Branson’s Residence Inn offers you and your family the peace and comfort of home

Main entrance to Residence Inn.

Main entrance to Residence Inn.

When Genesis Oltjenbrun, Sales Manager for Branson’s Residence Inn Marriott (Inn) was asked what one thing she would want to emphasize about why families should stay at the Inn, without hesitation, she said, “Our wonderful staff that treats you like family.” It resonated with me because it was exactly what I had found during my recent eight day stay at the Inn while tile was being laid in my house. From the front desk, to housekeeping, maintenance and the ladies who served breakfast and handled the social hour, the staff was just amazing in terms of their friendliness, hospitality and “how can I help you attitude.”

One of the Inn's one bedroom suites.

One of the Inn’s one bedroom suites looking from the bedroom into the living area.

The Inn has 85 spacious rooms, 15 of which are two bedroom suites, each with its own bathroom, and 70 are studio and one bedroom units. All offer the convenience of home with a full kitchen including oven with stove top, microwave, full size refrigerator, dishes, utensils etc; living and dining areas, a flat screen TV in each living area and bedroom, free high speed wireless internet and a full set of amenities. The Inn has an indoor pool and whirlpool; an exercise room and an outside area with a basketball net, barbeque, and fire pit and chairs which, weather permitting, provides a wonderful alternative place for the family to relax outside of their rooms. The Inn is one of the few pet-friendly hotels in Branson, with a one-time $100 non-refundable fee. The fee is used to deep clean the room and carpet after each occupancy by a pet owner and their pet.

The Inn's indoor pool and whirlpool. area

The Inn’s indoor pool and whirlpool. area

Its location is ideal, particularly if you are a golfer. It is directly across the street from the Thousand Hills Golf Course Club House. Even if you are not a golfer, its ideal location on Branson’s Yellow route provides convenient access to everything Branson has to offer while providing a quiet relaxing atmosphere away from the activity on the famed “Branson Strip” located not two minutes away.

In terms of shopping it is located 1 mile from Tanger Mall; about 3 miles from The Shoppes at Branson Meadows and 4 miles, or less than 10 minutes, from Branson Landing and the unique shopping offered in Branson’s historic downtown. Dozens of the most popular Branson shows are located within a 3 miles radius of the Inn including shows such as it staring the Hughes Brothers and Their Families, Grand Jubilee, Ayo, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Clay Coopers Country Express, the Haygoods, Sight and Sounds spectacular Jonah, SIX, the Duttons,  Billy Dean. George Dyer, Shoji Tabuchi and dozens more. The same is true for Branson attractions such as the fabulous Titanic Museum Attraction, Ripleys’ Believe It Or Not, Hollywood Wax Museum, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo and many others.

Although there is no restaurant or room service available on property it is located within minutes of restaurants such as Lone Star, Panera Bread, Buckingham’s Prime Rib and Steakhouses, Grand Country’s Buffet, McDonalds, Denney’s, Crispy Crème Donuts and many more. In addition the Inn offers a full breakfast including eggs, a breakfast meat, potatoes, waffles, cereals. breads, rolls, juice, fruit and more along with a “social” Tuesday night through Thursday night with a different light menu each night. As an example, one night they had chicken sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, macaroni salad, raw veggies with dip and potato chips.

“Our customers have been delighted with their stay at the Residence Inn,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It is in an ideal location and its amenities and facilities are great for families,” she added. Based on my recent personal experience at the Inn I would add “Amen, to that statement” and say  that the Inn’s combination of staff, location, the spaciousness of its rooms, generous breakfasts and amenities make it not only a good value, but a great place from which to begin and end each day of your Branson vacation in the peace and comfort of your “home away from home.”

For additional information or booking a reservation for Branson’s Residence Inn Marriott and to save money by “bundling” your lodging reservation with the purchase of show and attraction tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

Did you know this about the US Army Corps of Engineers and Table Rock Lake?

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake  Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

When Table Rock Dam was completed in 1959 it formed Table Rock Lake, with its 43,100 surface acres and 745 mile shoreline of aquatic fun, adventure and scenic beauty. Along with Silver Dollar City and Branson’s live shows,it is one of the lynchpins that helps make Branson such a wonderful unique travel destination.

Table Rock Lake is owned, managed and controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (Corps). The Corps is directly involved in all aspects of the lakes use, both by daily visitors and the many commercial operations on the lake that enhances its recreational value. Recently, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) had the opportunity to interview Mr. James Sandberg (JS), the Operations Project Manager responsible for all of the Corps operations at Table Rock Lake. His responses and insights are presented below in a “Q and A” format.

BTC: What is your position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and what does it entail?
JS: Operations Project Manager. I am responsible for all of the operations here at Table Rock Lake including natural resource management, recreation, flood damage reduction, hydro power operations and serve as the liaison between the public and our District office in Little Rock.

BTC: How long have you been at Table Rock Lake?
JS: I started as a Park Ranger in 1989 left for another assignment in 2002 and have had my current position since December of 2006.

BTC: What were the three main reasons Table Rock Dam was built?
JS: First and foremost, flood damage reduction, then hydropower and water supply.

BTC: Water supply?
JS: The allocation for water was for the fish hatchery [Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery] just below the dam. Right now there is no allocation for residential/domestic use.

BTC: Where does recreation and fishing come in under that hierarchy?
JS: Recreation is one of the Corps missions, but it was not one of the authorized purposes of the project. Recreation is an authorized mission, as well as natural resources, but we do not make any changes on the management of the Water Control Plan based on recreation or natural resource management.

BTC: Why do the “normal,” levels of Table Rock Lake fluctuate from 915 feet to 917 feet at different times of the year?
JS: We maintain a “normal conservation level” of 915 above MSL between December 1 and May 31 when it is increased to a “seasonal conservation level” of 917 above MSL until November 30. The increased level is authorized by the Water Control Plan so that we can make the minimum releases during that period required to maintain oxygen levels and water temperature downstream for the trout fishery.

BTC: Does the Corps manage tourism related activities on Table Rock Lake?
JS: Yes, we have 12 recreation areas that we run and 15 commercial marinas that we manage for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. In addition, we have more than 100 “Limited-Motel Resort” leases we manage that support recreational activities and tourism on Table Rock Lake.

BTC: So if there is a resort, marina or other business operation on Table Rock Lake it is operated in co-operation with the Corps?
JS: Correct. Table Rock Lake is a federally owned project and owns the vast majority of the lakes shoreline. As a general rule any commercial business on Table Rock Lake operates through a lease or other agreement with the Corps.

BTC: What are the primary Corps facilities or managed areas that Branson visitors are most likely to come in contact with?
JS: Table Rock State Park and the State Park Marina, the Dewey Short Visitors Center at Table Rock Dam, the recreation areas [which include camp grounds and boat launching ramps] at Indian Point, Cricket Creek Old Highway 86, as well as Mill Creek and Aunts Creek and of course “Moon Shine Beach” located on the north end of Table Rock Dam which is one of our most popular areas.

BTC: What is the impact of Table Rock Lake on tourism in the Branson area?
JS: I think it is a big part of the recreation and tourism in the Branson area. I have been given some number that recreation in Stone and Taney Counties is a two to three billion dollar industry of which Table Rock Lake is directly responsible for about 25% of that. It is estimated that visitors to just the Corps operated recreation areas spend about $60 million per year in the local economy and that’s not counting the other areas on Table Rock Lake such as Big Cedar, Chateau on the Lake, Table Rock State Park and Marina and the other commercial marinas, resorts etc. operating in cooperation with the Corps.

BTC: In closing, what one thought would you like to leave with our readers?
JS: The Corps wants to make sure that we maintain the resources that we have at Table Rock Lake so locals, visitors and their families can enjoy them now and that future generations will also be able to enjoy this precious resource. We want to be proactive in protecting the lake to make sure that it stays the lake that we all enjoy today.

 

 

“Buzzin in Branson” buzzes for February 2015

Dublin's Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies open their 2015 Branson season on February 12.

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies open their 2015 Branson season on February 12.

Branson “Buzz of the Month:” Branson’s 21st Annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show on February 2. This fabulous one night only show features music, entertainment and comedy acts from some of Branson’s best shows, all of which are open for Branson’s Hot Winter including Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Grand Jubilee; Legends In Concert; “it” from the Hughes Brothers Theater; Paul Harris & The Cleverlys; Acrobats of China featuring New Shanghai Circus; AYO – starring Voices of Glory and SIX to name just a few. While we’re at it, we are going to highlight another special day in February for many people by asking this question, “Could Branson be the perfect Valentine for your sweetheart?” “Buzzin in Branson” is produced monthly by the Branson Tourism Center as a service to its customers and others interested in what’s going on in Branson. It is in a concise and easy to read format that conveniently provides pertinent and timely comments, information and a list of the major special events, shows and activities for the month being “Buzzed” which, in this case is February 2015.

February 2015 Buzzes

Feb. 1 – Feb. 28: Sweetheart Month at Titanic Feb. 2: 21st Annual Hot Winter Fun Big Show Feb. 13: Tri Lakes Building & Home Show Feb.13 – Feb. 16: Presidents Day Weekend: Just have to believe that there will Presidents Day Sales galore in Branson Outlet Malls, Branson Landing and many other places. Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day Feb. 14: 2015 Polar Bear Plunge Feb. 20 – Feb 22: VisionCon Anime, Gaming, Sci-Fi Convention Feb. 22: 2015 Branson Bridal Show Feb. 26 – Feb 28: 2015 Kenneth Copeland Branson Victory Campaign Feb. 27 – Mar 1: Edgewater USAG Woman’s Artistic Gymnastics Classic Feb 28: Vince Elfrink Memorial Fishing Tournament at Lilley’s Landing Feb. 28: World Sword Swallower’s Day Events at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Many of Branson’s shows close for a period during the winter months. Although it should be pointed out that there are shows re-opening on a regular basis, here is a non-inclusive list of the shows that will be performing during February as of January 8:

Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies Grand Jubilee Haygoods Legends in Concert New Jersey Nights Pierce Arrow Absolutely Patsy Amazing Pets Bon Jovi Tribute Comedy Jamboree Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute Show Dixie Stampede Doowop Pop and Soul Tribute Show Eagles Tribute Concert Hot Winter Fun Big Show it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre Journey Tribute Ozark Mountain Jubilee Sunday Gospel Jubilee The Big Show

With winter weather and, the reopening of shows things can change. Please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, for additional information, tickets or hotel reservations by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Could Branson be the perfect Valentine for your sweetheart?

Valentine's DayWhen Thomas Hood wrote the words, “Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine” he just might have had Branson, Missouri in mind as the place to show that someone special that they “Art every day my Valentine!” “Valentine’s Day Falls on a four day weekend because Monday, February 16 is “Presidents Day,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, “and that, coupled with Branson’s shows, attractions, restaurants, shopping and everything else there is to do in Branson provides a unique opportunity to show your Valentine just how special they are.” Since the movie “Titanic,” with its beautiful love story and theme song “My Heart Will Go On” sung by Celine Dion, romance has had a resurgence as part of the Titanic lore. The celebration, memory and history of the Titanic, her crew and passengers is a daily privilege for those working aboard the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction and February is “Sweetheart Month.” How special would it be to your Valentine to renew your vows or receive a proposal on the steps of the Titanic’s magnificent “Grand Staircase” that is an “exact full sized replica of the original and just like the one Rose and Jack ascended in the movie?” In addition, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, meet Helen Benziger, the Great Granddaughter of Margaret “Unsinkable Molly” Brown and see, for a limited time only, the display of her family’s prized possession, the LOVING CUP. For most, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a special meal. From the simple down home cooking of the “Branson Café” in historic downtown Branson, to the elegant cuisine of the “Level 2 Steak House” or the “Chateau on the Lake,” and many in between, Branson offers a variety of choices for every budget to help you and your Valentine have that memorable Valentine’s Day dining experience. A number of Branson’s shows will be offering a wide variety of live entertainment to share with your Valentine including: Dublin’s Irish Tenors and The Celtic Ladies Grand Jubilee The Haygoods Legends in Concert Absolutely Patsy Amazing Pets Bon Jovi Tribute Comedy Jamboree it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre Eagles Tribute Concert Pierce Arrow In addition to the Titanic Museum Attraction, many of Branson’s other attractions will be open for Valentine’s Day weekend. These include attractions such at Branson’s Promised Land Zoo, National Tiger Sanctuary, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and, weather permitting, the Thousand Hills Golf. Why not plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with your special Valentine, in Branson? For additional information on celebrating Valentine’s Day in Branson or tickets for 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 their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Magnificent Branson Landing Fountains are a gem of color, sound and excitement

The Branson Landing Fountain fire cannons lighting up the Lake Taneycomo Lakefront.

The Branson Landing Fountain fire cannons lighting up the Lake Taneycomo Lakefront.

Branson Landing is simultaneously one of Branson’s premier shopping destinations and “attractions.” According to the Branson Lakes Area CVB more Branson visitors visit Branson Landing than at any other Branson “attraction. “I believe that its popularity is based on a combination of its 100 retail stores and restaurants, location on beautiful Lake Taneycomo and its spectacular $7.5 million free water attraction presenting the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s dazzling display of water fountains shooting 120-foot geysers of water high into the air with fire cannons blasting out huge balls of flame, all synchronized and choreographed to light and music is an amazing thing to experience,” she added.

Here are a few things about the fountains and show that we hope you will find interesting:

1. Location – The centerpiece of Branson Landing, the fountains are located on the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo, at the east end of its Town Square in the center of Branson Landing, a $435 million public/private multiuse project spanning 1.5 miles of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo. It’s combination of luxury condos and over 120 retail stores, kiosks and restaurants including “eclectic shops, national retailers, fine dining, intimate cafes and nightspots,” a floating restaurant and the spectacular free Branson Landing Fountains makes it one of the most popular attractions in Branson.

2. Schedule and Frequency – The approximately three minute shows start at Noon and run through 10:00 PM daily, except Sunday when the last show is 9:00 PM. They are held every hour on the hour until 8:00 PM at which time, except for Sunday, they are every 30 minutes. Click here for the schedule of shows and the numbers that will be playing.

3. Best time to see the show – Although shows start daily at Noon, we believe that the best time to experience the full effect of the show with the lights interacting with the water and the blasting flame cannons is at dusk or after dark which, obviously will fluctuate with the time of the year you are visiting Branson.

4. Weather Impact – As would be expected with an outdoor show of this type, performances are weather dependent. As a general rule, the chance of this increases with colder weather and you should expect cancellations when the temperatures are 32 degrees or lower because of freezing spray or equipment freezing.

5. The Branson Landing Fountains Actually Use Water From Lake Taneycomo – About 1,000 gallons of water are pulled from Lake Taneycomo, filtered, shot 120 feet into the air and released back into the lake for each three minute show.

6. Rotation of Music – Each three minute show generally consists of one piece of music choreographed with the lights, water, fire cannon and movement of the fountain spray to present a dazzling and memorable experience of both sight and sound. The Noon show is always the “Stars Spangled Banner.” After that there is a selection of numbers rotated throughout the day. Click here for the schedule of what number will be playing and when. Tammy Scholten, the Director of Marketing and Entertainment for Branson Landing reminds us that the musical selections are updated periodically and said, “Don’t miss the newest fountain shows, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi and ‘Hoe-Down Rodeo Ballet’ by Aaron Copland – London Symphony Orchestra.”

7. Relationship to Bellagio Fountain show in Las Vegas – Although on a smaller scale, the fountains and show were created by “Wet Design,” the same company that created the Bellagio Fountain show in Las Vegas. In addition, it incorporated an element element the Bellagio Show doesn’t have, booming fire cannons spitting out their huge balls of fire.

Special preview on what’s new in Branson for 2015

Spirit of the Dance will again be performing in Branson as part of its encore tour.

Spirit of the Dance will again be performing in Branson as part of its encore tour.

“From a unique cave tour evolving into what is today, the international award winning 1880’s styled theme park, “Silver Dollar City” to “Branson Landing,” one of Missouri’s most unique shopping venues with over 100 specialty stores, restaurants and its free spectacular $7.5 million water attraction, Branson is constantly evolving and changing to provide its visitors with a fresh, new and exciting experience while maintaining its small town heart, spirit and visitor experience,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Here’s a list of some of the changes we are aware of for the 2015 Branson season that we believe Branson visitors might find interesting,” she added.

ATTRACTIONS

Fireman’s Landing (Silver Dollar City) – Its new $8 million “Fireman’s Landing, “containing 10 new family adventures,” will continue the parks 1880s theme and is themed and as an 1880’s volunteer recruitment fair with rides and attractions for ages 3 to 93. Brad Thomas, the General Manager of the park, said that one of the things he likes best about “Fireman’s Landing” is that “families will be able to have fun together and we love it when we can bring families together and allow them to have fun as a family unit.”

One of the featured rides will be “Fireman’s Firefall” rising 80 feet into the air for a beautiful view of the Ozark Mountains; “but,” says Thomas, “You’ve got to keep your eyes open because in a second you go from 80 feet in the air all the way to the ground.” Lisa Rau, said, “Construction is right on target for its April 2015 Grand Opening.”

Harlem Globetrotters (Silver Dollar City) – The “Harlem Globetrotters will perform three times a day during Silver Dollar City’s “Star-Spangled Summer, a family-focused festival, running from June 6 through July 19. This exciting and entertaining 30 minute show will feature “highlights from the Globetrotters’ one-of-a-kind touring show.”

Parakeet Pete’s Balloon Rides (Branson Landing) – When completed by next spring, the “tethered” balloon ride will tower 180 feet above Branson Landing. Its unique construction permits its riders to experience the thrill of a hot air balloon ride without the weather restrictions that hamper the operation of the typical tethered balloon ride operating outside of a tower. The ride will be handicap accessible and there will be no age requirements so virtually anyone will be able to experience the thrill and enjoyment of the ride.

SHOWS

Million Dollar Quartet _ “The Welk Resort Theatre is proud to present an all-new production of the “Million Dollar Quartet.” The Tony Award winning Broadway musical is inspired by the electrifying true story of one of the most famed recording sessions of all time, where Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought together icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for one unforgettable night. Featuring a treasure trove of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits from these music legends, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Ghost Riders,” and “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Million Dollar Quartet captures the infectious spirit and thrilling sounds of a singular moment when four of the music industry’s most extraordinary talents, all in their creative prime, came together for one of the most memorable nights in music history. Million Dollar Quartet opens June 2015 and runs through December at Welk Resort Theatre.”

Spirit of the Dance the Encore Tour – Branson’s most popular dance production, “Spirit of the Dance,” is returning to Branson, after its “its International record breaking “Dream Tour.” to delight and captivate Branson audiences for the 2015 season. “Spirit of the Dance” is one of the most successful shows ever to come out of Ireland, has been seen by more than thirty million people around the world and “has won nine Global Awards, including ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best International Production.'”

Puttin’ on the Ritz – “Puttin’on the Ritz,” currently appearing to sold out venues worldwide on its current tour with “Spirit Productions,” will be performing at the King’s Palace Theatre in Branson for the 2015 season. It features the most innovative song and dance routines from major musical films over the last 50 years of the golden age of Hollywood and a dazzling tribute to the Award Winning Fred Astaire recreated live on stage. The elegance, grace, originality and precision of tap, ballet, and ballroom dancing is promised to be “one of Branson’s most thrilling experience in 2015!”

Twice Adopted – Although this amazing group of adopted children has performed in Branson before, they did not perform in 2014. The sudden tragic death of the “mother” last year has inspired the kids and has resulted in a unique, inspirational show filled with absolutely beautiful music that will not only entertain the whole family, but touch your heart in a special way.

Terry Fator – The “America’s Got Talent” winner returns to Branson for two nights only on April 18 and 19 at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre.

Moon River and Me – New show at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater

The Hits Starring the Osmonds – Andy Williams Moon River Theatre

Branson Landing Fountain Show – (Branson Landing) There will be three new “Fountain Shows added to the 2015 schedule including “Carol of the Bells” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a the unforgettable “Hoe-Down Rodeo Ballet” by Aaron Copland – London Symphony Orchestra and “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

Wake Up With Yakov – Brand new morning show with one of Americas most beloved comedians, Yakov Smirnoff.

Buckets N Boards – This comedy percussion show that’s chock-full of precise percussion, ridiculous songs, spectacular tap dancing, inventive instrumentation, and incredibly unique musical talent is moving to the Starlite Theatre for the 2015 season.

#1 Hits of the 60’s (and 50’s Too) –  Amber Campell, the owner of the show and one of its entertainers, said that they are really enthused about moving to the Americana Theatre for their 2015 season, that it’s their 13th year in Branson and the opportunity the move affords for expanding the shows production. She is especially excited about adding a live band to the show in the 2015.

Acrobats of China – Moving from the RFD Theatre to Yakov’s Theatre

Fair Family – Moving to the Americana Theatre

George Dyer – Branson’s premier resident tenor will be moving his George Dyer show from the morning slot at the Duttons theatre to the afternoon slot.

RESTAURANTS

Buffalo Wild Wings is opening in Branson Landing on January 5.

Chick fil A, located just east of the intersection of Highway 76 and Highway 65, is progressing nicely and it looks like it will be open for the start of the 2015 season if not earlier.

Located near the Titanic Museum Attraction, "Pasghetti’s" is well under way for a 2015 opening.

Located near the Titanic Museum Attraction, “Pasghetti’s” is well under way for a 2015 opening.

Pasghetti’s, an Italian restaurant will open next to the Starlite Theatre on 76 County Boulevard. Although no definite date has been announced for the opening, this photo, taken on Dec. 30 indicates that its construction is well underway. It is anticipated that its 15 foot meatball with its 50 foot fork sticking out of it will become another “Branson Strip Icon.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that these are just some of the changes we are aware of at this time and that things are constantly evolving in the Branson tourism industry. She suggests that one way to stay abreast of what is happening is through a free subscription to Branson Tourism Center’s free Exclusive Branson News and Information Newsletter. She also points out that the free assistance of a Branson based “Branson Tourism Center Trip Planner” is available to answer any questions or assist with show or lodging reservations by calling 1-800-785-1550.

Is everyday Christmas to Benjamin Dutton?

The Duttons, with Benjamin and Brande Dutton, in blue to the left.

The Duttons, with Benjamin and Brande Dutton, in blue to the left.

After seeing one of the last Branson performances of the fabulous Dutton’s Christmas show prior to them leaving for their winter season shows in Mesa, AZ, I interviewed Benjamin Dutton for a “Branson Up Close and Personal” piece which will be published in February. Maybe it was the influence of just having experienced the Dutton family performing together or the Christmas feeling, spirit and emotion it evoked, but his response to one of the questions I routinely ask, even though not a Christmas question, just touched my heart as a special Christmas blessing.

When I asked Benjamin, “What do you like best about performing in Branson?” he instantly replied, “What I like best about performing in Branson is the opportunity to make a living with my family. To have the opportunity that I have to go to work every day with my wife and my children and for my children to relate every day with their grandparents, their cousins and their aunts and uncles. Economics tend to draw families apart because people go to where the jobs are. It’s very rare in this day and age that a whole family can work together side by side and that has afforded so many blessings that I will be eternally grateful for. I could not have asked for anything better.”

Even as I write these words, the sincerity, emotion, and genuineness that I felt and the look of happiness and contentment I saw on his face comes rushing back. I doubt there will be a kid in this whole country that will have more joy on their face over the gifts they receive this Christmas then I saw on Benjamin’s face as he answered that question.

I sensed that he knows he has been given a special gift, but doesn’t take it for granted. He loves and appreciates that gift every day, not only in terms of his wife Brande, of whom he said, “When I think about Brande I think I am the most blessed man in the world,” and their four sons, Benjamin, Isaac, Christian and Luke, but his mom, dad, brothers, sisters nieces and nephews.

Benjamin’s response is a reminder, as we exchange gifts this Christmas that we might have already received one of the most valuable gifts of all, the relationships with the very people with whom we are exchanging gifts. Let us appreciate those relationships, not take them for granted and, I believe, like Benjamin, celebrate “Christmas” every day.

Note: The Duttons will be performing in their Mesa Arizona Shows through April 4 and debut their 2015 Branson show in Branson on April 8.

“Opening” Christmas Day in Branson

One of Branson's favorite buffets, the "Grand Country Buffet "will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day.

One of Branson’s favorite buffets, the “Grand Country Buffet “will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Christmas Day.

“Although Christmas Day may find many of Branson’s shows, attractions, restaurants and businesses closed, a number will be open to serve Branson visitors,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “In fact, from breakfast to dinner and after there will be a bountiful selection of places to dine, shows to see and attractions of all kinds,” she added.

Here is a list of some of the restaurants that will be open on Christmas Day and their contact numbers. It is suggested, except for the “chain” restaurants that you call to make reservations:

Chateau Grille and Atrium Restaurants – 417-334-1161
Denny’s – 417-339-3670
Grand Country Buffet – 417-335-2434
IHOP – 417-339-4467 (7:00 AM – 2:00 PM
McFarlains Restaurant at IMAX 417-336-4680
Outback Steak & Oyster Bar – 417-334-6306
Paradise Grill – 417-334-5405
Shoney’s – 417-335-6855

Starting with Grand Country’s Amazing Petsat 10:00 AM, a great show for younger children and adults alike, and throughout the day there is a variety of shows available including:

Absolutely Patsy
Acrobats of China
Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai
Amazing Pets
Barney Fife Fully Loaded
Kelli Grant “The Queen of Swing”
Motown Downtown

From drive through Christmas Lighting Displays to zip lines, go karts, golf, and more, many of Branson’s attractions will also be open on Christmas Day to enjoy:

Branson Limousine Christmas Light Tour
Branson Limousine Wine and Shine Tour
Branson’s Promised Land Zoo
Castle of Chaos
Celebrity Car Museum
Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors
Hollywood Wax Museum
IMAX Adventure Films
Inspiration Tower
Payne Stewart Golf Club
Pointe Royale Golf Course
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum
Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf
The Track Family Fun Parks
Trail of Lights
Vigilante Ziprider

 Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that the limited schedule of Christmas Day will expand dramatically starting the day after Christmas and throughout Christmas Week including the excitement of New Year’s Eve in Branson. For the very latest on schedule changes, Branson information or assistance with lodging or tickets for shows and attractions please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

“Buzzin in Branson” during January 2015

"New South" quartet, David Ragan, left, Luke Menard, Jon Brockelman and Mark McCaulley.

“New South” quartet, David Ragan, left, Luke Menard, Jon Brockelman and Mark McCaulley.

Branson “Buzz of the Month:”

Grand Country’s Grand Jubilee, staring the “New South” quartet, will be the first of Branson’s almost 100 shows to premier their 2015 season show. Mike Patrick, General Manager and Producer of Grand Country Shows, said, “We start rehearsing for next year’s show while we are doing our Christmas Show and actually premier it during our New Year’s Eve show and party. We are really excited about the new show with new music, fresh comedy and some really ‘grand’ surprises.”

“Buzzin in Branson” is produced monthly by the Branson Tourism Center as a service to its customers and others interested in what’s going on in Branson. It is in a concise and easy to read format that conveniently provides pertinent and timely comments, information and a list of the major special events, shows and activities for the month being “Buzzed” which, in this case is January 2015.

Buzzin in Branson during January 2015

Dec. 31: OK, so strictly speaking it’s not happening in January, but New Year’s Eve in Branson will sure be an exciting end to 2014 and beginning of 2015.
Jan. 1 – 31: The vast majority of Branson’s Attractions such as the Titanic Museum Attraction, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, the National Tiger Sanctuary, Promised Land Zoo, and many others are open year round. Branson’s retail shopping, including its major outlet malls and Branson Landing, are open year round.
Jan. 1 – 31: The majority of Branson’s shows are closed for their winter break and to prepare for the 2015 season during January and those that are open are operating on “winter” schedules. The following list includes some of the major shows that will be open, a general scheduling note and a link to additional information, specific schedules and ticketing information:

Amazing Pets
The Haygoods (January 3 Only)
Legends in Concert (January1-3 Only)
Dixie Stampede (January 1-3 Only)
Comedy Jamboree (Dark January 4-15)
Grand Jubilee (Dark January 4-13)
it at the Hughes Brothers Theatre (Starts Jan. 20)
Branson Country USA (Starts Jan. 30)

Jan 1 – Jan 15: White Flight at The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure
Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Jan 1: Chateau on the Lake – New Year’s Day Champagne Brunch
Jan 23: Titanic Museum Attraction’s Girls Sleepover
Jan 24: The Master Trout Fishing Tournament at Lilley’s Landing

Please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, for additional information, tickets or hotel reservations by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Why Not Spend New Year’s Eve in Branson?

Chateau on the Lake Fireworks.

Chateau on the Lake Fireworks.

Branson’s Christmas Week, already filled with the adventure, fun, shopping and entertainment Branson has to offer, takes on added excitement and anticipation on New Year’s Eve, both during the day and into the evening and nighttime hours as the New Year approaches,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Whether it’s a family or a couple looking for an exciting and fun way to ‘ring out’ the old year and welcome in the New Year, Branson offers an amazing variety of ways to celebrate the New Year,” she added.

From hiking, fishing or playing golf at one of Branson’s championship golf courses, such as the Payne Stewart Golf Club to the unique and exciting Titanic Museum Attraction, decked out for its beautiful “Edwardian Christmas;” the vast majority of Branson’s attractions will be open on New Year’s Eve Day. Most of Branson’s dozens of attractions are not weather dependent and are open year round. From the thousands of white and Christmas colored butterflies in the unique White Flight exhibit at the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure, the lions and tigers at the National Tiger Sanctuary to the Track Family Fun Parks, Ripleys Believe It or Not Museum, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Promised Land Zoo and dozens of others, there will be a host of ways that families can have fun together on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Starting with the Amazing Pets at 10:00 AM on New Year’s Day and culminating with the New Year’s Eve celebrations to welcome in 2015, a number of Branson shows will be providing a variety of the live entertainment Branson is noted for. These include Acrobats of China, Grand Jubilee, Jonah, Legends in Concert, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, The Haygoods, Pierce Arrow, Comedy Jamboree, Dixie Stampede, Hamners Unbelievable Variety Show, Showboat Branson Belle, Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai, Christmas on the Trail Chuck Wagon Dinner Show, Comedy Hypnosis Dinner Show, Motown Downtown, The Revollusionists, Red, Hot & Blueand Swing Starring Kelli Grant. Click here for information on show times, scheduling and ticket information.

In addition, the following shows are having special New Year’s Eve parties. For specific information on a particular party please Click here and go to the bottom of the page:

Clay Cooper’s Country Express (See Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve)
Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve
Grand Jubilee
Legends in Concert
Doug Gabriel’s #1 Hits Tribute Show
Pierce Arrow
The Haygoods (See Clay-Goods Jambor-Eve)
Hamners Unbelievable Variety

New Year’s Eve firework displays welcoming the New Year will light the skies at Big Cedar Lodge, Big Cedar’s Top of the Rock and the Chateau on the Lake. The most easily accessible and closest to Branson is the Chateau’s display with convenient viewing on their grounds or along authorized areas on Highways 265 and 165 near the Chateau.

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood stated that “packaging your lodging with shows and attractions can save you money. Here are some examples of a way to have a great New Year’s celebration in Branson and save money at the same time through some Branson Tourism Center packages, New Years Eve In Branson, Haygood’s & Clay Cooper New Year In Branson and Legend’s Rockin New Year In Branson. For information on customizing a package for your particular desires, the latest and most complete information on New Year’s events, scheduling, tickets and lodging please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of Branson show and attraction tickets and lodging. BTC can be reached by calling 800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

“One thing is for sure,” said Wood,New Year’s in Branson is a special way to say goodbye to the old year and to start the New Year with a memory that might just last a lifetime.”