Author Archives: Gary Groman

Silver Dollar City’s world record breaking “Time Traveler” coaster spinning into Branson

Within a few seconds of leaving the “station,” riders on Silver Dollar City’s “Time Traveler” spinning coaster are in a 10 story, 90 degree vertical drop down the Ozark mountainside.

After two years of planning and development, Silver Dollar City announced the biggest attraction in its history today, the new $26 million “Time Traveler.” Already well under construction and scheduled to open in the Spring of 2018, Time Traveler is the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster.

“This coaster’s state-of-the-art controlled spin feature provides riders a unique thrill experience while still appealing to families,” said Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions. “It’s a revolutionary coaster ahead of our time, and there’s only one place on the planet to experience it; that’s here in Silver Dollar City!” he added.

The Time Traveler, spinning coaster, will be a world-record-breaking coaster from many different aspects. With a top speed of 50.3 miles per hour, it will be the fastest and its “immediate out-of-the-station 10 story, 90 degree vertical drop”… straight down the Ozark mountainside, is the steepest drop. Other “first and only” features include three inversions, a Dive Loop, Vertical Loop, and a Zero-G Roll; a 95-foot tall Vertical Loop; and a double launch.

Riders, who must be a minimum height of 51 inches tall, will be in “trains” of four “vehicles.” Each vehicle will have two rows with two people in each row and will be spinning a full 360 degrees as the coaster speeds over the mountainous terrain on its half a mile plus journey. Its track crosses over itself 14 times. Want to experience a short virtual ride on Time Traveler?

The spin on each vehicle will be controlled by a state-of-the-art magnetic spin control system. It was developed specifically for the Time Traveler by the renowned coaster manufacturer, MACK RIDES of Waldkirch, Germany.

The theme of the coaster will be “Time Travel” along with the challenge to “Dream Big-Do Good.” “For over 57 years Silver Dollar City has dreamed big and has done so much good for Branson and the tens of millions it has given ‘Memories worth repeating’ to,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “What a wonderful and exciting way to continue that tradition, while sharing the past with their guests and bringing them into the future with this revolutionary new family ride,” she added.

Is Mother Nature’s “Fall Foliage Show” Branson’s greatest show?

View from Taney County 165 Lookout looking up Lake Taneycomo toward Table Rock Dam.

“Don’t know about that; Branson has some awesome live shows,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, with a big grin. “But it’s a spectacular sight as ‘Mother Nature’ turns the foliage surrounding Branson into a kaleidoscope of beautiful colors.”

One of the most common questions we’re asked is, “When does the Fall foliage season start and end?” “It generally starts in the middle of September and peaks during the last two weeks of October,” said Greg Cassell, Research Forester, with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He points out that the leaves will turn and fall during that period, but that their color depends on the type of tree and, most of all, the weather.

Cassell feels like the moisture we have been getting throughout the summer is setting the Ozarks up for a great fall foliage season. If that continues through the middle of September, without a lot of persistently hot dry weather, all that’s left is some warm sunny days followed by cool nights to bring out those beautiful fall colors everyone delights in seeing.

He said that, assuming Mother Nature cooperates, the colors people will see will vary with the type of trees currently changing color. Typically, the Sassafras, and Sumac are the first to start changing color. They’re followed the Black Gum, Bittersweet, and Dogwood with the Ashes, Oaks, Hickories, and Maples later in the season. He said the best color will be in the older more mature trees with the colors on the Maple being particularly vibrant and beautiful.

Another question commonly asked is, “Where’s the best place to view the fall foliage?” “Simply put, wherever you are!” Sure, there’s many scenic vistas where you see large areas of color, but chances are you are within sight of beautiful fall foliage just about anywhere in Branson. The fall foliage in and around Silver Dollar City, the bluffs across from Branson Landing, and just driving around Branson are beautiful. That said, here are some specific suggestions for viewing and enjoying Branson’s fall foliage:

Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen – A sightseeing cruise aboard Lake Queen is a great experience any time of the year. As you relax aboard the paddle-wheel river boat replica, Lake Queen, and cruise beautiful Lake Taneycomo, opportunities will abound to see Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, and wildlife; amazing natural bluffs carved out by the White River over the eons of time; and spectacular Ozarks’ vistas that the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year never get to see. Each trip is a show produced by Mother Nature that’s unlike anything else available in Branson. That’s even more so when you factor in the spectacular vibrancy and beauty of the fall foliage. The narrowness of Lake Taneycomo lets you see it up close, while at the same time providing scenic panoramic views around just about every “bend.”

Scenic Lookouts – Many “Scenic Lookouts” provide superb panoramic views of the Ozark’s fall foliage. These include the Lookouts on Taney County Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Visitors Center, and the Henning Conservation Area Lookout located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road.

Point Lookout – Located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo, “Point Lookout” provides a breath taking and unique view of Branson’s fall foliage with Lake Taneycomo winding through it. It also has a number of mature Maples that are really spectacular. While at the college you might want to plan to eat at the Keeter Center and visit the “Edwards Grist Mill” and the Ralph Foster Museum.

Ozark Mountain Highroad – Greg Cassell suggests that the entire length of the Ozark Mountain Highroad, State Route 465, is an excellent way to experience the beauty of our Ozarks’ fall foliage. That experience can be extended if you exit west off the Highroad onto Highway 76, follow it west and turn south onto Highway 265, and follow it across Table Rock Dam to the Table Rock Dam Overlook.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison also points out that a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, on Table Rock Lake, or a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway also provide unique views of Branson’s fall foliage. He says that the fall foliage season, coupled with Silver Dollar City’s National Craft & Cowboy Festival, is a busy time and recommends that advanced reservations be made for shows, attractions and lodging.

For more information on the fall foliage in Branson or assistance with information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

The amazing variety of Branson’s live music shows!

Four very different and extremely entertaining Branson music shows, the “Million Dollar Quartet,’, “Down Home Country”, “SIX,” and “Legends in Concert.”

Through the years one of the major reasons people pick for coming to Branson is its live shows. “In fact, the 2016 Branson CVB Visitor Profile indicates that they are the Number One reason the visitors surveyed gave for selecting Branson as their vacation destination,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From magic shows, such as the Illusionist Rick Thomas, to the spectacular biblical epic Moses, music shows covering just about every genre of music, and so many more, Branson is unrivaled, in the number, quality, and variety of the live shows it offers,” she added.

Wood said that with over 120 Branson shows, we are commonly asked two questions. “What are the best shows in Branson?” and “How many shows could I see in a day?” While the Branson Tourism Center has a list of its Most Popular Shows, the “best” show in Branson depends on individual preferences and likes.

As to the number of shows a person could see in a day, we would suggest, “Three.” Although it would be possible to see more some days, for most people, to really enjoy their Branson show experience three, one in the morning, afternoon, and evening, would be the most we would recommend.

We thought it would be fun to make up an itinerary for three shows in one day,* using just one type of Branson show, its music shows. Within that, we set it up with two different genres of music for each of the daily time slots, morning, afternoon, and evening.

MORNING SHOWS

 

The Celtic Ladies from “Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies.”

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies brings some of Ireland’s best to Branson! This exciting production combines two great groups of performers; four beautiful ladies with angelic voices and five of the country’s finest tenors performing a unique blend of traditional folk ballads and classical and adult contemporary favorites.

Down Home Country is downright good! Western swing, gospel, bluegrass, and classic country music is accompanied by the funniest comedy in the Ozarks, it’s your ideal morning of merriment! Jamie Haage and Melody Hart are joined by that crazy and colorful comedian, Jarrett Dougherty and all his crazy characters and the Grand Band to give you a rousing great time!

AFTERNOON SHOWS

Legends in Concert is the world’s greatest tribute show!  Amazing artists deliver uncanny performances of huge stars; the revolving lineup features Elvis, Bruno Mars, The Blues Brothers™, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, Adele, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, and Frank Sinatra.

SIX is Branson’s sensational sibling singing group that quite simply defines the art of performing music without instruments! Sensational harmonizing, polished professionalism, zany on-stage antics…it’s the most talented half dozen guys you’ll ever meet! They’ll charm you right from the opening note.

EVENING SHOWS

 

“it” Starring the Hughes Brothers.”

“it” starring the Hughes Brothers fills the Branson stage…literally! More than 50 members of the Hughes clan employ a wide array of musical gifts, including magnificent dance moves, exceptional skill on a variety of instruments, and vocals highlighted by impeccable harmonies.

Million Dollar Quartet captures a singular moment when four of the most extraordinary musical talents – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins – came together for one unforgettable night! Hear songs like That’s All Right, I Walk the Line, Riders in the Sky, Hound Dog, Peace in the Valley, Whole Lotta Shakin’, Blue Suede Shoes and many more.

And that’s just one daily combination from among many, using just one type of show! Factor in all the other shows Branson offers, and the possibilities are endless. For help in planning the perfect Branson show itinerary, please contact one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Vacation Specialists at 1-866-593-9740. They’ll also be happy to answer questions about Branson’s shows, hotels, and attractions; help with making reservations; and get you 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.

* The day used for these shows was September 14, 2017. The schedule could vary if different dates were used.

Is there a better place to enjoy Labor Day Weekend than Branson?

“Raiding the Country Vault,” Silver Dollar City’s Outlaw Run, Branson Landing Promenade, and the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

“Call us prejudiced, but we don’t think so!” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Where else can you go for a long weekend, Labor Day or otherwise, that offers families more entertainment and excitement than Branson?”

Garrison points out that the long Labor Day Weekend, prior to the first Monday in September, is generally associated with the “informal end of the summer season. It’s typically one of the last big “lake weekends,” but, in Branson, it’s so much more!”

Oh sure, there’ll be a lot of splashing and cruising going on in Branson’s three lakes over the weekend, but that’s the case at many tourist destinations near lakes, rivers, or oceans. What makes Branson unique is that all the water based activity will be going on just minutes away from everything else Branson offers; its natural beauty, live shows, great attractions, world class shopping, and so much more.

Although Labor Day Weekend might be one of the last big “lake weekends,” it also marks the beginning of Branson’s busiest season of the year. All of Branson’s live shows, attractions, shopping malls and retail stores, restaurants, and everything else that makes it the unique entertaining world class destination it is, will be open for visitors to enjoy.

Branson’s live shows will be open, offering Branson visitors a full schedule of some of the most unique and best live entertainment in the world. With shows as diverse as Million Dollar Quartet, Amazing Pets, Raiding the Country Vault, SIX, Legends in Concert, and over 120 more, there’s a show with something for just about everyone. Want to find the perfect show for you and your family? Here’s a list of our Most Popular Branson Shows including schedules, ticketing information, descriptions, and videos.

Whether it’s White Water, southwest Missouri’s largest water park; Silver Dollar City; a dinner cruise aboard Main Street Cruises’ Landing Princess; playing golf; or any of the dozens of other attractions Branson offers, there’s a fun filled adventure available for every member of the family. Here’s a list of Branson attractions including schedules, descriptions, ticketing information, pictures and, in most cases, videos.

Labor Day Weekend and every day, Branson offers a world class shopping experience unequalled by any other destination city anywhere near its size. Unique boutiques your style? Boutiques can be found everywhere in Branson. Like your shopping to be an experience; including dining and entertainment? Branson Landing is custom-made for you! Want a downtown shopping adventure? Don’t miss Historic Downtown Branson! Throughout Branson there’s locally owned stores featuring everything from hard to find shoe sizes to ladies wear, hand-made crafts, high end art, flea markets and more.

For more information on Branson’s Labor Day Weekend events or tickets for Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements feel free to call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Vacation Specialists at 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

A great entertainment tradition continues at Andy Williams Performing Arts Center

The Osmonds and Lennon Sister from the “Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza,” “Illusionist Rick Thomas”, “The Lettermen” and “Moon River and Me”

When the Andy William’s Moon River Theatre was renamed the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre, Jimmy Osmond pointed out that the name change was really calling it “what it was really meant to be by Andy’s design.” He said that although primarily used as a theatre, the building was designed as a multi-use performance space that could handle large and small-scale productions of various types of performing arts from Broadway productions, to concerts, dance, drama, music, and more.

He said, “From magic and comedy, to music from just about every genre, concerts and spectacular productions, we are offering Branson visitors a wide variety of entertainment that follows the Andy Williams tradition for variety and quality.” The Center’s variety of entertainment includes a mix of “house shows” and shorter “limited engagement” performances by touring national stars and acts that is one of the most extensive in Branson.

In the past two years the Center has featured limited engagement performances by stars such as Jennifer Nettles, LeAnn Rimes, Ray Stevens, Bill Engvall, and many others. America, Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, Righteous Brothers, Tanya Tucker, and The Golden Boys will be performing limited engagements through the end of October.

The Center’s house shows, provide a wide variety of entertainment and include:

Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza carries on the tradition of “Mr. Christmas,” the late and much-loved singer Andy Williams. The 5th Dimension and the famous sibling acts, The Lennons and The Osmonds, headline one of Branson’s hottest Christmas shows. In addition to these exceptional entertainers, you’ll be treated to the magic of Rick Thomas’ ‘Let It Snow,’ performances by the Lennon Granddaughters, the Andy Williams singers and dancers, and the incomparable Moon River Band. The production is spectacular with gorgeous costumes, festive sets, and amazing Christmas music! The 5th Dimension will headline the show from November 1 through November 18 with the Osmonds and Lennon Sisters headlining from November 20 through December 16.

The magic of Illusionist Rick Thomas will leave you wondering if it’s only an illusion…or truly magic. He uses his exceptional showmanship and incredible gracefulness, honed by years of ballroom dancing, to present a Branson show of stunning illusions and spectacular beauty! After seeing this show I wrote, “If you want to see one of the best magic shows to ever appear on a Branson stage, don’t miss the Illusionist Rick Thomas Show. In over 28 years of seeing magic shows in Branson, I have never been as amazed or entertained by a magic show as I was by this show.” It runs through October 27. Starting November 1, 2017, he will be performing in the Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza.

The Lettermen continue to be one of music’s most romantic pop groups, making them an excellent show for couples. Their untarnished, all-American image, makes every performance perfect to share with the family. Although their biggest hits graced the airwaves back in the 60’s, that classic sound has endured in the decades since, thrilling their long-time fans and finding a new audience with a younger generation.

Moon River & Me pays tribute to the life, the music, and the wonderful man himself, Mr. Andy Williams! The sensational Jimmy Osmond stars in this dynamic production that features the Moon River Band, and is filled with award-winning music, video footage of Andy, and Jimmy’s own memories of the icon he knew as a friend and mentor; this is one powerful show!

Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol is a show that even the Grinch would envy. Charles Dickens could never have imagined the role of Scrooge inhabited by a sassy sourpuss like Maxine. The call-it-like-she-sees-it, lovable curmudgeon delivers the iconic story with song, dance, and a helping of merry and mirth, sprinkled with the best of her rude mood, and just a dash of attitude! Introduced to us by way of greeting card covers from Hallmark, the self-appointed Queen of Crabbiness, Maxine, has been a popular Hallmark character for over three decades and made her Branson debut in 2016.

For additional information on any of the shows at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre, or any of the many other exciting things there are to do in Branson, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center and talk with one of their Branson-based Travel Planners. They’ll be delighted to assist you! BTC can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM seven days a week, or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Splashing and cruising in Branson over Labor Day Weekend and beyond

The paddle-wheel river boat replica, “Lake Queen.”

“Branson has a wide variety of exciting attractions and activities for the whole family to enjoy all year long,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “However, the summer months provide the greatest access to the full enjoyment of most of Branson’s water-related activities, with Labor Day Weekend being the most popular,” he added.

Here’s a list of seven of the most popular water related things that people like to do while in Branson:

1. White Water is over 2 million gallons of wet watery excitement for the whole family to enjoy. The 13 acre tropically themed wonderland is full of fun and adventure for the whole family. Whether it’s “Splashaway Cay” and “Coconut Grove” for the smaller children and toddlers, the excitement of sliding down the seven story “Kalani Towers,” or the thrills of the drops and speed of rides such as “KaPau Plummet,” “Pipeline Plunge” or the “Raging River Rapids,” there is an adventure for every member of the family at White Water. White Water’s last day of operation for the 2017 season will be on September, 4.

2. A sightseeing cruise aboard Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen is a great way for the whole family to experience something that the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year never get to see. As you relax aboard the paddle-wheel river boat replica, Lake Queen, and cruise beautiful Lake Taneycomo, opportunities will abound to see Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, other birds, and wildlife such as deer, mink, otters, and more. You’ll see amazing natural bluffs carved out by the White River over the eons of time, spectacular Ozarks’ vistas, and a unique lakeside view of the entire length of Branson Landing and its $7.5 million-dollar fountain show. This unique cruise, is one of Branson’s most extraordinary “shows.” A show produced by Mother Nature that’s unlike anything else available in Branson. The Lake Queen is fully handicap-accessible and offers a full set of modern amenities. These include full-sized modern restrooms, full bar and snack food service, and a fully enclosed environmentally conditioned lower deck, as well as an open air upper deck.

3. Moonshine Beach is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is located within minutes of the famed Branson Strip immediately off the north end the Table Rock Dam on State Highway 165. Its large sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming or beach volleyball. Its other amenities include picnic tables, food vendors, a boat launching ramp, showers, flush toilets a large picnic shelter, and a kid’s playground. Moonshine Beach closes its 2017 season on September 14.

4.The Showboat Branson Belle is a full-size replica of the old-time river showboats. The Showboat combines a relaxing cruise on beautiful Table Rock Lake with a view of Ozark vistas and scenery that can only be seen and appreciated from the unique vantage point it provides. Add a scrumptious meal together with a wonderfully  entertaining show and the result is a special one of a kind experience that the whole family will enjoy.

5. The State Park Marina offers the most water sport activities on Table Rock Lake. It’s conveniently located inside Table Rock State Park, off of Highway 165 just south of the main entrance to the park. The Marina offers just about every water activity that most folks would want to do including, boat rentals of all types, wave runners, fishing guides, and much more. The modern 600-slip marina is home to the Boathouse Boutique store, a full-service Dive Shop, the local favorite Danna’s BBQ, and Oasis Hawaiian Shave Ice.

6. Ride The Ducks is a boatload of fun for the whole family aboard a WW II style amphibious DUKW, a.k.a. “The Duck.” During the 60 to 70-minute adventure, you will enjoy a tour narrated by a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captain, who is every bit as good at entertaining as they are at being a driver and Captain. You’ll especially enjoy the “Big Splashdown” into Table Rock Lake. After the Splashdown, there is an opportunity for the kids to drive the Duck in the water.

A portion of Welk Resort’s Splash-A-Torium

7. Indoor Water Parks can make the weather outside immaterial. For planning purposes, it should be noted that all of Branson’s indoor water parks are connected to a lodging facility. One is Welk Resort’s “Splash-A-Torium.” It’s 10,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor water fun featuring “an outrageous 100 foot” plus indoor water slide, kid’s splash-zone, indoor/outdoor pool, and hot tub.” The Resort has recently been redecorated and updated with deluxe and premier traditional rooms and amenities. The Resort even has its own theatre that is not only home to one of Branson’s most popular new shows, Million Dollar Quartet, but features limited engagement performances by stars such Daniel O’Donnell, Jay Leno, and others. throughout the year.

BTC’s Garrison points out that Labor Day weekend in Branson is one of the busiest weekends of the year and suggests making advance show and lodging reservations to ensure the best show seating and lodging accommodations. Just one phone call to 1-800-785-1550 will put you in touch with one of BTC’s Branson-based Travel Planning Specialists. They’ll be delighted to answer questions, explain how you can save money by “packaging” lodging and shows, take care of reservations and ticketing, or assist you in any way they can to help you plan a great Branson trip.

 

 

Presleys’ next generations carry on 50 years of entertainment passion

They’ve come a long way! Third generation Presleys: Eric, Scott, and Greg, performing as “Herkimer” with their dad, in one of their earliest show performances.

From their first performance in Branson’s first show on the now famous Branson Strip, on June 30, 1967, generations of Presleys have been entertaining Branson audiences with their one of a kind show. Over the past 50 years, millions of Branson visitors have enjoyed Presleys’ Country Jubilee and the talents of the Presley family, making it one of Branson’s most popular shows and a Branson icon.

That first show featured first and second generation Presleys, Lloyd Presley, his two sons, Gary and Steve, and his two daughters Deanna and Janice. As they start their second 50 years in Branson, the show still features two of performers performing in that first show, comedian Gary “Herkimer” Presley and drummer, Steve Presley. As important, if not more so, is the addition of third and fourth generation Presleys which has enabled the show to evolve and maintain its iconic status and popularity.

The shows two main elements are comedy and music, and no show in Branson does them better than Presleys’ Country Jubilee. For over 50 years and counting, the linchpin of the comedy has been Gary Presley as “Herkimer.” His son Eric, has been part of the act playing “Little Herkimer” since he was three years old and later developing his own character named “Cecil.” Through the years they have entertained audiences with a familial comedic synergy and humor that is as funny as it is unduplicatable. Along the way, Eric has integrated some of his own unique comedy and routines. Most recently, they have been joined by Eric’s son “Ben” insuring the continuation of that one of a kind Presley comedy for generations to come.

It was a tradition of Presley family musical talent that got the Presleys into the entertainment business. That talent can be traced directly back to Lloyd Presley’s mother, Mamie, who loved the harmonica. Lloyd began his musical career with the “Ozark Playboys,” and his kids, growing up in that musical environment, began playing of their own volition. In 1962, they started performing with their dad every Saturday night in Springfield’s Fantastic Caverns.

Gary Presley, is an accomplished guitar player. When he first started with his dad in 1962, he did it playing the guitar. His comedy career as “Herkimer” was to start a short while later. His son, Scott, following in the footsteps of his dad and grandfather, delights audiences nightly as the lead guitar player in the show. Greg, reflecting the passion his great grandmother Mamie had for the harmonica, consistently amazes audiences with what he can do with the harmonica.

Ten year old John Presley, in one of his earliest show performances.

The Presley tradition and passion for music continues with John, Steve’s son. He is the pianist and keyboard player in Presleys’ Country Jubilee and does many of the shows musical arrangements. John’s wife, the lovely and extremely talented, Ambrus Presley, is one of the shows featured vocalists and one of the finest female vocalists on any stage anywhere.

Although Gary and Steve Presley are listed as producers of the show, they both quickly admit that their sons are a big reason the show continues to be successful. The third generation’s innovations and blending of technology, music and comedy, helps keep the show relevant and on the cutting edge of today’s musical entertainment.

Fourth generation Presleys continue the family’s musical tradition of performing in the show. Joining their cousin Ben performing on stage each night Scott’s sons, Brett, 17, plays the bass and Zach, 15, plays, drums for the finale of the show.

There have never been any “stars” featured in Presleys’ Country Jubilee. For four generations, and over 50 years, it’s just been “the Presleys” sharing their talent, love for each other, and their passion for comedy and music with Branson audiences. What a great tradition and way to start the next 50 years of “the Presleys” and the phenomenal Presleys’ Country Jubilee!

 

Just because you build it doesn’t guarantee they’ll come!

Breakdowns were just one of the challenges of “life on the road.” Lloyd seems to be letting Gary do the heavy pushing here.

When the Presleys opened Branson’s first live music theatre on the now famous “Branson Strip” 50 years ago, it was just the first step in realizing their dream of being able to make a living from their country music and comedy show. To loosely paraphrase a quote from the movie, Field of Dreams, “Just because you build it doesn’t guarantee they’ll come!” Who knew that 50 years later, Presleys’ Country Jubilee would be one of Branson’s most popular shows and that “Presleys’ Theatre” would become an icon?

Oh, they had a new theatre, and a great show filled with music and comedy that people loved. The challenge was marketing it to get enough people to come to the show to keep it financially viable. It was a challenge compounded by the fact that it was 1967 and the theater and show were located on Highway 76, a curvy two-lane stretch of blacktop tourists used to get from the relatively unknown city of Branson, Missouri, to the growing “Silver Dollar City,” “Shepherd of the Hills,” and “Table Rock Lake.”

During the season, they used brochures and other strategies such as taping bumper stickers to cars with masking tape during the intermission to advertise the show. In those days, there was no “Ozark Mountain Christmas,” the Branson season was over by the middle of October, and marketing, outside of Branson was done primarily by word of mouth from those who had seen and enjoyed the show.

What better way to market the show, and Branson, than by taking it on the road and sharing it with potential Branson visitors during the off season. The hope was not only that those seeing the road show would come to Branson, but that they would spread the word about Branson and “Presleys’ Country Jubilee,” throughout their area by word of mouth.

From the very first season in 1967, and for nearly 25 years after that, except for taking a break from mid-December through the end of January each year, the Presleys spent just about every weekend performing their show throughout Middle America. Not only did they perform and market their show, but they marketed the growing tourist destination of Branson, Missouri and all it had to offer. Steve Presley says, “The road shows were not only a way to help pay our entertainers in the winter, it was a way to advertise our show and bring people to Branson.”

Don’t confuse the tour buses you see in movies and on TV with the Presley’s tour bus. Their first bus was a 20-year-old 1948, “Flxible” which was more like “a revamped school bus with a heater that sometimes worked,” rather than the grand tour buses that come to most people’s mind.

Although they subsequently purchased a used 1964 GM 4106 bus, not only were the traveling quarters far from luxurious, but the trips were not exempt from flat tires, bad weather, sickness, engine malfunctions, and more. When their traveling days were over, Lloyd Presley, reflecting on those days, said, “Loading a bus in three or four feet of snow…we don’t miss that.”

Eric “Cecil” Presley, the son of Gary “Herkimer” Presley, said that he, and his brothers Scott and Greg, literally grew up on those bus tours, recalling that his parents built a crib in the front seats of the bus. “While it was work for dad and grandpa, for us kids every weekend was a big adventure. We really cherished those times,” he added.

Eric said that they sold the GM bus about 25 years ago, but about a year and a half ago they tracked it down and found it in a field in Kentucky. He adds, “We purchased the bus and have it back in our possession. We’ve got some plans for it and are going to integrate it, at some point, into the theatre.”

Best Branson Insider Highlights for August 2017

The cast of “Broadway’s Greatest Hits” during the Finale.

“With school starting, August is a transitional month for younger visitors with families. It’s also an excellent time for that last summer getaway before the school starts,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center.

Here’s an insider’s highlight list, containing some of the best of what’s going on in Branson during August, our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month.

Featured Show of the Month: Broadway has burst upon the Branson Strip in a spectacular new production, Broadway’s Greatest Hits. The show adds a unique new dimension to the scope of entertainment Branson’s live shows offer. It’s a show of “bests.” It’s Broadway’s “best” presented in one of Branson’s “best” productions by some of the “best” vocalists and dancers on any stage in Branson. Each segment has its own choreography, style, special effects, costuming, and more. The timelessness of the music, the interaction between the vocalists and dancers, their talent and energy, the many styles of dancing, colorful costuming and more, appeal to both adults and kids alike and have them waiting for what’s coming next.

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Don’t miss this chance to see Terry Fator, the outstanding entertainer who packs the house in Las Vegas and won the top prize on Season 2 of the NBC’s prime time hit, “America’s Got Talent.” His exceptional talent as a puppeteer and singer is unbelievable. With his natural technique, you will quickly come to think of each puppet as more than a doll, and his fantastic skill as a vocalist will have you looking forward to every song! It’s one of the funniest, most unique, and enjoyable shows you will ever experience. Two days only, August 11-12 at the fabulous Welk Theatre.

Featured Event of the Month: Branson’s 29th Annual Fiddle Festival & Mid-America Fiddlers Championship will be held at the Grand Country Water Park Resort. August 25-27. The fun starts in the Grand Country Parking Lot at 6:30 PM on August 25 with the “Anything Goes Contest” and a free concert starring Melody Hart and a live band. The Mid-America Fiddlers Championship starts on the morning of August 26. Six Divisions, from Pee-Wee to Senior and Open, will compete for thousands of dollars in prizes and the coveted title of the “Mid-America Fiddle Champion.” The title will be decided in a Round Robin Play Off at 4:00 PM on August 27. The actual competition will be conducted in the Grand Country Music Hall, the home of all Grand Country’s shows, and will be hosted by noted Branson Fiddler Wayne Massengale.

Terry Fator and “friends.”

Limited Engagements (Sorted by starting date)

Aug 11-12: Terry Fator
Aug 12:  Grand Funk Railroad
Aug 13: Richie McDonald

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Aug 1 – Oct 31: Branson Farmers Market Every Tuesday
Aug 1 – Sep 4: Branson Landing’s Annual School Shoes For Kids
Aug 1 – Aug 12: Night Water at White Water
Aug 1 – Aug 4: Ballparks of America – Week 10 Back to School Bash 12U-13U
Aug 3 – Aug 10: Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series
Aug 4 – Aug 5: G.R.O.O.V.E. Presents Wagens at the Wheel
Aug 4 – Aug 6: Missouri State Tax-Free Holiday Sale
Aug 4 – Aug 6: Tax Free Holiday Shopping at Tanger Outlets
Aug 5: ROCK THE SPECTRUM – A BENEFIT EVENT & CONCERT
Aug 5: Reeds Spring Annual Tomato Festival
Aug 6 – Aug 7: Shakespeare in the Park – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Aug 6: Back to School Bash
Aug 6: Ballparks of America – Week 11 Baseball Youth Majors Championship 10U-13U
Aug 9 – Aug 13: Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise Weekend
Aug 11: Tanger Club Member Exclusive Event – Bring a Friend
Aug 11 – Aug 13: Unique Home & Wedding Show
Aug 12: Summer Movies in the Park at the Branson RecPlex
Aug 18: PRINCE IVAN – LIVE IN CONCERT!
Aug 20: “Keepin’ it Real in Branson” Cruise In
Aug 24 – Sep 4: Silver Dollar City Southern Gospel Picnic Festival
Aug 25 – Aug 27: Annual Fiddle Festival Presented by Grand Country

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

 

Wouldn’t your family enjoy one of these popular Branson attractions?

Just a glimpse of what your family will experience at some of Branson’s most popular attractions such as, Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen, White Water, Ride the Ducks, and Silver Dollar City.

“We love to get feedback from those who join with us on our Twitter and Facebook pages,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Each Wednesday is ‘Question Day,’ where we ask a question about Branson that we hope will be either helpful, fun, or both. Many, particularly at this time of the year, come to Branson with children and or grandchildren so we thought it would be interesting to share the results of the responses to the question, ‘What’s the one thing your kids or grand-kids want to see or do when they come to Branson?'”

Obviously, this is not a survey of scientific accuracy. What it is however, is an indication of some of the major Branson attractions that families enjoy. It’s also information that could also be helpful to those planning a trip to Branson, particularly if they’ve never been before.

It’s certainly no surprise that one of the most popular attractions for families, is Silver Dollar City, Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction. And for good reason! The award winning 1880s styled theme park has dozens of rides for children of every age, shows, demonstrating craftsmen and so much more. In addition, it offers six world class festivals throughout the year. With all there is to see and do, it’s easy to appreciate its popularity, not only with the kids, but with their parents and grandparents as well.

A sightseeing cruise aboard Main Street Lake Cruises’ Lake Queen is a great way for families to enjoy quality time with each other as they leisurely cruise the cool waters of Lake Taneycomo. But it’s more than that! It’s also a delightful adventure where, together you will see and enjoy things that few of the millions of people coming to Branson every year ever get to see.

As the boat glides along, you will see scenic views, cliffs, and wildlife such as Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, deer, mink, or some of the other wildlife that live along the lake’s banks. Yet, it’s much more than simply a cruise as your Captain turns it into a wonderful entertainment experience. They combine information about the Lake Queen; history of the White River, Lake Taneycomo, and Branson with their personality, knowledge of the local area, and humor to create a special and unique Branson memory.

Dixie Stampede, the place Dolly Parton calls “Branson’s most fun place to eat” is another popular attraction. It’s equally attractive to kids as well as adults, but it’s more than just an attraction. Is there another place in Branson where families can share a delicious four course meal? Of course, there is! There’s none however, where they can do it having the fun that comes from eating it without “utensils” amid the excitement and action of performing dogs; racing pigs; 32 magnificent horses featuring trick riders performing amazing equestrian feats; stampeding buffalo, and, of course, some friendly competition?”

Go Kart riding is another popular activity for kids. With its four Track Family Fun Parks, Branson is a go-kart paradise! Whether it’s the 1,200 feet and four stories of steel and concrete on the “Heavy Metal High Rise,” a four-story spiral climb on the “Wild Woody,” the spirals and a blind peak of the “Lumber Jack,” or “Kiddie Go-Karts” there’s a Go Kart ride for just about every member of the family.

Garrison said that’s just some of the fun highlights. There’s attractions as varied as White Water, southwest Missouri’s largest water park; the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure; the National Tiger Sanctuary; Titanic Museum Attraction; Branson Dinosaur Museum; Ride the Ducks; and many more.

He suggests it’s unlikely that, mile for mile, there’s another family vacation destination anywhere near Branson’s size that has more ways for families to have fun. He asks, “At the end of the day isn’t that what it’s all about, having fun together and making special memories that can last a life time?”

For more information on these attractions or other great Branson shows or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of almost 5 million Branson show and attraction tickets by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com