“Super Summer Cruise” roars onto Branson’s summer schedule

Just a sample of the vintage cars that will be on display during the "Show and Shine" and in the Midnight Cruise."

Just a sample of the vintage cars that will be on display during the “Show and Shine” and in the Midnight Cruise.”

“The Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise with its ‘Show & Shine’ and ‘Midnight Cruise’ is one of Branson’s most popular summer events,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “The three day event will be held at the “Shepherd of the Hills Homestead” from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8, 2015, with the start of the “Midnight Cruise,” its last event on the 8th,” she added.

Thousands will line the Shepherd of Hills Expressway to see the hundreds of cars and trucks that will participate in the unique “Midnight Cruise,” which will follow the same route it used last year. The vehicles will enter the “Cruise Route” at the western end of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway at midnight on Aug. 8 and proceed down the expressway, past the Shoji Tabuchi and Pierce Arrow Theatres to its conclusion at Roark Valley Road. Wood points out that the event is so popular that many put up chairs along the cruise route hours before it begins.

As popular as the “Midnight Cruise” is, it’s only part of an event that draws car enthusiasts from all over the country. Hundreds of beautifully presented and maintained “Modified” and “Stock” trucks and cars will be on display at the Homestead for the daily “Vehicle Show & Shine” from 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. each day. Simultaneously, they will also be judged for awards in over 19 “Classes” such as “1900 – 1934 Stock & Street Rod Autos,” “1963 – 1968 Modified Muscle Cars,” “Corvettes All Years,” “Stock Trucks All Years,” and others; “Special Awards” including “Most Unusual Paint Job,” “Best Use of Color,” “Most Radical Engine,” to name a few, and of course, the awards for “Best of Show,” “First Runner Up” and “Second Runner Up.” The “Best of Show Awards” will take place starting at 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 8 along with the “Drivers Briefing for the Cruise.”

There is a maximum of 105 points available, 20 points for each of the five categories Exterior, Drive Train, Interior, Engine, and Customization plus an extra 5 Bonus Points for Safety, Hazard and emergency supplies. The “Best of Show Awards” are scheduled to be presented at the Shepherd of the Hills’ Pavilion Theatre starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday August 8.

She also reminds those traveling north on State Highways 265 toward Highway 76 or on Highway 76, whether planning on attending the “Super Summer Cruise” at the Homestead, going to Silver Dollar City or elsewhere during the period August 6 through Aug. 8 to allow a little extra time because of the increased traffic that is anticipated, especially on August 8.

For additional information on “Super Summer Cruise” or any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.



Six facts you might not know about cruising Branson’s Lake Taneycomo on the Lake Queen

Main Street Lake Cruises "Lake Queen."

Main Street Lake Cruises “Lake Queen.”

“The Lake Queen will begin her 2015 schedule of Ozark Sightseeing Cruises on beautiful Lake Taneycomo in Branson on May 18,” said Steven Johnson, the General Manager of Main Street Lake Cruises. “What better way to view the scenic beauty of the Ozarks, its birds, wildlife and learn a bit about the history of, not only Lake Taneycomo, but Branson itself than by sharing a special experience with your family on this 1.5 hour narrated cruise,” he added.

Here’s some facts you might not know about the Lake Queen and what you will experience on her cruises:

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

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

1. It is a truly unique and exclusive experience – From Bald Eagles and the other birds and wildlife abounding on Lake Taneycomo’s shore line to the every changing plants, trees and foliage; amazing natural bluffs stretching back into the eons of time; and the spectacular majesty of Ozark vistas you will see a unique “show” produced primarily by Mother Nature and not seen by the vast majority of the millions of visitors who come to Branson each year. The view of Branson Landing, its $7.5 million fountains and spectacular synchronized fire, water, light and music show viewed from the cruise is as unique as it is beautiful and inspiring.

2. Safety – The 84 foot long 140 passenger “Lake Queen,” her Captain and crew are all U.S. Coast Guard certified and approved. They are dedicated to just two things, your safety and helping make your time aboard the boat one of the most memorable parts of a great Branson experience.

3. Two Decks Provide Indoor/Outdoor Experience – Her two decks provide passengers with the complete flexibility to enjoy their cruise either on her upper exposed deck or in the fully climate controlled glass enclosed lower deck. ull Amenities – She is tastefully appointed and, while maintaining the nostalgia of the steamboat era, offers a full set of modern amenities including full sized modern restrooms; a full bar and snack food service.

4. Convenient Scheduling – The 1.5 hour cruises are conveniently scheduled for 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m.

5. Bottomless Pizza Cruises – The 11:45 a.m., lunch, and 5:45 p.m., dinner, cruises offer a Bottomless Pizza Buffet complete with unlimited fountain drinks. As with all cruises there will also be a Cash Bar for the purchase of adult beverages, fountain drinks and snack food service.

For more information on enjoying a cruise aboard the Lake Queen, reservations or tickets please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.


Seeing one of Branson’s amazing morning shows is positively a great way to start your day

The Bretts, Brydon (L), -Briahna, Tom, Andrea and Garon

The Bretts, Brydon (L), Briahna, Tom, Andrea and Garon

“With the variety, quantity and quality of the live shows that Branson offers on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that it has many great morning shows,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Two of the most popular are the Bretts and Down Home Country. The comments below, taken from posts recently made to the Shows Forum of Branson’s biggest message board, www.1Branson.com are consistent with comments we routinely hear about these two shows,” she added.

The posts are published as originally written with the poster’s “on line” name preceding the comment in italics and underlined:


Thesaint – The Bretts!!!! Our favorite morning show ever…lots of talent, variety, energy, and the family is pure class, and some of the nicest folks in town. Mom Andrea is an amazing songwriter/singer, and her “I Am a Veteran” poem always brings a tear to my eye. Dad Tom sings, plays guitar and piano and is the rock of the bunch. Daughter Briahna is multi-talented…a beautiful singer/dancer/musician, and the boys, Brydon and Garon…well, they are nothing short of amazing! Full of energy and talent (and they have some mean basketball skills!) and just plain fun! Live band, and the family comes out in the lobby for meet and greet afterwards. Don’t miss this show…

Daytimer – We love the Brett Family show! See it a lot, and never get tired of it.

bransoncutie – Can’t go wrong with The Bretts!!!!

Down Home Country

BobC – Best traditional country music show around. Get there early and have a great breakfast, including omelets made to order, plus everything else you can imagine to start the day.

Branson Junkie – Hard to go wrong with this one, and as was mentioned earlier the Grand Buffet is good for breakfast or lunch either before or after the show.

sanddunerider – Saw it today, “Mostly” all new this year. Lots of talent…

can’tcatchup – …If we could only attend one morning show – definitely Down Home Country. If they were not available then Buck Trent.

In addition, Branson has many other outstanding morning shows such as Amazing Pets, AYO starring the Voices of Glory, Buck Trent, Doug Gabriel and many more. For additional information or tickets for any of these shows or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Add some “Titanic” romance and elegance to make your special event absolutely amazing

The romance, elegance and mystique of  the Titanic provide a unique wedding venue.

The romance, elegance and mystique of the Titanic provide a unique wedding venue.

The way that the Titanic Museum Attraction (Titanic) and its crew members remember and tell the stories of those who were on the great ship, when she sank on her fateful maiden voyage over 100 years ago, gives their “passengers” a taste of the adventure, enthusiasm and excitement of that voyage. It is a unique and memorable entertainment experience that millions of Branson visitors have experienced since it opened over nine years ago.

Kristina Hagey, Senior Sales and Events Manager said that as people went through the attraction and experienced it there were requests to have weddings, vow renewals and other special events aboard the “ship,” a half scale replica of the original. She went on to point out that, as a result, the Titanic now offers a variety of options that permit people to incorporate the romance and elegance associated with the Titanic, in both legend and in movies, into their special moment or event and hosts hundreds of them each year.

These options include everything from birthday parties to elaborate corporate events and just about everything involved with weddings from the actual marriage proposal to the wedding and wedding vow renewals. Hagey said, “We have a number of Wedding Packages starting at $450.00 with pricing dependent on whether it is an indoor or outdoor package and the options chosen.” Whatever the case, whether the event is one of their packages or a custom designed wedding, Hagey assists in coordinating the event so the bride and groom and others associated with it can just concentrate on and enjoy their special moment.

Edward and Stacy Gilmore, on the Grand Staricase with 1st Officer Steve Patterson who "officiated", after renewing their vows in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Edward and Stacy Gilmore, on the Grand Staircase with 1st Officer Steve Patterson who “officiated” the ceremony, after renewing their vows in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary.

On the morning of April 22, I got to see firsthand how that worked when Stacy and Edward Gilmore, from Canton, IL celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in a Vow Renewal Ceremony on the Grand Staircase of the Titanic Museum Attraction. The ten minute ceremony was presided over by the ships 1st Officer, Steve Patterson. The Gilmores said they are “Titaniacs” and decided to renew their vows while visiting the Titanic last summer with their family. Stacy said that all it took was one phone call to Hagey, all they had to do was show up and enjoy the moment and that they were just thrilled with the way it went.

Hagey said that many of the events held at the Titanic throughout the year are weddings, corporate and other events customized to meet the needs of the client. Prices depend on many factors including whether the event is held inside the Titanic or outside, the time of year, number of guests, amenities etc. These events could be as simple as a “dessert social” or a First Class “progressive” or sit down dinner. Click here to contact Hagey for information on customizing a wedding or other special event.

She pointed out that the Titanic’s Wedding, Vow Renewal and Proposal packages can also be obtained through the Branson Tourism Center. Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center said, “The Titanic Museum Attraction is one of Branson’s most popular attractions and a wonderful venue in which to have a wedding or other special moment. It would be our pleasure to help anyone, not only with celebrating their wedding or other special moment ‘aboard’ the Titanic, but to coordinate it with lodging, Branson shows, attractions and other activities into a complete, wonderful, personal and memorable Branson experience.” The Branson Tourism Center can be reached by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.


Grand Jubilee truly is grand entertainment for your whole family


"New South," Jon Drockelman (Left),  Mark  McCauley David Ragan and Luke Menard

“New South,” Jon Drockelman (Left), Mark McCauley David Ragan and Luke Menard

The short and quick of it is, “Don’t miss it, the Grand Jubilee show truly is “grand” entertainment for your whole family.” As many times as I have seen this show, I expect to see and experience dynamic vocals from the quartet “New South” and Jackie Brown, hilarious comedy from Jamie Haage, great music from the “Grand Band” and the excellent emceeing of the show’s producer Mike Patrick resulting in an absolutely “grand” entertainment experience. I have never been disappointed, but this year there’s a synergy and energy that just adds another dimension of anticipation, excitement and excellence to what was already one of Branson’s top shows.

From the time the curtain goes up, well maybe even a little before, it’s non-stop entertainment filled with some of the finest vocals and comedy on any Branson stage. The main vocal component is the group “New South,” composed of Lead Vocalist, David Ragan, Tenor, Luke Menard, Baritone, Jon Drockelman and Bass, Mark McCauley. New South has consistently been one of Branson’s most outstanding quartets even as different singers have rotated in and out periodically. David Regan, the newest member of the group, is starting his first full season with the group and, if the show I saw was any indication, his addition will do nothing, but enhance and grow that tradition of musical excellence.

Each member of the group has a great voice that is demonstrated in “solo” features throughout the show, but when they sing together well, that’s when you will find yourself shaking your head thinking, “These guys are good, really good.” And if it was just their singing that would be enough, but there is an energy, enthusiasm and spirit of fun that just seems to radiate from them to the audience and draw them into the performance that adds so much to the enjoyment of the show.

New South performs a variety of music from many different genres including country, gospel, patriotic, and even a dash of Irish hard rock covering decades of hits and does an amazing job on them all. From among many, and although certainly subjective, some of my favorites were “Elvira,” featuring the bass voice of Bass Mark McCauley, the Irish hard rock song, “The Boys Are Back In Town, and, my absolute favorite, “How Great Thou Art” which was simply one of the most powerful and beautiful renditions of that song I have ever heard highlighted by David Regan singing the second verse and “the note.” What’s the note? When you hear it you’ll know!

The lovely Jackie Brown, performing "Cry."

The lovely Jackie Brown, performing “Cry.”

Jackie Brown is the show’s female vocalist. Her vocal talents are demonstrated on a number of songs throughout the show. My personal favorite was her performance of the Johnnie Ray classic “Cry.” What a tremendous job!

The “Grand Band” includes of some of the finest 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 are consummate showman. Whether it’s a musical feature like Gene Mulvaney on the steel guitar with Jackie Brown in “There Goes My Heart Again,” Wayne Massengale’s fiddle feature with New South as they performed “Play Me Mountain Music” or the band playing a number like “Pick It Apart,” their musicianship and showmanship add yet another delightful element to the show.

"Jim Dandy" and Mike Patrick during the "magic banana" skit.

“Jim Dandy” and Mike Patrick during the “magic banana” skit.

“Jim Dandy,” played by Jamie Haage, one of Branson’s best comedians, along with “straight man” Mike Patrick, kept me laughing throughout the show with a blend of comedy skits and one liners. It can be safely said, “No dark comedy here, just “orange comedy” and who wouldn’t want to know how funny and magical a banana can be? The comedy just flows in with the music at exactly the right time as the show seamlessly moves from one entertaining segment to the next.

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 as to the versatility and talents of this “grand” entertainer, but as yet another thing that makes the Grand Jubilee unique among Branson shows.

It would be impossible to write about the Grand Jubilee without mentioning its Director and Producer Mike Patrick. Not only is he responsible for producing this “grand” entertainment experience, that just might be two of the best and fastest moving hours of entertainment in Branson, but he is also Emcee, Jim Dandy’s straight man and even plays a mean honky-tonk piano version of “Balls of Fire” with “fire” coming out of the piano.

In a previous review 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!

For additional information or tickets on 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.


“Buzzin in Branson” during May 2015

Moonshine Beach, an unexpected Branson surprise.

Moonshine Beach, an unexpected Branson surprise.

“Buzzin in Branson” is a concise and easy to read list of the major events taking place in Branson, Missouri during the month being “Buzzed,” which is May of 2015 for this issue. Each issue contains the “Branson Buzz of the Month” and a list of the major special events, shows and activities for the month.

Branson “Buzz of the Month for May 2015

Opening of Moonshine Beach – Table Rock Lake with its 43,000 plus surface acres of aquatic fun and adventure is an Ozarks treasure. One of the most popular recreational areas on the lake, yet least known to many who visit Branson, is Moonshine Beach an unexpected “sandy” surprise for Branson visitors. Who would expect a beautiful sandy beach in the middle of the Ozarks located only minutes away from the Branson Strip and all that Branson has to offer.

The following list of major special events, shows and activities in May is sorted by event date and contains pertinent and timely comments and contact information, through either a link or phone number, that can be used to obtain additional information where appropriate:

May 1 – May 30: The Hits starring the Osmonds
May1 – May 30: Ozark Mountain Shindig Festival
May 1 – May 3:World-Fest at Silver Dollar City
May 2 – May 3: Boot Daddy Presents Bill Medley
May 3: B.J. Thomas and John Conlee
May 5: Larry’s Country Diner-Gene Watson
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
May 6 & May 8: Larry’s Country Diner-Jimmy Fortune
May 7 – May 25: Bluegrass & Barbeque Festival at Silver Dollar City
May 7: 14th Annual Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast
May 7: Larry’s Country Diner-The Whites
May 9: Kayak Branson’s Biggest Flotilla Adventure
May 10: Mother’s Day
May 10: Mother’s Day Brunch at Keeter Center
May 15 – May 16: Health & Fitness Boutique Branson
May 15 – May 17: Home Front Shoot Out Tournament
May 15: Visions 2015 Branson Pontiac Meet
May 15: Moonshine Beach Opens
May 15: Candy Coburn Concert Branson Landing, 417-239-3002
May 16: Armed Forces Day
May 16: Shindig Shopping Spree
May 17: Divas Half Marathon & 5K Midwest at Branson
May 17: 2nd Annual Wheels For Freedom Car Show
May 18: Main Street Lake Cruises Lake Queen begins Lake Taneycomo Cruises
May 21: Jammin’ At Area 57
May 25: Memorial Day
May 30: The Shindig Shuffle

“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 to give them a “heads up” about what’s happening in Branson next month. If you have any further questions about these events or want information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or lodging please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Lower gasoline prices make an amazing Branson vacation for your family even more of a bargain

Like Branson itself, Silver Dollar City's iconic "WidFire" coaster takes its riders to lofty heights of adventure and excitement even as gas prices slide lower.

Like Branson itself, Silver Dollar City’s iconic “WidFire” coaster takes its riders to lofty heights of adventure and excitement even as gas prices slide lower.*

According to GasBuddy.Com the national average retail price of regular gasoline on April 15, 2014 was about $3.70 per gallon. According to the same source, that price has gone down to about $2.39 per gallon, or by about 37%, as of April 15, 2015. But wait, from a summer vacation and travel perspective, it gets even better!

The AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report for April 15 not only confirmed the $2.39 per gallon price as of that date, but estimates that prices will continue to slide lower for the peak summer driving period. Its commentary, entitled, Temperatures Rising But Gas Prices Expected To Slide said, “Any market moving developments in the aforementioned items will cause the price at the pump to fluctuate; however it is estimated that even with prices reflecting seasonality, consumers are expected [to] see prices move lower leading up to the peak driving season this summer.”

“What great news that is for those who are traveling to Branson for vacation this summer,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services. “When you combine the lower gas prices with the fact that Branson is one of the top two value cities in America for lodging and the reasonableness of the prices for Branson shows, attractions and other activities, it really makes Branson a great vacation value,” she added.

Wood points out that those who have been to Branson are aware of all it has to offer, but that there are many, located within less than a day’s driving distance of Branson who have yet to experience its natural beauty, fun, adventure, excitement and live entertainment. She suggests that with the lower gas prices and the great value that Branson offers this might be a great time for those who have never been to Branson or who haven’t visited in a while to plan a vacation in Branson this summer.

“Along with lower gas prices and the inherent value offered throughout Branson, visitors can save even more of their hard earned money by working with a company like Branson Tourism Center (BTC) that offers “packages,” shows, lodging, attractions and other activities bundled together at a discount compared to buying them individually. For the ultimate in convenience and value they offer a wide variety of preset Branson Vacation Packages from which to pick.

If one of the preset packages doesn’t meet your needs BTC will help create a custom package that will help save you time and money. It’s as easy as one toll free phone call to 1-800-785-1550 to talk with one of one of BTC’s Travel Planning Specialists who are available from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM seven days a week. The Travel Planning Specialists are all Branson based, will be delighted to answer any questions you might have about Branson and assist with show and attraction tickets and reservations as well as lodging arrangements, either as part of a package or individually.

With anticipated lower gas prices, all the fun, adventure and excitement that Branson offers and its great value, isn’t this a great time to begin planning a unique and unforgettable vacation for your family in Branson, Missouri this summer?

*Picture courtesy of Silver Dollar City

5 reasons to share Branson with Mom on “her day”

A relaxing and entertaining cruise aboard the Showboat Branson Belle is just one of the many ways Branson has to show Mom how special she is.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10. Many Moms share Branson with their families and children every day simply because it is a great place their families to relax, have fun, be entertained and establish memories that can last a lifetime. Some of the same reasons Moms pick Branson for their families, with more of emphasis on the “Mom” aspects, makes it a wonderful place to bring Mom on “her day.”

There is just something extra special about honoring Mom in Branson and being surrounded by its “America’s hometown” spirit. Here’s five reasons why Mom might love to spend Mother’s Day in Branson:

1.  Special Mother’s Day Brunch – Although many Branson restaurants and buffets will be having special Mother’s Day offerings, the Mother’s Day Brunches offered at Chateau on the Lake and the College of the Ozark’s Keeter Center have become a special Mother’s day tradition that is truly a special way to make her the center of attention and say “Thanks” for all she does for the family every day.

2.  Showboat Branson Belle – Give Mom the gift of food, fun, entertainment and the scenic beauty of the Ozarks with a cruise on Table Rock Lake aboard the Showboat Branson Belle. In addition to its dinner, all prepared aboard the boat, Mom will be treated to the “Celebrate Blue,” show featuring “Rhythm,” a new four-man dance troupe with the fastest feet west of the Mississippi, one of Branson’s favorite lovely ladies of song, Cassandré Faimon-Haygood, the ShowMen and a live band all hosted by Christopher James, a gifted magician with an unbeatable sense of humor.

3.  Mother’s Day Jazz Concert at Branson Landing Fountains – The Blue Springs High School Jazz Band will present a jazz concert at the Branson Landing Fountains in conjunction with the noon performance of the $7.5 million Fountain Show featuring “the first-ever merging of water, fire, light and music” with its dazzling interplay of Water Fountains shooting 120-foot geysers and fire cannons blasting, all choreographed to light and music.”

4. Shopping – From the nostalgic and unique shopping offered by “Dicks 5 & 10″ in historic downtown Branson to the great shopping offered at Branson Landing, Tanger Outlets, The Shoppes at Branson Meadows and dozens of other retail and specialty stores, Mom will be able to “shop until she drops.” OK, we know it, she can have a great shopping experience in Branson anytime, but it’s kind of “extra special” on Mother’s Day.

5. Branson Shows – From the Acrobats of China, to Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Shoji Tabuchi, Mickey Gilley, Legends in Concert, Puttin’ on the Ritz, New Jersey Nights and many more of Branson’s most popular shows will be open to help celebrate Mother’s Day.

“The majority of Branson’s attractions, including the Titanic Museum Attraction and Silver Dollar City, which will be in the midst of celebrating its Bluegrass & BBQ Festival will be open not only on Mother’s Day, but the entire Mother’s Day Weekend,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. She also points out that there are special saving available by bundling shows, attractions and lodging together in packages like the Mother’s Day Package with lodging at the Welk Resort, choice of shows, dining and more..

For additional information on what’s going on in Branson on Mother’s Day or any of Branson’s shows, attractions or lodging please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

How to absolutely save money on your Branson family vacation this year

Silver Dollar City's news $8 million" Fireman's Landing" has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

Silver Dollar City’s news $8 million” Fireman’s Landing” has ten rides and attractions for the younger kids to enjoy.

The Facebook post for the Branson Tourism Center on April 9, 2015 asked two questions, “What’s one of your biggest vacation expenses?” and followed it up with another that gave a clue to the answer of the first, “Did you know that according to Trivago Branson is one of the top two Value cities in America for lodging?” “Think about it,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “One of the biggest vacation expenses for most families is for lodging and that is especially so in Branson where the family ‘car’ is the primary means of transportation that people use to get here.”

Some might say, “Well OK so lodging in Branson is a great value, but what about saving money in other areas?” Here’s a list of four tips that can not only save you money, but increase the enjoyment of a wonderful Branson vacation:

1. Purchase A Preset Package: Purchasing a “preset” package from a company like the Branson Tourism Center can not only save money, but is the ultimate in convenience. Depending on the package selected, it will combine lodging with a choice of shows, attractions and other options appropriate for the package, as well as a “Branson Fun Book” providing discounts that will save you even more on dining, shopping and other activities. These packages represent an excellent value because their pricing is based on the special relationship that BTC has developed with Branson shows, attractions and lodging establishments, by selling over 4 million Branson show and attraction tickets along with tens of thousands of room nights, and the fact that they are coordinated and setup in advance. For more information on preset packages call the Branson Tourism Center or click here to explore some of the preset BTC packages.

2. Customized Packages or Bundles: Just call the Branson Tourism Center 1-800-785-1550 and talk with one of its Branson based Travel Planning Specialists who will be delighted to assist you in customizing a package, including shows, attractions and lodging, tailored to the specific needs and budget of your family. Not only will you get a package that is specifically designed for you, but because of the special relationship mentioned above, discounts you cannot get anywhere else. There is absolutely no charge for this service and BTC’s Travel Planning Specialists are available from 8:00 AM to 9:30 PM seven days a week.

3. Family Show Passes: Branson’s shows are known for their outstanding quality entertainment and value, but in addition, many of Branson’s top shows have enhanced that value even more by offering “Family Passes” which can result in major savings. The typical Family Pass includes two adults and up to a certain number of children for a substantially reduced rate as compared to buying individual tickets. As an example, The Duttons is a great show that the entire family will absolutely love and is one of Branson’s most popular shows. By using its Family Pass, a family of two adults, three children through ages 16 can save about 41%!

4. Saving Time and Convenience: Saving time is not an obvious “money saving tactic,” but there is a lot of wisdom in remembering Benjamin Franklin’s sage advice, “Time is money.” To maximize the value of your time, both in planning your Branson trip and while in Branson, and not miss doing something that you wish you had seen or done, please feel free to use the free planning services of the Branson Tourism Center. Whether it’s to customize a package or to simply get advice, just one toll free call to 1-800-785-1550 is all it takes to get the assistance of a Branson based BTC Travel Planning Specialist who will be delighted to answer questions, help you plan your Branson vacation  and make all the reservations. All you and your family have to do is travel to Branson and have the vacation of a lifetime!

How do the Hughes’ kids do “it?”

The beautiful and touching  conclusion performance of the whole family performance of  “So Happy Together.”

The beautiful and touching conclusion of the whole family performance of  “So Happy Together.”

Simply put, “it’s a miracle,” but more on that later. Earlier this year, right after seeing it starring the Hughes Brothers and their families, I wrote a review of the show for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) in which I said, “The Hughes Family is billed as the largest family performing together on stage. The Hughes Brothers, Marty, Jason, Adam, Ryan and Andy are the stars of the show which also prominently features their very talented wives Cindy, Vikki, Carina, Mara and Becky along with about 32* of their children…”

The ages of the children range from toddler to age 21 and I was absolutely amazed by their performance in the show. So much so that I wrote, “Every element of this show is a polished entertainment gem. It’s not just a matter of putting kids in a show. These kids are good!” In fact they were so good that I decided to see if I could get the answer to the question, “How do the Hughes’ kids do “it?”

Recently, two of the Hughes Brothers and their wives, Marty and Cindy along with Jason and Mara, were kind enough to sit down with me to explain the kids’ involvement in the show. In talking about the kids in the show, Jason, the show’s producer, said that from the brothers, our wives down to the youngest child, people coming to our show are not going to see a family trying to put on a show; they are going to see a real top notch professional show with children that are as good as any child in the business and the miracle of it is that they are all in one family.

We used a question and answer format for the interview with this writer asking the questions for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) and one or more of the Hughes Family (HF) members answering. Except for the last question, the answer are not specifically identified as to a specific person, but to the group as a whole and are designated by the HF:

BTC: How do you get them to do it?
HF: The kids just want to do it. They just naturally want to be like daddy and mommy and then there is the “peer pressure” of seeing their brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles all performing.

BTC: At what age do you start them?
HF: Some have started in the womb as their mothers performed, and many if not all, have performed in the Nativity scene from their Christmas show which features a live baby Jesus each year.

BTC: How do you prepare the younger children so that there is a consistent level of performance in the show?
HF: Particularly, with the younger children, whether or not they perform on any given day is up to them. That’s why we double or triple cast their parts.

BTC: How do they progress to the amazing performance levels that the audience sees in the show?
HF: From an early age they feel at home on stage. By the time they are 4 or 5 they are ready to go and as they grow older we try to up the ante as to the difficulty of what they are doing. It’s interesting the way the progression works. We have younger kids coming into numbers while older kids are graduating out.

BTC: Is there flexibility for the kids to do the things other kids get to do?
HF: Absolutely. We are extremely flexible and modify schedules etc. so that the kids can take time off to go to camps, do things they want to do and participate in other activities with their friends.

BTC: What kind of commitment do the kids make to the show?
HF: They just want to do it and be up on the stage with the rest of the family. Especially with the older ones, they know we are counting on each other. Obviously, particularly with the younger children, there are some challenges occasionally and that’s why we multiple cast some of the parts and have some scheduling flexibility.

BTC: What is one of the biggest challenges of involving the kids in the show?
HF: Coordinating schedules and consistency. With 34 kids in the show sometimes it just seems like there’s something different every day from someone having to go potty to changing a diaper to needing different kids at rehearsal for different parts at different times. Jason said, “With all that, there’s just not quite anything like finally getting the kids in the car, getting to the theater and picking up your four year old only to realize they are not wearing any shoes.”

BTC: Do the kids rehearse a lot?
HF: We are so proud of the effort our kids put into not only preparing, but performing. The amount of time spent depends on what they are doing in the show. Even just having the kids walk out on stage requires rehearsals for blocking and where they are going to stand etc. As their involvement in the show increases so does the rehearsal time.

BTC: There are 34 kids in the show now. How many children do each of you have in the show?

Marty and Cindy – 13
Jason and Mara – 7
Adam and Vikki – 3
Ryan and Carina – 7
Andy and Becky – 4

BTC: How are the kids schooled?
HF: They are home schooled with tutors used on a supplemental basis.

BTC: In about a sentence, what one thing would you want people to know about the kids appearing in the show?

Marty: They are better for it because they are learning a work ethic.
Cindy:  The kids really love what they are doing!
Myra:  They love each other and working together with their aunts and uncles and being able to run up to Grandma’s office.
Jason: They are really good and the miracle of it is that they are all in one family.

How good is this show? Well my opinion is in the review that I wrote, but yesterday, April 7, 2015, I was having breakfast with my good friend Arlan who, along with his wife Linda, has seen many Branson shows over the years. As we were eating breakfast he asked if I had seen “it’ with the Hughes Brothers?” It was a rhetorical question because he continued on by telling me that he and Linda had seen it for the first time recently and really liked it. He said the show was one of the best he has ever seen in Branson, he is going to recommend it to others and commented on how amazing the kids were. We had a chuckle when I told him I had seen it, felt the same way and was actual in the midst of doing a piece on the kids.

“it” starring the Hughes Brothers is a rare Branson entertainment gem, “hidden in plain sight” that simultaneously holds the interest and entertains both children and adults at a constant level throughout the show with some of the finest entertainment on any Branson stage. It is an absolutely wonderful unique Branson entertainment experience that should not be missed.

 * The actual number could fluctuate by a couple performance to performance.

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