Category Archives: General

Ways families with kids can save money on Branson shows

Some of Branson’s most popular shows make it easier on the pocketbook for families to enjoy a great Branson show.

“Do you want a family vacation destination that’s filled with exciting things for your family to do and that’s easy on the pocketbook?” asks Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s hard to imagine a place anywhere in the country that offers families more exiting ways to have fun or is easier on the pocketbook than Branson, Missouri.”

Garrison points out that with Branson’s lakes, attractions, museums, and over 100 live shows, shopping, and more, there’s always something new and exciting for families to see and do. Branson’s live shows are legendary for their variety, quality, and being an outstanding entertainment value. Shows further enhance that value, for families with children, in different ways.

Two of the most popular are by offering free tickets to children under certain conditions, and the use of Family Passes. Either way, it makes it easier on the pocketbook for families to enjoy their favorite Branson show.

The conditions for getting free tickets for children will vary from show to show. As one example, one of Branson’s hottest shows, the Million Dollar Quartet, offers a free child’s ticket with the purchase of each adult ticket.

Although differing from show to show, generally the Family Pass will include two adults, and up to a certain number of children, for a substantially reduced rate. Presleys’ Country Jubilee, celebrating its 50th year in Branson, is a great music and comedy show for the whole family. By using its Family Pass, a family of two adults, one teenager and two children ages 10 and 11 can save over 34% off the price of buying them separately.

The following is a list of the Branson shows, on “Branson Tourism Center’s Most Popular Shows (and Highly Recommended) List,”  offering either free tickets for children under certain conditions or Family Passes. Each entry contains a link to more information, photos, videos, schedules and ticket pricing:

Amazing Pets
AYO starring Voices of Glory
Buckets N Boards
Clay Cooper’s Country Express
Comedy Jamboree
Down Home Country
Grand Jubilee
The Haygoods
Million Dollar Quartet
New South Gospel
Ozarks Country
Ozarks Gospel
Pierce Arrow
Presleys’ Country Jubilee
Shoji Tabuchi

Garrison points out that the savings can really mount up when the free children’s tickets or Family Passes are part of a “package” including lodging. For help in finding or creating, a package that is just right for your family, and saves you the most money, please call one of our Branson based Vacation Planning Specialists at 417-785-1550. “One call can take care of it all,” he adds.

 

Best Branson Insider Highlights for June 2017

The “Amazing Pets Show” and “Silver Dollar City’s Star Spangled Summer Festival,” featuring the return of The Harlem Globetrotters, are two of the Branson Tourism Center’s featured events for June.

“Branson’s always a special place, but never more so than when families enjoy it together,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “With school out, it’s a pure joy to see families together as they share the adventure, fun, and excitement of a vacation in Branson.”

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

Featured Show of the Month: Amazing Pets features delightful circus-like acts performed by a most unusual cast! Cats galore, cuddly canines, and even brilliantly colored exotic birds put on a show sure to delight “kids” of all ages! It’s a magical touch of mayhem and furry frivolity and fun for the whole family to enjoy!

Trace Adkins

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Trace Adkins, the beloved big man, with the bold baritone voice, hits the Branson stage for the first time. During his impressive career, Adkins has scored Top 40 Hits with nearly every single he’s released! These include the catchy and clever Honky Tonk Badonkadonk; his Grammy nominated collaboration and #1 hit single with Blake Shelton, Hillbilly Bone; Songs About Me; Every Light in the House; The Rest of Mine; and many more.

Featured Event of the Month: Silver Dollar City’s Star-Spangled Summer Festival offers family fun and entertainment you won’t find anywhere else. See the world famous Harlem Globetrotters for their final season at Silver Dollar City, your favorite cartoon characters, Championship Cloggers, and much more! And that’s beside everything else Silver Dollar City offers. The 1880s styled them park has over 40 thrilling rides and attractions including “The World’s Most Daring Wood Coaster,” Outlaw Run, demonstrating craftsmen, shows, and other activities.

Featured Limited Engagements (Sorted by starting date.)

Jun 7: John Conlee
Jun 16: Home Free
Jun 23: Bill Anderson & Moe Bandy
Jun 30: Trace Adkins

Special Event Highlights (Sorted by starting date.)

Jun 1-2: Ballparks of America – Memorial Day Classic (10U-13U)
Jun 1-Sep 4: Branson Landing’s Annual School Shoes For Kids
Jun 2: Gold Wing Road Riders Association Parade & Light Display
Jun 2: Missouri Truck Driving Championships
Jun 3: Relay For Life
Jun 3: 18th Annual Mopars in Branson
Jun 3-9: Ballparks of America – Week 2 Summer Kickoff Tournament 10U-13U
Jun 3-Jul 16: Silver Dollar City Star Spangled Summer Festival
Jun 9-10: Branson Skaggs Classic Golf Tournament
Jun 9-10: Scott’s Challenge Firefighter Combat in Branson!
Jun 10: Run for a Vet; 5K & Half Marathon
Jun 10: Ballparks of America – Week 3 Branson City Lights Classic 10U-13U
Jun 10-17: Law Enforcement Recognition Week Celebration in Branson
Jun 15-17: Law Enforcement Recognition Week – Light Cruise Parade
Jun 17-Jun 23: Ballparks of America – Week 4 Father’s Day Classic 10U-13U
Jun 18: Father’s Day
Jun 18: Father’s Day Brunch and Car Show at Keeter Center
Jun 18: Chateau on the Lake Father’s Day Champagne Brunch
Jun 23: The Taneycomo Festival Jazz Orchestra – Live in Concert
Jun 23-25: Branson Invitational Golf Tournament
Jun 24-30: Ballparks of America – Week 5 Bring the Lumber Tournament 10U-13U
Jun 28: Branson Fly Fishing Expo

For additional information on these events, Branson’s shows and attractions, or lodging 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.

 

Branson’s “zig-zag” streets testify to the time Branson “disappeared”

The Zig-Zag streets of Branson testify to the time Branson “disappeared.”

San Francisco’s “Lombard Street,” is famous for being steep and crooked, but has little to do with the early history of San Francisco. On the other hand, Branson’s “College Street,” with its unique “zig-zag” streets, while not as famous, has a lot to do with the early history of Branson.

“Most of the millions who visit Branson each year will never see this unique historic feature. It’s a great way to spend some time between enjoying Branson’s great live shows and attractions and experience Branson history,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Interestingly, many drive within two blocks of the zig-zag streets on their way to Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson,” he added.

As you drive east on Highway 76, Main Street, you will notice a McDonalds to the north (left). McDonalds is at the intersection of Sixth and Main Streets.

Turn right, onto “Sixth Street” and drive south two blocks, passing “Pacific Street” to the apparent end of Sixth Street at its intersection with College Street. It’s only when one “Zigs,” by turning left onto College Street and then, about a quarter of a block down College, “Zags” back onto Sixth Street by turning right, that the “zig-zag” alignment of Sixth Street becomes apparent. If the Sixth street turn is missed basically the same thing can be done by turning onto Fourth or Third Streets.

Some might ask the question, “Why didn’t the people who planned Branson simply have the streets go straight through?” The answer is because the city of Branson, as it was originally incorporated on April 1, 1912, was a combination of two different plats with different roads, alignments, and block lengths.

In about 1882, Ruben S. Branson opened a general store near the mouth of Roark Creek and the White River. He named the post office in his store “Branson,” and even though he moved away, the name stuck, well, kind of.

In the early 1900s, as the railroad started into the “Branson area,” there were competing interests trying to get land and plat towns. The first town platted was “Lucia” on October 2, 1903 with the town of “Branson” platted soon after on October 26, 1903. In general, College Street was the dividing line between the Lucia and Branson town plats, It was the northern edge for Lucia and the southern edge for Branson.

According to most historical accounts, Charles Fulbright and his “Branson Town Company” acquired both town sites by the end of 1903. So, although the two plats became “Branson” in 1903 their roads remained as they were, and are to this very day.

Branson “disappeared” for a short time. The official records of the U.S. Post Office indicate that the name of the “Branson” Post Office was changed from “Branson” to “Lucia” in 1902 and changed back to “Branson’ again in 1904.

Branson’s zig-zag streets might not be at the top of the list of things most visitors plan to experience while in Branson. However, they can certainly provide a pleasant five or ten-minute side trip while on the way to or from Historic Downtown Branson or Branson Landing and testify to the time in history when Branson, if only for a short while,  “disappeared.”

They provide an excellent lead into the various historic things to see in “Historic Downtown Branson.” These would include, the site where the Mabe family started Branson’s first show, the “Baldknobbers,” the grave of Ruben S. Branson for whom Branson is named, the oldest free standing building in Branson, and, of course, “Dick’s 5 & 10.”

 

 

Your guide to an awesome day of bingeing on country music in Branson

Down Home Country’s Wayne Massengale and Melody Hart.

“Branson has over 100 live shows of every type and kind of music,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Some shows however, feature country music providing country music fans the opportunity to ‘binge’ on country music from morning till night,” she added.

Here’s four of from our list of Branson’s Most Popular Shows that will fill your day with great country music:

Down Home Country is country music, and then some, at its best! What a great way to start the day with this morning show. This show features traditional country tunes including songs from big time, beloved artists like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Hank Williams, and others. In addition, these talented singers and the “Grand Band” will give you a taste of gospel, bluegrass, and western swing as well. And there’s more. Jamie Haage is joined by Melody Hart, one of Branson’s premier fiddle players. and that crazy and colorful comedian, Jarrett Dougherty and some of his crazy characters. Good music, clean comedy, and a whole lot of country charm make this a great way to start a day of country music binging.

Raiding the Country Vault will highlight your afternoon*with 90 minutes of non-stop “definitive country music hits” presented by musicians with the extraordinary skill and experience to bring that music to life.”  It takes its audience on a wonderful trip through many of country music’s greatest hits by celebrated artists including: Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Charlie Daniels Band, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakam, George Strait, and many, many more.” A large LED screen displays the history of each song and the artist making it famous adding to the enjoyment of the show.

Either of the following evening shows would be the perfect completion to a “binge” day of country music in Branson:

Clay Cooper’s Country Express features the vocal talents and audience charisma of Branson favorite, Clay Cooper. And that’s just the start! It has some of the best dancers and choreography on any Branson stage, the vocal talents of featured female vocalist Kari Garrison, and one of the most talented live bands in Branson. Add the talent and comedy of Matt Gumm, the rope and gun handling performance of Johnny Lonestar. The result is two hours of great country music, dancing, fun, laughter, and variety.

Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Branson’s first show on the Branson Strip, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. As many times as I have seen this show, every time I see it, I feel like I’m witnessing a Branson treasure. Its country origin, and the faithfulness of four generations maintaining the traditions and heritage of that origin, make Presleys’ Country Jubilee special.  The spirit and talents of the Presley family and cast, musical variety, and uniqueness of the show’s humor is a one of a kind entertainment experience. It flows seamlessly from one entertaining part to another.  With this formula, there can only be one result…a special, unforgettable Branson entertainment memory that should not be missed!

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

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.

 

An old Branson tradition just keeps shuffling on

Two popular Branson shows, AYO starring the Voices of Glory and SIX will be shuffling off to new theaters for the 2017 season.

Two popular Branson shows, AYO starring the Voices of Glory and SIX will be shuffling off to new theaters for the 2017 season.

Not to be confused with the “Shindig Shuffle,” that’s part of Branson’s unique fun filled Ozark Ozark Mountain Shindig, the traditional, “Branson shuffle” is well underway. Ever since The Baldknobbers started it all and Presleys’ Country Jubilee opened the first show on what is now the famed “Branson Strip,” decades ago, the Branson Shuffle has been a part of Branson’s live entertainment.

The Baldknobbers, “shuffled” from their original location in historic downtown Branson before settling into their current location on the Branson Strip in 1969. Ironically, Branson’s iconic first show on the Branson Strip, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, has never been involved in the Branson Shuffle, and will be celebrating their 50th year in their original location during 2017.

It’s uncertain whether the “shuffle” more relates to the shuffling of cards or a dance, but one thing is certain, it does involve movement and change. Each year, there is a “shuffle” as some shows move from one theatre to another and  others decide they have made their final Branson curtain call. Here’s the current status of the Branson Shuffle, sorted alphabetically, as of December 14, 2016:

#1 Hits of the 60s: Clay Cooper Theatre
Abba Tribute – Thank You for the Music: Hamner Variety Theater
Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai: Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre*
AYO starring the Voices of Glory: Starlite
Billy Dean: Jim Stafford Theatre
Beach Boys California Dreamin: Hamners Variety Theater
Blackwoods: Dutton Theatre
Bretts: Same theatre. Major schedule change just performing  Sep 5-Dec.15
Forever Young: Americana
George Dyer: Americana
Janice Martin: Americana
Menopause the Musical: American Bandstand Theatre
Raiding the Country Vault: Starlite Theatre
SIX: Hughes Brothers Theatre

The result of the Branson Shuffle is a constant excitement and anticipation as Branson shows move into the locations and timeslots that they believe will best enable them to develop and entertain Branson visitors and new shows are added to the almost 100 shows that make Branson the special wonderful entertainment destination it is.

The Branson Tourism Center’s Branson Show List, updated on a daily basis as information becomes available, is Branson’s most current list of shows, schedules, ticketing and other information. If more information on the current status of the Branson Shuffle for Branson’s 2017 shows is desired, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-866-593-9740. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson shows, hotels, or attractions and assist you in planning your Branson trip. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

Six awesome reasons why you don’t want to miss Branson’s Christmas Week!

Silver Dollar City's Old Time Christmas, New Year's Eve with Legends in Concert, the Amazing Pets Show ,and Tanger Outlet.

Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas, New Year’s Eve with Legends in Concert, the Amazing Pets Show ,and Tanger Outlets are just a few of the almost infinite choices awaiting Branson visitors during Branson’s Christmas Week.

Branson’s Christmas Week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, offers Branson visitors the same world class shopping and entertainment experience that makes Branson one of the premier vacation destinations in America,” said Preston Garrison, Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “From tigers and butterflies, to acrobats, drive through Christmas lighting displays, museums, world class shopping, New Year’s Eve celebrations second to none, and so much more; if you’re looking for fun, entertainment, excitement and adventure as part of your Christmas vacation then Branson’s Christmas Week in Branson is the place for you!” he added.

Here’s a list of six reasons why:

1.Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas Festival: Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas Festival is one of the Nation’s top Christmas events. Its spectacular display of five million Christmas lights throughout the park, entertainment, parade, Broadway style shows, and much more has been recognized and featured nationally by USA Today, CNN Travel, The Travel Channel, Good Morning America and many others.

Although the award winning 1880s styled theme park, lit with over 5 million sparkling Christmas lights, is filled with shows; crafts; unique shopping; food; weather permitting, dozens of exciting rides and demonstrating craftsmen; and other activities, something special begins to happen each evening at dusk, in the Square on Main Street. First, the 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree comes to life, with its 350,000 colorful sparkling LED lights, choreographed to Christmas music, and making over 100 light changes per second. In its glow, “the most famous reindeer of all” leads Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade with its nine musical floats, illuminated with 200,000 ultra-bright LED lights; 33 colorful costumed characters, including Bumble the Abominable Snowman, 14-foot moose characters, 12-foot tall elves and 10-foot candy canes, plus penguins, elves and a troupe of marching wooden soldiers.”

2. Branson Shows: Although many of Branson’s shows are closed for the season, some of its most popular shows will be open during Branson’s Christmas Week presenting the live entertainment for which Branson is noted. This includes, in alphabetical order, The Acrobats of China, Amazing Pets, Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express, Comedy Jamboree, Dixie Stampede, Grand Jubilee, Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety, The Haygoods, Hughes Brothers Christmas Show, Legends in Concert, Million Dollar Quartet, Moses, Pierce Arrow and the Showboat Branson Belle along with many more.

3. Branson Attractions: In addition to Silver Dollar City, the majority of Branson’s other attractions will be open offering visitors a range of exciting adventures and activities. How about an up close encounter with the tigers and other big cats at the National Tiger Sanctuary; a ziplining adventure on Branson Zip Lines, or an entertaining interactive experience aboard Branson’s Titanic Museum attraction. In addition to everything else the Titanic offers its passengers on a daily basis, it’s celebrating its spectacular Christmas and Winter Celebration, as magically, inside and out, the ship “hails the sights, sounds, and joy of the season” and is aglow with glittering lights, festive decorations, and the spirit of the Holidays.

And that’s just the beginning! With museums as varied at the Branson Dinosaur Museum and the World Largest Toy Museum, the unique “White Flight” exhibit at the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure; the Promised Land Zoo, hiking on one of our beautiful Ozark trails, golf, fishing, and so much more, it’s hard to imagine a travel destination, anywhere near Branson’s size that could offer more.

4. Spectacular Christmas Lighting Displays: Although Christmas Day is past, all the major drive through Christmas lighting displays will remain open through December 31. This includes the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights, Ozark Mountain Christmas Lights & Village, Branson’s Gift of Lights and the giant 30 foot nativity scene on top of Mount Branson overlooking Lake Taneycomo and historic downtown Branson.

5. Branson Shopping: Shopping is an important part of the Branson experience and Branson’s Christmas Week is no exception. From the quaint specialty shops offering arts and crafts and one of a kind items; to the shops of Historic Downtown Branson, featuring “Dicks 5 & 10,” the unique “Branson Landing,” with its 100 retail stores, and outlet malls such as “Tanger Outlets” and “The Meadows,” Branson’s Christmas Week shopping will satisfy the most avid shopper.

6. New Year’s Eve: From the midnight fireworks at the Chateau on the Lake to a New Year’s Eve party while cruising Lake Taneycomo aboard Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess, a 100 foot luxury yacht, or one of the unique celebrations by one of Branson’s shows, both 2016 and Branson’s Christmas Week fade away and 2017 emerges as only Branson can do it. It’s hard to imagine a more unique, entertaining or exciting New Year’s Eve than one spent with some of Branson’s most popular shows as they welcome in 2017 with their unique New Year’s Eve celebrations including:

Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve (Clay Cooper and Haygoods joint celebration)
Grand Jubilee
Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show
Hughes Brothers New Year’s Eve Show
Legends in Concert
Million Dollar Quartet
Pierce Arrow

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison advises advanced planning and reservations for any trip to Branson during the Christmas Season because of the off season scheduling of shows, limited seating, and the fact that some Branson lodging facilities are closed. He suggests that an easy way to avoid problems, save time and, in many cases, money, is by simply calling the Branson Tourism Center, toll free at 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of their Branson based Travel Planners who will be delighted to answer any questions and assist in making any show or lodging reservations. There is absolutely no charge for this service.

 

Can it be more easy than this to plan an amazing Branson trip?

If you want to value time, money, and less stress, Branson Tourism Center's free one call planning service is for you.

When it comes to planning a trip to Branson, if you value time, money, and less stress,  “one call,”  to one of Branson Tourism Center’s  Branson based Travel Planners, “takes care of it all.”

“We are devoted to assisting our clients in planning wonderful Branson vacations and ensuring the quality and value of their Branson experience,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Although we could stress that we have sold over 4.5 million Branson show and attraction tickets, have an A+ rating from the BBB, and have over 100 Branson based employees striving, on a daily basis, to meet or exceed our customer’s expectations to illustrate that point, at the end of the day, what actually counts is the experience our customers have,” she added.

Woods points out that the Branson Tourism Center interacts with its customers on Facebook and other social media channels on a regular basis throughout the working day. “These recent reviews from customers, on our Facebook Page, are both humbling and encouraging to us, and say ‘volumes’ about the value, time savings, and quality of the experience they had working with BTC,” she added:

Chuck Price: I have used your services three times and have been completely satisfied! It’s one stop shopping, the seating assignments [were] perfect, I always get the requested aisle seats and generally in the 1st ten rows. You seem to have a seamless system and I love getting great rooms and seating. Agents are friendly and knowledgeable and I recommend you to everyone I talk to when sharing my trip or if they are planning a trip. I would like to give a shout out to Brett Hebblethwaite who was our sales agent this last time!! I didn’t get a chance to meet him but he did a terrific job. I will use you again!

Nancy Miller: I would use these folks in a heartbeat!! Friendly, professional, knowledgeable, courteous. Need I say more?

Carla Christy: The people were extremely helpful, over and above anything you would expect. I will definitely schedule my next vacation through them as well.

Ellen Cunningham: We make trip plans to Branson thru [the]Tourism Center…They do a great job of making our reservations and we enjoy our trip with no hassles!!

Todd Ryan: We had a great time in Branson, at the Welk Resort. We saw the Million Dollar Quartet (Fantastic Show) and went to the Butterfly Palace…The Tourism center did a great job for us, setting us up with everything.

Betty Kohls Heide: I have always booked with Albert and he is the best. I don’t remember ever having a bad seat at a show or a bad hotel. Been using them for many, many years. 5 stars from me.

Karen Sue Schwartz: This is an excellent service – especially if a person isn’t sure what to do in the Branson Area. I certainly plan on using [them] again!

Tom and Denita Walters: This was our first time booking thru the Branson Tourism Center and it was a great experience all the way around. On stop shop – got lodging and show tickets all at a very good price. I do not think these prices could have been beat. Just made our trip enjoyable to know everything was already planned and just pick up [the] package and relax. We will do it all over again when we come back to Branson.

For those who place a value on their time, getting the best show seats and lodging accommodations available, saving money by packaging shows and lodging together, and who want to avoid unneeded stress in planning a Branson vacation or get-a-way, the words of Peggy Barthel from Florence, MS, the purchaser of our 3 millionth ticket, comes to mind. She said, “One call that’s all, they just took care of everything. We’re just going to go up there and have fun.”

For more information or help on planning an awesome trip to Branson please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-800-785-1550. They will be delighted to assist you, there is no charge for this service, and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.

“Ayo,” is a powerful inspirational entertainment experience

Voices of Glory, the stars of "Ayo,"Avery, right, Nadia, and Michael.

The “Voices of Glory”, the stars of “Ayo,” Avery, right, Nadia, and Michael.

In 2009 America got their first taste of the talented Cole siblings, Michael, Avery, and Nadia, when they competed on the hit NBC prime time show “America’s Got Talent” (AGT)” as the “Voices of Glory.” Their musical talent and inspiring story took them to a fifth place finish in the Finals. Since AGT, the Voices of Glory have been traveling the world perfecting their already considerable skills, and have opened their own show, Ayo starring Voices of Glory, in Branson.

As I watched Ayo recently, I was reminded of their AGT appearance, feeling both the talent and the intensity of the story that inspired the start of their musical career. They came together and sang in the hospital to entertain their mother who was in a coma as the results of a horrible automobile accident. They sang, day after day, for 8 months until their mother came out of the coma, and have been entertaining and inspiring others, and her, ever since.

They still have that special talent and charisma that captured America’s heart when they performed on AGT, but now, it has matured and aged, like a fine wine, and is even more of a joy to see, hear, and experience. I expected great vocals and got them, but there was much more. Not only did they interact and relate to the audience, making them a part of their own entertainment experience, but I was as amazed, as I was entertained, at the choreography that has been worked into most of the numbers.

They don’t just sing; they perform each number. Whether it’s subtle hand, other body movements, or dance steps as they sing, it was a pleasure to see. Now some are probably asking, “Don’t all performers do that?” I imagine so, but this is the first time that I noticed it enough where it added something to my enjoyment of the performance. This is no staid, stand at the microphone concert! Although, present to one degree or another in just about every number, a perfect illustration of what I am referring to would be, one of my favorite numbers in the show, their performance of As Long As I’ve Got King JESUS.

While talking about dancing, I just have to mention one, “surprise,” change of pace, number, I Won’t Dance. It’s a delightful dance number with all of them dancing featuring some nifty moves by Avery and a wonderful tap segment. The audience, including this writer, really loved it!

Nadia Cole performing the Whitney Houston classic, "I Will Always Love You."

Nadia Cole performing the Whitney Houston classic, “I Will Always Love You.”

Both as a group and individually, they perform a broad variety of music including pop, jazz, gospel, and more. My four WOW musical moments, from among many, would be all three singing, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; Nadia’s performance of I will Always Love You; Holy, Holy, Holy starting with an old video of them singing it when they first started, that fades into them singing a beautiful a capella version live; and Michael’s performance of My Funny Valentine with a trumpet feature by Ray Harris. Their original song, about the miracle involved with their mother’s survival of her accident, You Sent A Miracle, was as inspirational as it was beautifully performed.

Ayo’s band is composed of some of Branson’s finest musicians, Tim Pope, drums; Marty Wilhite, bass; Barry Bales, guitar; and band leader, Ray Harris, keyboards and trumpet. Not only do they do a great job on a variety of music, but, as noted above, they are “featured” during a number of the vocals adding another wonderful element to an already great show.

Ayo’s Christmas show starts with their first show in November. Nadia said that they are really excited about it because it will contain the very best from their current show during the first half. The entire second half of the show will be devoted to Christmas. When asked what her favorite part of the Christmas show was, without hesitation she said, “I love when we sing ‘Oh Holy Night,’ it’s one of my favorite Christmas songs.”

The way that the vocal talent and charisma of the Voices of Glory is artfully combined with costuming, choreography, large video screens, lighting, a great band, and other special effects, into a wonderful unique entertainment gem, is truly a “joy” to experience. It’s a show that the whole family can enjoy together from beginning to end.

For additional information on Ayo starring Voices of Glory or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

Million Dollar Quartet’s Johnny Cash started it all with an “Aah!”

Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash in the smash Branson hit show "Million Dollar Quartet."

Cliff Wright as Johnny Cash in the smash Branson hit show “Million Dollar Quartet.”

One of Branson’s most popular new shows is the Million Dollar Quartet. It tells the story of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history; an impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, that took place on December 4, 1956 in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records. The jam session went largely unnoticed until recordings of the event were discovered and released decades later. It is that jam session, those recordings, and the four rock n’ roll legends involved that became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet that shares the music, spontaneity, and drama of what happened that day, as these four legends performed together for their first and last time.

Recently, Cliff Wright, who is the tribute artist playing Johnny Cash (CW) in the Branson production of the show was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to sit down and chat with me on behalf of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC).

BTC: Where were you born?
CW: In Dallas, Texas at Parkland Hospital.

BTC: When?
CW: May 29, 1979.

BTC: When did you first become interested in music?
CW: At a very early age.

BTC: In terms of your career what came first, Elvis or Johnny Cash?
CW: It was definitely Elvis Presley, but it took decades to develop!

BTC: When did you first become interested in Elvis Presley?
CW: I was about 9 or 10 years old and was traveling with my family near Memphis, TN. I was playing in the back seat and I heard this song, it was probably “Hound Dog” or something like that. I asked my dad, “Who’s that?” He explained that it was a singer who used to live here. I asked, “Doesn’t he live here anymore” and dad said, “He’s passed on.” A few minutes later we went by a black sign with “Elvis” all over it in pink letters, and my dad pointed out that was the singer we had been talking about. I thought to myself, “Aah!” When we got home I started gathering pictures and info on him. I noticed he wore jump suits so I made one out of a large brown paper sack and even drew eagles and stars on it.

BTC: How old were you when you started performing Elvis professionally?
CW: About 30 or 31.

BTC: That’s quite a gap. What did you do in the interim?
CW: I played lead guitar and actually studied and practiced Elvis and Johnny Cash for hours.

BTC: When did you first start performing professionally?
CW: I have been performing as a lead guitarist since I was 18.

BTC: What caused you to transition from Elvis to Johnny Cash?
CW: Two things, Johnny Cash came easy to me and I wanted to be in a field where there was less competition.

BTC: September 12, was the 13th anniversary of the death of Johnny Cash. Does that date hold any special significance for you?
CW: I was at home rehearsing for a guitar gig when it was announced on TV. I wasn’t doing either Elvis or Johnny at the time. I remember getting my guitar and just playing “Folsom Prison Blues,” and saying the words, not singing them, just saying them.

BTC: Whether sung in the Million Dollar Quartet show or not, what is your favorite Johnny Cash song?
CW: My favorite Johnny Cash songs are his gospel songs and, of those, my favorite is, “I Was There When It Happened.” My favorite song that I perform that’s “mainstream” is “Walk The Line” and that’s in the show.

BTC: If you could influence someone to remember one thing about Johnny Cash or his music, what would it be?
CW: Be as true to what you do as he was to what he did.

BTC: Was your first performance as a Johnny Cash Tribute artist professional or otherwise?
CW: In Omaha, Nebraska in 2011. I was getting into Johnny Cash and did a Christmas show that was half Elvis and half Johnny Cash. When I came out and did Johnny Cash they said, “Forget Elvis, just do Johnny Cash.”

BTC: Branson aside, when did you first hear about the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: I heard about it when it first came out, but auditioned for the show in Chicago twice before I heard about the Branson production. I auditioned via a You-Tube Link and got the job.

BTC: What was it about the Million Dollar Quartet that made you want the role?
CW: I’m kind of an historian and a huge Sun Record fan. I can tell you stories, about not only Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, but the guys who recorded at Sun before they came.

BTC: What do you like most about performing Johnny Cash in the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: Two things, I get to play my hero every night and seeing the audiences reaction to these songs. It’s the coolest feeling in the world.

BTC: What were you doing prior to accepting the role in the MDQ?
CW: Among other things, running a recording studio using the same type and models of equipment that Sam Perkins used at Sun Studios. I still have it in my home and love doing it.

BTC: Why do you think that someone coming to Branson should come and see the Million Dollar Quartet?
CW: They will experience, and feel like a part of, the fun and excitement of the most unique rock and roll jam session of all time, presented by an extremely talented cast dedicated to sharing that magic musical event with its audience. It is a joy to sense and feel the audience’s reaction and response each performance.

BTC: What is your first impression of Branson?
CW: WOW, there’s really a lot to do here!

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
CW: Just relax. Our schedule is so busy that you really do appreciate your time off.

BTC: If you could meet and perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
CW: It would be Elvis Presley because he was the first influence that started on the path that has led me to where I am now.

BTC: Is there one event that you particularly would have like to perform with him at?
CW: Yes, December 4th, 1956 when he performed with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins because I would have gotten to see and perform with all of them.

For more information on the Million Dollar Quartet and other amazing Branson shows, attractions, or lodging, please call one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson based Travel Planners at 1-800-875-1550. They will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson, its shows, hotels, or attractions and assist you with reservations to help ensure that you obtain the best available seating at shows and the accommodations you desire. There is no charge for this service and they are available daily, except Christmas Day, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM.