You’ve probably been to Branson if…


Silver Dollar City is Branson's most popular paid attraction.

Silver Dollar City is Branson’s most popular paid attraction.

You’ve experienced one or more of the things mentioned below. When most of us tell someone we have been to a major tourist destination there are generally certain places or things that come up in the conversation. It’s hard to imagine mentioning that you have been to New York City, particularly to someone who has been there before, and not having one or more of the following com up as part of the conversation the “Statute of Liberty,” “Broadway,” the “Empire State Building,” the “911 site” or other key things New York City is noted for.

While certainly not on the same size scale as New York City, Branson has been named as one of the top 25 U.S. Travel Destinations and, like the mention of New York City or other major travel destinations, has certain places or things that come to mind when discussing a visit to Branson. Based on a history that started with visiting Branson in 1976 and living in Branson since 1986, it would be my opinion that most discussions about having visited Branson would include at least one or more of the following:

Branson’s Spirit: It would be hard for me to imagine that the same spirit of hospitality and values that drew me back to Branson year after year, until I finally moved here over 28 years ago, would not be a special memory of a Branson visit. In my opinion, Branson’s spirit and unabashed love of family, God, country and our military; coupled with a sincere desire and commitment to insure that every Branson visitor has a great Branson experience would be something that most people who visit Branson would feel, appreciate and associate with what makes Branson so special.

The Branson Strip: Located on Highway 76, called by some “Country Music Boulevard,” the “Branson Strip” is where most of Branson’s theatres and major attractions are located. It is said that Branson “has more seats than Broadway” and its signage, particularly at night, reminds one of Las Vegas, but its entertainment, personality, value and spirit is rooted in the history and tradition of the Ozarks and family.

Silver Dollar City: This award winning 1880′s styled theme park is Branson’s oldest continually operated attraction and is easily its most popular paid attraction. It features dozens of rides, including the record setting wooden coaster, “Outlaw Run” and its “Wildfire” coaster; practicing craftsmen; shows; six world class festivals including “An Old Time Christmas,” and everything else one would expect from a world class theme park.

Branson Landing: The 95-acre, $435 million public/private multiuse project spans 1.5 miles of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo and is conveniently located adjacent to historic Downtown Branson. 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,” Main Street Lake Cruises, a zip line, two “floating restaurants, lakefront boardwalk on Lake Taneycomo and the spectacular free $7.5 million Branson Landing Fountain synchronized fire, water, light and music show make it one of the most popular attractions in Branson.

Branson's Titanic Museum Attraction  towers above the famed "Branson Strip."

Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction towers above the famed “Branson Strip.”

Titanic Museum Attraction: The iconic, two story, ½ size, replica of the Titanic opened in 2006 and dominates the intersection of State Highway 165 and the Branson Strip. This permanent museum holds hundreds of Titanic artifacts in its many galleries and is an interactive adventure that makes the guests part of their own Titanic experience from beginning to end.

Inspiration Tower: Located in the historic Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, where Harold Bell Wright wrote his 1907 classic novel “The Shepherd of the Hills,” Inspiration Tower stands 230 feet above one of the highest points in southwest Missouri and on a clear day, provides a unique spectacular view of the Ozarks that extends over 90 miles into Arkansas.

Tanger Outlet Mall: It might seem strange to list an outlet mall as one of the things people who visit Branson are more than likely to talk about, but its central location in the middle of the Branson Strip, the fact that its Branson’s biggest outlet mall and one of the most popular shopping destinations in Branson combine to put it on the list.

Branson’s Live Shows: Although certainly not everyone who comes to Branson attends one of its live shows, the vast majority do and just about everyone who has visited Branson is aware of its shows. From the Acrobats of China and Jonah to Clay Coopers Country Express, Shoji Tabuchi, The Haygoods, Legends in Concert, SIX and dozens more, Branson has a variety, quantity and quality of shows that is unmatched by any travel destination anywhere near its size.

Presleys’ Theatre: Home of the Presleys’ Country Jubilee, the theatre was the first theatre on the Branson Strip in 1967. Two of its current cast members, Drummer, Steve Presley and comedian, “Herkimer,” Gary Presley have been performing continuously since that time.

Spectacular Beauty the Ozarks: Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Branson is surrounded by the constantly changing tapestry of the beauty of the Ozark Mountains and its two pristine lakes, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo.


Why SIX human voices are the hottest show in Branson

SIX, Owen, left , Kevin, Jak, Lynn, Curtis, and Barry during the gospel segment of the show.

SIX, Owen, left , Kevin, Jak, Lynn, Curtis, and Barry during the gospel segment of the show.

As many times as I have seen the amazing show SIX, I find myself looking for the band that is not there. This, even though I know that every sound I hear comes from the six human voices of siblings, Barry, Kevin, Owen, Lynn, Curtis and Jak Knudsen who make up the entire cast of one of Branson’s hottest shows, SIX. It was no different on the afternoon of May 20th, 2014 as I experienced the vocal magic of SIX performing their 2014 Branson show.

If you have never seen the show it’s hard to describe because it’s much more than a vocal band. It is a total entertainment experience consisting of great vocals covering a wide variety of music from the 60s to the present, an amazing “band” consisting of the same performers singing the vocals and comedy that is also presented by the same performers. Their energy, familial harmonies and humor, coupled with the vocal band aspect of their show result in an an awesome entertainment experience that is certainly unique in Branson if not in all the world.

From the time the curtain goes up to the last number one or more, in most cases more, of SIX is on the stage entertaining. That might not seem remarkable, but when one considers that whether it’s a drum beating, a beautiful vocal or the brothers telling stories and providing a warm wonderful comedic element to the show, it is just the six of them and they do it virtually non-stop, except for intermission, for two hours.

It’s not just what they do, but how they do it. As demonstrated numerous times during the show by, among others, the performance of “Stand By Me” by Curtis; Coldplay’s “Fix You,” featuring Owen or Lynn featured in the song “Love Times Ten,” each has been blessed with a remarkable vocal talent. When that individual talent blends together in numbers such as “People of the World,” “America” and the gospel segment, the power and familial harmony is, simply put, “A joy to hear.” 

Owen, is the "drum" in the band as well as an accomplished vocalist.

Owen, is the “drum” in the band as well as an accomplished vocalist.

One minute Owen is “a drum” doing “Wipe out” and the next he is performing a beautiful rendition of “Fix You” and that’s just one of “six. “Multiply that talent and versatility by six and you begin to get an idea of just how unique and special this show is.

The comedy, mostly provided by Jak interacting with the audience or one of his brothers is funny and comfortable because much of it relates back to them. Like the vocals, that familial element takes something that is already funny and makes it a unique and special part of the total SIX entertainment experience. A perfect example is Jak and Barry, with the musical backup of the rest of the group in the “Mr. Hollywood,” segment. From the comedy to the vocals, in total, it is a vintage SIX “moment.”

From songs as varied as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight and “Pretty Woman” to “Fix You,” “Viva Las Vegas” and many more the shows choice of music will have something for just about every musical taste. Its Veterans segment with Kevin featured in “I’m An American Soldier” and their performance of “America;” their performance of “Love Times Ten,” dedicated to their mother who died all too early from Cancer and the show gospel segment are as inspirational and touching as they were powerfully and beautifully performed.

The lighting, sound and interactive use of the giant screen on the back of the stage as well as the side monitors all added significantly to the enjoyment of the show. SIX is one of the most popular shows in Branson and, to this writer, the unique, powerful high energy performance he saw today is the reason why.

For additional information or tickets for SIX 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, .


Five Reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson

Silver Dollar City's iconic world class coaster "Wildfire."

Silver Dollar City’s iconic world class coaster “Wildfire.”

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Memorial Day Weekend in Branson features the unique blend of natural beauty, live entertainment, lakes, attractions, shopping, Ozarks heritage, and other exciting activities that earned Branson a place in the top 25 destinations in America in the ‘2013 TripAdvisors Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards‘ and makes it the ideal place for families to have fun together, relax, and make memories that will last for a lifetime,” she added.

Here’s five great reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson, four of which are great reasons to spend your vacation in Branson anytime:

1. Pristine Lakes: With three different lakes, and thousands of miles of shoreline along Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo, Branson is a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other aquatic activities along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere.

Whether one enjoys the lakes from a sandy beach like “Moonshine Beach,” located just minutes from the famed Branson Strip; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of many lakes trails, by boat, canoe or kayak or while cruising aboard one of the cruise boats such the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake or the Lake Queen or Landing Princess on Lake Taneycomo, there are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes.


Branson's Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting "voyage."

Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting “voyage.”

2. Attractions and Activities: It is doubtful that there is a travel destination anywhere near its size that has the variety of attractions and activities that Branson has. Two million gallons of cool wet fun await visitors to southwest Missouri’s biggest water park, the Polynesian themed White Water, with its 13 acres, 7,200 feet of water slides and its new $1.7 million thrill ride “KaPau Plummet.” Its two 240-foot slides each launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge followed by a spiraling loop to the bottom. 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, a 30-foot tall Tiki water tower and more,” it’s easy to understand why White Water is called “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

And that’s just one of Branson’s many attractions! From butterflies to tigers, world class coasters to cruises, sea turtles to sharks, championship golf courses to mini golf, zip lines to hiking, go-karts  and so much more, Branson has an unbelievable choice of activities offering fun and adventure for the whole family. These include the 1880′s styled international award winning theme park, Silver Dollar City, with its dozens of rides, shows, and craftsmen which will be celebrating its “Bluegrass and BBQ Festival” during the Labor Day weekend; the Titanic Museum Attraction; the National Tiger Sanctuary; the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure and many more.


Dean Z, as Elvis, performing during performance of Legends in Concert.

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing  Legends in Concert.

3. Live Entertainment and Shows: Branson is known worldwide for the quality, quantity and variety of its live entertainment. From shows as diversified as the Acrobats of China, Jonah and Amazing Pets to Branson paradigm shows like Presleys’ Country Jubilee and Grand Jubilee as well as an incredible variety of top quality shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Legends in Concert and dozens more Branson offers an unrivaled choice of live entertainment options.

4. Shopping: Memorial Day and year around, Branson offers a unique world class shopping experience. Whether it’s an item handcrafted at Silver Dollar City or a unique item from one of Branson’s many specialty shops, malls, Historic Downtown shops, Branson Landing or the hundreds of other stores, Branson offers a choice of shopping that will delight even the most avid shopper. Where else in America can you shop at an old time “5 & 10″ like “Dicks 5 & 10″ in historic downtown Branson and be shopping in a complex like Branson Landing with its 120 shops, restaurants and $7.5 million dollar fire, water, and music “five” minutes later?

5. Fireworks: Memorial Day Weekend’s two major fireworks displays take place on Sunday evening, May 25, at dusk. One display will be at Big Cedar Lodge as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event and the other at the Chateau on the Lake as part of its Memorial Day Celebration. 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.

Johnson reminds visitors that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of Branson’s busiest weekends of the year. She suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure nor only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information or 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


Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas – One of Nation’s Top Ten Christmas Light Displays

The City Square with its five story Christmas Tree and the "Holiday of Lights" parade passing through.

“What a well deserved honor,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center when she learned that a lighting display of Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas had been highlighted as one of the “10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the US” by AOL. She continued, “When you are on a select list with the likes of Rockefeller Center in New York, Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and the National Christmas Tree it reflects just how special the lighting at Old Time Christmas really is.”

She points out that this is at least the second year in a row where Silver Dollar City has received national recognition for its Old Time Christmas lighting displays. Last year, the award winning 1880s themed park won second place in the prestigious Golden Ticket Awards in the “Christmas Event” category, placing higher than either Disney’s ‘Magic Kingdom’ or ‘Disneyland?’ It also won first place in the “Friendliest Park Staff” category and second place in the “Best Food” category.

Although the parks celebration of Old Time Christmas is a Christmas Festival with shows, craftsmen, rides (weather permitting,) food and all the fun and excitement Silver Dollar City is known for, its millions of decorative Christmas lights and lighting displays are special. Johnson said, “Over four million sparkling lights, transform the park into a glowing Christmas spectacle.”

“The focal point,” she says, “Is the City Square and its five story tall Special Effects Christmas Tree. Each day at dusk it comes to life playing Christmas music such as “Carol of the Bells, “Joy to the World,” “Suite from Polar Express” and more as its many colored Christmas lights twinkle and dance in choreographed unison blend into the one million plus lights of the surrounding City square area. The “Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade,” with over 100,000 lights, passes through the park twice each evening if the weather permits. Although it is a spectacular sight anywhere in the park as it passes by the Christmas Tree and its lights are combined with the lights of the tree and surrounding square it is truly a breathtaking sight.

Johnson says that visitors to Branson and Ozark Mountain Christmas will be able to enjoy An Old Time Christmas Thursdays through Sundays through December 19, plus December 22-23 and from December 26-30. Hours are 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. most days. For additional information, specific hours or tickets for An Old time Christmas or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center (BTC), one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. BTC can be reached by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website

Why families can count on the Duttons for a great entertainment experience


Benjamin, Jessica, Abagail, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

Benjamin, Jessica, Abby, Jonathan, Amy and Timothy during Finale.

As The Duttons Show was drawing to a close on the afternoon of May 14th, I experienced, up close and personal, just how special this show and the family presenting it are as they performed their theme song, “You Can Count On Me.” Don’t know exactly what caused it, but as they performed and each of their families phased into the performance, the reality of the song and what I felt it meant to their commitment to each other and the type and quality of what I had experienced throughout the whole show touched my heart and brought tears to an old man’s eyes.

Like perhaps no other show in Branson, this show is a celebration of family as they share their family, and its considerable talents, with your family in one of the most entertaining family music shows in Branson. This show has been specifically designed, produced and presented, from beginning to end, to be as much fun for every member of the audience as it is for every member of the family that is performing it.

The core of the show, around which this fantastic entertainment experience is built, is the Dutton siblings Abby, Amy, Benjamin, Jonathan and Timothy; Timothy’s wife Judith; drummer Rob Wilson and the considerable instrumental and vocal talents of granddaughter Jessica. The instrumental and vocal talents of this core group alone is absolutely amazing. However, when coupled with performances by other family members, including some of the families 25 other grandchildren, and the artful and professional way they are seamlessly woven into the performances of the core performers, the result is a show that has more simultaneous moments of entertainment in it for every member of the family, adults as well as children, than any other music show in Branson.

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of "You Can Count On Me."

The Duttons performing their inspirational and moving rendition of “You Can Count On Me.”

To me that’s an important aspect of this show. I am not aware of a show in Branson that is not suitable for children in terms of their content, but based on my personal experience, I can say that, with few exceptions, the vast majority of Branson’s music shows have not been designed with a consistent flow of material and performers that will appeal to the children in the audience as well as their parents, grandparents and other adults. This simultaneous ability to consistently entertain and appeal to both adults and children, on a peer to peer level, is an inherent magical part of this unique special show.

From its opening number, a full cast performance of “Uncle Penn,” to their finale, “Boil Them Cabbage Down,” it is obvious why the Duttons made it to the top ten on the NBC prime time hit show, “America’s Got Talent.” The talent of the Dutton siblings is the foundation upon which this show is built and what a foundation it is. Whether it’s the fiddle and violin playing of Amy or Abby, the dancing and humor of Benjamin, the playing of Jonathan, the multi-instrumentality and singing of Timothy the keyboard playing and singing of Judith or, as is often the case, a variation or mixture of any of the above, you can count on an experience filled with great music, fun, humor, entertainment and a special warmth.

One of my favorite numbers was “Cotton Eyed Joe.” It was musically performed beautifully; but, as they do so often during the show, it was “Duttonized” with their remarkable instrumental skill, a “black light” segment featuring some of the grandchildren and a demonstration of the superb dancing skill of Benjamin. The result was a unique and exciting performance that was as wonderful and colorful to watch as it was to hear.

This show has one of the most touching and sincere Veterans segments of any show in Branson, a unique dueling performance of the fiddle classic “Orange Blossom Special,” and a classical segment featuring an prelude by Timothy playing an introduction of “Capricho Arabe” on the classical guitar leading into Amy playing a combination of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons Summer Movement” with a touch of Vitoria Monte’s “Csárdás” that is spectacular. With a show filled with so many highlights, it’s hard to pick a favorite, and I’m sure yours will be different than mine, but here are my two favorites.

I loved the beginning of the second half as Timothy, on the guitar and Amy on the violin started playing “Viva La Vida.” As the number continued more family members were slowly added playing violins then, in a similar manner they withdrew leaving the original two. It was a simple beautiful moment of musical eloquence. Obviously, I also loved their performance of “You Can Count On Me” because, to me, it captures what makes the Duttons so special, their commitment to each other, entertaining their audience and sharing their family with us. Ok, I just have to add a third, I really enjoyed the Polynesian number “Tutuki,” performed by Bella Dutton, Jonathan’s wife, who is from “Soma;” her daughters and Rachel and Jessica. I would be remiss if I did not comment on the excellent job that Jessica Dutton does as she performs with her aunts and uncles. She is an accomplished violinist and, like her younger sister Rachel, is blessed with the vocal talents of her mom and dad, Tim and Judith Dutton. Young Master Timmy Dutton gave an excellent performance of “Danke Shoen.”

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to "horn" in on Jonathan's number.

Cousin Julio, who looks a lot like Benjamin, trying to “horn” in on Jonathan’s number.

Some who have seen the show, are probably wondering how Cousin Julio is doing. He’s doing fine and showed up trying to “horn” in for an audition for the show after being rejected last year. It was, from both a musical and humorous point of view a “hoot” and this time he got the job; well sort of, but you’ll see what I mean during the second half of the show.

By now you are probably asking, “Is there nothing in this show that was not a highlight?” Not much, not much at all. Previously I wrote, “From rock and roll to blue grass and country this show has a variety of music that has something for everyone. It’s not the shows content alone however, that makes the show so special. It’s how they present it, with that unique Dutton talent, instrumentality, flair, showmanship and innate ability to instill that warm directly ‘from our family’ to ‘you and your family’ feeling in its audience members, that makes this show the unique, special and wonderful Branson entertainment event that it is.” All I can say after seeing their show on May 14, is, “Ditto.”

For tickets or information for The Duttons Show or for 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 through its website,

A Branson show marathon by the numbers


The Brett’s deliver a performance that’s beyond captivating.

The Brett’s deliver a performance that’s beyond captivating.

It has been my observation over the last 28 years that one of the most popular activities for those visiting Branson is to see one or more Branson shows. That’s really not surprising when one considers the quality, variety and availability of the live shows that make Branson the place some refer to as the “Live Music show capital of the world.”

In fact, one could actually have an entertaining leisurely “Branson Show Marathon” attending shows from morning to night with a great variety of Branson’s most popular shows available for each of the three legs of the marathon “1. Morning,”” 2. Afternoon” and “3. Night.”

Although there are certainly other “marathon itineraries” that could be made up, the following list, powered by the Branson Tourism Center’s Branson Show List, contains three of Branson’s most popular and requested shows for each “leg” of the marathon with links to pictures, videos, schedules and ticketing information on each:

1. Morning:

Ayo, staring the Voices of Glory 10:00 AM
Bretts 10:00 AM
Dublin Irish Tenors and the Celtic Ladies 10:00 AM

2. Afternoon:

Billy Dean Live 2:00 PM
Acrobats of China 3:00 PM
Jonah 3:30 PM

3. Night:

Clay Cooper’s Country Express 7:30 PM
Grand Jubilee 7:30 PM
Shoji Tabuchi 7:30 PM

The Grand Jubilee featuring Branson’s "New South" quartet,and the outrageously funny antics of Jamie Haage, as "Jim Dandy."

The Grand Jubilee featuring Branson’s “New South” quartet,and the outrageously funny antics of Jamie Haage, as “Jim Dandy.”

The shows listed above were specifically selected to show the variety of Branson shows available on a daily basis, are some of Branson’s most popular shows and are from the schedule for May 21st. Although there could be variations, depending on scheduling for different dates; one thing will not change, the unrivaled quality and variety of the live entertainment presented by Branson’s live shows on a daily basis.

For questions or tickets on any of the above shows, any of the almost 100 more Branson shows or free help in planning your own Branson itinerary please do not hesitate to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website,

Gary Groman is a freelance writer and columnist who has lived in Branson for 28 years. Currently, outside of his column, he writes exclusively for the Branson Tourism Center and can be reached through his website


Those who have had a Branson family vacation share why they “Got It”

Silver Dollar City's record setting wooden coaster "Outlaw Run" is just one of the many exciting and fun things  awaiting Branson visitors.

Silver Dollar City’s record setting wooden coaster “Outlaw Run” is just one of the many exciting and fun things awaiting Branson visitors.

 “Over 12,000 people who have ‘Liked’ our Facebook page, have, at one timewhy they “Got It” or another, interacted with us to get or share information about our favorite town, Branson, Missouri,” said, Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, Branson Tourism Center. “Earlier this week we asked the question, ‘Why should someone who has never been to Branson before pick it for their family vacation this year?’ We think that some of the responses, in the words of people that we believe have been to Branson, are insightful, particularly to those who have never shared a Branson vacation with their families before,” she added.

Here is a list of six of the reasons along with the supporting response from the post:

1. Family FriendlyStacy Smith-Frost: Because it is family friendly! I can bring my two girls to Branson and know the shows I watch are going to be clean and good for my girls!

2. Wide Variety of Fun Things to DoPatricia Eidschun: There is such a wide variety of fun things that can be done in Branson: great food, water fun for kids, beautiful music for the entire family, friendly atmosphere to name a few.

3. Kids Love ItAmy Sooter: Because my kids have been to Disney world and they say Branson is also the best place on Earth!! We love it.

4. GenuinenessTammy Mullins Witte: There’s just so much to do for all ages of the family! We usually need a vacation to rest after a week in Branson because we’re just going, going, going.  Another reason we love Branson is no matter where we go in town, we’re not treated like “just another tourist”. Everyone seems genuinely glad we’re there. Branson is our favorite vacation spot.

5. Create Precious Family MemoriesSusie Edge: Because you said “family” and Branson screams family! I have the most precious memories of several family vacations to Branson!!!!

6. RelaxationDiane Sartori Kelemen: For years there were people around me going to Branson and rave[ing] about it. I thought, what’s the big deal? Sounds like another tourist place. Well, we finally went, and now I get it. There is something about all the sights and sounds and things to do …like a mini Vegas with lights! It is crowded, but you don’t care, because it comes with a sense of relaxation. Everyone is friendly, and there is plenty to do. It takes repeated trips to do it all, so it can be a new adventure every time you visit.

The words, “For years there were people around me going to Branson and rave ing about it. I thought, what’s the big deal? Sounds like another tourist place. Well, we finally went, and now I get it,” in number 6 above, is a common reaction of first time Branson visitors. It sums up the feelings of those who have heard about Branson for years and once they came, for all of the reasons mentioned above and more, “Got It.”

Momma Mia, Dancing Queen is fabulous!

The shows four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

The show’s four featured vocalists Alex Webster, left, Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore and Tony Turner.

While attending the May 6th performance of Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits, I picked M.B.F, from San Antonio, Texas at random and asked her what she thought of the show. She comes to Branson just about every year and said, “I loved the show, it’s fabulous.” When asked what she liked best about the show she said, “Everything! The dancing was fabulous, I loved the music, great costuming, high energy and beautiful choreography.” All I can say is, “Ditto, this is one fabulous show.”

The show’s opening number “Dancing Queen,” an all cast number with all the dancers and all four vocalists “sets the bar” in terms of the audience’s expectation of energy, wonderful vocal performances, incredible dancing, beautiful sets and special effects. From beginning to end that bar was never lowered.

Of course Abba fans will be delighted because so many of Abba’s greatest hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and “Waterloo,” but the show also includes songs the 70′s, disco, Motown and more. As important as the song choices are it is their presentation by the shows four vocalists Heather Peterson, Maggie Moore, Alex Webster and Tony Turner that bring them to life.

Particularly during the first half, the majority of numbers combine two or more of the vocalists singing together, and what a wonderful job they do. From a vocal perspective, my three favorite numbers were the “Dancing Queen,” the trio performance of Alex, Heather, and Maggie featuring Alex in “Funky Music” and Heather’s simply beautiful solo performance of the 1941 classic “At Last,” the signature song for Etta James.

One of the show's many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

One of the show’s many production numbers featuring vocalists and the dancers.

As M.B.F pointed out, “The dancing was fabulous.” The shows dancers Jacqui Bell, Shelley Tees, Amy Louise Morlang, Ruth Robertson, Dasha Toropkina, Oliver Barrow, Jesse Barfield, Clarke Roberts and Lewis Darlington put on an incredible performance. A significant high energy precision dancing component, involving many different styles of dancing, is choreographed into the vast majority of the show’s numbers.

Their performance in terms of presentation, grace, beauty and seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm was a joy to experience. Although the same can be said for the dancer’s performances throughout the show, in my mind, two that illustrate not only their incredible talent and versatility, but the powerful dynamic they add to the show would be their performance during “Fernando” and “In The Navy.”

As wonderful as the individual vocal and dancing components are, when they are combined together the result is a spectacular entertainment experience that is as beautiful to listen to as it is to see. Even though most numbers and each individual set has its own costuming, music and dancing they are choreographed into the show in a manner that creates a wonderful seamless entertainment experience where the 1 plus 1 of its individual parts equals 3 out of a perfect 3. What can I say, except, “Momma Mia, Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits is one fabulous show!”

For additional information on Dancing Queen Abbas’s Greatest Hits or for tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550.


Exclusive Cruise With The Stars traditional Branson meet and greet on steroids

Branson stars such as SIX and ...

Branson stars such as SIX and …

“We truly believe that with the Branson Tourism Center, you don’t pay more, you just get more and our exclusive Cruise with the Stars event is just one example of how that happens,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “As Branson’s biggest ticket seller, with over 3,800,000 tickets sold, BTC has worked very closely with Branson shows and attractions for over ten years developing a special relationship with them that insures that its customers get the best seats and accommodations available and the opportunity to enhance their Branson experience by participating in exclusive events such as Cruise With the Stars, and other special events,” she added.

Billy Dean will be cruising with their fans.

“Branson stars are known for their willingness to meet and greet their audiences and interact with them in signing autographs, posing for pictures etc., but the exclusive Cruise With the Stars enables their fans to interact on a whole new level,” Wood said. She points out that Cruise With The Stars is an experience actually consisting of two separate Branson entertainment activities which have been uniquely combined into one exclusive “event.”

The first activity is experiencing the performance of the Branson show of the star or stars being featured on the cruise sitting in the best available seats in the house. The second activity, is going on an exclusive VIP luncheon cruise with the star(s) aboard Main Street Cruise Lines 100 foot luxury yacht, Landing Princess.

Along with a unique view of beautiful Lake Taneycomo, Branson Landing and spectacular Ozark vistas each VIP cruise will include lunch and an unparalleled chance to interact with the star(s) on the cruise. This includes opportunities for photos, autographs and a unique up close and personal experience that is available only to those who have taken advantage of the exclusive offer and purchased Cruise With The Stars tickets. While subject to change, here is the list of the stars cruising during 2014:

Billy Dean with Paul Harris & The Cleverlys – May 23
Legends in Concert Show – June 19
SIX – July 17
Grand Jubilee – Sep.13
The Texas Tenors – Sep. 18
John and Ambrus Presley, Presleys’ Country Jubilee – Oct. 7
The Osmonds, American Jukebox & the Andy Williams Christmas Show – Nov. 18

Wood reminds those interested that there is only one cruise for each of the stars scheduled, there truly is a limited number of seats for each Cruise With The Stars and suggests making advance reservations as soon as possible. For tickets or information on the exclusive Cruise With The Stars event please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-875-1550.


Five unique Branson attractions you might not know about

Just a few of the things at Branson Attractions that you might not know about.

Just a few of the things at Branson Attractions that you might not know about.

“The quality and quantity of Branson’s live shows, its spectacular Ozarks beauty, pristine lakes and major attractions, such as the 1880s styled theme park, Silver Dollar City, the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction and major national attractions like the Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” are well known,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “It has dozens of other attractions, that while perhaps not as well known, add to the excitement, fun and adventure that is available for Branson visitors to enjoy on a daily basis,” she added.

Here’s a list of five of those attractions, most of which are unique to Branson, that you might not have heard about:

1.  Branson’s Wild World: Bull Sharks, crocodiles, alligators, wolves and snakes in the middle of the Branson Strip? Well the location of this incredible interactive animal attraction, unlike any most have ever seen, certainly is. Its “aquarium is filled with all sorts of exotic sea creatures; including eels, a full reef tank, and of course, Sharks. Branson’s Wild World is one of a very few places in the USA to display bull sharks” along with the only Sea Turtle in the Midwest that you can feed and that’s not mentioning the other animals, snakes, opportunities to interact with some of the animals and other activities the attraction offers. It’s worth noting that this attractions, as is the case with the majority of Branson attractions, is not weather dependent and is contained totally within its own environmentally controlled building.

2. Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure:

Another thing Branson visitors do not expect to find in Branson is a tropical experience such as the “Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure.” The unique Butterfly Aviary, located in its own palace overlooking Branson, features hundreds of living, flittering exotic butterflies carefully imported following strict USDA regulations, sharing their forest environment with a unique collection of birds and other botanical specimens. And that’s not all, “you’ll find a Living Rainforest Science Center, an Emerald Forest Mirror Maze, a Rainforest Theater, and the Banyan Tree Bungee Adventure. It’s a unique, beautiful, fun, educational, and challenging experience that the whole family will enjoy.

3. Lake Taneycomo Ozark Natural Beauty Sightseeing Cruise on the Lake Queen

Main Street Lake Cruises’ L”ake Queen” is a riverboat replica reminiscent of the boats and the White River that played such an important part in Branson’s early history. While many destinations offer cruises none offer the blend of boarding at a modern shopping attraction like Branson Landing and witnessing a $7.5 million dollar spectacular water attraction featuring the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music with water fountains shooting 120-foot geysers into the air and “fire cannons,” all choreographed to lights and music as part of their itinerary. And that’s just the first 15 minutes! From Bald Eagles and the other birds and wildlife abounding on Lake Taneycomo’s shore line, amazing natural bluffs stretching back into the eons of time and the spectacular majesty of Ozark vistas this 1.5 hour cruise is a unique experience not seen by the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year. Produced primarily by Mother Nature it is one of Branson’s most extraordinary shows and will provide memories that will last a lifetime. The Lake Queen offers a full set of modern amenities, is fully handicap accessible, has full sized modern restrooms; a full bar, snack food service and a fully enclosed environmentally conditioned lower deck and open air upper deck.

4. The National Tiger Sanctuary: Most people coming to Branson don’t expect that there will be a chance to meet a lion or tiger up close and personal, but thanks to the National Tiger Sanctuary, a non-for-profit organization established in 2000 to create a safe and protected environment and a safe, stress free, forever home for the big cats such as lions and tigers, that too is a possibility. To limit the stress on the animals under their care, there is a limited number of guided tours conducted Wednesday through Sunday that provide a unique opportunity to meet these large cats and learn how they ended up at the sanctuary as part of this educational experience that is unlike any other. This attraction is weather sensitive.

5. The Track Family Fun Parks: Ok so go-karts and fun parks are not unique to Branson, but having four unique parks and the number of go-kart tracks Branson has creates a choice of go-kart opportunities that some have called a “go-kart paradise.” In addition to the traditional go-karting there’s the steel and concrete, 1,200 foot and four story tall “Heavy Metal High Rise,” the four-story spiral climb of the “Wild Woody” the spirals and “blind peak” of the “Lumber Jack!” And there’s more, everything from Bumper cars, batting cages, laser tag, mini-golf, arcades to the incredible “Skycoaster,” a 100-foot-tall super swing that combines the elements of skydiving and hang-gliding into its 70 mph swinging adventure. “The Track” also has plenty of kid-friendly rides and lots of fun for the little ones.

For information on the attractions in this article or any of Branson’s attractions, shows or lodging feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550.