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!”

 

Do you want awesome vocals, a Grand Band, and hilarious comedy?

The quartet "New South," Luke Menard, left, David Ragan, Jon Drockelman; and Mark McCauley.

The quartet “New South,” Luke Menard, left, David Ragan, Jon Drockelman; and Mark McCauley.

Then don’t miss the Grand Jubilee show; it’s all that and then some! Whenever I go to this show, I am enthralled by amazing vocals, hilarious comedy, the great live music of the “Grand Band,” and how the show’s emcee and producer, Mike Patrick, ties it all together into an awesome entertainment experience.

From the pre-show to the final curtain, this grand production is filled with some of the finest vocals, comedy, and live music appearing anywhere on any Branson stage. The quartet, “New South,” is composed of Lead Vocalist, David Ragan; Tenor, Luke Menard; Baritone, Jon Drockelman; and Bass, Mark McCauley. Although each, on their own, has a great voice, the harmony and power of their combined voices is a joy to experience. It’s obvious that they love entertaining their audience and are having fun, and, from where I was sitting, it was apparent that they were conveying that feeling to the audience.

They perform a variety of music covering many genres including country, gospel, pop, and patriotic covering decades of hits and do an amazing job on them all. From among many, and although certainly subjective, some of my favorites were “You Gave Me A Mountain,” what I consider their signature number, “YMCA,” and my favorite, “How Great Thou Art.” It is one of the most powerful and inspirational renditions of that song I have ever heard. Listen for “the note;” when you hear it you’ll know!

Branson Female Vocalist of the Year, Jackie Brown.

Branson Female Vocalist of the Year, Jackie Brown.

Jackie Brown, who just won the BRAMMY Award as the Best Female Vocalist of 2015, showed why on a variety of numbers throughout the show. My personal favorites were her performance of the Jamie O’Neal hit, “When I Think About Angels” and her duet of the Dolly Parton Porter Wagoner hit, “I Will Always Love You,” that she performed with Luke Menard.

The “Grand Band,” or as its fans refer to it “The Rhinestone Mafia,” includes some of the most talented musicians in Branson. It is composed of Michael W. Davis, Piano/Keyboard & Vocals; Wayne Massengale, Fiddle and Acoustic Guitar; Larry Allred, Bass Guitar; Rob Blackburn, Drums; David Creech, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Gene Mulvaney, Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar, Banjo and Band Director.

These guys are not just great musicians; they interact with others in the cast and the audience throughout the show. Whether it’s simply playing music in support of the vocalists, a short feature during a vocal such as their individual participation in New South’s performance of “Sweet Country Music,” or a solo performance such as Michael Davis’ beautiful piano vocal performance of “Candle In The Wind,” these consummate entertainers add so much to the audiences enjoyment of the show.

“Jim Dandy,” played by multi-talented Jamie Haage, along with “straight man” Mike Patrick, kept me laughing throughout the show, from the preshow to the end with a marvelous combination of one liners and comedy skits. It can be safely said, “No dark comedy here, just orange comedy that is skillfully choreographed into the show so that it flows in with the music at exactly the right time to keep the show moving seamlessly from one colorful and entertaining “set” to another.

As many times as I have seen it, watching the metamorphosis of Haage from comedian to instrumentalist and vocalist is a special treat to see and hear. His playing of the banjo, steel guitar, drums, piano and fiddle, especially his “train duet” of the “Wabash Cannonball” and ” Orange Blossom Special” with Wayne Massengale, was a joy to experience, not only testifying to the versatility and talents of this “grand” entertainer, but as yet another thing that makes the Grand Jubilee unique among Branson shows.

Sure it’s a show filled with talent, but it is the way that talent is all brought together with its choreography, colorful costumes, sound, and lighting that makes it the outstanding production it is and that’s thanks to the show’s producer and director, Mike Patrick and associate producer Andy Holloway. And if that’s not enough, Mike is also Emcee, Jim Dandy’s straight man, and plays a mean honky-tonk piano version of “Balls of Fire” surrounded by some great special effects.

In previous reviews of the Grand Jubilee I said, “It might seem like a cliché, but the Grand Jubilee is truly ‘grand’ entertainment. I laughed until I hurt, listened to some of the most talented musicians and vocalists I have ever heard, in Branson or anywhere else, and was thoroughly entertained by a fast moving production that held my interest throughout. It was over all too quickly. Isn’t it wonderful that some things never change except to get better!” All I could add for the 2016 show that I saw was, “Ditto!”

For additional information or tickets for the Grand Jubilee 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 .

 

Shocked winner of $1000 Grand Prize in 2016 Spring Break Sweepstakes loves Branson shows

The first thing that Beverly and Rob Johnson, the Grand Prize winners in Branson Tourism Center's 2016 Spring Break Sweepstakes, are going to do with their prize is see "Moses" and the "Million Dollar Quartet."

The first thing that Beverly and Rob Johnson, the Grand Prize winners in Branson Tourism Center’s 2016 Spring Break Sweepstakes, are going to do with their prize is see “Moses” and the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

When Beverly Johnson of Arkadelphia, AR, opened up her email, after coming home from work the evening of March 4, 2016, she was shocked to discover that she had won Branson Tourism Center’s 2016 Spring Break Sweepstakes grand prize of a $1,000 Branson Gift Card! She said that she had to read it five times before she believed it. She showed it to her husband Rob saying, “I think I’ve won this.” He said, “What” before reading it, agreeing, and getting excited for both of them.

Earlier this week, Beverly (BJ) was kind enough to participate in a telephone interview with the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) about her initial experience with the Sweepstakes, how she feels about Branson, and more. The interview uses a “Question and Answer” format, and was conducted for BTC by Gary Groman, a 30-year resident of the Branson area and a local columnist, and freelance writer.

BTC: What is the first thing in Branson you are going to use your card to do?
BJ: My husband Rob, and I have been wanting to see Moses at the Sight and Sound Theatre and my husband wants to see the Million Dollar Quartet over at the Welk Theatre because he is a huge Elvis fan.

BTC: Have you been to Branson before?
BJ: Oh, Yes.

BTC: When was the last time?
BJ: Beginning of August 2014.

BTC: When will you be coming to Branson again?
BJ: We will be coming in the middle of April for a few days, but my husband wants to see Jimmy Fortune when he comes later in the year so I’m sure we’ll be coming back to Branson again.

BTC: In addition to seeing Moses and the Million Dollar Quartet what else do you plan to do?
BJ: A little shopping, we always have to hit the Bass Pro Shop and go over to the little Amish Store. As far as the other shows go, we will play that by ear after we get there.

BTC: What do you like to do most when you come to Branson?
BJ: We like the shows the most. My husband plays the drums so we are all for going to the shows.

BTC: Have you dealt with the Branson Tourism Center before?
BJ: Yes, a few times.

BTC: How did you find out about the contest?
BJ: I actually get the emails from Branson Tourism [Center] all the time. I had seen the contest on Facebook and then got an email about the “Sweetheart Packages” for February. I clicked on one of the packages to see what was in it and saw the contest on the page. I thought that’s the one I saw on Facebook the other day so I entered.

BTC: When you first saw it did you think it was some sort of “scam trying to set you up for something?”
BJ: No, not really. It depends on where it’s coming from, whether I have those doubts or not, but being from Branson Tourism Center I didn’t even think about it.

BTC: When did you receive your first phone call from the Branson Tourism Center?
BJ: I got the email late Friday evening. The first phone call I received from BTC was from Megan Miller on Monday.

“Our thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to Beverly on winning our Grand Prize,” said Preston Garrison, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “We look forward to meeting the Johnson’s again when they visit in April and being a small part in, what we know will be, another great Branson experience.

Colossal 150 foot Ferris wheel is a stunning addition to Branson Strip

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel*

In January, The Track Family Fun Parks, in Branson, Missouri, announced that it had purchased the 15-story Ferris wheel formerly featured at Chicago’s Navy Pier and that it would be disassembled, transported to Branson, and reassembled for the enjoyment of Branson visitors during the summer of 2016. Recently a spokesperson for The Track Family Fun Parks said that, depending on a number of factors, they are hoping for a Memorial Day Weekend opening.

Modeled after the first Ferris wheel built for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, the Ferris wheel stands 150 feet tall, has 40 gondolas that can hold up to 240 passengers, and will light up the Ozarks nighttime skies with the glow of its 16,000 lights. It was a popular iconic attraction at the Chicago’s famous Navy Pier tourist destination. “Branson will be a great new location for this amazing Ferris wheel,” said Brian Murphy, COO of Navy Pier. “It was a landmark here for many years, and we are happy to know that it will continue to attract thousands of visitors each year to such a family-friendly destination.”

“We are very excited to be the new home to this iconic Ferris wheel,” said Craig Wescott, President and CEO of The Track Family Fun Parks. “Our hope is that adding this unique attraction, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, will enhance our guests’ experience during the time they spend in Branson.”

The Ferris wheel represents a $2.5 million investment that the company is making as part of its 35th anniversary. The Track Family Fun Parks has four locations in Branson offering a variety of activities including “high-rise and classic go-kart tracks for all ages, laser tag, bumper boats/cars, mini golf, batting cages, kids’ rides, arcades, and more with no gate admission charge.” The Ferris wheel will be located in Track 4 on the famed Branson Strip at 3345 West 76 Country Boulevard.

For more information about The Track Family Fun Parks, the Ferris wheel 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

* Photo Credit: Navy Pier

Exciting move increases access to Lake Taneycomo cruises aboard Main Street Lake Cruises

Portion of Main Street Marina and entrance to Main Street Lake Cruises awaiting installation of ramps and final adjustments.

Portion of Main Street Marina and entrance to Main Street Lake Cruises awaiting installation of ramps and final adjustments.

After many months of planning and effort, many of those walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk on Sunday, February 21, 2016 were astounded to see the largest structure ever floated on Lake Taneycomo in the middle of the lake and moving ever so slowly and carefully upstream. The amazing sight was the Main Street Marina, at 428-foot-long and 112-foot-wide, being moved from its old home at 7 North Boardwalk on Branson Landing, to its new location at 9 South Boardwalk.

Main Street Marina is a multi-function facility; home to Main Street Lake Cruises, as well as restaurant and retail facilities. “This is a game changer,” said Larry Milton, the co-owner of Main Street Marina with his wife Lianne. “The marina’s new prime location, along the shoreline of the Bass Pro Parking lot, provides not only increased visibility, but drive-up parking and immediate access to our main entrance from a flat parking lot, all of which will enhance the experience of our guests,” he added.

Main Street Lake Cruises offers Lake Taneycomo sightseeing and dinner cruises aboard its two vessels, the 140 passenger riverboat replica Lake Queen, and the 100-foot luxury yacht, the Landing Princess. 2016 cruises from the new location are scheduled to begin on May 1. “Our goal is to provide our passengers with a unique, exciting, and unforgettable experience that will become a special part of their favorite Branson memories,” said Steve Johnson, the General Manager of Main Street Lake Cruises. “A cruise aboard the 84-foot-long riverboat replica Lake Queen is reminiscent of the travel on the White River that played such an important part in Branson’s early history, and each cruise is truly a living, one-of-a-kind adventure show with the sights, sounds, and excitement produced daily by Mother Nature.” he added

Johnson says that although there is plenty of time to relax and just enjoy the serenity of being on the lake, the Captain will provide a live, interesting narrative of what you’ll likely see, both fixed and spontaneous sights. How can you plan for a bald eagle sitting in a tree, a great blue heron soaring overhead, a mink scurrying along the shoreline, or any number of the amazing things that just happen daily along the lake shore?

Fixed sights include a unique mid-lake view of Branson Landing and its $7.5 million fountain, a spectacular synchronized fire, water, light, and music show; one of Missouri’s largest Blue Heron Rookeries; amazing bluffs carved naturally by Mother Nature over the centuries; spectacular Ozark vistas; and much more. In addition, from the comfort of your vantage point aboard the Lake Queen or the Landing Princess, you’ll come upon the birds and other wildlife that abound on Lake Taneycomo and its shoreline such as deer, mink, river otters, the great blue heron, bald eagles, various species of ducks, Canada geese, and much more. Although there are fixed elements in each cruise, each cruise experience can be as different as a snowflake when it comes to the wonders that Mother Nature will reveal.

Both of Main Street Lake Cruises’ boats and their crews are licensed, and the boats are inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard on a regular basis. In addition, they are fully accessible to the disabled and offer a full complement of modern amenities, including full-sized modern restrooms, a well-stocked bar, as well as snack and food service, as appropriate. The Lake Queen has a fully enclosed environmentally conditioned lower deck and an open-air upper deck, while both the decks of the Landing Princess are fully enclosed and environmentally conditioned.

For additional information on sightseeing cruises on the Lake Queen, or dinner cruises on the Landing Princess 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.

Johnson points out that there are also opportunities to lease the marina’s restaurant and retail space at the exciting new prime location. Anyone interested in any of these leasing opportunities should contact him at 417-239-3980

$1.7 million Titanic Violin ignites a spectacular Titanic 10th anniversary celebration

Shoji Tabuchi viewing the  Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin and paying his respects to his fellow musicians who perished that night.

Shoji Tabuchi viewing the Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin and paying his respects to his fellow musicians who perished that night.

Why would someone pay $1.7 million for a violin that can’t be played and has not played a note in over 100 years? There can’t be too many reasons, but one would surely be because it’s believed to be the very violin played by the Titanic’s bandleader, Wallace Hartley, the night of April 14, 1912 when the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank into the deep depths of the icy north Atlantic, and became a legend for the ages.

“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.

She also points out that 2016 is the 10th anniversary of the Titanic Museum Attraction’s “setting anchor” in Branson, and to honor the occasion, they are pleased to present a 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit, the display of the $1.7 million Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin; it will be at the museum from March 7 through May 29 along with the only Bible to survive the sinking.# “The Titanic Violin may never be played again,” admits Kellogg. “But one of the final songs Wallace Hartley was said to have been playing during the ship’s final moments can still be heard in our imaginations: ‘Nearer, my God to thee, Nearer to thee…’”

Although the violin exhibit is a major feature of its 10th anniversary celebration, there will be other events at Titanic during the year to honor the occasion. One of these is a special $10.00 admission to the attraction for children ages 5 through 12 throughout all of 2016.

When asked why Branson was picked as the “home port” of the Titanic Museum, Kellogg pointed out that it was a process that started over a decade before its 2006 opening. More than 10 years before that, while serving as the Executive Vice President of Television for The Walt Disney Company, she bought the national TV show “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee,” to the Grand Palace in Branson as the result of a letter received from Steve Presley, on behalf of the Ozark Marketing Council. During the process, a warm friendship with the Presleys developed and Mary and her husband John fell in love with Table Rock Lake. As a result, they kept in contact with the Presleys and came back to Branson and Table Rock Lake every 4th of July.

Through the years, her husband John, who had been touring with the Titanic artifacts throughout Europe and the United States, thought that they needed a permanent location for display. When he decided it was time, their love of Branson and friendship with the Presleys, along with the demographics of the Branson visitor, made Branson an ideal location. The museum opened in 2006 and the rest is history.

“Congratulations to the Titanic Museum Attraction on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in Branson, and on being able to obtain a 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit, the display of the $1.7 million Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “What a blessing the Titanic Museum Attraction has been for Branson and its visitor as it honors those who were on board by telling their stories in a special and dignified way, while providing Branson visitors of all ages with a special, unique, and fun-filled experience they’ll never forget,” she added.

For additional information or tickets for the Titanic Museum Attraction, 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.

# From June 7 through Labor Day Weekend the violin will be on display at the Titanic’s sister ship in Pigeon Forge, TN

 

Is one of these non-Big 3 Branson restaurants your favorite?

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Shorty Small’s, a popular Branson Restaurant.

“No matter where or when we vacation, there is one thing we all do and that is eat! For many, it’s an important part of the vacation,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. The good news for Branson visitors is that there are plenty of places here, from national chains to quaint local eateries, offering a variety of food for every taste and budget,” she continued.

Recently, the Branson Tourism Center asked those interacting with them on their Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/bransontourismcenter, about their favorite, locally-owned and operated, non-national chain, restaurant. The comments, while covering a wide range of restaurants, centered around three, which we have appropriately dubbed, “The Big 3,” Billy Bob’s, Danna’s, and Billy Gail’s. Along with two of our favorite local restaurants, they were featured in an article entitled, Five great local non-national chain restaurants to try on your next Branson trip.

We wondered what would happen if we excluded the Big 3 and asked about all Branson restaurants without the “locally owned and operated, non-national chain, restaurant” condition placed on the question. On February 27, 2016, we posed the following question on our Facebook page; “Outside of the ‘Big 3,’ Billy Bob’s, Danna’s & Billy Gail’s, what is your favorite Branson restaurant?”

As the comments came in, we interacted with those who commented and asked them to name their favorite menu item at the restaurant. The result is a collection of not only some of the more popular restaurants in Branson, but people’s favorite menu item at those restaurants. The following is a list of the six places that received the majority of the recommendations, sorted alphabetically, with one pertinent comment on a favorite menu item, and a link to more information such as location, hours of operation, description, and average prices:

CRACKER BARREL

Barbara M…Love Cracker Barrel…We are there during most Thanksgiving holidays, and it is a great place for a “home cooked” Thanksgiving dinner. Always lots of diners there on Thanksgiving and there are no dishes to wash! My fav thing to order at other times is the sampler plate – samples of meat loaf, ham, and chicken and dumplings with three sides – can’t beat hash brown casserole as a fav side. Okay, now I’m hungry! Lol.

FAMOUS DAVE’S

Tim L: Definitely ribs!

GRAND COUNTRY BUFFET

As is the case with most lists of favorite places that Branson diners like most, the Grand Country Buffet was well ahead of any other buffet by a large margin. We did not ask for a favorite menu item.

McFARLAIN’S FAMILY RESTAURANT

Jessica R: They have the best meat loaf! And of course cornbread! And French fries. I’m too full to eat pie! I plan on getting one next time we make it up.

MEL’S HARD LUCK DINER

Kathey H: Cheeseburgers are great! The singing servers are so talented and so friendly!! Never come to Branson that we don’t at least eat there once!!

SHORTY SMALLS

Robert K: Shorty Smalls has the best chicken fried steak! Yum!

A rising new name on the Branson dining scene also appeared, and it’s mentioned here because of its growing great reputation and developing following due to its menu and entertainment format:

BRANSON CENTER STAGE GRILLE & BAR

Pat C: Bill is a magician in the kitchen… try the schnitzel! I’m a purist and prefer the Wiener Schnitzel. The Jager Schnitzel also looked good. We usually go on Sunday after church, and I’m planning on the Coquilles St. Jacques scallops tomorrow.

With the variety and quality of Branson’s restaurants available, one could almost write a book, but no sooner would it be written than it would change. “Word of mouth” is generally a reliable and current source of information, but Branson Tourism Center’s Wood suggests that two convenient sources of current dining information would be the Branson Dining Forum at www.1Branson.com, Branson’s largest message board, or calling 1-800-785-1550 and talking with one of Branson Tourism Center’s Branson-based Travel Planners, the same people who can also help you with Branson show, attraction and lodging information and reservations. She also points out that www.Branson.Com has a list of over 200 Branson Restaurants with contact info, hours of operation and other information.

 

Wouldn’t you like to see some of these amazing March 2016 Branson highlights?

A few of the highlights of what's happening in Branson during March.

A few of Branson’s March highlights!

“March, with the colors of spring painting a beautiful mosaic over our Ozarks hills, the opening of Silver Dollar City, as well as many of Branson’s most popular shows and attractions reopening after their winter hiatus, signals the beginning of Branson’s 2016 season,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “And if what’s happening in Branson during March is any indication, 2016 promises to be a wonderful year full of freshness, fun, excitement, and adventure for Branson visitors,” she added.

Here’s our Featured Show, and Event of the Month, along with a list of the major events you can enjoy in Branson during March, 2016:

Featured Show of the Month: The long awaited Branson premier of Sight & Sound’s phenomenal biblical spectacular, Moses. “While maintaining its inspirational biblical perspective, Moses 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 theatres. He said that people expect the inspirational and spectacular from Sight & Sound, but Moses takes it to an entirely new level. “And that’s saying a lot when you consider the incredible productions, such as Noah – the Musical, Miracle of Christmas, Joseph, and Jonah, that Sight & Sound has become legendary for,” said Branson Tourism Center’s Wood.

Featured Event of the Month: Branson Titanic Museum Attraction presents a 2016 World Exclusive Exhibit, the $1.7 Million Dollar Bandmaster Titanic Violin, in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the attraction’s setting anchor in Branson. 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. The Hartley Titanic violin will be on display in Branson, along with the only Bible to survive the Titanic, from March 7 through May 29, after which it will move to the Pigeon Forge Titanic Museum Attraction, where it will be displayed from June 7 through Labor Day Weekend.

 SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS (Sorted by starting date.)

Mar 1 – 31: Opening of many of Branson Shows (Check schedule for show(s) of interest.)
Mar 1 – 31:Annual Irish Celebration Month at Titanic Museum Attraction
Mar 4 – 6: 4th Annual Branson Classic Gymnastics Invitational
Mar 4 – 6: 2016 Sugar Bert Boxing Title Belt National Championship…Call 770-833-7888
Mar 5: Branson Premier of Sight and Sound’s Moses!
Mar 5: Limited Engagement – Charles Esten
Mar 7: Silver Dollar City Opens 2016 Season with “Spring Ride Days”
Mar 7 – May 29 Exhibit of $1.7 Million Dollar Wallace Hartley Titanic Violin
Mar 9 – 15: NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship 2016
Mar 19: Shamrock Shamble Golf Tournament at Branson Hills Golf Club
Mar 24: 3rd Annual Keller Williams 5K Run
Mar 26: Hollister Easter Egg Hunt
Mar 27: Easter Weekend in Branson
Mar 27: Easter Brunch at Keeter Center
Mar 27:Chateau on the Lake Easter Champagne Brunch

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 and talking with a Branson-based vacation planning specialist who will be delighted to answer any questions, and assist you with show or lodging reservations. There is absolutely no charge for this service.

Amazing Million Dollar Quartet is heart of an exciting 2016 at Welk Resort Theatre

 

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“2016 is going to be a busy and exciting one for the Welk Resort Theatre,” said Susan Smith, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Welk Resorts in Branson. “From the Million Dollar Quartet and Charles Esten, to Daniel O’Donnell and Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, & B.J. Thomas, and more, the theatre will be alive with a vibrancy, variety, and quality of entertainment that will thrill our audiences all season long,” she added. An overview of the show and acts scheduled to appear at the Welk Resort Theatre during 2016 testify to that fact, and provide a glimpse of the fun and dynamic musical entertainment that awaits Branson show goers  at the theatre:

Million Dollar Quartet: March 17 – December 30
Daniel O’Donnell: October 31 – November 19
Charles Esten: March 5
Trace Adkins: April 22
Barrett Baber: May 6
Engelbert Humperdinck: May 14
Roots and Boots Tour starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kerhsaw and Collin Raye: May 27
Diamond Rio: June 10
Huey Lewis and The News: June 15
Crystal Gayle & T.G. Sheppard: July 1
Tanya Tucker July 15
Lee Greenwood & Lacy J. Dalton: October 7
Ronnie Milsap and Johnny Rodriguez: October 14
Charley Pride: October 21
Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, & B.J. Thomas: October 28

This year will be the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of one of the greatest jam sessions in rock n’ roll history; an impromptu gathering of four young recording legends-to-be, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, that took place on December 4, 1956 in the Memphis storefront recording studio of Sun Records. That jam session, unknown recordings of it found decades later, and the four rock n’ roll legends involved became the inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet, that shares the music, spontaneity, and drama of what happened that day, as these four legends performed together for their first and last time.

How good is this show? When I first saw the show I wrote, “Over the last three decades, I have seen many Branson shows of all types, but never one like the Million Dollar Quartet! An outstanding cast, timeless music that everyone knows, and a great storyline combine with the show’s unique set and great production to create an incredible entertainment experience for the whole family that should not be missed.”

Daniel O'Donnell

Daniel O’Donnell

“We feel very honored that, after taking a year off from touring, Daniel O’Donnell picked the Welk Resort Theatre for his Branson performances as he resumes a limited touring schedule,” Smith said. O’Donnell, incorporating his charismatic and engaging style, will present a blend of traditional Irish ballads, country favorites, and traditional gospel with an Irish twist that shows why he has sold millions of records and has been a household name across Ireland and Great Britain for decades. In the United States, O’Donnell has starred in several Public Broadcasting Network Specials as well as charting 18 albums in the Top 20 of Billboard’s World Music Album Chart. In 2011, O’Donnell became the first artist to have an album in the UK charts for 25 consecutive weeks.

 

Charles Esten, the co-star of the ABC Prime Time hit “Nashville,” will head off a roster of national stars that will be making short limited engagement performances throughout the year. As of this date, these include Charley Pride, Crystal Gayle & T.G. Sheppard, Diamond Rio, Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, & B.J. Thomas, Huey Lewis and The News, Lee Greenwood & Lacy J. Dalton, Roots and Boots Tour starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kerhsaw and Collin Raye,and Tanya Tucker.

Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, points out that, when planning to see any of the shows at the Welk Resort Theatre, it might be a good idea to consider that it is part of Welk Resorts Branson which also contains the Welk Resort Hotel, a full service facility, that is one of the finest lodging properties in Branson. The hotel recently completed a multimillion dollar renovation that included its lobby, common areas, corridors and 159 guest rooms and baths. “We’re very proud to offer our hotel guests an all new guest room that enhances the value of their experience with us,” said Dathan Atchison, General Manager of the Welk Resort. “We have always made gracious service to our guests our foremost objective. Now, along with our other great amenities that Welk guests have come to expect, we are very excited about our new rooms and hotel upgrade, and believe our guests will be also.”

Wood suggests that a Branson experience combining the purchase of show tickets at the theatre and lodging at the hotel into one package could result not only in convenience, but in savings. “What could be better than seeing great entertainment, staying at a wonderful resort, and saving money while doing it,” she said.

For additional information on any of the show at the Welk Resort Theatre, or any of the things there are to do in Branson, she recommends contacting the Branson Tourism Center and talking 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.

 

More Roads Scholars enjoy traveling around Branson with ease

Branson Tourism Center's Branson Map with Alternate Colored Routes.

Branson Tourism
Center’s Branson Map with Alternate Colored Routes.

At first glance, it appears that the wrong term, “Roads” instead of “Rhoades” was used in connection with the word “Scholars,” but that’s not the case. We are actually referring to “Roads Scholars,” as in making traveling around a more pleasant part of the Branson experience. Does Branson have a lot of traffic during its season? We sure hope so; but the challenges of getting around in that traffic are no worse in Branson than those encountered in most major travel destinations. With a little planning, these challenges can be reduced if not eliminated entirely.

As we use the term “Roads Scholar,” it simply applies to a person who knows the three things that can have them driving around Branson like a local. These three things are; knowledge about Highway 76, the key to efficient Branson travel; the Alternate Colored Route System; and targeting your destination to either Highway 76 or the Alternate Colored Route System. Let’s take a look at each of these in order:

1.  Highway 76, the Branson Strip, is the key:

Highway 76 is also referred to as “The Branson Strip.” It’s easily Branson’s most traveled road and runs east and west through the entire length of town. With its three block Main Street extension, running east from the intersection of Highway 76 and Business Highway 65, through historic downtown Branson to Branson Landing, Highway 76 extends from Silver Dollar City, on the west, to Branson Landing, and the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo on the east.

The majority of Branson’s theatres, including some of its most popular shows, are located on Highway 76. These include, among many others, Legends in Concert, Dixie Stampede, Grand Jubilee, Amazing Pets, Illusionist Rick Thomas, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, The Haygoods, Billy Dean In Concert With Jarrett , Ayo starring Voices of Glory, it starring the Hughes Brothers, and SIX. Most of Branson’s major attractions are located on Highway 76, including the Titanic Museum Attraction, The Track Family Fun Parks, Hollywood Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, White Water, the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure, and many more.

One way or another, either because of wanting to or having to, it is a virtual certainty that you will be traveling on Highway 76. The key to doing so efficiently, and avoiding frustration, is to simply keep direct travel on Highway 76 to a minimum during peak travel times, and to use Branson’s Alternate Colored Route System to help you do so.

Because it is the main east/west Highway link to and from Branson, and because most of Branson’s theatres, attractions and major shopping areas are on it, Highway 76 is heavily traveled throughout the day. Typically, this causes minimal if any inconvenience except for the peak periods.

The traffic generally becomes heavier and more concentrated during two peak periods; one is between approximately 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM when people are trying to eat and get to shows. The other is on Sunday, between about 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM, the time-frame when many people are try to exit Branson at the same time. These periods would be excellent times to use Branson’s Alternate Colored Route System to avoid travel on Highway 76 as much as possible.

 2. Use Branson’s Alternate Colored Route System:

Branson’s system of three alternate colored routes – Blue, Red, and Yellow – is overlaid on existing highways and roads. In general, these routes are an alternate to Highway 76, paralleling it, for the most part, in an east and west direction. A little time spent familiarizing yourself with these colored routes, and the “north-south” connector roads between them and Highway 76, will help you get just about anywhere in Branson you want to go with little, if any,

Here’s a couple examples of how Branson’s Colored Route System can help:

Exiting and Entering Branson: When exiting Branson, you can avoid the traffic on Highway 76 by getting over to the Red Route, as close to its western junction with Highway 76 as possible, and taking it east to its intersection with Highway 65 from where you can exit north or south. Simply reverse the process when entering Branson.

Getting To and From Branson Landing: The Red Route is also an excellent alternate to Highway 76 for getting to and from Branson Landing. Take it east past the Highway 65 junction to the roundabout and go into the Landing from the roundabout.

 3. Targeting Your Destination:

Investing a little time with a map and planning a route to your initial Branson destination, for your daily travels while in Branson, and to your exit from Branson can make your time here more enjoyable. A simple way to do this is to “target” your destination by relating it to Highway 76 or an alternate colored route on a map. This way, you have a point of reference should there be a problem.

Unfortunately, many online maps and GPS services ignore Branson’s Alternate Colored Route System. The good news is that, in the vast majority of cases, the maps available online through Branson based businesses and in printed form at many places in Branson, including the Branson Tourism Center, not only show the Alternate Colored Routes, but also a lot of the major shows, attractions, and other things that Branson has to offer, making it extremely easy to target your destination. The Branson Tourism Center’s online map, which can be viewed online or downloaded and printed in PDF format, is one such map.

If you have any questions about directions or need information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions, or if you need lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.