How to get absolute lowest guaranteed rates on amazing Branson Hotels

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s "Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program."

The beautiful Welk Resort is just one of the many Branson hotels available through Branson Tourism Center’s “Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program.”

“From luxuriously appointed suites and condos to Resorts, budget conscious motel rooms, and lakeside cabins, finding the perfect place to stay in Branson with your family on vacation is easy,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. Wood goes on to point out that although Branson is known for its value priced lodging, finding the lowest price on a given lodging establishment for specific dates is not that easy, unless you use Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, in which case, it’s as simple as making one phone call to 1-800-785-1550.

There are a number of online national companies that purport to offer the lowest rate on Branson hotels. Generally, however, there are a lot of “small print” conditions that must be met and, if there is a problem while in Branson, there is no one here to help immediately resolve the issue.

With Branson Tourism Center’s (BTC) Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program you are dealing with one of Branson’s largest and most respected providers of tourism services. They are a BBB A+ rated business who has sold over 4.5 million Branson show and attraction tickets. The guarantee applies to some amazing Branson hotels and resorts, has minimal conditions, and is provided by a company with over 100 employees located in Branson.

Simply select one of the amazing participating Branson hotels, indicated by the “Lowest Rate Lock” icon to the right of their name in the list, book your reservation through BTC, and subject to the programs minimal conditions, the price you pay for your lodging is guaranteed to be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered for the same room on the same dates anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate.

The following four hotels and resorts have all received excellent reviews from Branson Tourism Center (BTC) customers; represent a good cross section of the lodging available in Branson in terms of amenities, location and price, and participate in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program:

Grand Plaza HotelAt the “Grand Plaza Hotel,” you’ll enjoy a fabulous view of the Ozark Mountains. Centrally located, it’s just a block off the famed “Branson Strip,” right next to fantastic shopping at Tanger Outlets and near the great lineup of shows at the Kings Castle. Its amenities include an incredible pool complex with an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness room, and game room.

Radisson HotelThe “Radisson Hotel” in Branson offers a wide range of amenities throughout this stunning property that recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. You’ll find a spectacular indoor/outdoor pool, sauna, whirlpool, and a top-notch fitness center as well as beautifully appointed, updated guest rooms. It is located within easy walking distance of the great lineup of shows at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre.

Scenic Hills Inn: Branson’s Scenic Hills Inn is located in the scenic Shepherd of the Hills area of Branson, where you’ll stay away from the busyness of the Branson Strip, yet still be very close to it and all the wonderful shows, attractions, shopping, and dining for which Branson is known. Recently renovated, the Inn prides itself on its warm and inviting atmosphere with personalized service and amenities including an outdoor pool and hot tub, flat panel televisions, complimentary WiFi access, deluxe complimentary breakfast with homemade, mouth-watering cinnamon rolls, and much more.

Welk Resort: The Welk Resort boasts a perfect location; close to all of Branson’s exciting activities yet located where you’ll find beautiful views of the Ozark Mountains and close to Table Rock Lake’s Moonshine Beach, Discover beautifully appointed rooms, a mini-golf course, a patio overlooking landscaped gardens, and an amazing 10,000 square foot “Splash-A-Torium” indoor water park! It is a full service resort, the home of the Welk Theatre, featuring Branson’s newest show, the Million Dollar Quartet and is located across the street from the Pointe Royale Golf Course.

For additional information on Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program, other Branson lodging or shows, and attractions please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Amazing country music and comedy with Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett

Billy Dean doing what he does best and enjoying it!

Billy Dean enjoying what he loves to do.

Simply put, Billy Dean is one great entertainer; no gimmicks, just great music, most of it sung by the man who wrote it, surrounded by a great band, and one of the funniest comedians in Branson. The Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show is two of the most musical, unique, funny, and fun filled hours most people, but especially those who love country music, will ever experience.

The opening number sets the musical tenor for the show with Billy Dean and Jason Pritchett singing a duet of their new song, Already a Dead Man. As is the case with many of Dean’s songs, it tells a story; this one of a young gunslinger trying to make a name for himself by challenging an older gunslinger to a duel and how there really is no winner for those who live by the gun. It was beautifully sung and played by the pair, with Jason singing the part of the younger and Billy the older. What a wonderful way to open the show.

Dean’s band, the Steel Horses, consists of Jason Pritchett, acoustic guitar; Steve Leach, bass guitar; Robbie Blackwood, drums; and Matt Hanshaw, lead guitar. They are superb musicians and vocalists using their talents to add a wonderful element to the vocal performances. Moments such as Matt Henshaw’s guitar feature during Deans performance of Only Here For A Little While and Jason Pritchett’s opening duet with Dean, as well as his performance of his hit single, Good Show added another dimension to an already great show.

As would be expected from a man who’s combined writing and singing have resulted in more than twenty hit singles on the Billboard country charts, eleven of which were Top Ten hits, the show features a number of hits that were written and performed by Dean. How special is it to sit in a theatre and not only hear hit after hit performed by the man who wrote them, but to be able to get the story behind many of them?

And, it’s not just what he does, but the way he does it. There is that Neal McCoy way of interacting with the audience that reeks of genuineness and just adds so much to the entertainment experience of the audience he draws them into the performance. Three of my favorite show highlights was the opening duet of Already A Dead Man by Dean and Pritchett, his performance of Only Here For A Little While with Henshaw’s guitar feature, and his performance of his first hit, Somewhere In My Broken Heart, as he plays the piano and relates how he came to write it.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

Billy Dean meets Afelia Payne.

The comedy of one of Branson’s most beloved comedians, Jarrett Dougherty is woven in strategically throughout the show. As the show’s emcee Dean gets to be the “straight man” for some pretty funny characters such as “Jay Walker,” “Afelia Payne,” and “Cam Payne.” Dougherty is one funny man and one thing is for sure, once you hear Cam Payne’s political platform for president you will have a different perspective on the national presidential campaign and might just want a brokered convention to get him on the ticket. At least that way there would be something “serious to laugh about.”

If you want a show filed with great music, personality, fun, and comedy that will have you leaving entertained and inspired two hours later, wondering how the time passed so quickly, this is the show for you.

For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett show, or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

How did the amazing acapella group SIX really get its start?

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

The stars of SIX, Lynn, left, Curtis, Barry, Owen, Jak, and Kevin.

This and other questions were answered recently when Kevin and Jak Knudsen, two of the six brothers making up one of Branson’s most popular shows SIX, were interviewed by the Branson Tourism Center. Highlights from that interview are presented below in a Q & A format and provide interesting perspective and insight into this amazing family of performers:

BTC: How did SIX come to be?
SIX: Our parents started having children. They really wanted a girl, but they kept having boys. and ended up with ten. Our dad taught us how to sing and the SIX oldest have been singing together since the late 70s. We are the longest running original cast acapella group in the world.

BTC: Tell us about the colorful SIX cars.
SIX: It’s a good way for each of us to drive a fun car while we promote our show. Each new high performance Camaro is decorated to promote the show as we drive around town. It’s really neat to see the way people react to the cars, especially when we all get together and form the “SIX Train.” As we go by, you see people taking pictures and smiling It’s pretty good when you can get in your car and, just by driving it, make people smile.

BTC: It seems that each of you has a “color” theme associated with you in terms of jackets, stage props, and promotional pieces. How did you pick the colors and decide which one would get what color?
SIX: Well the colors kind of picked us. About 20 years ago we were in Los Angeles and went shopping for jackets. They had seven different colors. We picked out which size fit us and that became our color. [Lynn – yellow, Curtis – blue, Barry – red, Owen – Purple, Kevin – Orange, and Jak – Green.]

BTC: What’s your personal favorite part in this year’s show?
KEVIN: The country medley that we do including, Momma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Rhinestone Cowboy.
JAK: The Eagles medley is a blast to do and I have a lot of fun doing it. We sing Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight and others.

BTC: You guys do a lot of interviews, but is there one question that you wondered why they didn’t ask or isn’t asked very often?
SIX: What differentiates you guys from other shows?
BTC: And the answer would be?
SIX:  It’s all live with every sound coming from our voices. In this day and age, we might just be one of the few truly live 100 percent shows left. We don’t use any tracks, or sick tracks. If someone is sick, we adjust the performance accordingly or pull the number.

BTC: What can someone who has never been to a SIX show expect to see when they attend for the first time?
SIX: They will experience a fast moving show filled with comedy, music, and our unique acapella musical performance, covering just about every genre of music, both vocally and instrumentally except, there are no instruments! They will think they are hearing instruments, but every sound they will hear comes from our mouths. [Authors Note: As many times as I have seen SIX perform, I still look for the band even though I know there is none and that every sound is coming from them. It’s simply amazing!]

BTC: Why are you guys still together?
SIX:We love doing what we do and it’s nice to know you are working with people you can trust and who you care about.

For additional information or tickets for SIX, or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Sure fire popular Branson shows younger kids will really love

Just one of the colorful and exciting acts that kids and their families will see in the "Acrobats of China."

Just one of the colorful and exciting acts that kids and their families will enjoy in the “Acrobats of China.”

“Kids just love all there is to do in Branson,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From lakes and go-karts, to zip lines, acrobats, tigers, rides, amusements of all kinds and live shows, one would be hard pressed to find a place anywhere in the world where kids and families together can have a more fun filled vacation than in Branson, Missouri,” she continued.

Branson is known far and wide for the quality, variety, and quantity of the live shows it offers on a daily basis. That said however, Wood points out that while the content of all Branson shows is certainly suitable for children, not all shows will be as enjoyable to younger children as some others.

In this writer’s opinion, based on observing younger children’s reactions to Branson shows over the last 30 years, their enjoyment of a show will be directly proportional to the parts of the show that appeals to the things that they like. Although there are certainly individual cases that are an exception, this typically involves color, action, or something they can relate to such as the characters, story, peer performers, appreciation for a particular type of music, or some other factor. Typically, the longer that relationship lasts throughout the show the more they will enjoy it. The following shows are among some of our most popular Branson shows that, in our opinion, do that:

Acrobats of China is a colorful fast moving “circus” type of show appealing to children because of its many different acts of strength, agility, coordination and daring, along with constant action, colorful costumes, beauty and pageantry. The same thing that makes it a great entertainment experience for children makes it a great show for adults too

These pets do some truly amazing things!

These pets do some truly amazing things!

Amazing Pets will hold children’s interest from the beginning to the end. It combines the antics of well trained cats and dogs, many of whom were rescued from animal shelters, and beautiful exotic birds with costuming, and an execution that provides a great entertainment experience for children and adults alike. Without spoiling the surprise, one thing is for sure, whether it’s the most unusual marriage ceremony most people have ever seen or a duplication of the cat jumping from the wire in the movie “Big Fish,” the antics of these pets are truly “amazing.”

Buckets N Boards Comedy Percussion Show features co-creators Matt and Gareth sharing their impeccable and slightly wacky skills that include precise percussion on a variety of surfaces, accompanied by delightfully silly songs, tap dancing, and lots of laughter! Kids and families just love this show and, when not in Branson, it is one of the most requested shows on Disney Cruise Lines.

Dixie Stampede features exciting entertainment and a fantastic four-course feast eaten “Dixie Stampede Style.” “Dixie” boasts a variety of fun features that include lumberjack relay, racing pigs, buffalo, 32 beautiful horses, all presented amid constant excitement, color, and pageantry. Add in the excitement of a friendly competition and you have an adventure and entertainment experience that the whole family will be immersed in from beginning to end.

it Starring the Hughes Brothers & Their Families combines color, action, and the incredible talents of this family into one of the most entertaining shows on any Branson stage. It simultaneously entertains both adults and kids throughout the entire show. From a kid’s perspective, in addition to everything else it offers, the strategically placed peer performances from kids of various ages throughout the show, holds their interest and increases their enjoyment from the beginning to the end.

Sight and Sound’s Moses brings the classic Bible story to life in an exciting production on their 300-foot surround stage. The color, excitement, live animals coming on an off stage, astonishing sets, stunning costumes, and a story that most kids can relate to combine in a spectacular production that will hold the interests of kids and their families throughout the whole show.

What kid doesn’t love magic? Here are two of Branson’s best:

Illusionist Rick Thomas will have 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! In doing so, he demonstrates an amazing ability to interact with the kids in the audience, actually uses some of them in his illusions, and has a special inspiring message for them.

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The amazing Reza!

Reza – Edge of Illusion, starring the magical master illusionist Reza, will bewilder and befuddle your brain with everything from big dazzling illusions to charming sleight of-hand trickery! He always leaves his audiences scratching their heads; struggling to rationalize what their eyes have seen with what they know is humanly possible! He is a young magician and kids love not only his magic, but the relationship he builds with them as he shares his cutting edge magic with them and get them invested in his performance.

For additional information or tickets for any of these shows or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Amazing Branson entertainment for the right people at the right time

It doesn't get much more exciting and entertaining than this!

“I am just so excited about the variety, quality, and timing of the entertainment we are presenting at the Starlite Theatre this year,” said Linda Merkling, the theatre’s General Manager. “We have the right talent for the right people at the right time of the year,” she added.

She points out that their resident shows, those other than one or two-day limited engagement shows, offer an unrivaled variety of quality entertainment. Anchoring the schedule from now until December 30 are such nationally recognized entertainers as Billy Dean, The Blackwoods, and The Texas Tenors. The young cutting edge illusionist Reza and Buckets N Boards, a show that is one of the most requested show on Disney Cruise Lines, will be on the schedule during the months when families and younger audiences are in Branson. The net result is one of the most dynamic, demographic responsive, and exciting line ups of any theatre in Branson.

Merkling points out that the Billy Dean and Jarrett in Concert show is a mainstay on the schedule. For 2016 Billy has completely redone the format to provide a more intimate and personal interface with the audience, including him playing the piano. The show provides a unique opportunity to hear the man who wrote them sing, hit after hit, including Let Them Be Little; Somewhere in My Broken Heart, Billy The Kid, and his debut single, Only Here for a Little While, a song that grabbed an impressive top five spot on Billboard’s Country Charts along with many more.

The music would be enough, but it’s his ability to connect with the audience on a personal level through that music, and the stories of his life and how the songs were written, that injects a unique special element to the show. Add the comedy of long time Branson favorite Jarrett Dougherty, with his funny characters, rapid-fire wit, and perfect comedic timing, honed by more than 20 years on the Branson stage, and you have a show with about as much fun, excitement, and entertainment as most people could ever want!

Here’s a list of the Starlite’s resident shows sorted by opening date along with a link that provides more information on the show including a description, scheduling, pricing, and ticketing:

Resident Shows:

Billy Dean in Concert with Jarrett: Through Dec 30
Reza Edge of Illusion: Through Sep 7
The Blackwoods Morning Show: Through Dec 30
Buckets N Boards: Apr 20-23 and Jun- Aug 12
The Texas Tenors: Apr 26-May 13, Jun 6-10, Sep 12-Nov 30*

“We are also excited about the array of National stars that will be rounding out our schedule with limited engagement performances throughout the year through ‘Boot Daddy Presents’ and ‘Larry’s Country Diner Series,’” Merkling said. Here’s a list of the Starlite’s limited engagement shows sorted by opening date along with a link that provides additional information on the show including a description, scheduling, pricing, and ticketing:

 Limited Engagement

Larry’s Country Diner-T. Graham Brown: May 2 & Sep 23
Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune: May 3 & Sep 21
Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson: May 4 & Sep 20
Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Wills: May 6
Boot Daddy Presents Branson Gospel Reunion: May 6 & 7
Larry’s Country Diner-Mo and Holly Pitney: May 6 & Sep 22
Larry’s Country Diner-Mark Lowry: May 7 & Sep 24
Boot Daddy Presents Dailey & Vincent: May 20 & 21
Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson: Apr 22 & 23
Boot Daddy Presents Jason Pritchett: May 30, Jun 25 & Jul 30
Larry’s Country Diner-Rhonda Vincent: Sep 19
Boot Daddy Presents Suzy Bogguss: Sep 29 & 30
Boot Daddy Presents Jimmy Fortune: Oct 24 & 25, Nov 14 & 15

Merkling believes that the combination of resident and limited engagement shows at the Starlite provides a unique combination of entertainment designed to meet the different needs of the Branson visitor throughout the year that is unmatched in terms of its quality, variety, and excitement. She also points out that its central location right on the famed Branson Strip, near its intersection with Gretna Road, the Titanic Museum Attraction, the Clay Cooper Theatre, and numerous other Branson shows and attractions makes access to the Starlite a breeze. With a twinkle in her eye she said, “And our parking lot just might be the biggest flat piece of ground in Taney County, no hills to climb.”

For additional information or tickets for any of the Starlite’s Shows, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services; call 1-800-785-1550 or visit www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

*All November shows will be Christmas Shows

Is Table Rock Lake Branson’s best kept secret?

Early post-dawn shot of a small portion of Table Rock Lake.

Early post-dawn shot of a small portion of Table Rock Lake.

“Definitely not! That’s why its water quality is so important,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. His comment pertained to the overall importance of Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo to the Branson experience of many Branson visitors and the recent water quality assessment of Table Rock Lake by David Casaletto, President and Executive Director, of Ozarks Water Watch, a not for profit organization dedicated to, among other things, preserving the water quality of Branson’s lakes.

Casaletto said that, as in the past, Table Rock Lake’s waters are ready for both locals and visitors alike to enjoy during 2016. The most recent testing shows that it is safe and clean for swimming, boating, fishing, and other water related activities that Branson’s millions of visitors might want to do.

Even though many of Branson’s visitors might never see it, Table Rock Lake is a virtual aquatic paradise consisting of over 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline. It offers and hosts, a variety of recreational activities including hiking, sightseeing, hunting, skin diving, fishing, and water sports such as swimming, boating, water skiing etc.

State Highway 165, which can be accessed from its terminus at State Highway 76 commonly called “The Strip,” is one of the main access routes to Table Rock Lake and its attractions. Just south of the entrance to the Chateau on the Lake is the turn off to Moonshine Beach, a public access area offering swimming, a sand, beach boat launching ramp and many other amenities. There is another public boat launching ramp located at the Table Rock State park just south of the dam and the Show Boat Branson Belle’s White River Landing. The State Park Marina is a full service marina, with boat rentals, other aquatic attractions, and activities, as well as a bait and tackle shop.

The Dewey Short Visitor Center is located on State Highway 165 at the south end of the dam between Moonshine Beach and the State Park. In addition to having information about all the public access areas and other information about Table Rock Lake the $10 million center has an exhibition area detailing the natural history of the Ozark Mountain region, its earliest inhabitants, and the construction of Table Rock Dam. A 20-minute film entitled, “Taming of the Riviera Blanche” explains the history and construction of the dam itself.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison points out that the really neat thing is that it offers all of this within a few miles of everything else Branson has to offer. Where else can you dock your boat, leave the beach, or come in from a fishing trip and be enjoying the shows, attractions, activities, shopping, and other activities that Branson offers within minutes?

For additional information on Table Rock Lake or Branson’s shows and attractions, or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to 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.

An amazing swift change made from the classroom to the Legends

Elizabeth Scarbourough performing her Taylor Swift tribute at Legends in Concert.

Elizabeth Scarbourough performing her Taylor Swift tribute at Legends in Concert.

One of the reasons that Legends in Concert is “the world’s greatest live tribute show” is the infusion of quality new tribute artists, and the stars they pay tribute to, into its lineup of “legends.” Elizabeth Scarbourough and her Taylor Swift tribute is a wonderful example. In the summer of 2015, as she was concluding her engagement at Branson’s Legends in Concert, she was kind enough to share her amazing story, and we held it until now so there would be a tie-in with her 2016 summer appearance at Branson’s Legends in Concert.

“Branson-Up Close and Personal,” is a service of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) and is intended to provide readers with an unprecedented look at a Branson celebrity or personality. Except as noted below, this interview with Elizabeth Scarbourough (ES) was conducted, in August, 2015, for BTC by Gary J. Groman, a 30 year resident of the Branson area, local columnist and freelance writer, and is presented in a Question and Answer format:

BTC: When were you born?
ES: April 9, 1993

BTC: Where?
ES: Charleston, SC.

BTC: You have graduated from college fairly recently. Where and when?
ES: The University of South Carolina on May 11, 2015.

BTC: In what was your degree?
ES: Public Relations from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Minor in Spanish.

BTC: How do you prefer your act to be categorized? i.e. Impersonator, Tribute Artist etc.
ES: I prefer Tribute Artist, because everything we do is live and we are proud of that.

BTC: Were you singing and dancing before you first became interested in Taylor Swift?
ES: No.

BTC: How old were you when you first became interested in Taylor Swift?
ES: I was 12 and I heard her sing “Tim McGraw” from her first single on the radio.

BTC: What was the first Taylor Swift song you did and how many chords did you play?
ES: “Love Story” and I played four chords.

BTC: How did your first Taylor Swift guitar evolve?
ES: Well, I kind of borrowed it from my church on non-returning grounds. It was an old guitar without strings that had been in a closet for over a year without any use. My brother who was with the Praise Team said, “Take it and learn to play.” I took it, sanded it down, put silver glitter all over it to make it look like her diamond guitar and restrung it.

BTC: When did you first perform publicly?
ES: It was in school at a Halloween Carnival where I appeared as Taylor Swift and played, “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story.”

BTC: What made you decide to turn professional?
ES: I had been doing kids’ birthday parties at home until I went to college, but when I started college I had to build a new audience so I decided to market my Taylor Swift skills by putting up a Facebook page. I put up TaylorSwiftTribute with a few videos that I took myself. I got some bookings working kids’ birthday parties and nursing homes, but it resulted in getting a call from Legends in Concert in Myrtle Beach in early in 2014.

BTC: How long have you been performing Taylor Swift professionally?
ES: If you go from the very beginning to right now it’s been just about a year, but for ten months of that year I was finishing my degree in school.

BTC: Where did you perform your first gig as Taylor Swift?
ES: It was on my spring break of 2014, at BorderFest in Hidalgo, TX.

BTC: How long have you been performing Taylor Swift for Legends in Concert?
ES: Last summer [2014] I performed for Legends in Concert in Myrtle Beach, SC. My contract expired just a few days before I returned to school for my final year.

BTC: What’s the most challenging part of portraying the character of Taylor Swift?
ES:  Balancing the up to the minute details about what Taylor is currently doing or the way she looks with the general look, actions, and perceptions that my general audiences expect.

BTC: Have you ever met Taylor Swift personally or been to her concerts?
ES: I have never met her personally, but I have been to some of her concerts and am going to one in September [2015.]

BTC: Before we go into the more Branson related questions is there anything you would like to add?
ES: It’s like a dream come true for me. I would have been happy just playing birthday parties and nursing homes, but I am so happy that Legends picked me up.

BTC: Is this your first time performing in Branson?
ES: Yes.

BTC: Had you ever been to Branson before?
ES: No.

BTC: When you found out you were coming to Branson, for the first time what did you expect?
ES: I had no idea.

BTC: Had you ever heard of Branson and if so what had you heard?
ES: Yes. That it was a small country version of Las Vegas.

BTC: Now that you’ve been here for a while, what is your first impression of Branson?
ES:  I think that it’s a really neat place with special character, a small town feel, and a lot going on.

BTC: What do you like best about performing in Branson?
ES: The people are so nice and appreciative.

BTC: What’s your favorite thing to do in Branson when you are not performing?
ES: I enjoy hiking the local trails and do that about every day.

BTC: If you could perform or meet with any entertainer/person (living or deceased), outside of Taylor Swift who would it be and why?
ES: The Beatles because they are the definition of a legend.

BTC:  Do you have a favorite hobby or activity and what is it?
ES: Hiking with “Rerun,” my Black Lab.

BTC: Do you have a little known fact about yourself that you think our readers would enjoy?
ES: I am the exact same height as Taylor Swift.

BTC: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you while performing in front of an audience?
ES: I was performing and one of my boots split open so I had to stop and take them off in the middle of the set. I gave them to a little girl in the audience and finished the set in a pair of mismatched polka dot socks.

BTC: What part of your current act do you enjoy performing the most and why?
ES: The song “Blank Space” because its high energy and dramatic interaction with our male dancers.

BTC: What is your favorite Taylor Swift song and why?
ES: “Wildest Dreams” because it’s so beautiful, romantic, and leaves you questioning.

BTC: What is your favorite non Taylor Swift song and why?
ES: I love Jason Pritchett’s new song, “Good Show.”

BTC: Where do you go when you leave Branson?
ES: I will be performing for five months in Las Vegas with Legends in Concert.

The following was from a short interview conducted by telephone on March 28, 2016, to bring things current:

BTC: How did the Las Vegas gig go and what have you been doing since you left Branson?
ES: It went great and I have, been working with Legends in Concert since I left Branson. Currently, I am doing a spring engagement with them at Myrtle Beach.

BTC: When will you be returning to Branson?
ES: I finish up in Myrtle Beach and then come to Branson for the most of the summer season starting June 1.

BTC: Are you looking forward to coming back to Branson?
ES: I absolutely love Branson and am so excited about coming back.

Jeannie Horton, General Manager of the Legends in Concert in Branson, said that they are just so excited to have Elizabeth back with her Taylor Swift tribute for the summer season because it’s a perfect fit for the younger family audiences that normally attend at that time of the year. Horton points out that the Taylor Swift tribute will be performed from June 1 through August 15.

For additional information or tickets for the Legends in Concert  show 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 .

Best of Branson Insider Highlights for April 2016

Fire Dancer from "Island Fire."

Fire Dancer from “Island Fire,” is just one of many world class acts featured in Silver Dollar City’s World-Fest, America’s largest International Festival.

“From the limited time display of the $1.7 million dollar Wallace Hartley Violin at the Titanic Museum Attraction, to the opening of the show of Branson’s premier violinist, Shoji Tabuchi, Silver Dollar City’s World-Fest, or the Legends of Golf Tournament, the month of April is just bursting with exciting things for Branson visitors to experience,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “We are particularly excited about hosting America’s Purple Heart Recipients as we honor them during Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients Weekend,” she added.

Here’s our Featured Show, Limited Engagement, and Event of the Month, along with a list of the major events in Branson during April, 2016:

Featured Show of the Month: The Illusionist Rick Thomas is truly magical. In a recent review of this show I wrote, “From the time the show starts until it ends with a ‘blast,’ it’s two hours of truly magical non-stop entertainment with a variety of illusions; close up magic; what I call ‘mind magic;’ doves, dogs, color, brightness, dancing, music and action that will ‘knock your socks off.’ The magic is illusionary, but the fun, excitement and enjoyment I experienced, and witnessed others enjoying was real.’”

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: It’s Trace Adkins folks, the big man of country music with the irresistible grin, and he’s making his first Branson appearance for one show only on April 22! He’s scored plenty of hits, including his enduring and catchy tune, Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, and number one songs (This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing, Ladies Love Country Boys, and You’re Gonna Miss This, and landed at the top of the country charts when he collaborated with superstar Blake Shelton on Hillbilly Bone. Adkins typically performs in large arenas and outdoor festivals, so here’s your chance to see him a bit more up-close-and-personal!

Featured Event of the Month: Featured Event of the Month: This is the final year of World-Fest, Silver Dollar City’s long-time festival that unites seven continents into America’s largest International Festival! Each year World-Fest presents something new and exciting through the talent or cuisine of many different countries and cultures, and this year is no exception. The African Acrobats from Cirque Zuma Zuma return and a dance ensemble, Slask, from Eastern Europe joins the line-up in 2016 along with many of your favorites from the past. This is your last chance to see why this celebration of “World-Class” proportions has made it a family favorite each year for so many years..

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCES (Sorted by starting date)

Apr 8:  CMT Presents Jennifer Nettles with 2016 Next Women of Country Tour
Apr 9:  Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest
Apr 22  Trace Adkins
Apr 22-23:  Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Apr 23:  Boot Daddy Presents Gene Watson
Apr 26-27:  Oak Ridge Boys
Apr 29:  LeAnn Rimes

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

Apr 1-May 29:  Titanic Museum Attraction – $1.7 Million Wallace Hartley Violin
Apr 1-Apr 3:  Silver Dollar City Young Christians Weekend
Apr 1 May 31:  Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
Apr 7-Apr 9:  2016 Kenneth Copeland Branson Victory Campaign
Apr 7-May 1:  Silver Dollar City’s World-Fest
Apr 9:  Saturday Shindig Shopping Spree
Apr 10:  Sunday Shindig Shopping Spree
Apr 13-Apr 17:  Kewpiesta
Apr 15-Apr 16:  The Branson Auction – Three Decades of Service to the Collector
Apr 16:  MCDA Cheer and Dance Championships
Apr 20-Apr 24:  Legends of Golf Presented by Bass Pro Shops
Apr 21-Apr 23:  Branson.com Honors Purple Heart Recipients Weekend
Apr 23:  Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure on Lake Taneycomo
Apr 27-Apr 28:  Savor the Flavors at Welk Resort
Apr 27-Apr 30:  See the World in Branson Music Fest
Apr 28:  Hootenanny in the Park
Apr 30:  MDA Muscle Walk

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.

Andy Williams Performing Arts Center promises an amazing, magical star studded 2016

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“The renaming of the Andy William’s Moon River Theatre to the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre (AWPAC) is really calling it what it was really meant to be by Andy’s design,” said Jimmy Osmond in a recent interview. He points out that, although used primarily as a theatre, the building was designed as a multi-use performance space that can handle large and small scale productions of various types of performing arts from Broadway productions, to concerts, dance, drama, music, and more. “Another important aspect of AWPAC’s operation is our performing arts educational efforts through our affiliations with various colleges and other schools where we work with their students to provide mentor ship programs and offer practical first-hand experience in an actual working environment,” he added.

Osmond is really pleased with the amazing, magical, and star studded entertainment that will be presented in the AWPAC during 2016. 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 schedule is a blend of short, mostly one-day limited engagement performances by national stars such as Jennifer Nettles, LeAnn Rimes, Loretta Lynn, Ray Stevens, and others with extended performances from our resident shows, such as the magic of Illusionist Rick Thomas and the Andy Williams Christmas Spectacular starring the Osmonds and Lennon Sisters.

The full schedule of shows and concerts, as of March 22, is listed below sorted by the date of their first performance.

Illusionist Rick Thomas:  Mar 11 – Oct 29*
CMT Presents Jennifer Nettles with 2016 Next Women of Country Tour:  Apr 8
Moon River and Me:  Apr 28 – May 12*
LeAnn Rimes:  Apr 29
The Lettermen :  May 13 – June 4 and Sep 1 – Dec 10*
Ray Stevens:  May 14
Rockapella:  June 13 – Jul 16*
MJ LIVE:  Sep 24
Bill Engvall:  Oct 7
David Cassidy:  Oct 15
Loretta Lynn :  Oct 22
Jeanne Robertson:  Oct 29
Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza:  Nov 1 – Dec 10*
Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol:  Nov 1 – Dec 10*
Southern Fried Chicks:  Nov 1
James Gregory with Keith Alberstadt:  Nov 3 – 5

Osmond says that the excitement they feel about the variety and talent of the nationally known entertainers coming in for limited engagement performances extends to their extended performance and resident shows which include:

Illusionist Rick Thomas: In a recent review of this show I wrote, “From the time the show starts until it ends with a ‘blast,’ it’s two hours of truly magical non-stop entertainment with a variety of illusions; close up magic; what I call ‘mind magic;’ doves, dogs, color, brightness, dancing, music and action that will ‘knock your socks off.’ The magic is illusionary, but the fun, excitement and enjoyment I experienced, and witnessed others enjoying was real.'”

The Lettermen: Continue to be one of music’s most romantic pop groups, making them an excellent show for couples; and with that untarnished, all-American image, every performance is 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.

Andy Williams Christmas Extravaganza:  This special show is a shining example of why there’s no place like Christmas in Branson.  Carrying on the tradition of “Mr. Christmas,” the late and much-loved singer Andy Williams, famous sibling acts – The Lennons and The Osmonds – headline one of Branson’s hottest Christmas shows, in a not to be missed production filled with the spirit of Christmas, gorgeous costumes, festive sets, and amazing Christmas music!

Hallmark Presents Maxine’s Christmas Carol:  With this show, Branson has a holiday show 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 heaping 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 is now making her debut in Branson for Christmas 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.

 

* Indicates  extended performance or resident show.

Is Branson really the most fun place to be in America?

There are so many ways to have fun in Branson.

There are so many ways to have fun in Branson.

“Absolutely! Anyone who has been to Branson can attest to the wide variety of fun filled activities it has to offer,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From pristine lakes and championship golf courses to world class shopping, dining, live entertainment, and so much more, there’s a bewildering choice of things to do. At the end of each day, Branson’s goal is to have you and your family saying, ‘WOW, what a fun day!’” she added.

Wood, has been involved with the Branson tourism industry and helping Branson visitors plan for a great Branson experience for over three decades.  She said that, in many cases, as we work with people helping them to plan their customized Branson vacation you can sense the fun they are having just examining the variety of fun filled activities Branson has to offer. It gets even better when they realize that there is generally more than one choice for fun within each major type of activity.

Fishing is a good example of the fun choices available within a type of activity. If you want to fish for Rainbow or Brown Trout, Branson’s Lake Taneycomo is one of the finest cold water trout fisheries in the country. On the other hand, if you want to fish for Large or Small Mouth Bass, Crappie, Catfish, or other warm water species it’s hard to imagine a better place to do that than in Table Rock Lake. Fishing isn’t the only fun Table Rock Lake offers. It’s a virtual aquatic fun paradise with its 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline providing a wide variety of fun including fishing, boating, swimming, scuba diving, water sports, and even a sandy beach.

Wood points out that Branson’s great golfing is another example of the choices available. From courses such as Holiday Hills, a more forgiving course; to par three courses like Don Gardner and Top of the Rock; or championship courses such as Branson Hills Golf Club, Thousand Hills, Buffalo Ridge Springs, and Point Royale, there is challenging fun in Branson for every golfer.

Nowhere is the variety of fun choices for an activity more obvious than with its live shows. Sometimes referred to as “The Live Music Show Capital of the World,” on a daily basis Branson’s shows are unmatched by any national tourist destination anywhere near its size and by very few, if any, that are larger, for the number, variety, and quality of the live shows it offers. Whether it’s the magic of Reza Edge of Illusion; Sight and Sound’s spectacular Moses presented on a 300-foot wrap around stage; The Million Dollar Quartet; country music shows as diverse as Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Billy Dean and Jarrett in Concert, and Presleys’ Country Jubilee; or one of its over 90 other shows, Branson’s choice of live show fun is unbeatable.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. From Branson’s world class award winning theme park Silver Dollar City, to the Titanic Museum Attraction, hiking, biking, a myriad of other attractions and activities there is fun at virtually every turn. Shopping fun of all types from the award winning Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo to quaint specialty shops in its historic downtown and throughout Branson, abound.

In advertising her Branson Dixie Stampede dinner attraction, Dolly Parton says, “It is the most fun place to eat in Branson.” In terms of having fun, one could paraphrase Dolly and say, “Branson, Missouri is the most fun place to be in America!”