How can one unique Branson show take you from Ireland to Broadway?

Dublin's Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies sharing fun and music in a Irish Publ setting.

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and Celtic Ladies sharing fun and music in a Irish Pub setting.

Simply put, with great performers, music, energy, and choreography. As I sat in the King’s Castle Theatre in Branson recently for a performance of Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies, I was amazed that one show could have so much vocal talent and cover such a wide variety of music. From its Irish-Celtic roots to opera, this show offers a variety of music that truly has something for every musical taste, but especially for those wanting to experience Irish and Celtic music.

The show is basically divided into two parts; the first half, primarily Irish and Celtic music and the second half, presenting a wide variety of “their” favorite music. As they explain, Irish music is really a form of Celtic music which includes the music of Ireland, Scotland and other countries from that region. For purposes of this piece I will refer to it as Irish music.

From the very first number to the very last number of the first half, the beautiful vocals of Celtic Ladies, Amber Casey, Sarah Hunter, Maggie Moore, and Heather Petersen and Dublin’s Irish Tenors, Ryan Walton, Ollie Barrow, Jay McManus, James Allen, and Rob Quibell, treat the audience to one Irish song after another. It is a wonderful, inspiring, and colorful musical journey to the Emerald Isle and the land of the Celts.

From the many Irish numbers performed, my two favorites were the opening number of the show, “Danny Boy,” sung beautifully by the Celtic Ladies and the Irish folk song “Maggie” so poignantly sung by James Allen and dedicated to all those serving in our country’s Armed Forces. The last set of the first half, from the “Drunken Sailor” to “Phil The Fluther’s Ball,” was so much fun to watch and hear.

Jay McManus during his Irish Dance performance.

Jay McManus during his Irish Dance performance.

It was highlighted by the marvelous Irish dancing of Jay McManus and was a perfect illustration of how the vocal talent and energy of its performers, colorful costuming, choreography, and energy is combined into every element of the show. What a tremendous way to end the first half!

During the second half of the show, the cast presents some of their favorite numbers which covers a variety of music from Broadway to opera all sung and performed to perfection and, along with a few surprises, will have a musical favorite for just about everyone. Two of my favorite numbers from this half of the show were “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” which is not only my favorite song, but the very first song that the Dublin’s Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies ever sang together. Maggie Moore’s performance of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera Turandot was magnificent.

With every show a common question is, “Will children enjoy this show?” There are no animals, peer performances by other children or segments specifically designed for children, but when combined with its wide variety of music, sets, costuming, and dancing, children who have an appreciation of music or dancing should love this show.

From Ireland to Broadway, the shows unique blend of Celtic music mixed with just the right amount of current contemporary and classical favorites is a joy to experience and will be enjoyed by “music lovers of all ages.” For additional information or tickets for Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies 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 calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Branson’s amazing shows are absolutely not just country!

The Million Dollar Quartet, Moses, and Acrobats of China illustrate the diversity of Branson's shows.Branson's many non-country music shows

The Million Dollar Quartet, Moses, and Acrobats of China illustrate the diversity of Branson’s shows.

“It’s amazing how many people still think that Branson’s live shows are predominantly country,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “The amazing truth is that, while Branson offers some of the finest country music shows available anywhere, the majority of Branson’s great shows are absolutely not country and offer a wide variety of entertainment covering about every musical genre and things as diversified as biblical spectaculars, magic, acrobatics, and so, much more,” she continued.

From dozens, here’s ten shows, mostly from our list of Branson’s Most Popular Shows, that illustrate the diversity and excitement of the live shows Branson offers every day:

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

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.”

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.

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

The Haygoods: An amazing Branson experience! Excellent choreography, exquisite harmonies, state-of-the-art sound and special effects, a delightful sense of humor, and energy that never quits, you get it all in one show from one phenomenal family!

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.

Million Dollar Quartet: A singular moment, when four of the most extraordinary musical talents of our time, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, came together for one unforgettable night, is captured in this amazing production based on an actual event! Even neater, is the fact that the music in this show, songs such as That’s All Right, I Walk the Line, Riders in the Sky, Hound Dog, Peace in the Valley, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Blue Suede Shoes, and many more, are songs many already know and grew up with, not songs specifically written for the show.

Moses: Sight and Sound’s new Branson spectacular brings the Bible tale of Moses to life on its giant 300-foot wrap around stage. This epic and powerful story of one man’s journey, from being a humble and broken man, to the leader used by God to deliver the children of Israel from enslavement, is presented by a phenomenal cast with astonishing sets, live animals, wonderful music, and stunning costumes.

Reza – Edge of Illusion: Reza, the young master illusionist is back in Branson and is ready to bewilder and befuddle your brain with everything from big dazzling illusions to charming sleight-of-hand trickery!  “Reza” always leaves you scratching your head; struggling to rationalize what your eyes have seen with what you know is humanly impossible!

SIX: Branson’s sensational sibling singing group that, quite simply, defines the art of performing music without instruments! It’s sensational harmonizing, polished professionalism, zany on-stage antics presented by six of the most talented guys you’ll ever meet!

Wood points out that these are just ten from literally dozens of non-country shows that Branson visitors can pick from on a daily basis. For more information on these, and all the other shows that Branson offers, please 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.

Branson blasts into 4th of July with amazing fireworks displays

A beautiful firework burst lighting up the Brasnon sky!

A beautiful firework burst lighting up the Branson sky!

“One of the most common questions we are asked at this time of year is, ‘Are there 4th of July Fireworks and where’s the best place to see them?'” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. “Which one is the ‘best’ is an individual choice, but one thing is for certain, starting with the College of the Ozarks’ “Honor America” on June 26, Branson visitors will have an unrivaled variety of quality displays to pick from,” he added.

Here is a list of some of Branson’s major “4th of July” fireworks displays along with contact and other information:

Name: 27th College of the Ozarks “Honor America”
Place: College of the Ozarks
Phone: 417-690-2212
Date/Time(s) /Comment(s): June 26 starting at 6:00 PM with entertainment by the cast from Red, Hot & Blue and The Petersen Family Band. A Patriotic Program begins at 8:30 PM followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Name: 29th Annual Fireburst Fireworks Display
Place: Kimberling City
Phone: Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce – 417-739-2564
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 2 at dusk. Good Viewing Area: Right on Route 13 in downtown Kimberling City, near Kimberling City Shopping Mall, about 6 miles south of Branson West. It can also be viewed very well from Table Rock Lake near the north end of the bridge.

Name: Branson Landing 9th Annual “Liberty Light Up”
Place: Branson Landing Town Square by Fountains
Phone: Branson Landing – 417-239-3002
Date/Time(s) /Comment(s): July 3, The Liberty Light Up Concert featuring Resurrection – A Journey Tribute! at 8 PM. Following their performance, the skies over Lake Taneycomo will light up with an amazing choreographed fireworks display show produced by Gateway Fireworks Displays, from St. Louis, MO.

Name: Main Street Marina’s Lake Queen Branson Landing Fireworks Cruise
Place: Boarding at Main Street Marina, 9 South Boardwalk, Branson Landing Bass Pro Parking Lot starts at 8:00 PM with cruise departing promptly at 8:45 PM
Phone: Branson Tourism Center – 417-785-1550
Date/Time(s) /Comment(s): July 3. This is a unique and exciting way to see the Branson Landing fireworks display while cruising aboard the Lake Queen on Lake Taneycomo. On July 3rd the boat will be positioned to provide a spectacular and unique view of the Branson Landing fireworks display amid an armada of other boats.

Name: Fireworks at Chateau on the Lake
Place: Chateau on the Lake just north of Table Rock Dam on State Highway 165/265
Phone: Chateau on the Lake – 417-334-1161 or 888-333-5253
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 3 at dusk. Easily and conveniently viewed for free from Table Rock Lake via boat or park in loop just south of new overrun floodgates on Table Rock Dam or the Chateau’s public areas.

Although not advertised as such, the 8:00 PM dinner cruise of the Showboat Branson Belle has been known has been known to join the armada of boats on Table Rock Lake viewing the Chateau on the Lake fireworks display.

Name: Hollister’s 62nd Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration
Place: Historic Downing Street in Hollister
Phone: City of Hollister – 417-334-3262
Date/Time/Comment(s): July 4 at dusk. Good Viewing Area: Along Business Hwy 65 in Historic downtown Hollister. Area’s oldest fireworks display.

Branson Tourism Center’s Garrison reminds those planning to see one of the fireworks displays that they are very popular and suggests planning to arrive, at least an hour before dusk and to bring your own chairs etc. He also recommends making advance reservations for lodging, attractions and shows and offers the services of the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, in that regard. BTC may be contacted either through its toll free number, 1-800-785-1550, or its website www.BransonTourismCenter.Com.

 

The amazing skill of The Acrobats of China is simply mind-blowing entertainment!

Fun shot of the cast of The Acrobats of China Featuring The New Shanghai Circus

Fun shot of the cast of The Acrobats of China Featuring The New Shanghai Circus

Over the years, different adjectives, such as “incredible” and “amazing” have been used to describe the Acrobats of China Featuring The New Shanghai Circus Branson show. After seeing their 2016 performance yesterday [May 25, 2016] I would have to add one more, “unbelievable,” as one amazing act after another performed incredible acrobatic feats that, in many cases, seemed “magical,” even though I knew it was the skill, endurance, strength, and agility of some amazing performers actually performing what I was seeing.

I have seen this show many times during the 18 years it has been performing in Branson and am so entertained and amazed each time I see it, but one thing has been constant, the bar is raised each year even though the previous year’s show was top notch, and 2016 is no exception. From the use of a rider on a hover board, to changes in costuming, music, and choreography as well as the acts themselves, it was like I was seeing a brand new show and, what a show it was!

Except for intermission, from the time the curtain went up until they took their final bow, there is a fresh constant flow of exciting acts from strength acts, and the juggling of everything from drums, hats, and humans to pole climbing, high-flying Silks, amazing group cycle riding, and much more. Each act is like a separate show, in terms of colorful costuming, set design, lighting, choreography, music, and presentation yet they flow seamlessly from one to the other with no dead time providing about 2 hours of the most amazing, incredible, and unbelievable entertainment in Branson.

I had the opportunity to talk with a grandmother and her six-year-old granddaughter who were visiting Branson from Moberly Mo. Six-year-old Belle said that she really liked the show and thought that other kids her age would too. The grandmother said that she had brought her older granddaughter to see the show several years ago and liked it so much that she brought her two younger granddaughters back to see it this year. When I asked her if she liked it she said that it was great and that she was really enjoying it.

I also asked, “Do you think that this show can entertain kids and adults simultaneously?” With a big smile on her face she replied, “Definitely!” Particularly with Branson entering that part of its season where families, with kids of all ages, come for vacation that’s important. In terms of content, all the Branson shows that I have seen over the last 30 years are “kid friendly” but, in terms of things in a show that will hold their interest throughout the majority of the show there are very few. There are fewer yet that can entertain both kids and adults simultaneously throughout the majority of the show. The Acrobats of China Featuring The New Shanghai Circus, is absolutely one of those few shows!

Typically, when I review a show I pick three of my favorite things to emphasize. For this show that would be:

The Human Strength was a demonstration of strength, beauty, agility, and elegance.

The Human Strength set is a demonstration of strength, beauty, agility, and elegance.

Human Strength: A beautiful, graceful, and elegant demonstration of strength performed by a man and three girls. It was amazing and easily the most enjoyable strength act I have ever seen.

Cycling: It had all the beauty, color, excitement, and daring that I expected, based on what I have seen in the past, and “then some.” It’s almost amazing when one of the riders flips from one moving cycle to the other and how many they fit on one cycle. No, actually, it’s unbelievable, but I saw it with my own eyes!

Rope Skills: It has rope twirling, as you have never seen it before, performed by both individuals and groups as well as a jump rope set, unlike anything I have ever seen. Figuratively speaking, this unique hi energy act blew my socks off.

Hoop Diving: Folks this isn’t your grandmother’s hoop diving act. This high energy high flying act had more action going on than you could shake a stick at. Even though I had seen hoop diving in the show before, this segment was unbelievable as these guys take hoop diving to a new exciting level.

I know there are four, but I couldn’t help myself.

If you are looking for a Branson show filled with hi energy, color, daring, and excitement that will entertain kids and adults simultaneously as they sit on the edge of their seat waiting to see what’s coming next, the Acrobats of China Featuring The New Shanghai Circus is your show. For additional information or tickets 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.

The Best of Branson June 2016 Insider Highlights

The "Amazing Pets Show" and "Silver Dollar City's Star Spangled Summer Festival," featuring the return of The Harlem Globetrotters, celebrating their 90th Anniversary, are two of the Branson Tourism Center's featured events for June.

The “Amazing Pets Show” and “Silver Dollar City’s Star Spangled Summer Festival,” featuring the return of The Harlem Globetrotters, celebrating their 90th Anniversary, are two of the Branson Tourism Center’s featured events for June.

“With school out and families coming to Branson for their vacations, there’s a special feeling in the air,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “From Silver Dollar City on the west, to the boats of Main Street Lake Cruises at Branson Landing on the east, it’s filled with happy smiling families enjoying each other as they share the fun, excitement and adventure of sharing Branson memories that could last for a lifetime,” she added

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

Featured Show of the Month: The whole family, especially the kids will love the Amazing Pets show featuring “more than 30 happy, well-trained critters performing a wide array of tricks” that’s a touch of magic, a bit of mayhem, and a whole lot of furry frivolity and fun! “These are everyday house pets! Cats galore, cuddly canines, and even brilliantly colored exotic birds who put on a show that delight’s all ages. Well-respected animal trainer, Valery Tsoraev, has created a delightful line-up of animal acrobatics and tricks, and has performed with the famous Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars as well as being featured with one of his incredible cats in the movie, Big Fish. “He has cared for these beautiful creatures, including cats adopted from shelters and those that have simply wandered into his life, and taught them how to entertain and enjoy the affection and encouragement from their human co-stars and their adoring audiences.”

Featured Limited Engagement of the Month: Rockapella, formed in the mid-80’s, is pretty much the group who wrote the book on making music without instruments. They expertly deliver original compositions, Motown classics, pop, and soul music, all without the aid of the usual guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums making all the sounds themselves. They have enjoyed a phenomenal career since their inception and introduction “to a broad audience on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, an incredibly popular PBS show in the 90’s.” Those loving a cappella music will not want to miss the opportunity to experience Rockapella while it’s in Branson for a 25 performance limited engagement, starting on June 13.

Featured Event of the Month: Silver Dollar City Star Spangled Summer Festival, starting June 11 will feature the return of The Harlem Globetrotters, celebrating their 90th Anniversary, The Magic of Peter Gossamer – Up Close & Personal, Championship Cloggers, Meet and Greets and Breakfasts with kid’s favorite cartoon characters, and much more. Of course, all this will be in addition to the other 40 rides, attractions, activities, and excitement one would expect from a world class theme park including “the world’s most daring wood coaster – Outlaw Run.”

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT PERFORMANCES (Sorted by starting date)

160524 RockapellaJune 10: Diamond Rio
June 13-June 30: Rockapella
June 15: Huey Lewis and The News
June 17: Sara Evans

SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

June 2 – June 5: Branson Z Fest
Jun 4: Afternoon Tea – Keeter Center
Jun 11: Run for a Vet; 5K & Half Marathon
Jun 11: Promenade Pop-Up Shop
Jun 11: 32nd Annual Oinklawn Downs Pig Races – Charity Fundraiser
Jun 11 – Jun 18: Law Enforcement Recognition Week Celebration in Branson
Jun 11 – Jul 24: Silver Dollar City Star Spangled Summer Festival
Jun 12: Tanger Club Member Exclusive Event – Bring A Friend
Jun 16: Law Enforcement Recognition Week – Light Cruise Car Parade
Jun 18: 2nd Annual Art Walk – Downtown Branson & Hollister
Jun 18: Branson Landing Celebrates 10 Years Concerts & Fireworks
Jun 18 – Jun 24: Ball Parks of America Opening Week Baseball Tournament
Jun 19: Father’s Day
Jun 19: Father’s Day Brunch and Car Show at Keeter Center
Jun 19: Chateau on the Lake Father’s Day Champagne Brunch
Jun 19: The Taneycomo Festival Jazz Orchestra – Live in Concert
Jun 26: Honor America “4th of July” Celebration – College of the Ozarks

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.

The stunning Branson metamorphosis of the gigantic Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Aerial overview of the Branson Ferris Wheel.*

Special Update: In a June 2, 2016 tweet Track Family Fun Parks announced that the Branson Ferris Wheel will open to the public at Noon on June 23. [https://twitter.com/bransontracks/status/738462403025731584]

“It’s truly an amazing thing to see the gigantic Branson Ferris Wheel towering elegantly over the Branson Strip” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. Garrison was referring to the transition and metamorphosis of the famed Chicago Navy Pier Ferris Wheel from Chicago, where it was to be replaced by a bigger one, to Branson, thanks to the efforts of the Track Family Fun Parks.

Craig Wescott (CW), President of Track Family Fun Parks sat down for an interview with the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) recently. He presents a unique perspective on the transition, which we are presenting in question and answer format and hope you will enjoy, as you learn some insider facts about Branson’s newest attraction and how it all came about:

BTC: Why did you guys decide to purchase the Ferris Wheel?
CW: We believed that it would fit right into our mission of creating unforgettable moments for visiting families not only to our parks, but to Branson in general. This particular Ferris wheel was an icon on Navy Pier in Chicago. It was ridden by nearly 17 million people from 1995-2015. With Branson being in the Midwest as well, we figured that many people who live in or visit Branson would know of this Chicago icon. With the stories we have heard from people in just over three months since making our announcement, there is no doubt that many people have great memories (and many cold ones!) of the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. We purchased something that came with many emotional connections; you can’t get those with a brand new attraction. Branson area locals and visitors appreciate stories, and there is no doubt that this Ferris wheel comes with many. It was also great timing because it tied in with the 35th Anniversary of our company, which we are celebrating this year.

BTC: What is the best estimate as to when it will open?
CW: We are shooting for the middle of June . [Note: In a June 2, 2016 tweet Track Family Fun Parks tweeted that it would open to the public at Noon on June 23.]

BTC: Will its name be changed?
CW: Yes, it will be called “The Branson Ferris Wheel”

BTC: How much will it cost to ride?
CW: $12.00 for adults, $8.00 for kids 4-11. And kids under 3 ride free.

BTC: What Ferris Wheel was it modeled after?
CW: You could say that it was inspired and modeled after the original Ferris Wheel designed by George Ferris Jr. for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The original was bigger and had different gondolas, but it is clear that the inspiration for the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel came from it.

BTC: How Tall is it?
CW: 150 feet.

Each of the 40, fully enclosed, gondolas will hold up to six guests.

Each of the 40, fully enclosed, gondolas will hold up to six guests. *

BTC: How many gondolas does it have?
CW: It has 40 gondolas, each of which is fully enclosed.

BTC: What’s its maximum capacity?
CW: 240 riders. Each gondola can handle up to six with a maximum limit of 990 pounds per gondola.

BTC: How will guests be restrained bar, belt, etc.
CW: There is no seat restraint because the seats are inside a completely enclosed unit.

BTC: Will guests be able to carry babies and small children on laps?
CW: Absolutely. They will be sitting inside a completely enclosed unit.

BTC: What are the hours of operation?
CW: From 10 AM through approximately Midnight.

BTC: How will the wheel operate?
CW: We will use basically the same procedure they used on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. The wheel will remain in motion at all times, traveling slow enough that people can board from one side while those finishing their ride are exiting from the other side.

BTC: How long will the ride be?
CW: The ride will last for about seven to seven and a half minutes from the time you enter the gondola until you exit and consist of one complete revolution of the wheel.

BTC: How long was it at Chicago’s Navy Pier?
CW: For 20 years.

BTC: When did you find out it was for sale?
CW: In early October of 2015.

BTC: Had you been eyeing a Ferris Wheel for a long time, or was this just a right place/right time-type of situation?
CW: We have been intrigued by Ferris wheels for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t say that one was in our short-term strategic plan by any means. We knew that Branson would be a great place for one because of its scenery and energetic entertainment corridor, but we just had the idea in a file somewhere. In 2015, we did make connections with some industry friends who had knowledge and expertise in Ferris wheels. As it turned out, we were asking questions and dreaming a little bit at the right time. That fortunate timing put us in a position to learn of the Navy Pier replacing their Ferris wheel with a new, bigger one. So, it was definitely knowing the right people at the right time. Our scenario is a testament to the importance and benefit of expanding your network of industry peers…it landed us an iconic Ferris wheel! With there being both national and international interest in the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, we were extremely fortunate to get it.

BTC: How much did it cost?
CW: The total cost involved with its purchase and transition to the Branson Ferris Wheel represents about a $4 million investment.

BTC: Who originally manufactured it?
CW: It was originally manufactured by Vekoma Rides in the Netherlands.

BTC: Who is rebuilding the Branson Ferris Wheel?
CW: A team of eight from Dutch Wheels, a division of Vekoma Rides, has been here to help get it to this point. Their head engineer has put together 150 Ferris Wheels around the world during his 32-year career.

BTC: What improvements will be the most obvious to those seeing the Branson Ferris Wheel?
CW. Its brand new paint job and the change from its original incandescent lighting system to a new programmable system of over 16 thousand LED lights and music that was designed and is being installed by Michael Haygood’s company.

BTC: When did it arrive in Branson?
CW: About the middle of February.

BTC: How many trucks did it take to get it to Branson?
CW: The wheel was loaded on 26 semis over a period of four days and transported to Branson where it took four days to unload them.

View of face of the Branson Ferris Wheel from Highway 76.*

View of face of the Branson Ferris Wheel from Highway 76.*

BTC: How wide and deep are the anchors and how many cubic yards of concrete are in them?
CW: Each is 54 inches wide and they vary in depth from 8 feet to 24 feet depending on the soil conditions underneath. The piers, pier caps, and tie beams making up the foundation for the wheel contain 250 yards of concrete and 40 tons of rebar.

BTC: How was the decision made in what direction to face it?
CW: We wanted people coming down Highway 76 in either direction to be able to see the face of the wheel.

BTC: What about this ride excites you the most?
CW: We are getting something with this ride that money can’t buy. It has a great story and is something that many have an emotional connection with that we wouldn’t have gotten with a new Ferris Wheel. It will be exciting to be a part of the new stories and emotional connections that it will be a part of in Branson over the decades to come.

For more information about the Branson Ferris Wheel and Track Family Fun Parks please contact Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com

*Photos courtesy of Track Family Fun Parks

It’s a breathtakingly unique Branson experience your family will not want to miss

Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen

Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen

“A scenic sightseeing cruise on beautiful Lake Taneycomo, aboard Main Street Lake Cruises’ 84-foot-long riverboat replica Lake Queen, is truly a one of a kind experience that will become one of your family’s most treasured Branson memories,” said Allison Jussel, the administrative assistant for Main Street Lakes Cruises. “A cruise aboard the Lake Queen is an experience reminiscent of the boats and the White River that played such an important part in Branson’s early history and is one of Branson’s most magnificent shows produced by Mother Nature herself,” she added.

Here’s some things to consider about this amazing 1.5 hour Branson adventure aboard the Lake Queen:

New Easy Accessible Location: With the move earlier this year, of Main Street Marina, the 428-foot-long and 112-foot-wide home of Main Street Lake Cruises, to its new Branson Landing location off the Bass Pro parking lot at 9 South Boardwalk, passengers can park right in front of the Marina.

See Sights Not Seen by the Vast Majority of Branson’s Visitors: These sights include one of Missouri’s largest Blue Heron Rookeries; amazing bluffs carved naturally by Mother Nature over the centuries; spectacular Ozark vistas; a unique mid-lake view of Branson Landing and its $7.5 million fountain with its spectacular synchronized fire, water, light, and music show; and much more.

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

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

Experience Ozarks’ Birds and Other Wildlife: From your vantage point aboard the Lake Queen you’ll come upon the birds and other wildlife that abound on Lake Taneycomo and its shoreline.  You could see deer, mink, river otters, the great blue heron, bald eagles, various species of ducks, Canadian geese and other geese, as well as many other species.

Tastefully Narrated: Although there is plenty of time to relax and just enjoy the serenity of being on the lake, at key points, the Captain will provide a live, interesting narrative of what you’ll be seeing, both fixed and spontaneous sights … a bald eagle sitting in a tree, or a mink scurrying along the shoreline, or any number of things that just can’t be planned!

Relax: Whether in the fresh air of the open top deck, or inside the climate controlled lower deck, it’s hard to imagine anything more relaxing than cruising on Lake Taneycomo aboard the Lake Queen while enjoying the peace and serenity of the Ozarks.

Safety: The safety of you and your family is foremost.  The Lake Queen and its crew are licensed, and the boat is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard on a regular basis.

Enjoy Full Modern Amenities: The Lake Queen is fully handicap accessible and offers modern amenities including full-sized modern restrooms, a well-stocked bar, snack food service, a fully enclosed environmentally conditioned lower deck and an open-air upper deck.

Special Moonlight Cruise: Starting June 3, there will be a 7:45 PM moon light cruise which provides a whole new experience of sights and sounds as night descends over the lake, the stars sparkle in the clear Ozarks sky, and you are treated to the full brilliance and majesty of the Branson Landing Fire and Light Fountain show against the backdrop of the Ozarks night. It is something that will not soon be forgotten!

Main Street Lake Cruises’ Aussel also points out that the 100-foot luxury yacht Landing Princess offers a scenic dinner cruise boarding at 4:15 and leaving at 4:45 PM. The cruise arrives back at 6:15 PM leaving plenty of time to enjoy one of Branson’s great shows after a relaxing cruise and great dinner.

The delicious, plated and served, dinner includes a mixed Garden Salad, 4 ounces of Texas Beef Brisket, Slow Roasted Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Country Style Green Beans, Cornbread Muffin, and Bread Pudding for dessert. Coffee, Water or Tea is included with meal and a cash bar available. Gluten free, vegetarian, and other special dietary needs can be accommodated provided they are requested prior to 3:00 PM.

For additional information or tickets for a cruise aboard the Lake Queen or Landing Princess please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Actually, how terrific is the amazing Haygoods show?

Beauty and elegance. upside down high flying excitement, and extraordinary special effects are just part of what makes The Haygoods such an amazing entertainment experience for the whole family!

Beauty, talent, and elegance, upside down high flying excitement, and extraordinary special effects are just part of what makes The Haygoods such an amazing entertainment experience for the whole family!

Based on over 30 years of seeing Branson shows and having seen the show on May 6, I can testify to the fact that it’s, “Really terrific!” The Haygoods show is a WOW, WOW, and WOW, on a Three WOW Index with three WOWs being as high as you can get! From the “Get go,” its two hours of the most unique, innovative, talented, energetic, personable, and exciting entertainment you will ever experience on a Branson stage.

An indication of just how special this show was going to be happened during the pres-how being presented by the extremely talented Cabot High School Jazz Band, from Cabot, Arkansas. Many Branson shows work with schools and other groups and give them the opportunity to perform a pre-show on their stage, that’s not unusual. I’ve seen many, but I have never seen one of the stars of the show come out and perform a complete number with those doing the pre-show. Imagine how surprised and delighted the audience was when Dominic Haygood came out and was featured with them on the saxophone playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It wasn’t just that he did it, within 15 minutes of the start of his own show, but the way he did it. The effort he put into the performance kind of set the tenor for the quality and heart of the entertainment that the Haygoods were about to present and, WOW, did they ever present it!

It’s first and foremost a music show with impeccable vocals and instrumentality presented by the six Haygood siblings, five brothers, Timothy, Patrick, Dominic, Michael, and Matthew; their sister Catherine, and drummer Dino Phillips, but it is so much more! Their very first number, Lionel Richie’s song, Dancing on the Ceiling, set the bar, not only vocally and instrumentally, but in terms of the show’s, excitement, energy, and audience expectation, not only with the way they performed the number, but the dramatic entrance of Michael Haygood from “the ceiling;” and that bar went nowhere except up from there!

The Haygoods, Timothy, left, Catherine, Dominic, Matthew, and Michael performing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

The Haygoods, Timothy, left, Catherine, Dominic, Matthew, and Michael performing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Some sibling singing groups are blessed with a God given sound that makes their harmonies a joy to hear. The Haygoods have that blessing along with an instrumental talent that is amazing. When the Haygoods combine the two, a synergy is created that just has to be experienced to be believed. Except for intermission, they are on the stage for the whole two hours either playing, dancing, singing, or interacting with the audience. From a primary instrumental perspective Timothy plays fiddle and banjo; Dominic, fiddle and saxophone, Matthew, bass, Michael Guitar, Patrick, keyboard, and Catherine, who, playing the most instruments of all, plays anything from the harp to the fiddle.

Although Patrick Haygood is not "center stage" a lot he does a great job on the keyboards, vocals, and is playing the keyboard or giving vocal support on just about every number.

You don’t see Patrick Haygood “center stage” a lot, but he does a great job on the keyboards and impacts so much on just about every number in the show.

Musically, what makes this show so terrific is not just that some very talented performers are singing or playing. It’s the total experience that results when their entire skill and talent set is blended together with special effects and choreography, making each set a unique and amazing entertainment experience in a show where, although there is no individual star, each number sparkles brightly amid a Haygood galaxy of constantly changing stars. The show’s filled with WOW numbers, but three of my personal favorites were Born to Fly, with Catherine on vocals, featuring Dominic and Tim on the fiddle and banjo respectively; Cotton Eyed Joe as it literally lights up the stage , not only with great singing and playing, but some of the most marvelous and exciting specific effects I have ever seen on a stage during a live musical show in Branson; and the performance of Always On My Mind featuring Michael on vocal, Patrick on piano, and Dominic on the sax.

The music would be enough on its own, but there is a high energy tap dancing routine, special effects and lighting the likes of which you will not see on any other Branson stage, and the way the Haygoods interact with their audience, from a personal history perspective as well as from a light comedy and “drama” point of view. Even now however, I have to wonder just why the show’s producer, Dominic Haygood, won’t give “Banjo Boy” his moment of fame, especially after the support he gets from the audience and the dramatic way he “flies in” to start the second half of the show?

The music, energy, action, and special effects of The Haygoods show will captivate and hold the interest of all adults and most children simultaneously throughout the show. As the ads say, “Where else can you check out a guitar-playing LED robot rocking’ out to ‘The Cotton Eye Joe’” or “see an amazing harp player performing in a magical light up dress.” In a town filled with great live entertainment, this show is a WOW on so many levels. It should not be missed!

For additional information or tickets for The Haygoods 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 by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting  www.BransonTourismCenter.com

Five awesome reasons to be in Branson for the Memorial Day Weekend

"KaPau Plummet" at White Water, Silver Dollar City's "Outlaw Run," Sight and Sound's "Moses" and Fireworks are just part of the fun and excitement in Branson over Memorial Day Weekend!

“KaPau Plummet” at White Water, Silver Dollar City’s “Outlaw Run,” Sight and Sound’s “Moses” and Fireworks are just part of the fun and excitement in Branson over Memorial Day Weekend!

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season, it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Preston Garrison, the Operations Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest providers of tourism services and information. “From its pristine lakes and beautiful Ozarks scenery, to its shows, attractions, and dozens upon dozens of other activities Branson is ready to share the fun, adventure, and excitement of summer with its visitors,” he added.

Although there’s literally hundreds of awesome reasons to plan to spend any summer weekend or vacation in Branson, here’s a list of five that specifically focus on Memorial Day Weekend:

1. White Water, Southwest Missouri’s largest water park, opens with two million gallons of cool wet fun ensconced in a 13 acre Polynesian themed “island” in the middle of the Ozarks. Its $1.7 million thrill ride, KaPau Plummet, launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge into a thrilling 240-foot spiraling loop slide to the bottom, and that’s just one ride! When you add in the iconic seven story multiple slide Kalani Towers; Aloha River at Hula Bay, with “over 800 feet of unexpected twists and turns, fountains, misters, bubblers, geysers, and a 30-foot tall tiki water tower; and so much more, it’s easy to understand why White Water is sometimes referred to as “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

2. Branson’s Pristine Lakes, Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, and Lake Taneycomo are a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other water sports and activities, along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere. There are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes such as by boat, canoe or kayak; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of the many lakes trails; sitting on a sandy beach, or while cruising aboard cruise boats such as the Showboat Branson Belle, Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen or Landing Princess.

3. Fireworks will light up the Memorial Day Weekend sky over the Ozarks in two major firework displays at dusk on Sunday evening, May 29. One display will be at the Chateau on the Lake, as part of its Memorial Day Celebration, and the other at Big Cedar Lodge, as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event. The public is invited to both; with the best views from Table Rock Lake, the property’s grounds or, in the case of the Chateau on the Lake, the peninsula area located just north of the Table Rock Dam to the west of its auxiliary spillways.

4. Moses, Sight and Sounds newest spectacular biblical production to perform in Branson, “is the most spectacular, technologically advanced, show that Sight & Sound Theaters has ever put on stage,” said Mike Pitman, the Business Development Manager for the theatre. This powerful and epic biblical story follows Moses on his quest for personal identity that would change the course of human history. Journey back to that time with your family and witness some of the greatest moments in biblical history; experience the exhilaration and celebration of the Israelites as they brush past you on their path to freedom; feel God’s awe-inspiring power as you sit in the midst of the parted Red Sea, and the moment He first speaks to Moses at the burning bush, all presented as only Sight and Sound can depict.

The iconic violin played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank.

The iconic $1.7 million dollar Titanic violin, played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank, on exclusive exhibit at the Titanic Museum Attraction through May 29.

5. The Titanic Museum Attraction’s exclusive Branson presentation of the $1.7 Million Dollar Bandmaster Titanic Violin through May 29. RMS Titanic bandleader, Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” says Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions.

And that doesn’t include all the rest of the fun, excitement, adventure and live shows that Branson is noted for. BTC’s Garrison points out that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of the busiest weekends of the year. He suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure not only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information on tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

You won’t want to say “Goodbye” to the George Dyer Show

George Dyer performing "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You."

George Dyer performing “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.”

Even as he sings his signature closing number, Time To Say Goodbye, if you are like me, and many others who have experienced the amazing George Dyer and his family perform in Branson, you are not ready for the show to end. His magnificent rich tenor voice is just a joy to hear as he covers a variety of music as only he can. Dyer’s amazing singing would be enough, but when combined with his personality, interaction with the audience, the unique way he introduces each number, one of the best live bands in Branson, and his extremely talented family, the end result is a wonderful and unique musical entertainment experience.

Clarissa and Kendra performing the "Flower Duet" from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé.

Clarissa and Kendra singing the “Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé.

Before we get to George, let’s look at some of the other major aspects of the George Dyer Show. George’s wife Clarisse, son Garrett, and daughter Kendra are all extremely talented, both individually and in combination with other family members, add another entertaining element to an already great show. Whether it’s Garrett and George performing a one of the funniest and entertaining exercise routines I have ever seen, while singing a Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley; Kendra’s unique version of I Dreamed A Dream from “Les Misérables;” George and Clarisse’s wonderful performance of Somewhere Out There, from “An American Tail;” or something else, each is performed beautifully.

My favorite family number was the trio of Clarisse, Garrett, and George singing Hallelujah. It was as inspirational as it was beautiful; a special moment that showed not only the innate vocal talent of this family, but allowed a glimpse into their commitment to each other and the One whom they serve.

George and Garrett Dyer during their unique and entertaining Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley.

George and Garrett Dyer during their unique and entertaining Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra medley.

To say the show’s band was outstanding would be an understatement. Long time guitar player, Bogie Bohinc plays guitar and is also the band director, with Will Clarke on keyboards, Daniel Dossey on drums and percussion and Shaun Munday on Bass. These guys play it all, from country to opera and everything in between, adding an exciting musical dynamic to the show that only musicians of their caliber can. Munday even displays his considerable vocal talents as he is featured singing the James Brown hit, It’s a Man’s World. A change of tempo by itself, gets even more so when Shaun is joined by George resulting in one of the most unique and entertaining renditions of that song ever.

I have previously described George Dyer as “Branson’s tenor extraordinaire.” His magnificent rich tenor voice is just a joy to hear as he covers a variety of music from country to Broadway, pop, rock, opera, and more. It doesn’t end there however, as his ability to connect to his audience and draw them into the performance with a genuine charisma and warmth provides a unique, amazing, and unforgettable entertainment experience not available anywhere else in Branson. From among many, three of my personal favorite performances would be Bring Him Home from “Les Misérables,” They Call the Wind Mariah from “Paint Your Wagon,” and How Great Thou Art.

Although the vast majority of the show has no opera in it, and every song George sings is a joy to hear and experience, why he is “Branson’s Tenor Extraordinaire,” takes on a special relevancy when he sings opera. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than when he ends the first half singing the popular “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera “Turandot.” It was magnificent!

The George Dyer Show is a one of a kind Branson musical entertainment experience that should not be missed. For additional information or tickets for the George Dyer Show, 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 by calling 1-800-785-1550 or visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.