Jonah Promises to be a “Whale” of an Entertainment Experience

Jonah is a spectacular,fun and inspirational entertainment experience.

After seeing the promotional video for “Jonah,” taken during its performances in Lancaster, PA and getting an informal “sneak preview,” of the sets during a behind the scenes tour last week; it is with eager anticipation that I await the Branson premier of Sight and Sound’s production of Jonah, on March 22. I have seen all of Sight and Sounds spectacular productions, “Noah the Musical,” “Joseph,” and the “Miracle of Christmas,” but, based on what I have seen and heard so far, even among that group of outstanding shows, “Jonah” is going to be something special.

I am not the only one who feels that way. Dan Deal, who ought to know because he is the shows Director and Associate Producer said that Jonah, “Is probably the most high energy vibrant and pretty show that we have ever done. It is a nonstop energy packed powerful story that takes off and keeps running just like Jonah himself does the whole way through. You will be surrounded by the show and engulfed by the underwater experience. From start to finish the show is jammed packed. It is fun, it’s funny, it’s endearing, it’s powerful and its life changing.”

All my life I have heard the story described as “Jonah and the whale,” but in reality what scripture says is that “The Lord appointed ‘a great fish’ to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” After standing on stage and looking into the mouth of the “great fish” and sensing the excitement of Mike Pitman, Sales Manager for Sight and Sound Theatres, as he described the show and how everything comes together, or in some cases, “breaks apart,” in this exciting, entertaining and inspirational show all this writer can say is, “Everyone is going to have a ‘whale’ of a time as ‘one of the bibles most misdirected prophets’ attempts to run and avoid that which he knows God would have him do.”

As Jonah does so, Sight and Sounds 300 foot stage surrounds the audience on three sides and, excuse the pun, really “immerses” the audience in the action, not only during the spectacular underwater scene, but throughout the show. Follow Jonah from lavish royal palaces into the belly of the big fish as spectacular 40 foot tall sets, beautiful costuming, amazing special effects and an extremely talented cast present the adventures of one of God’s prophets, as he attempts to run from the will of God and comes to realize the true meaning of God’s mercy, in what promises to be a one of a kind, spectacular, powerful, colorful and fun filled inspirational entertainment experience.

Cutting Edge Event Hard to Swallow at Branson Ripley’s Odditorium


World Sword Swallower's Day to be celebrated at Ripley's.

The 4000 year old art of sword swallowing will edge its way into the Branson Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium (Ripley’s) on February 22. There are only a few dozen full time professional sword swallowers left and 20 of them will be partnering with Ripley’s to celebrate the “7th Annual World Sword Swallower’s Day” which was started by the “Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI)” and co-sponsored by “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” “We established ‘World Sword Swallower’s Day’ to honor this ancient art and recognize the few people in the world who can do this,” explains Dan Meyer, a sword swallower whose amazing feats have been chronicled by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Each of the “20 sword swallowers will risk their lives when they ‘drop swords’ at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums around the world on February 22. In all, more than 125 feet of solid steel will go down the hatch – hopefully without a scratch!” Professional sword swallower Sandra Kallich, known as “Bob Zilla,” will demonstrate her sword swallowing skills at a free performance at the Branson Ripley’s starting at 2:00 PM.

“Some people call Ripley’s Believe It or Not a ‘museum’ and some an ‘odditorium,’” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “One thing everyone seems to agree on however, is that from activities like ‘Sword Swallower’s Day’ to its distinctive look and the unique exotic exhibits it displays, Ripley’s provides Branson visitors with a unique, interesting and fun filled attraction in which they are “guaranteed” to experience the unusual,” she adds.

Ripley’s distinctive earthquake damaged design is one of the most photographed buildings in Branson. The oddity of the building’s design is just a hint of the excitement that awaits its guests. John Dixon General Manager of Ripley’s said, “Our slogan for this year says it all, ‘Odd is in, trust us we are the experts.’ We have over 400 exhibits that are a collection of the odd and interesting things that Robert Ripley collected throughout his life and a lot of other cool fun filled stuff such as the slanted room, vortex, optical illusions, unique collections and interactive activities.” Dixon said that two of his personal favorites are the shrunken head because it’s “odd, creepy, cool and there’s not a lot of them around” and, just recently added, a giant 14 foot “Incredible Hulk” made out of car parts.

Ripley’s truly does have something for everyone, takes about an hour and a half to go through, and is open 365 days a year. For additional information on “Sword Swallowers Day,” the Branson Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website,


What you should know about what’s new in Branson for 2014

Sight and Sounds "Jonah" is a spectacular biblical production for the whole family.

Having lived in and written about the Branson area for the past 28 years, this is the time of year that is the most exciting for me. It’s not only the anticipation of spring and the opening of the new Branson season, but the metamorphosis of all the effort that Branson puts into presenting their visitors with something that is constantly fresh, new and exciting becoming a reality each year. It may be a new $1.7 M water ride, a complete renovation of a theatre’s auditorium, opening of new shows or attractions or a myriad of other things that keeps Branson on the cutting edge of the fun, entertainment and adventure that makes it the outstanding relevant travel and vacation destination it is.

One of the major highlights of 2014 is the opening of Jonah which will be presented as only Sight and Sound can do it with their 2000 seat theatre, a 300 foot stage that wraps around three sides of the audience virtually engulfing them in the action, elaborate sets that are up to 40 feet high and an assortment of live animals that brings the bible to life in a spectacular way. “Experience all the up’s and downs of the Bible’s most misdirected prophet, ‘Jonah,’ whose story is filled with humor, soul-stirring music, incredible special effects and the amazing ‘underwater’ scene.” It is “an exhilarating fun-filled journey that carries you over land and sea, across deserts, into royal palaces – and deep within the belly of a big fish” and is a production that the whole family will enjoy.

“And that’s just the beginning,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From the unique Elvis Lives, kicking the season off with a limited engagement just in time for Valentine’s Day, to Osmond’s American Jukebox and new magic, music, limited engagement and animal shows, Branson’s live entertainment scene for 2014 is bursting at the seams with excitement and variety,” she added. New 2014 Branson shows include, among others, Billy Dean Live!, Chris Perondis Stunt Dog Experience, Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies, Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety, Illusionist Rick Thomas, Magnificent Seven, Sha-na-na Rockin Christmas Show, The Lettermen and more.

The annual “Branson Shuffle” has resulted in many shows having a new home for 2014. Some of the major changes include one of Branson’s hottest shows, The Haygoods moving into the Clay Cooper Theatre along with and Joseph Hall’s Elvis Rock N Remember Tribute  and  another of Branson’s hottest shows, the Clay Cooper’s Country Express; Buck Trent to the Baldknobbers Theatre; 70′s Music Celebration Starring Barry Williams to the Hughes Brothers Celebrity Theatre;and the Rankin Brothers moving to the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre to perform 8 PM shows.

The Titanic Museum Attraction pictured amid the beauty of spring which can't come soon enough this year.

From a Branson Attractions perspective White Water’s new $1.7 M 240 foot “Kapu Plummet” water ride starting with a drop-floor drop through a 70 degree plunge into a spiraling loop ride and is promised to be the biggest thrill in “White Water history.” Construction of the new “Branson Auto and Farm Museum,” after its demolition as a result of the 2013 Tornado, is about complete and will result in a bigger and better facility than what was there before. Although no formal completion date has been announced, construction on the new “Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline” is proceeding. When completed it will provide a unique ride departing from Branson Landing and traveling across Lake Taneycomo to an observation platform high on the side of Mount Branson. From there riders will have a unique and inspiring view of historic downtown Branson, Branson Landing, Main Street Lake Cruises and Lake Taneycomo. When they leave the observation platform they will zip back across the Lake to the original starting point on Branson Landing.

The Branson Titanic Museum Attraction, is always offering something new and fresh for its “passengers” to experience. This year they are featuring a new gallery honoring the eight musicians on the Titanic. As the great ship sank and the final “sadness and sorrow of that dark night” approached these heroic musicians played on. It has been said that “When the music stopped the legend began.” This gallery tells their individual stories and commemorates their courage and gallantry.

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that the Branson entertainment scene is painted day by day on a constantly evolving canvas. She advises that the Branson based Vacation Planning Specialists of the Branson Tourism Center will be delighted to answer any questions anyone may have about the current status of the Branson entertainment scene.

3 “Hidden” Historical Gems in downtown Branson

The gravestone of Ruben Branson, the man Branson is named after is readily visible without having to go into the cemetery.

“We are fortunate to have a vibrant downtown historic district,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, who has lived or worked in Branson since childhood. “It’s alive and thriving with galleries, shows, attractions, festivals, restaurants, great specialty shopping, ‘Dick’s 5 and 10′ and history; all set in a unique, quaint, comfortable and laid back atmosphere presenting ‘small town America’ at its best.”

Historic downtown Branson has a number of historic spots. Three of them, covering key aspects in Branson’s history timeline, are located within a leisurely ten minute walk of each other and are virtually “hidden” right out in the open with no indication of their historical significance.

It is suggested that you park your car in the free lot behind “Dicks 5 and 10″ located at the corner of Atlantic and Commercial Streets. As you exit the lot onto Commercial Street turn left, north, and walk one block to the Branson Cemetery located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Oklahoma and Commercial Streets.

In 1882, Ruben S. Branson opened a general store near the mouth of Roark Creek and the White River, started a post office and named it “Branson.” The name of the post office was changed “Lucia” in 1902, changed back to “Branson” again in 1904 and became the name of the city of Branson when it was incorporated on April 1, 1912. The grave site of Ruben S. Branson may be conveniently viewed from the outside of the cemetery.

The bank building that survived the 1912 Branson Fire.

A two block walk south on Commercial Street, back past the parking lot, will take you to the northwest corner of the intersection of Main and Commercial Streets where you will be standing in front of “Patricia’s Victorian House.” In August of 1912, a few months after the City of Branson was incorporated, a fire engulfed the entire downtown business district destroying virtually the whole downtown area. One of the few buildings that survived, and the only one on Commercial Street, was the “bank” which is now “Patricia’s Victorian House.”

Continue one block further south to the intersection of Pacific and Commercial, turn right, west, and go about a half block until you arrive at the parking lot with the city restrooms. That is the spot where Branson’s live entertainment industry started in 1960 when the Mabe Brothers, along with Chick Allan on the “jaw bone,” started performing the Baldknobbers Jamboree show in a room of the “Old Community Building” that also housed Branson City Hall.

Bob Mabe, one of the original Baldknobbers said, “We’d have our wives go out and stand on the corner with signs advertising the show.” He said that they had to have about a dozen people before they did a show and probably averaged about 30 with their largest crowd around 80.

As you turn around and head east back to Commercial Street you will notice a pawn shop on the southeast corner of the intersection of Pacific and Commercial streets. Back in 1912 it was the spot where the “Commercial Hotel” was located. The 1912 fire that destroyed the downtown business district started in that hotel when, according to lore, a maid let a fire in a wooden stove get out of control.

Wait, I know that’s four not three. Couldn’t help myself, but one thing is for sure, if you visit these spots and know their historical significance you have experienced a bit of Branson history and heritage that the vast majority of the millions of people who come to Branson each year don’t even know exists.

Ambrus Presley devoted to family, Branson, and singing

Ambrus Presley singing "Jolene."

Branson has an overwhelming number of female vocalists, but anyone who has ever seen and heard Ambrus Presley perform can appreciate it when I express my belief that she is one of Branson’s premier vocalists. Whether she is singing a standard such as “Over the Rainbow” or a song that is not as well-known such as “Travelin’ Soldier,” the beauty, clarity and strength of her voice; obvious passion for singing and her sweet spirit and sincerity results in a performance that is not only a joy to hear, but touches the heart.

The following piece is in Q & A format with the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) asking questions that we hope the reader will find informative and entertaining and Ambrus’s answer indicated by (AP):

BTC: How long have you been performing in Branson?
AP: We moved to Branson when I was eight in 1998 after I auditioned for and got a job in “Positive Country.” Initially, while we saw how things were going to go, Mom and I moved to Branson and dad stayed in Hot Springs. It was quite a change going zero shows a day to two shows a day, but I just loved it.

BTC: Was the move to Branson prompted by your parents or you?
AP: It was all me.

BTC: What shows have you performed with during your Branson career?
AP: “Positive Country,” “Starlite Kids Show,” “Country Tonite” and Presleys’ Country Jubilee.

BTC: When did you start with Presleys’ Country Jubilee?
AP: In 2004.

BTC: How did you get started singing?
AP: From my family. I come from a really religious Christian family. My Grandpa is a lover of music. Since an early age I have had a passion for singing. I can remember riding in his tractor singing “Jesus Love Me” when I was two or three, started singing in church when I was four or so and I just loved it. My family started me on voice lessons when I was five and it went from there.

BTC: When did you discover that you had the “gift” of singing?
AP: I was always taught that it was a gift from the get go. It wasn’t something that was mine to begin with, it was something that was given to me and that it was my job to nurture that gift and let it grow. So that’s what we have done.

BTC: What is your all-time favorite song to sing?
AP: I love them all for different reasons. Having said that, my favorite types of music are classic jazz, country and the American standard type of music. I love to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

BTC: Did you ever think about pursuing a national career after your win on Ed McMahons “The Next Big Star?” (Click here to see that performance.)
AP: Although there was some interest and excitement from producers in big cities calling, I have always loved Branson. I just never had big stars in my eyes. I knew what I wanted. I wanted a family and I wanted to get to sing every day and it didn’t matter if there was a whole lot of fame or money tied to that so long as I was just doing it and happy.

BTC: If you could perform with anyone on your stage who would it be and why?
AP: I’m a huge James Taylor Fan and would love to sing with him. One of my favorite singers of all time was Etta James. She’s deceased, but I would have loved to have sung with her.

BTC: What do you enjoy the most about living in Branson?
AP: There’s just something magical about this place to me, it’s gorgeous. I love our seasons with their changes and that it’s a wonderful safe place for our family and for our son to grow up in and go to school. For me, professionally, this is my “heaven”. I’m a singer and Branson is a place that’s all about that.

BTC: When you’re not working what do you enjoy doing most?
AP: Just being with my husband, John and son Henry.

BTC: Do you have a favorite hobby or activity?
AP: I love anything that has to do with fashion or home decor.

BTC: What do you look forward to the most as you start each new day?
AP: Growing, learning and getting better; a better mom, better wife, better singer.

BTC: How long have you and John been married?
AP: Five years.

BTC: Do you have a little known fact about yourself that you think your fans are audience would enjoy hearing about?
AP: I love pickled Okra.

Ambrus and Presleys’ Country Jubilee will be starting their 2014 Branson Season on Friday, March 7.

Branson Welk Resort “Has it all!”

A portion of Welk Resort's beautifully maintained grounds.

When asked, “Why, out of all the Branson lodging available for families to stay in, they should pick the Welk Resort?” Chris Cathcart, a Welk Resort Marketing Manager, immediately responded saying, “Welk Resort has it all.” He continued on saying “I could give you a million reasons expounding on that, but these just jump out, great location, a recent multimillion dollar remodel of the complete facility including all 159 guest rooms, large 2000 seat entertainment theatre, indoor ‘Splash-A-Torium,’ restaurant, and a selection of amenities and activities for all ages and interests that is matched by very few, if any, resorts in Branson.”

He explained that although it is ideally located, only minutes from Branson shows, attractions, shopping, Silver Dollar City and everything else Branson has to offer, that once people arrive at the resort everything they need for a complete fun filled vacation is on property. Among others, the recreational amenities include the “Splash-A-Torium,” an indoor/outdoor water attraction for children and adults limited exclusively to the resorts guests; an outdoor pool; game room with pool table, air hockey and much more; mini golf; complete fitness center and daily planned and scheduled activities through the resorts activities department. There are activities for all ages and interests including, among many others, Ceramic Painting, Toddler Bubble Time, Family Scavenger Hunts, Kinect Bowling, Casino Night and many more varying with the weather and season.

One of the newly renovated rooms.

The resort, celebrating its 20th anniversary during 2014, opened in May of 1994. Its 159 room hotel underwent a total multi-million dollar renovation of its lobby, common areas, corridors and all 159 guest rooms and baths which was completed in June of 2013 making it one of the “newest” hotels in Branson. “We’re very proud to offer our hotel guests an all new guest room that enhances the value of their experience with us”, said Dathan Atchison, General Manager of The Welk Resort. “We have always made gracious service to our guests our foremost objective. Now, along with our other great amenities the Welk guests have come to expect, we are very excited about our new rooms and hotel upgrade, and believe our guests will be also.”

Cathcart points out that the vibrant colors and textures of each of the renovated rooms reflects the casual, warm and friendly culture of the Ozarks. Additionally each room contains new features such as granite vanities, a work space with an ergonomic desk chair, wall-mounted AC controls, desk lamps with easy reach dual outlets, mini-fridge, Welk Signature Ecology bath amenities, Seattle’s Best single cup coffee system and Starbucks’ Tazo Teas, which are complimentary.

“The resort provides a rustic flavored experience surrounded by luxury and convenience where you can experience the outdoors and beauty of the Ozarks away from all the traffic and bustle of the Branson Strip, has tons of fun and exciting activities available on property to entertain families and yet, is ideally and uniquely located to provide access to everything else Branson offers while minimizing involvement with Branson traffic,” Cathcart said. He points out that it’s 15 minutes away from Silver Dollar City via State Route 265, three minutes away from Lake Taneycomo’s Trophy Trout Fishing Area and the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, five minutes away from Table Rock Lake, six or seven minutes away from the Branson Strip and all its shows, attractions and shopping, has the Pointe Royale Golf Course just opposite to the resort entrance and is located within 20 minutes of Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing via Fall Creek Road and Branson’s ‘Yellow’ alternate route.

“In terms of its ideal location and access to Branson’s shows, attractions, lakes, golf, shopping and everything else Branson offers, coupled with its amenities, both recreational and on the hotel side, recent renovation, and the high quality of customer service that the Welk Resort is known for, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of our customers are delighted with the experience they have while staying at the Welk Resort,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. For more information on the Welk Resort and all that Branson has to offer please feel free to contact BTC by calling 1-800-785-1550.

Branson “believes” that your vacation should be special

Silver Dollar City, Branson's first and largest attraction, is filled with people dedicated to helping your family create "Memories worth repeating."

It has been my personal experience that most people planning a vacation or getaway to Branson do so with the expectation of having fun and creating special memories by experiencing everything Branson has to offer family entertainment, shows, attractions, shopping, lakes, natural beauty, a slice of Americana and more. They will get that “and then some” because of Branson’s commitment to the total vacation experience of its guests by adding to each guest’s experience, one personal interaction at a time, the fulfillment of the following 10 elements of the “Branson Promise:”

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

2.  We believe you deserve to take a break from your regular life while preserving the security and comfort that comes from feeling ‘right at home.’

3.  We believe the best experiences are live and personal. They affect you – and you affect them. The most memorable experiences have always been personal and unique spontaneous and unexpected – not planned or manufactured.

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

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

6.  We believe in the home.

7.  We believe that new people aren’t strangers, just friends who haven’t visited.

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

9.  We believe that world-class entertainment doesn’t need to cost a world-class fortune!

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

So many times Branson visitors have said that what brings them back again and again is the comfortable genuine down home spirit and friendliness of the people they interact with while in Branson. Wouldn’t you like your family to spend its vacation with a community that has all the fun and excitement that Branson offers provided by people who “Believe that new people aren’t strangers, just friends who haven’t visited?”

3 great reasons for a 2014 vacation in Branson

The Titanic Museum Attraction, just one of Branson's many attractions, takes passengers on an exciting "voyage" .

Before I moved to Branson over 28 years ago, our family had vacationed in Branson for ten years. Interestingly, although these reasons are presented for your consideration in 2014 they were the primary reasons our family started vacationing in Branson in 1975, fun, lakes and natural beauty and live entertainment our whole family could enjoy:

1. Fun – Simply put, Branson has been providing unique memorable fun filled vacations to families for decades. Whether it’s attractions such as its award winning 1880s styled world class theme park, Silver Dollar City, an exciting “voyage” back in history aboard the Titanic Museum Attraction, a Lake Taneycomo sightseeing or dinner cruise aboard the boats of Main Street Lake Cruises or any one of dozens of attractions and activities all within minutes of each other Branson visitors can expect opportunities for fun just about everywhere they turn.

2. Live Entertainment – Branson is well known for the variety and quality of live entertainment its shows provide. No matter what type of live family show you and your family might like, the chances are that Branson has a show for you. Whether it’s the incredible skill of the Acrobats of China,  the amazing feats performed by the pets, most of which were rescued from animal shelters, in Amazing Pets, Presleys Country Jubilee, Branson’s first show on the famed Branson Strip or anyone of almost 100 other shows. Branson offers a variety and quality of live family entertainment that is unrivaled by any other family vacation destination. Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center points out that many Branson shows offer Family Passes which results in considerable savings for families.

3. Lakes and the Naturual Beauty of the Ozarks – The Branson area is sometimes referred to as the “Branson Tri Lakes Area” because of its three lakes, Table Rock and Bull Shoals Lakes and Lake Taneycomo. Although both Table Rock and Bull Shoals are “warm water” lakes with world class bass fishing, it is the 43,000 plus surface acres of aquatic fun provided by Table Rock Lake that most Branson visitors experience because it is so close to Branson. The cold waters of the 23 mile long Lake Taneycomo, flowing through Table Rock Dam, makes it one of the finest Rainbow and Brown Trout fisheries in the mid-west. It flows right by Branson’s historic downtown district with its unique shops and local restaurants. It also provides a unique and beautiful water element to Branson Landing, Branson’s major shopping attractions, with over 100 retail shops and its $7M Fire, Water and Music fountain show.

The natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains resonates throughout Branson. Whether it’s the unique way Silver Dollar City has incorporated it into the fun and excitement it provides, looking across Lake Taneycomo while sitting on the floating patio of  The Paddlewheel at Branson Landing or just driving around, the natural beauty of the Ozarks is an inherent part of any Branson vacation.

A great argument could be made for a fourth reason. Although more than one of these things can be found at other vacation destinations however, in no other, can they be found so conveniently and close together.



Material Connection

How to give the one you love the perfect Branson Valentine

Branson is a special Valentine.

To those of us who live and work in Branson and to many of the millions who visit each year, Branson is a special place full of excitement and entertainment with a spirit that seems to make special occasions just a little more special. Valentine’s Day, is a special day that those in love show their Valentine just how special they are and what better place to do that than in Branson, Missouri. From great live shows and attractions to romantic dining, shopping and much more, Branson has an outstanding variety of choices to give the one you love the perfect Valentine experience.


Grand Country's Comedy Jamboree is just one of the shows to share with your Valentine.

A number of Branson shows will be open for Valentine’s Day Weekend. Clay and Tina Cooper will be opening their 2014 show in their newly remodeled auditorium on Valentine’s Day followed by the Haygoods, who will be appearing in the Clay Cooper Theatre starting this year, the very next night.. The shows that will be open for Valentine’s Day Weekend include:

Absolutely Patsy

Acrobats of China

Amazing Pets

Branson Country USA

Baldknobbers Jamboree Show

Branson Country USA

Clay Cooper’s Music Express

Comedy Jamboree

Dancing Queen ABBA’s Greatest Hits

Elvis Lives

Grand Jubilee

The Haygoods

For many, if not most, Valentine’s Day includes a special meal with their Valentine. Branson offers a variety of choices that meets just about every budget and need. From the simple down home cooking of “Clocker’s Café” in historic downtown Branson to the “Keeter Center,” “Level 2 Steak House,” “The Chateau on the Lake” and many others including a romantic champagne cruise and dinner aboard Main Street Lake Cruises 100 foot luxury yacht the Landing Princess; Branson has the special dining experience that will help make Valentine’s Day Special.


The "Grand Stair Case " of the Titanic Museum Attraction.

Although it’s always a great time to visit the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction, Valentine’s Day seems like an especially appropriate time to visit. The museum’s elegant full sized replica of the “Titanic’s Grand Staircase” is a romantic icon that is a popular place for weddings and for couples to renew their wedding vows. Its brand new exhibit honoring the musicians aboard the Titanic coupled with the romance of its band master, Wallace Hartley and his engagement to Maria Robinson is, to me, a special Valentine in itself.

The Branson Tourism Center is offering a variety of “Valentine’s” packages combining shows, lodging, attractions a “Romance Basket” and more. These packages not only provide a way to save money, but a special romantic way to show your Valentine just how special they are.

Why not give your Valentine a special Valentine and plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Branson? Need help deciding what to do in Branson or adding that little extra something that will make Valentine’s Day special for your Valentine? Call the Branson Tourism Center, Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning service, by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 and talk with one of their Branson based Travel Planners who will be happy to assist in planning the perfect Branson Valentine experience for your special Valentine.

Four “free” Branson activities for families to enjoy

"Scotty," feeding the ducks.

Having lived in Branson for 28 plus years, I am constantly amazed by the number of things there are for families to do in Branson. Many of those activities provide families with an opportunity to create special memories and do not cost a penny.

From the many free things that are available in Branson, I have selected this list of four because it presents a broad variety of things that families can enjoy and have fun sharing together that are either of a short duration or permit the flexibility to easily fit in with other activities such as shows and attractions and the attention span of children. In addition, items 1 and 2 are within five minutes of each other as are items 3 and 4:

1. Feed the Lake Taneycomo Ducks and Geese – Located directly in front of Scotty’s Trout Dock & Marina, near the public boat loading ramp on the southeastern corner of the City of Branson’s Camp Ground, is the “unofficial “duck feeding area that most people coming to Branson never see. “Scotty,” Lamar Patton, the owner of Scotty’s, pointed out that depending on the season, there are about 50 to 200 Mallard ducks, Canada Geese and other water fowl swimming around between his dock and the shoreline waiting for an easy meal.

Scotty sells bags of corn to feed them, but he points out that they will also eat bread and crackers etc. The duck feeding area is located just feet from the parking area and provides, what in the old days was called “a Kodak moment;” a wonderful opportunity to get some great pictures of the family feeding the ducks.


The free downtown trolley at Stop #4 just accross from Dicks 5 & 10.

2. Historic Downtown Branson’s “Discovery Trolley” – The Trolley ride is a great way to get an overview and perspective of the historic downtown area, the Branson Convention Center and Branson Landing. Along the way, among other things, you will pass a number of Branson landmarks including the grave site of the man the city of Branson is named after, Ruben S. Branson; the Owens Theatre, Branson’s first theatre; the Branson Convention Center; Branson Landing; Lake Taneycomo and the spot where the “Baldknobbers” performed Branson’s first live music show over 53 years ago.

Stop #2 in historic downtown Branson, located on Commercial Street at the east end of the public parking lot at the southwest corner of Commercial and Atlantic Street, is an excellent place to board the trolley. You will have three hours free parking and the trolley will drop you right back where it picked you up after completing its 15 to 20 minute loop.

3. Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery – The “Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery,” is located less than about ten minutes from the famed Branson Strip at the foot of Table Rock Dam just off of State Highway 165. It is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is part of a complex occupying 211 acres along with a “Conservation Center” consisting of trails, a wild life refuge, and a Visitor Center that is visited by a quarter of a million plus visitors annually.

The inside of the Visitor Center features an interesting nature display and a short video on the hatchery and the process involved with producing the trout that makes Lake Taneycomo one of the premier trout fisheries in the nation. It also has a huge aquarium with some “lunker” Brown and Rainbow Trout showing the size that some of the trout in Lake Taneycomo can reach.

Guided tours of the hatchery depart the Visitors Center from Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekdays at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Visitors are welcome to tour the “race ways,” “trout runs,” by themselves during normal business hours. They will see thousands of trout in the various stages of development from the smallest of trout to the large “brood stock” that is used to produce them. The Visitor Center opens at 9:00 a.m. every day except, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

4. The Dewey Short Regional Visitors Center at Table Rock Dam – The new $7.9 million, 15,000 square foot U.S. Army Corps of Engineers visitor center has been called “the crown jewel of Table Rock Lake” and for good reason. It is one of only 11 Class A visitor centers in the U.S. and offers an unparalleled view of two of Branson’s lakes, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo that can be seen from the floor to ceiling glass windows on the Table Rock Lake side of the building. Among other things, the Center features interactive activities, displays on area history, nature and the inner workings of Table Rock Dam, movies, a gift shop with unique merchandise and an interesting film on the construction of Table Rock Dam. It also serves as the starting point for tours of the inside of Table Rock Dam for which there is a charge.

And that’s just four of the many free activities available. From grist mills, to scenic overlooks, a giant Bass kids can stand in, “Dicks 5 & 10,” a $7.5 million synchronized fire, water and music show, nature and hiking trails, parks and more Branson has a wide choice of free activities that families can enjoy together. For more information on these activities, Branson shows, attractions and lodging please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center toll free at 1-800-785-1550.