Branson Tourism Center wins Southwest Missouri’s Better Business Bureau 2017 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics

“It was an honor just to be a finalist for the Torch Award,” said Tammy Johnson, Vice President and General Manager of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Actually winning the BBB Torch Award, with so many worthy nominees, is as humbling as it is awesome,” she added.

Johnson said that it’s a testimony to the dedication, effort, and character of Branson Tourism Center’s employees and the Branson vendors they market for. “Our team ‘makes it happen’ every day as they share Branson and help its visitors have the very best Branson experience possible,” she said. “The principles this award embodies, ‘excellence in customer care, marketplace excellence, advancing marketplace trust and consumer leadership,’ are an inherent part of our daily interactions with our customers and vendors. It’s what we strive for every day,” Johnson added.

Over the last 14 years, BTC has sold nearly 5 million show and attraction tickets and hundreds of thousands of room-nights in the Branson marketplace building trusted relationships with its valued customers and vendors. Johnson said, “From a business and economic perspective ‘what’ we have done is important. Equally important however, and what winning the ‘Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics” signifies, is ‘how’ we did it.”

About Branson Tourism Center

Branson Tourism Center, established in 2003, is a marketing company specializing in packaging and individual sales of lodging, shows, attractions and restaurants within Branson to prospective visitors.  It’s one of 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.

Best Branson Insider Highlights for April 2017

There just something special about Spring in the Ozarks!

April is the month where our Ozark Hills bloom into the full freshness and beauty of spring,” said, Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “April is also when Branson’s shows and attractions ‘burst into the bloom’ of their 2017 seasons,” she added.

Here’s our Featured Show and Event of the Month, with a list of the highlights of special events you can enjoy in Branson during the month of April:

Featured Show of the Month: The Haygoods are celebrating their 25th year of entertaining Branson Audiences in 2017. Starting as youngsters at Silver Dollar City, these incredible artists have developed a unique iconic style of quality high energy entertainment. They are constantly re-energizing and changing their performances throughout the year to meet the expectations of their anticipated audience. How good is this show? When I saw it, I wrote, “Based on over 30 years of seeing Branson shows, I can testify to the fact that it’s, “Really terrific!” A WOW, WOW, and WOW, on a Three WOW Scale with three WOWs being as high as you can get! From the “Get go,” its two hours of the most unique, innovative, talented, energetic, personable, and exciting entertainment you will ever experience on a Branson stage.

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Kris Kristofferson for one night only! Heralded as an artist’s artist, the three-time GRAMMY winner wrote and recorded the hit songs Me and Bobby McGee, For the Good Times, Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down and Help Me Make It Through the Night. In addition to many other awards, Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, winner of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter Hall of Fame, and was honored with the American Veteran’s Association’s “Veteran of the Year Award” in 2002.

Featured Event of the Month: Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients, Thursday, April 20 through Saturday, April 22. It’s a unique event remembering, honoring, serving, and entertaining those receiving the ‘Purple Heart’ as the result of combat wounds suffered while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. It’s designed to allow time for the attendees to spend time with one another, experience Branson, and participate in events that honor, entertain and support them. All the activities are free to Purple Heart Recipients. For additional information or to Register, please call 1-800-268-4014 or go to the Branson.Com Honors Purple Heart Recipients website.

Limited Engagements (Sorted by starting date.)

Apr 7: Kris Kristofferson
Apr 7: The Dean Z Show
Apr 8: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest
Apr 12: Ricky Nelson Remembered
Apr 19-20: Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Apr 21-22: Oak Ridge Boys
Apr 21-22: Branson Music Fest

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Apr 1-2: Big Bass Tour Table Rock Tournament
Apr 1-May 31: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
Apr 6-8: 2017 Kenneth Copeland Branson Victory Campaign
Apr 6-30: Silver Dollar City Presents a Festival of Wonder
Apr 8: FLW Ozark Division Bass Fishing Tournament
Apr 8: C.A.M. Benefit Trout Tournament
Apr 8: Easter Bunny Festival
Apr 15: MCDA Cheer and Dance Championships
Apr 15: Hollister Easter Egg Hunt
Apr 15: Branson RecPlex Easter Egg Hunt
Apr 15: Easter Egg Hunt – Rockaway Beach
Apr 16: Easter Cruise on Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess
Apr 16: Easter Shopping at Tanger Outlets
Apr 16: Easter Brunch at Chateau on the Lake
Apr 16: Easter Weekend in Branson
Apr 16: Keeter Center Easter Brunch
Apr 17-Apr 23: Legends of Golf Presented by Bass Pro Shops
Apr 19: College of the Ozarks to dedicate The Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial
Apr 20: Hootenanny in the Park
Apr 20-22: Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients Weekend
Apr 21-22: Branson Music Fest
Apr 21-22: The Branson Collector Car Auction
Apr 21-23: Taneycomo Throwdown
Apr 27-28: JMH Righteous Revolution Rally
Apr 29: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure on Lake Taneycomo

For additional information on these events, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations and there’s absolutely no charge for this service

How many of these free Branson experiences would your family enjoy?

The free downtown trolley is a great way to get an overview of Historic downtown Branson, Branson Landing, and Lake Taneycomo.

“With its great shows, attractions, and so much more  there’s always something fresh and exciting to do in Branson,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Although many have admission charges there’s so much  for families to do that doesn’t cost anything,” he added.

Recently we asked the following question on our Facebook page, “What’s your favorite ‘free’ thing to do in Branson?” How many of these unique experiences would your family enjoy doing?

Historic Downtown Branson’s “Free Trolley:” The Free Trolley is a great way to get a survey of the Historic Downtown District, the Branson Convention Center, Branson Landing and the Lake Taneycomo shoreline. It runs on a constant loop passing several Branson landmarks. You will see the grave site of Ruben S. Branson, Branson’s first theater, the Branson Convention Center, Branson Landing, and the spot where the “Baldknobbers” performed Branson’s first live music show over half a century ago.

Although there are many places to board the trolley in historic downtown Branson, we would recommend boarding at Branson Landing either near Bass Pro Shops or by the Belk store. This avoids the two-hour parking limits that cover most of the parking in the historic district. The trolley runs March-December daily, 9 AM – 6 PM except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Branson Landing Fountains: The fountains are in the middle of Branson Landing on the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo, at its Town Square. They’re the centerpiece of a $7.5 million spectacular water attraction. It’s the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music with water fountains. This one of a kind show features shooting 120-foot geysers going up into the air and “fire cannons,” all choreographed to lights and music.

The Branson Landing Boardwalk: Millions go to Branson Landing each year to shop. One of its unique features is the Branson Landing Boardwalk. Following Lake Taneycomo’s shoreline, the 1.5-mile Boardwalk is concrete, level, and accessible providing a unique chance to experience the lake and its wild life, birds, and natural beauty up close.

Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery: The Missouri Department of Conservation runs the Hatchery. It’s part of a 211 acre complex consisting of the hatchery, trails, a wildlife refuge, and a Visitor Center.

The Visitor’s Center features an interesting nature display and a short video. The video shows What it takes to produce the trout making Lake Taneycomo one of the premier trout fisheries in the nation. There’s a huge aquarium with some of the largest Brown and Rainbow Trout that most people will ever see.

Guided tours of the hatchery leave from the Visitors Center each weekday, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Visitors may tour the “race ways” on their own during normal business hours and see tens of thousands of trout in the various stages of development. The Visitor Center opens at 9:00 a.m. every day except, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. It’s located at the foot of Table Rock Dam just off State Highway 165.

Want to experience something you will never forget? Take your family on an early morning summer walk along one of readily accessible lakeside trails. The fog rising off Lake Taneycomo is a beautiful thing to see as it interacts with winds and the rising sun. It’s the kind of unique sights that creates memories that can last a lifetime!

Dick’s Old-time 5 & 10 and Historic Downtown Branson: Historic Downtown Branson is an authentic downtown that’s a Branson attraction of the best kind, with fine art, flea markets, antiques, clothing and jewelry boutiques, cafes, music shows, and more. No visitor to Branson should miss downtown’s retail centerpiece, Dick’s Oldtime 5 & 10! You’ll be launched back to your childhood of visiting the local variety store, complete with green and white tiled floors, everyday household goods, and fun Branson souvenirs. Locals will tell you “if you don’t find it at Dick’s, it just can’t be found!”

For more information on these activities, or Branson shows, attractions and lodging, please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center, toll-free, at 1-800-785-1550.

 

Welk Resort’s INSPIRED FOR YOU redefines family lodging fun in Branson

The beautiful Welk Resort in Branson is INSPIRED FOR YOU.

For over 20 years, the luxurious 159 room Welk Resort  has been giving its guests inspired gracious service and one of the finest lodging experiences in Branson. Chris Cathcart, a Welk Resort Marketing Manager, sums it up in five words saying, “Welk Resort has it all!”

He said that there’s nothing else like it in Branson. Its ideal location; recent multimillion dollar remodel of the complete hotel, including all 159 guestrooms; its large 2000 seat theater, currently featuring the smash musical hit Million Dollar Quartet; indoor ‘Splash-A-Torium;’ restaurant; amenities; and selection of activities for all ages, provides a lodging experience unequaled in Branson.

Those factors would certainly be important considerations for anyone selecting a Branson hotel, but its selection of “amenities and activities for all ages and interests” truly sets it apart from any other hotel in Branson! Welk’s INSPIRED FOR YOU activities adds a new dimension of fun and family togetherness to all that Branson offers.

“You’ll find ways to laugh with the ones you love, taste brand new flavors, experience local art and culture and rebalance your mind, body and spirit,” said Dathan Atchison, the General Manager, CHA of Welk Resorts Branson. “INSPIRED FOR YOU has been created to stimulate every one of your five senses, provide you with a true sense of place in Branson and to push the limits of outrageous fun,” he continued.

And it’s more than just words! It’s real people having real fun together.  I went over to the “activities center” to interview the Welk Resort’s activity director for some information to include in a general story on the resort. A pretty young lady came up to get a painting which was on the table in front of us. That changed the whole tenor of my intended story.

Kids having fun at one of the many INSPIRED FOR YOU activities scheduled throughout the day.

Young Miss Katie Desouza did the painting the evening before during the resorts “Creative Canvas” activity. She said, “I did a sunset and wanted a bird on it.” She didn’t get a chance to do it the evening before because the canvas was still wet when they went to see the movie. She was back with her mom, Kelly, eagerly anticipating adding the bird. The Welk staff set her up with paints and brushes.

When I left, Miss Katie was excitedly adding the bird to her painting and anticipating taking part in the “Hula Hoop Happy Hour” activity, and maybe winning a brownie Sunday, later that afternoon. Her mom said, “I wish I had known about these activities when I made my reservations. There’s so much to do and it’s all right here.”

That’s when it hit me. At the end of the day, most hotels are a place to sleep and maybe swim while you go elsewhere to do “things.” In addition to the fun and excitement available in Branson at every turn, the Welk Resorts “INSPIRED FOR YOU” adds a unique opportunity for families to have some up close and personal fun, enjoying activities together, in a quieter intimate atmosphere.

Jeremiah Jones, the Activities Director for the Branson Welk Resort said, “We have planned supervised activities seven days a week. Our mission is to provide an opportunity for families to come together, have fun, and create some unforgettable moments.” To help make that happen, they offer lots of different fun activities for families to pick from. “And we have lots,’” he said. “So many in fact that we publish an INSPIRED FOR YOU Guide that changes as seasonal events are added.

When asked for an example of a seasonal event that would be added Jones described the “Taneycomo Kayak Adventure.” The guests are picked up at the hotel and transported to the “put in area” on Lake Taneycomo near the Table Rock Dam. In the company of a Welk Guide, they take a leisurely kayak paddle down beautiful Lake Taneycomo. When they get to the Cooper Creek Take Out they are met and transported back to the hotel.

Welks fantastic 10,000 square foot Splash-A-Torium featuring a 100 foot water slide, a kid’s splash-zone, and an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub

Most activities are generally available on a year-round basis and focus around the Resorts Activity Center near the ‘Splash-A-Torium.” These include fun and exciting activities designed for families to share together including Archery, “Cupcake Wars,” “Drive in Movies” Fishing in the resorts private pond for bass and bluegill, “Hula Hoop Happy Hour,” “Spy Camp,” and many more. OK, this one probably isn’t for the whole family, but it does illustrate the diversity of the activities offered, “Craft Beer Tasting.”

Activities are generally scheduled from10:00 AM to 8:15 PM daily. While there is no charge for most of the activities, there is a minimal charge for some, including the “Taneycomo Kayak Adventure,” “Cup Cake Wars,” and others. Jones points out that the purpose of the program is to encourage families to do things together and that children 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

“The quality of the Welk Resort and its INSPIRED FOR YOU program offers a unique opportunity for families to combine its activities with the best of what Branson has to offer to create a unique Branson lodging experience,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “And it gets even better. For an extra special experience, there’s a fantastic 10,000 square foot ‘Splash-A-Torium’ featuring a 100-foot water slide, a kid’s splash-zone, an indoor/outdoor pool, and hot tub! Access to the water park comes with some lodging packages, or can be added to others.”

For more information on the Welk Resort, its INSPIRED FOR YOU program, or Branson shows and attractions, please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550. A Branson based Vacation Specialists will be happy to answer any questions and help with reservations, ticketing, and getting the best available show seats. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM. The Branson Tourism Center can also be reached through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Branson Up Close and Personal with the Million Dollar Quartet’s “Dyanne”-Sarah Tweedle

Sarah Tweedle as “Dyanne,” in Million Dollar Quartet

The smash hit show Million Dollar Quartet, at the Welk Resort Theatre in Branson, tells the story of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history. A unique, impromptu, and one time jam session including four young recording legends-to-be: Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The events of what took place in the storefront recording studio of Sun Records on December 4, 1956, come to life on the Branson stage in a wonderful musical production for the ages.

Also there that night, was a young lady who was with Elvis Presley. That presence provides the basis for the character Dyanne in the show.  This edition of Branson Up Close and Personal, is with Sarah Tweedle (ST) who plays the role of “Dyanne” in this “ground shaking” not to be missed Branson production

“Branson – Up Close and Personal” is a service of Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. It uses a “Question and Answer” format to provide readers with an up close and personal look at a Branson star or personality. The interviews are conducted for the Branson Tourism Center by Gary Groman, a 31 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist, and freelance writer.

BTC: Outside of your Dad, if you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
ST: Judy Garland 100 %! The first movie I remember watching as a kid was the “Wizard of Oz.” My dad bought it and we would watched it over and over and over again. I absolutely feel that it inspired me to become an entertainer.

BTC: Where was your last gig before theMillion Dollar Quartet
ST: My husband and I were working for Carnival Cruise Lines cruising the Caribbean.

BTC: When did you get married?
ST: I married my husband Drew on May 10, 2015. We have known each other since elementary school.

BTC: Is he an entertainer too?
ST: He’s a spectacular guitar player. He plays in the Eagles Tribute Concert and the Lynyrd Skynyrd & Suthyrn Fryd Frynds Tribute shows at the Tribute Theatre.

BTC: Where is home?
ST: Branson.

BTC: When did you first hear about the musical Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: I was a musical theatre major. My first introduction to the Million Dollar Quartet was in 2010 when I was watching the Tony Awards with my family. It was nominated for a Tony Award as “Best Musical” and one of the actors [Levi Kreis] won the Tony for “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his role as Jerry Lee Lewis in the show.

BTC: When did you hear about the Million Dollar Quartet in Branson?
ST: While working aboard the cruise ships in 2015. We got reports that the Million Dollar Quartet had opened in Branson and would really be a ground shaking production for the town.

BTC: Where did you audition for the Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: In my living room.

BTC: How did that come about?
ST: I had heard about the role opening up while we were on the cruise ships. We didn’t get back until the end of October 2015. I was a little burnt out and kind of wanted to rest a bit before making any decisions about what to do next, but I kept on hearing about the role. In early 2016, I decided to get in touch with people I knew at the theatre. They sent me some songs and scenes and asked me to set up a video camera in my living room and record myself. I did, sang “Fever” and “I Hear You Knocking,” read a scene, and sent them to Chris Cathcart, the show’s Production Manager. A couple of days later I went in for a meeting. Shortly after the meeting I was offered the part.

BTC: What made you decide to audition for the part of “Dyanne” in Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: I am a musical theatre major and I love musical theatre. Up to the Million Dollar Quartet, I have always done review shows or fronted rock bands. To be able to be part of a show in Branson that was a book musical, where I could build a character, memorize lines, and be a part of the new age of musical theatre in Branson, really excited me.

BTC: They used the real names of everyone else in the show. Why do you think that they used the name “Dyanne” instead of her real name, “Marilyn,” in the show?
ST: That’s an interesting story. Elvis actually did bring a woman, Marilyn Evans, with him that night. In “The Picture,” if you zoom out, she is sitting at the end of the piano. Her involvement in the jam session was minimal except for the fact that she had come with Elvis. The producers of the show developed a new character, “Dyanne”, who sings and adds an additional dimension to the show that would otherwise not be there.

BTC: What did you know about Marilyn Evans prior to deciding to audition for the Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: I had seen the picture with her in it, but didn’t really know anything about her.

BTC: What is your favorite Elvis Presley song? Why?
ST: “Can’t Help Falling In Love” because of its beautiful message.

BTC: What do you like most about playing “Dyanne” in the Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: There’s two things. The first is that everything she does, vocally and music wise, is different from the last thing she did. “Fever” is quiet and sultry, but “I Hear You Knocking,” is big and I get to wail on some stuff. In “Peace in the Valley” I get to sing with the boys, and I get to use some of my classical training in some of the backgrounds such as “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The second thing I love is that I have the best seat in the house. I get to sit on stage every night and get to watch my incredibly talented cast mates “rock and roll.”

BTC: Whether you’re in it or not what’s your favorite part of the show?
ST: I really love the Concert Finale. I’m not even on stage, but when the jackets come down and the boys go into their finale it’s a joy to experience the audience’s excitement and reaction!

BTC: Why should someone coming to Branson plan to see the Million Dollar Quartet?
ST: It’s a beautiful top notch production, full of fun and timeless music, telling a story that entertains and spans generations. There’s nothing else like it in Branson. And be ready, because once you see it you will want to come back and see it again!

BTC: In your career, of all the performances you have made and you have been in, no matter how big or small, which one personally meant the most to you and why?
ST: In 2013 my dad [John Tweed] and I did a show called “Reelin’ in the Years” that we had developed together. It was toward the end of the season and my brother Jacob, who is my best friend and who had never performed on stage with us, did. He came out on stage and sang, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” as my dad played guitar and I just sat next to them crying.

BTC: Where were you born?
ST: Costa Mesa, California

BTC: When?
ST: January 15, 1988.

BTC: Was there something special about your childhood that you think our readers would be interested in?
ST: Just that I was blessed growing up in a family surrounded by music.

BTC: When did you realize that you wanted to sing professionally?
ST: When I was 14 we went to New York City and I saw “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway. I remember walking out of the theatre and matter of factly saying to myself, “I think I’ll do that!”

BTC: Do you have any formal training in theatre or acting?
ST: I’m a graduate of the two year “Musical Theatre Program” of the “American Musical and Dramatic Academy” in Hollywood, CA. I loved it because most of the teaching staff were working professionals.

BTC: When did you first perform in Branson?
ST: When we moved here in April of 1995.

BTC: What was you first impression of Branson?
ST: I was just seven years old when we moved here from Los Angeles. I thought it was exciting and had a lot of fun things to do.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
ST: I sew a lot. My “Happy Place” is in front of my sewing machine.

BTC: Do you have a “little known” fact about yourself that you think our readers would like to know?
ST: I’m such a big Judy Garland fan that I actually wore ruby slippers when I got married and walked down the aisle to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

For additional information or tickets for the Million Dollar Quartet, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Husted family reunion hits Branson Trifecta!

Two of the shows the Husteds will see while in Branson are “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Presleys’ Country Jubilee”

Most know the “Trifecta” as a bet forecasting the first three finishers in the correct order. A non-betting definition is “a run of three wins or grand events.” If the Husted family reunion in Branson this July doesn’t meet that definition, then what does?

How about these for “three wins or grand events?” It will be the first time that all nine Husted siblings have ever been all together in one place. It will be the first time any of them have ever been to Branson. They are making a large donation to Christian Action Ministries to help feed the hungry and needy in our community.

When the nine Husted siblings, six brothers and three sisters, come to Branson for the reunion they will be joined by 16 to 20 other family members. Wes Husted said that the family has been working together, and with the Branson Tourism Center, via email, phone, and texting, planning the reunion for about two years.

He is extremely excited because it will be the first time that he will be together, in one place, with all his brothers and sisters. Wes was born in in 1946 and is the oldest. Soon after a sister and four brothers followed. There was a five-year period during which they lost two sisters, one died at birth and one was still born. His two youngest sisters and brother were born after that. His youngest brother was born in 1967 after Wes had gone into the U. S. Air Force.

Wes and two of his brothers, were career U. S. Air Force, moving all around the world. He said that he really didn’t get to know his two youngest sisters, who were one and two when he went into the service, until his parents bought them to visit on base while he was in the service. Two of his brothers also served in the Air Force. His remaining brother, served in the U.S. Marine Corps. “We are very close and have met as individuals. We’ve just been scattered all over and have never been able to get all nine of us together. It was one thing my mother always wanted to see, but never did,” he said.

Although they have met individually over the years, the Husteds’ Branson reunion will be the first time that they have ever been together in one place. They will be traveling to Branson from all over the country with some traveling from Hawaii.

“We were raised in a Christian home. Our parents always taught us that no matter how hard things are, and they were hard, that there is always somebody else who has a greater need and to find a way to help them,” he said. “The idea for the donation to the Christian Action Ministries (CAM) food program is in that spirit. We all wanted to lose weight for the reunion. Originally, we were going to donate food for each pound lost but, after talking with the staff of Christian Action Ministries, we decided to donate money instead because they can buy so much more than a dollar’s worth of food for each dollar they spend.”

He said that we are going to lose as much weight as we can and, regardless of the total amount lost, make a nice gift to CAM.  He’s hoping that they’ll raise $1,000 to give to CAM while they’re in Branson. “This reunion, what it represents, and the giving spirit of the Husteds for those in need in our community has touched our hearts,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center . “In that same spirit, we’re honored to match the Husteds’ contribution to CAM up to $1,000.00.”

Wes says that what he’s looking forward to doing the most while at the reunion is just spending time with his family and enjoying their company. “Working with the Husteds to plan this reunion has been a unique and inspiring experience,” said Stephanie Lindner, the Group Sales Manager for the Branson Tourism Center. “Their itinerary was custom created for their reunion and includes plenty of family time, meals together, a special Reunion Dinner, and some of Branson’s most popular shows including Million Dollar Quartet, ‘Country on the Lake’ on the Showboat Branson Belle, Comedy Jamboree, and Presleys’ Country Jubilee.

“From all the places they could have picked, the Husteds picked Branson to celebrate this very special occasion,” said Lindner. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work with this very special family in planning this inspiring “First Reunion,” she added.

A family picture of all nine of the Husteds together will most assuredly be taken during the reunion. This writer can almost picture their mom, looking down, with a smile on her face, saying, “Together at last!”

Showboat Branson Belle launching exciting new guest experience in 2017!

The magnificent Showboat Branson Belle!

When the magnificent Showboat Branson Belle leaves the dock on her first 2017 Table Rock Lake cruise, on March 4, 2017, something special will happen. Her guests will be cruising into an exciting new experience. They will enjoy the improvements of Phase One of a two-year, multi-million dollar, “large-scale guest experience relaunch.” The relaunch delivers to the boat’s guests what they said they wanted during extensive research done in 2016.

Nick Guevel, Director of Operations for the Showboat Branson Belle, took time from his busy schedule to the talk with the Branson Tourism Center about the Branson Belle and the exciting new guest experience they will have in 2017.

BTC: How long have you been working at the Showboat Branson Belle?
NG: I’ve been with Herschend Family Enterprises for five years and with the Showboat Branson Belle for just over a year.

BTC: What does the Director of Operations do?
NG: They manage the complete operation of the Showboat. This includes everything from marketing and ticket sales to the daily execution of cruises and customer service.

BTC: If you could write the headline for an article describing the experience your guests will have on the Branson Belle in 2017 what would it be?
NG: Showboat Branson Belle launching exciting new guest experience in 2017!

BTC: In 2017, the Showboat’s guests will enjoy the enhancements of Phase One of a two year multi-million dollar “large-scale guest experience relaunch.” What was the driving force behind the project?
NG: Giving our guests an experience creating “Memories worth repeating” has always been our mission. To do that we are constantly evolving to give our guests the best experience possible. Last year we conducted extensive research to get their opinion as to what they wanted. This project delivers what they said they wanted.

BTC: What are some of the major elements of Phase 1?
NG: A complete redo of our theatre and dining area including carpeting, stage, chairs, wall paper and painting. The launch of a new summer show, “Country on the Lake;” menu changes, expansion of the premium dining area, entertainment on the top deck; modification of the panoramic windows throughout the boat so the curtains won’t have to be drawn while guests enjoy the show, and much more.

Just enjoying the moment.

BTC: Of all the physical enhancements in Phase One, which one are you personally most excited about?
NG: I’m most enthused about those that focus on enhancing the experience of the lake for our guests. One example is taking the curtains off the giant panoramic windows throughout the boat so that our guests can see the lake at all times while on the boat.

BTC: Does glare coming through the windows interfere with guests enjoying the show?
NG: No. We have a coating on the windows that reduces glare while permitting the guests to enjoy both the show and the view of the lake.

BTC: In the past, a premium dining and seating experience was offered in the Paddle Wheel Room. How is that experience changing for 2017?
NG: We have guests on the boat that want the best deal they can get. We also have guests that are willing to pay for premium experiences. In 2017 we are growing our premium seating and the amenities that go along with it. Our “Captain’s Club Premium Seating and Dining Experience” includes priority boarding, ordering from a menu with a choice of delicious entrees, and premium seating. The 60 premium dining seats, the first three rows in the balcony, are considered “the best seats in the house.” The “upcharge,” from “General Admission,” to “Captain’s Club” is $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for children..

BTC: Will the “Paddle Wheel Room,” still be part of the premium dining experience?
NG: No. In the past it was, but diners then missed the pre-show.

BTC: Will the enhancement include more room between seats?
NG: Yes. One of the things people told us during our research was that they wanted more room. We have removed seats from the boat so that there is more room between each seat.

BTC: What are the Phase Two enhancements?
NG: We’re going to continue to work on the remodel of our front atrium area, more seating and activities on the exterior of the boat, the top deck, and more work on the White River Landing area where people arrive.

BTC: Why the emphasis on more seating and activities on the exterior of the boat?
NG: We are trying to make the outside of the boat more flexible for each guest. We want to create an opportunity for guests to go up to the top deck and enjoy it their way. If they want to sit up front and listen to the music we have seats for that. If they want to go find a quiet place on the boat to just sit and talk, we want to have nice seating for that too. We’re trying to create these “pods” around the boat with activities and seating where people can really get to use the boat to maximize their experience.

BTC: Could you give an example of where these “pods” would be located?
NG: Throughout the exterior of the boat we have spaces where we are creating unique comfortable settings for people to enjoy. The back of the boat on the top deck provides a lot of flexibility, but there are other areas. One would be the “atrium balconies” at the front of the boat on each level.

BTC: What one thing about the first phase of the enhancement project means the most to you?
NG: For me, there’s a sense of pride in that we are delivering on what our guest research told us our guests wanted. It’s satisfying to me to know that we not only asked, but that we listened.

BTC: Will the boarding process be a little different in 2017 than in the past?
NG: Yes. We want people to relax and enjoy the experience. That starts with giving them more time to shop and enjoy the landing, maybe have a coke before boarding. We also wanted to do away with long boarding lines and make it a more fluid experience. Everyone has an assigned seat so there’s no need to rush on board. We will call smaller groups by row. You listen for your row, we will scan your ticket and you go right down and sit in your seat. There’s no need to wait in those long lines.

CELEBRATE’s Cassandré Faimon-Haygood and Christopher James.

BTC: CELEBRATE is the headline show of the Showboat Branson Belle. Are there any major cast or production changes from last year?
NG: Our all-star cast is returning. This includes the ShowMen, our talented vocal group; Cassandré Faimon-Haygood, one of Branson’s premier female vocalists and entertainers; the four-man dance troupe Rhythm; and comedian emcee Christopher James will all be returning. The Rockin’ Dockers, one of the finest live bands anywhere, will also be back.

BTC: Will there be changes in the music in CELEBRATE?
NG: Yes. Our research indicated that our guests wanted more classic rock. Although there will certainly be a variety of music, with something for everyone, it’s going to be much more focused on classic rock.

BTC: Can you give us an example of the artists whose music will be included?
NG: Sure, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beatles and others. The songs will be songs, that you grew up listening to and will get your toes tapping.

BTC: Is magic and comedy still part of CELEBRATE?
NG: Absolutely and in a big way! Christopher James, our emcee is fabulous with his ultra-sharp improvisation, magic and humor.

BTC: The Branson Belle is featuring a new noon show for 2017 called Country on the Lake. What lead to the decision to change to the new country format?
NG: Our guest research told us that there is a real love for country music and specifically, 1990’s country music.

BTC: What type of music will it feature?
NG: It will be a musical journey through some of the most popular country music of the 90s along with some of the southern classic rock hits that influenced that music.

BTC: Will the menu for that show be different than the CELEBRATE! menu?
NG: Yes. It has been designed to enhance the overall country experience of our guests. It includes slow smoked pork, smoked at Silver Dollar City and delivered fresh to the boat each day; BBQ Chicken, loaded baked potatoes; roasted corn; homemade rolls; a great spring mix salad and ice cream pie for dessert. It’s also made at Silver Dollar City and transported to the boat.

BTC: So the CELEBRATE! and Country On the Lake shows will have different casts, a different show, and a different meal?
NG: They are two entirely different experiences resulting in one thing. An extremely enjoyable and entertaining experience providing “Memories worth repeating.”

If you’d like more information on the Showboat Branson Belle please call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550. A Branson based Vacation Specialist will answer any questions you have about Branson lodging, shows, or attractions. They can also help with ticketing, reservations and getting the best available show seats and lodging. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

 

Ozark Valley Inn sparkles with Ozark’s hospitality

Ozark Valley Inn

Branson has many nationally branded hotels. It also has many high-quality family owned inns and motels offering their own unique brand of Ozark hospitality. The locally owned and operated, Ozark Valley Inn is a perfect example.

The Inn’s owners are Nick and Nina Karol. Nina Karol said that its location on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, provides the best of two worlds. Nina was asked, “Why should someone coming to Branson stay at the Ozark Valley Inn?” With a twinkle in her eye and without hesitation she said, “Sparkling clean rooms, friendly service, and a great location!”

The 76 room Inn occupies a beautiful peaceful location next to the Promised Land Zoo. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of Branson while offering easy access to all the fun and excitement it offers. The Pierce Arrow, Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety, and Shoji Tabuchi shows; the IMAX Complex; and restaurants including Red Lobster, Golden Coral, and the Paradise Grill and Steakhouse are not two minutes away. The Branson Strip and Tanger Outlet is fewer than five.

It’s easy to get anywhere in Branson quickly and efficiently using Branson’s Alternate Colored Route System. Branson Landing is one of Branson’s most popular shopping destinations and attractions. A right turn out of the Inn’s parking lot, onto the Branson’s Alternate Red Route, the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, has you enjoying Branson Landing within 10 to 15 minutes.

Nina said that they are extremely environmentally conscious. Over the last two years, they have installed solar panels. Over 30 percent of the electric power the inn uses comes from those solar panels.

The Inn offers a variety of rooms from which to choose. These include Standard Double Queen, Standard King, and King Jacuzzi rooms and a one bedroom Double Queen Family suite. It also offers poolside rooms for easy access to fun in the sun and has pet friendly rooms with completely tiled floors

All rooms feature standard amenities, a cheery decor, free wireless internet, and much more. Guests will enjoy a deluxe complimentary breakfast with Belgian waffles, cinnamon rolls, biscuits & gravy, fruit, cereal, and more. Property wide amenities include WiFi, meeting room, a beautiful outdoor pool, hot tub, a game room, deluxe business center, and guest laundry room.

The Inn participates in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program. Under the program, the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, guarantees that the price you pay for lodging accommodations booked at the Ozark Valley Inn through BTC will be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered, anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate. It’s that simple.

For information or reservations for the Ozark Valley Inn, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

 

Best Branson Insider Highlights for March 2017


The Presleys are celebrating 50 years of entertaining Branson audiences!

“Even with the relatively mild winter, there’s just something special about March in the Ozarks as its hills begin to blossom out with spring foliage and colors,” said, Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Besides the clear signals that Mother Nature’s sending, the opening of Silver Dollar City, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, and many of Branson’s most popular shows and attractions are clear signs that it’s spring in Branson,” he added.

Here’s our Featured Show and Event of the Month, with a list of the highlights of special events you can enjoy in Branson during the month of March:

Featured Show of the Month: The first 2017 performance of Presleys’ Country Jubilee, on March 10, will be the beginning of the Presley family’s 50th year performing in Branson. It’s a show that should be on everyone’s Bucket List of Branson experiences not to be missed. The quality of its music and the unique humor of “Herkimer” and “Cecil” make it one of the most entertaining shows in Branson. Beyond that, the Presleys’ are blessed with the innate ability to communicate their genuine love for what they are doing, each other, and family, to their audience. For 50 years, and counting, they have created wonderful Branson memories for millions as they inspire and entertain Branson audiences.

Featured Event of the Month: When the Showboat Branson Belle leaves the dock on March 4, it will mark more than its maiden cruise for 2017. Guests will be able to enjoy the enhancements of the first phase of the Showboat’s two-year multi-million dollar “guest experience relaunch.”

Nick Guevel, the Director of Operations for the Showboat said, “This includes a complete redo of our theatre and dining areas, including carpeting, stage, chairs, wall paper and painting. We have expanded our premium dining services, provided more space in the general dining area, and much more.” Another of the many enhancements is the new top deck seating for expansive lake views as they are entertained by live top deck acoustic performances.

The Showboat’s headline show CELEBRATE will have a new dimension as it performs on the revamped stage and presents its exciting new 2017 show.  CELEBRATE includes “The ShowMen; Branson-favorite, performer Cassandré Faimon-Haygood; the four-man dance troupe Rhythm, billed as The Fastest Feet West of the Mississippi for their percussive dance and creative choreography; and comedian emcee Christopher James with ultra-sharp improvisation, magic and humor. All are accompanied by the live band, the Rockin’ Dockers.”

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Mar 2 – Mar 4: Bassmaster’s Central Open
Mar 7 – Mar 10: Missouri Park & Recreation Association Conference & Expo
Mar 8 – Mar 14: NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship 2017
Mar 14: Annual Leprechaun Open Golf Tournament
Mar 16 – Mar 18: Branson Praisefest
Mar 17: St Patrick’s Day
Mar 18: Wild West Open Championship – American Cheer Power
Mar 30: 2nd Annual Rock and Rev – Charity Car Raffle and Live Music Event
Mar 31 – Apr 1: Benefit the Badge Tournament
Mar 31 – Apr 2: Silver Dollar City Young Christians Weekend

For additional information on these events, or any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist. They will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations and there’s absolutely no charge for this service.

 

Lake Queen cruise shares a unique part of the Ozarks missed by Millions each year!


 

Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen coming through the early morning mist on Lake Taneycomo.

“A scenic cruise aboard the Lake Queen is a nostalgic adventure,” said Melissa McGowan, Marketing Manager and Groups Sales Coordinator for Main Street Lakes Cruises. “Cruising aboard the Lake Queen is a unique adventure. It offers sights and a closeness with the beauty, nature and history of the Ozarks that few of the millions of annual visitors to Branson will ever experience.”

This Bald Eagle is just one of the different types of birds and wildlife commonly seen on cruises.

McGowan said the 2017 Cruise season for the Lake Queen will start on March 3*. When asked, “What can passengers expect to see, she answered, “That depends. Each cruise is like a snowflake. You can’t plan for a Bald Eagle to soar over head or be sitting in a tree, a mink scurrying along the shoreline, or many of the unique things that happen daily. They either happen or they don’t, but when they do you couldn’t have a better seat to see the show!”

Passengers get a unique mid-lake view of Branson Landing and its $7.5 million fountain. Its spectacular synchronized fire, water, light, and music show is a popular feature of every cruise. Another passenger favorite is a close up view of one of Missouri’s largest Blue Heron Rookeries. All this while cruising by amazing bluffs carved by Mother Nature over the centuries surrounded by spectacular Ozark vistas that change with the season.

Throughout the cruise the Captain points out sights of interest and provides an entertaining and informative account about each.  Did you know that Lake Taneycomo is one of the finest places to fish for Rainbow and Brown Trout in the United States? Where and when did the term “Hacker” originate? How did Lake Taneycomo get its name. The timing of the comments allows plenty of time to relax and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Ozarks.

On every cruise children and others can go up to the “wheelhouse” and meet the Captain. If the weather and currents allow, under the watchful eye of the Captain, they can take the wheel and “drive” the boat.

The 90-foot long paddlewheel river boat replica has full sized rest rooms and two decks. The lower deck is climate controlled while the top deck is open. She cruises twice a day, 11:45 AM and 4:45 PM with boarding available 30 minutes prior to departure. Both cruises offer the option of a light meal. It consists of a Jumbo Ham or Turkey Croissant, homemade chips, a sugar cookie and unlimited tea, coffee, or water. Meals must be ordered prior to boarding. The Lake Queen has a full cash bar offering alcoholic drinks and soft drinks.

The Lake Queen and her crew is U.S. Coast Guard certified.  The Coast Guard inspects the ship yearly. Every five years it has to be taken out of the water for inspection. “This was the year. While she was out we gave her a ‘2017 Makeover’ including a new coat of paint.’ She’s just beautiful!” McGowan said.

For more information about a cruise aboard the Lake Queen please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

* Cruises on March 3 & 4 will be aboard the 100 foot luxury yacht Landing Princess