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Ghost Riders,” and “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Million Dollar Quartet captures the infectious spirit and thrilling sounds of a singular moment when four of the music industry’s most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history. Million Dollar Quartet opens June 2015 and runs through December at Welk Resort Theatre.”

Spirit of the Dance the Encore Tour – Branson’s most popular dance production, “Spirit of the Dance,” is returning to Branson, after its “its International record breaking “Dream Tour.” to delight and captivate Branson audiences for the 2015 season. “Spirit of the Dance” is one of the most successful shows ever to come out of Ireland, has been seen by more than thirty million people around the world and “has won nine Global Awards, including ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best International Production.’”

Puttin’ on the Ritz – “Puttin’on the Ritz,” currently appearing to sold out venues worldwide on its current tour with “Spirit Productions,” will be performing at the King’s Palace Theatre in Branson for the 2015 season. It features the most innovative song and dance routines from major musical films over the last 50 years of the golden age of Hollywood and a dazzling tribute to the Award Winning Fred Astaire recreated live on stage. The elegance, grace, originality and precision of tap, ballet, and ballroom dancing is promised to be “one of Branson’s most thrilling experience in 2015!”

Twice Adopted – Although this amazing group of adopted children has performed in Branson before, they did not perform in 2014. The sudden tragic death of the “mother” last year has inspired the kids and has resulted in a unique, inspirational show filled with absolutely beautiful music that will not only entertain the whole family, but touch your heart in a special way.

Terry Fator – The “America’s Got Talent” winner returns to Branson for two nights only on April 18 and 19 at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

Moon River and Me – New show at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater

The Hits Starring the Osmonds – Andy Williams Moon River Theatre

Branson Landing Fountain Show – (Branson Landing) There will be three new “Fountain Shows added to the 2015 schedule including “Carol of the Bells” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a the unforgettable “Hoe-Down Rodeo Ballet” by Aaron Copland – London Symphony Orchestra and “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

Wake Up With Yakov – Brand new morning show with one of Americas most beloved comedians, Yakov Smirnoff.

Buckets N Boards – This comedy percussion show that’s chock-full of precise percussion, ridiculous songs, spectacular tap dancing, inventive instrumentation, and incredibly unique musical talent is moving to the Starlite Theatre for the 2015 season.

#1 Hits of the 60′s (and 50′s Too) –  Amber Campell, the owner of the show and one of its entertainers, said that they are really enthused about moving to the Americana Theatre for their 2015 season, that it’s their 13th year in Branson and the opportunity the move affords for expanding the shows production. She is especially excited about adding a live band to the show in the 2015.

Acrobats of China – Moving from the RFD Theatre to Yakov’s Theatre

Fair Family – Moving to the Americana Theatre

George Dyer – Branson’s premier resident tenor will be moving his George Dyer show from the morning slot at the Duttons theatre to the afternoon slot.

RESTAURANTS

Buffalo Wild Wings is opening in Branson Landing on January 5.

Chick fil A, located just east of the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 65, is progressing nicely and it looks like it will be open for the start of the 2015 season if not earlier.

Located near the Titanic Museum Attraction, "Pasghetti’s" is well under way for a 2015 opening.

Located near the Titanic Museum Attraction, “Pasghetti’s” is well under way for a 2015 opening.

Pasghetti’s, an Italian restaurant will open next to the Starlite Theatre on 76 County Boulevard. Although no definite date has been announced for the opening, this photo, taken on Dec. 30 indicates that its construction is well underway. It is anticipated that its 15 foot meatball with its 50 foot fork sticking out of it will become another “Branson Strip Icon.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that these are just some of the changes we are aware of at this time and that things are constantly evolving in the Branson tourism industry. She suggests that one way to stay abreast of what is happening is through a free subscription to Branson Tourism Center’s free Exclusive Branson News and Information Newsletter. She also points out that the free assistance of a Branson based “Branson Tourism Center Trip Planner” is available to answer any questions or assist with show or lodging reservations by calling 1-800-785-1550.

Is everyday Christmas to Benjamin Dutton?

The Duttons, with Benjamin and Brande Dutton, in blue to the left.

The Duttons, with Benjamin and Brande Dutton, in blue to the left.

After seeing one of the last Branson performances of the fabulous Dutton’s Christmas show prior to them leaving for their winter season shows in Mesa, AZ, I interviewed Benjamin Dutton for a “Branson Up Close and Personal” piece which will be published in February. Maybe it was the influence of just having experienced the Dutton family performing together or the Christmas feeling, spirit and emotion it evoked, but his response to one of the questions I routinely ask, even though not a Christmas question, just touched my heart as a special Christmas blessing.

When I asked Benjamin, “What do you like best about performing in Branson?” he instantly replied, “What I like best about performing in Branson is the opportunity to make a living with my family. To have the opportunity that I have to go to work every day with my wife and my children and for my children to relate every day with their grandparents, their cousins and their aunts and uncles. Economics tend to draw families apart because people go to where the jobs are. It’s very rare in this day and age that a whole family can work together side by side and that has afforded so many blessings that I will be eternally grateful for. I could not have asked for anything better.”

Even as I write these words, the sincerity, emotion, and genuineness that I felt and the look of happiness and contentment I saw on his face comes rushing back. I doubt there will be a kid in this whole country that will have more joy on their face over the gifts they receive this Christmas then I saw on Benjamin’s face as he answered that question.

I sensed that he knows he has been given a special gift, but doesn’t take it for granted. He loves and appreciates that gift every day, not only in terms of his wife Brande, of whom he said, “When I think about Brande I think I am the most blessed man in the world,” and their four sons, Benjamin, Isaac, Christian and Luke, but his mom, dad, brothers, sisters nieces and nephews.

Benjamin’s response is a reminder, as we exchange gifts this Christmas that we might have already received one of the most valuable gifts of all, the relationships with the very people with whom we are exchanging gifts. Let us appreciate those relationships, not take them for granted and, I believe, like Benjamin, celebrate “Christmas” every day.

Note: The Duttons will be performing in their Mesa Arizona Shows through April 4 and debut their 2015 Branson show in Branson on April 8.