Fireman’s Landing blazes into Silver Dollar City in 2015

Artist's rendition of Fireman's Landing.

                 Artist’s rendition of Fireman’s Landing.

“Sounds like the new $8 million ‘Fireman’s Landing’ will add new meaning to ‘blazing’ fun, excitement and adventure at Silver Dollar City starting in 2015,” said Tammy Johnson, the General Manager for the Branson Tourism Center. The new area, which will have six new family rides and four interactive play zones, all themed around “the spirit and training of community volunteer firefighters,” was announced at a press conference at the park on Aug. 13.

In introducing the expansion, Brad Thomas, the General Manager of the 1890’s theme park, said the story line for “Fireman’s Landing” will be loosely based on the fire that destroyed the town, [Marmaros] where Silver Dollar City is currently located and the desires of the citizens to train a volunteer fire brigade so that it never happens again. It will be themed to “recognize the contributions of the community heroes who serve as firefighters” and as “an 1880′s volunteer recruitment fair with rides and attractions for ages 3 to 93.”

Thomas could scarce contain his excitement as he said, “We love our visitors and our visitors continue to support us when we do fun and exciting things for them.” He pointed out that one of the most exciting things for him 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.”

He illustrated the “fun together” aspect by using two of the new “tower drop” rides, “Fireman’s Firefall” and “Up the Ladder.” “Fireman’s Fall” takes bigger kids and adults 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.” “Up the Ladder,” is a smaller version of the tower drop ride designed to let some of the smaller members of the family have a similar experience.

He also pointed out the “Roundabout,” where some of the smallest children will be able to sit in “Dalmatians” and go around a fire hydrant. A smile spread over his face as he said, “I think it’s going to be one of the most popular rides at Silver Dollar City.” Other rides and attractions, including a soaring balloon ride called “Fire Spotter” and the “Firehouse Splash Yard,” with squirting water jets and pump hoses; are located near  “Fire Station #3” which has a number of attractions including “‘Firefighter’s Fire Drill,’ with buckets, pumpers, foam ball cannons and targets for showering mock fires; ‘Firefighter’s Fire Escape,’ an obstacle course of tubes, mazes, climbing structures and slides and ‘Firefighter’s Junior Fire Escape,’ a soft play area for toddlers.”

The completion and opening of “Fireman’s Landing,” will bring the total number of Silver Dollar City’s rides and attractions to over 40 and increase the parks “ride capacity” to 21,000 per hour. With the addition of “Fireman’s Landing” and its family orientation to everything else the park offers, it’s easy to understand why Silver Dollar City believes that 2015 will be the park’s “biggest family year ever.”

 

Five Interesting facts about how Branson got its name

The gravestone of Ruben Bransonis readily visible driving by the NW corner of Oklahoma and Commercial Steets in historic downtown Branson.

The gravestone of Ruben S. Branson is readily visible driving by the NW corner of Oklahoma and Commercial Streets in historic downtown Branson.

“Branson” is known, and justly so, as a top tourist destination because of all it has to offer in terms of beautiful scenery, pristine lakes, exciting shows, attractions, shopping and so much more. In fact, so much so that it made the top 25 List of U.S. Destinations in “TripAdvisors® 6th Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards: along with cities such as New York, Orlando, and New Orleans.”

With “Branson” being as popular as it is, we thought it would be interesting to share some information about the history of how it got its name and the difference between the “city of Branson” and “Branson:”

1. Ruben S. Branson was not the founder of “Branson:” In about 1882, Ruben S. Branson opened a general store near the mouth of Roark Creek and the White River to service those in the area that were already here. He had a post office in the store. Anyone want to take a guess at the official name of that post office?

2. Branson is named after its first “Post Office:” Not surprisingly Ruben S. Branson named the post office in his store, “Branson” and even though he moved away, the name stuck, well, kind of.

3. “Branson” almost became “Lucia:” In the early 1900s, as the railroad came into the “Branson area,” there were competing interests trying to get land and plat towns. The first town platted was “Lucia” on October 2, 1903 with the town of “Branson” platted soon after on October 26, 1903. Charles Fulbright and his “Branson Town Company” acquired both town sites by the end of 1903, but the official records of the U.S. Post Office indicate that the name of the “Branson” Post Office was changed from “Branson” to “Lucia” in 1902. It was changed back to “Branson” in 1904.

4. Branson was incorporated as a city on April 1: No April Fool’s joke, Branson was incorporated April 1, 1912.

5. “Branson” and “the city of Branson” are two different entities: Many people have been coming to “Branson” for decades to go to Silver Dollar City, Table Rock Lake and other areas. To this day, Silver Dollar City and the vast majority of Table Rock Lake are outside of the city limits of Branson. In fact, when the Presleys built the first theatre on what is now known as the “Branson Strip” and started performing their iconic show, Presleys’ Country Jubilee in 1967, it was outside of the city limits of Branson. As tourism expanded, along with the need for services, the city of Branson annexed the surrounding areas which now includes the entire theatre district, the famed “Branson Strip” and the majority of Branson’s attractions.

Limited time left to Cruise With Branson Stars

The Duttons performing their finale, "Boil Them Cabbage Down."

The Duttons performing their finale, “Boil Them Cabbage Down.”

“We have loved the chance to offer our clients the unique opportunity to cruise with Branson stars on an exclusive luncheon cruise aboard the 100 foot luxury yacht, Landing Princess,” said Tammy Johnson, the General Manager for the Branson Tourism Center, “but, like many good things, the time do so is coming to an end and Cruise With the Stars will no longer be available after Sep. 30.” Johnson goes on to point out that the remaining cruises includes an all-star lineup with The Duttons on Sep.12, Grand Jubilee onSep.13 and The Texas Tenors on Sep. 18.

Cruise With the Stars has actually been called a “Showtraction” because it combines two different activities, an exclusive luncheon and sightseeing cruise on Lake Taneycomo with the stars and actually attending the “show” of the star(s) with whom you will be cruising. With the package you get choice seats to see the star(s) perform at their Branson theatres and then meet and interact with them in a more informal setting as you enjoy lunch and a sightseeing cruise together. The Cruise provides a rare and unique opportunity to meet and interact with the stars outside of the typical formal theatre environment and offers an unparalleled opportunity for photos, autographs and an “up close and personal” experience as you interact with them while on the cruise.

The Texas Tenors,

The Texas Tenors,

The Cruise With the Stars experience is exclusive for Branson Tourism Center customers. As Branson’s biggest seller of attraction and show tickets with over 4,000,000 tickets sold they work very closely with Branson’s shows and attractions and have developed a wonderful relationship with them. It is that relationship, on a day to day basis, that gets Branson Tourism Center’s customers the best seats and accommodations available, but in combination with the special relationship it has with “Main Street Lake Cruises,” enables them to provide this exclusive opportunity.

Suggesting advance reservations, Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson points out that each separate cruise is a onetime event; there is limited seating available on the “Landing Princess” and that once the seats are gone for a particular cruise so is the opportunity to cruise with the star(s) featured on that cruise. For additional information or tickets for Cruise With the Stars or any of Branson’s other 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 .

Super Summer/Midnight Cruise weekend in Branson

Ready for "Vehicle Show and Shine."

Ready for “Vehicle Show and Shine.”

“The ‘Midnight Summer Cruise’ down Shepherd of the Hills Expressway is one of the most popular events of the summer,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, Branson Tourism Center. “It is the final event in the three day “Shepherd of the Hills Super Summer Cruise” being held at the “Shepherd of the Hill Homestead” from Aug. 7 through Aug. 9, 2014,”she added.

During the event, hundreds of beautifully maintained and presented “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. 9 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 Hills’ Pavilion Theatre starting at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday August 9.

The “Midnight Cruise” on Aug. 9 is a major highlight of the event and its concluding activity. Vehicles will enter the “Cruise Route” at the western end of Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and proceed down the expressway, past the Shoji Tabuchi and Pierce Arrow Theatres to its conclusion at Roark Valley Road. Branson Tourism Center’s Wood points out that the event is so popular that it is not unusual to see chairs lined up along the parade route hours before it begins.

She also reminds those planning on attending the “Super Summer Cruise” at the Homestead or going to Silver Dollar City during Aug. 7 through Aug. 9 to allow a little extra time because of the increased traffic that is anticipated on Highway 76 near the Shepherd of the Hills. She also suggests that those planning on riding The Vigilante Ziprider stay on Highway 76 past the Homestead’s main entrance and turn in and park at Inspiration Tower.

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.

 

 

The three most popular things that kids like to do in Branson?

Innovations like its new world breaking "Outlaw Run" wooden coaster help keep the park Branson's number one attraction.

Innovations like its new world breaking “Outlaw Run” wooden coaster help keep the Silver Dollar City as  Branson’s number one attraction.

“Many of the over 20,000 people who have ‘Liked’ our Facebook page have kids or grandkids and are obviously either interested in Branson or have visited Branson, many with their children or grandchildren,” said, Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “With all of the shows, attractions, lakes, and other activities Branson offers, we thought it would be interesting and also beneficial to those who have never been to Branson before, to ask them, and others who saw the post, ‘What’s the one thing your kids or grand-kids want to see or do when they come to Branson?’”

The answers, although certainly not scientific, sure did hit most of the top Branson attractions and might be helpful to those planning a trip to Branson with their children or grandchildren. It’s no surprise that the number one thing they wanted to see was Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction, the award winning 1880s styled theme park, Silver Dollar City. With dozens of rides for children of every age, six world class festivals each year, shows, practicing craftsmen and so much more it’s easy to understand its popularity, not only with the kids, but with their parents and grandparents as well.

Whether you call it an attraction or a show kids as well as adults have made it one of Branson's most popular things to do in Branson.

Whether you call it an attraction or a show kids as well as adults have made it one of Branson’s most popular things to do in Branson.

Second was the Dixie Stampede. Dolly Parton calls it, “Branson’s most fun place to eat” and it’s easy to see why that is especially so for children. Where else can you get a scrumptious four course meal and the fun that comes from eating it without “utensils” amid the excitement and action of “racing ostriches, 32 magnificent horses featuring some amazing equestrian feats, a stampede of buffalo, the rumble in the treetops lumberjack relay, and some friendly competition?”

Go Kart riding was the third on the list. The Track Family Fun Parks is a go-kart paradise featuring 1,200 feet and four stories of steel and concrete on the “Heavy Metal High Rise,” a four-story spiral climb on the “Wild Woody” or the spirals and a blind peak of the “Lumber Jack” along with traditional go kart tracks at their four Branson parks. And if that’s not enough The Extreme Racing Center features high speed kart reaching speeds of up to 40 mph.

The Titanic Museum Attraction, Ride the Ducks and mini golf were also high on the list, but, “What important,” said Branson Tourism Center’s Wood, “is that kids are going to have fun while they are in Branson and will want to come back.” She said these two comments sum it up beautifully; Sherri D Adkisson Smith when she said, “My grandkids loved everything we did! They were amazed at Branson itself!” and Judy Johnson Smith who listed the favorite things they saw and did in while they were in Branson and hit the proverbial nail right on the head when she closed by saying, “But most importantly they want to go back next summer.”

Well I sure know who Billy Dean is now!

 

Bill Dean during opening set.

Bill Dean during opening set.

When I first heard the name Billy Dean in association with him coming to Branson to star in Kenny Rogers’ “The Toy Shoppe” last year I said, “Billy Dean who?” It didn’t take too long for someone to set me straight however, and let me know that he is a Grammy winner who has sold over four million albums, has had 11 top ten singles, five number one hits and that the song, “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” which he wrote, won a CMA song of the year award. Earlier this year during an interview for an article entitled Branson Up Close and Personal with singer song writer Billy Dean I was impressed with his warmth, friendliness, the story of his career and his family priorities, but I had still had never seen him perform. I had the chance to go to his Billy Dean Live! show last week and all I can say is, “Wow, now I know why everyone in the world except me knew who Billy Dean was when he came to Branson.” He is one great entertainer; no gimmicks, just great music, most of it sung by the man who wrote it, surrounded by a great band, and one of the funniest comedians in Branson. What a unique, wonderful and fun filled two hours.

Billy laughing during a comedy skit with Jarrett Dougherty as Security Officer Billy Club.

Billy laughing during a comedy skit with Jarrett Dougherty as Security Officer Billy Club.

From a musical perspective, the show is presented in a concert format by Billy and his band “The Steel Horses.” He also Emcees and works the comedy with Dougherty as it is artfully woven into the show starting with the appearance of “Security Officer Billy Club” warning him that a woman called “Ima Pain,” who might be stalking him, had been seen out in the parking lot. “Ima” and some other zany characters kept me laughing during strategically placed skits that all tie into Billy already being on stage doing something else as he is “drawn” into the skit. The comedy just seems to naturally fit in with the flow of the show. The show opens with a high energy performance, by Dean and his band “The Steel Horses,” of the John Denver classic “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” one of the few “cover songs” in the show, but one Dean recorded in 2004 that went into the top 30 in “Billboard’s U.S.Hot Country Singles & Tracks Charts.” This production does not rely on “glitz and glamor.” Oh there’s great lighting and some special effects, but the show is primarily about the man, his music and his special ability to relate his stories about his life, career and family to his audience in a manner that they relate to and, even if for just a few moments, become vested in. In most cases, as the writer of most of the songs he sang, he gave an introduction as to how the song came to be or what it means to him. What a joy it was to see his vision come to life as I sat and listened to his music, not just the melody, but the lyrics. Although there were many highlights in this show two that stand out to me in this regard was his performance of “Let Them Be Little” with the video screens showing his children growing up and illustrating the songs point and his introduction to how the song “Good Brown Gravy” explaining how it had been written. It really added to my enjoyment of the performance of this unique and entertaining song. It’s almost like you are feeling the genuineness of the man through his music and the way he interacts with the audience. I loved the performance of his first number one hit, “Only Here For A Little While” and the lyrics. What wonderful wisdom so beautifully expressed. Another favorite moment for me was when Billy and his steel guitar player, Robbie Springfield, performed Merle Haggard’s classic country hit, “You Take Me For Granted.” Its beauty and simplicity made for a special elegant musical moment. As is the case with most Branson shows, the content is suitable for children. In addition, most children will like the color and characters of Jarrett Dougherty and the way Billy, through music and videos relates to his children and his own childhood. Both kids and adults will enjoy finding out, Billy Dean style, why “Billy The Kid” was actually “Harold The Kid.” The “Steel Horse Band,” is composed of Dusty Gross – lead guitar; Jason Pritchett, an “America’s Got Talent Finalist,” – Vocals, acoustic guitar; Robbie Blackwood – Drums; Steve Leech – Bass and Robbie Springfield- Steel, Guitar. The musicians do a fabulous job throughout the show and they are nothing, but pure talent and energy. If you want a show filed with great music, personality, fun, and comedy that will have you leaving entertained and inspired two hours later, wondering how the time passed so quickly, this is the show for you. For additional information or tickets for the Billy Dean Live! show, or any of Branson’s other 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           Material Connection

Missed the “shot,” but got the “picture” of Branson’s Doug Gabriel

Doug Gabriel playing his famous "Mufftar." (File Photo)

Doug Gabriel playing his famous “Mufftar.” (File Photo)

Even in Branson things don’t always go as planned, but perhaps for a reason. The plan was to take a couple of photos from about four morning shows all within about an hour for a story I was planning on writing. Things were on schedule as I walked into Doug Gabriel’s #1 Hits Tribute Show hoping to get a couple of quick shots of one of Branson’s premier vocalists performing.

Now you must understand that the success of the plan depended on getting in and out of each show quickly. I arrived in the middle of a pretty funny skit involving the shows comedian, Doug’s son Jordon, known as “The Flying J,” breaking in a new “horn” section comprised of audience volunteers. The new section was to accompany the band, with him as “director” and Doug in performing the Elvis hit, “It’s Now Or Never.” It was hilarious and, wow, “The Flying J” has some neat moves. Reminds me of some of the great moves made by Justin Clark as “Elwood Blues” in the “Blues Brothers” segment of the Legends in Concert Show, but I digress because, as enjoyable as it was, my time to get a picture of Doug performing was fast passing by.

“What luck,” I thought when Doug walked out on the stage with his “Mufftar.” It’s a one of a kind instrument made out of a 1969 Ford Thunderbird muffler by Doug’s dad, Don, when Doug first decided he wanted to play the guitar as a child. It has a very pleasant distinctive sound and he announced that he was going to play both parts of “Dueling Banjoes.” There he was, just where I wanted him, playing the very instrument he has made famous. I lined up the shot and took it only to find out that I had not put the memory card in the camera. Well so much for the pictures for the big “Branson Morning Show Story.”

As Doug played however, it didn’t make any difference. I like the sound of the Mufftar and the way Doug was playing the song so I thought, “Let’s just set a spell and listen,” and boy am I glad I did. Just about the time I figured Doug was through playing I saw something that I had not seen before as the band members all came forward with instruments they had made from car parts and joined him for one of the most exciting, unique and entertaining renditions of “Dueling Banjos” I have ever heard. Doug later told me that the band members had made the instruments originally to surprise him for his 50th birthday and that he liked it so much he kept “The Car Parts Band” in the show.

As I listened to him sing, “Unchained Melody” and experienced his performance of “Malaguena” on the acoustical guitar and “Chariots of Fire” on the piano I “got the picture” and was reminded of why Doug Gabriel has won so many Branson entertainment awards, been a Branson entertainment staple for over 29 years and, along with his lovely wife, the very talented Cheryl Gabriel, are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their own show this year. I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Doug Gabriel’s #1 Hits Tribute Show involves the whole Gabriel family, with son Jordon doing the comedy, Josh playing drums and Jasmine doing vocals. It is truly a show that the whole family will enjoy and relate to.

Might not have gotten the pictures, but perhaps today was meant to simply enjoy the moment. That I surely did.

Why is Branson’s Lynina Inn such a customer favorite?

Lynina Inn Entrance

Lynina Inn Entrance

Branson is blessed with a plethora of excellent lodging choices, but out of the 159 Branson hotels ranked on TripAdvisor® ,it is the Lynina Inn, a small, family owned, 51 room hotel that is currently ranked number 2. Ginger Mackiewicz, along with her husband Henry, has owned the Inn since September of 2007. She said that the Inn has been going back and forth between number 1 and 2 for quite some time and attributes a large part of that success to the customer service its staff provides and the exceptional cleanliness of its rooms.

During an interview with Mackiewicz on July 18 the pride she felt in the friendliness and helpfulness of her staff was obvious. She said, “They are great” and described how they interact with the Inn’s guests throughout their stay, from checking them in, serving them a hot breakfast every morning and doing whatever they can to make sure that they have a great experience not only while they are at the Inn, but while they are in Branson.

One of the well appointed King rooms.

One of the well appointed King rooms.

Mackiewicz takes a “hands on approach” to the total operation of the Inn on a day to day basis. In addition to great customer service she places a lot of emphasis on the cleanliness of the rooms, each of which, she pointed out, she personally inspects after it has been cleaned and is one of the things that their guests continually comment on in reviews.

She believes another strong point of the Inn is its location. The Inn’s location on the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, Branson’s Red Route on its alternate colored route system, places it within minutes of literally all that Branson has to offer. While being less than five minutes from the Branson Strip, Tanger Outlets Center and, among others, within two minutes of shows such as Pierce Arrow, Hamners Unbelievable Variety Show and Shoji Tabuchi; the Promised Land Zoo; IMAX Complex and restaurants such as Red Lobster, Golden Coral and the Paradise Grill and Steak House.

Its location provides numerous convenient alternate routes to get just about anywhere in Branson quickly and efficiently. For example, one of Branson’s most popular shopping destinations and attractions is the Branson Landing. A left out of the Inn’s parking lot onto the Red Route, Shepherd of the Hills Expressway, will have you at Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson within 10 to 15 minutes.

Lanina Inn's sparkling pool/

Lanina Inn’s sparkling pool/

The Inn offers Standard Double Queen, Standard King and Double Queen Jacuzzi rooms, with adjoining rooms that are ideal for larger families. All the rooms have an in room coffeemaker, refrigerator, hairdryer, sink vanity area, Wi-Fi internet access, cable, 24 inch television, dresser, table, chair, and alarm clock. The Inn also offers a hot breakfast every morning consisting of eggs, sausage and gravy, waffles, breakfast breads and much more; has a spacious outdoor pool, a meeting room and provides irons and ironing boards as well as cribs on request, 24 hour staff on property and computer access in the lobby. Of the Inn’s 51 rooms, two smoking rooms are available and all are pet free. Click here to see a 1 minute 44 second video of the Lynina Inn.

The Inn participates in Branson Tourism Center’s Lowest Rate Lock Guarantee Program. Under the program, the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, guarantees that the price you pay for lodging accommodations booked through BTC will be the lowest rate available. If you find a lower price offered, anytime between when you book your room and when you arrive in Branson, BTC will match the lower rate. It’s that simple.

Ginger Mackiewicz said that the Lynina Inn’s combination of great customer service, exceptionally clean rooms, great location, amenities and pricing makes it one of the best lodging values in Branson. “When you come to Branson try us out. I know that you will not be disappointed,” she added.

For information or reservations for the Lynina Inn please contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com

 

 

13 Things “kids” should know about the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction

The Titanic Museum Attraction towers over the Branson Strip

The Titanic Museum Attraction towers over the Branson Strip

Excitement, fun and adventure are not normally things a kid would think of in connection with a “museum,” but, based on my recent visit to the Branson Titanic Museum Attraction. I would have to say, “Kids, that’s just not the case aboard the Titanic.” Those who know I am a 73 year old grandfather who has lived in Branson for about 28 years might ask, “How can you say that? You’re not a kid?” Absolutely right, but thanks to a little “Titanic magic” and the patience and knowledge of First Class Maid Jamie, I was allowed to take a voyage on the Titanic and experience its adventure “through the eyes of a a “kid.”

Find out if you could walk on the decks of the Titanic as she tilted upward prior to sinking?

Do you think that you could walk on the decks of the Titanic as she tilted upward prior to sinking?

Let me share a portion of my “voyage” with you by sharing a list of 13 things that I discovered and believe would be helpful to every child, parent, grandparent or guardian in considering a “voyage” aboard the Titanic:

1. It’s fun, educational and full of surprises and neat things to see and do.

2. The entire ship is non-weather dependent, climate controlled and open rain or shine, heat or cold.

3. It’s easy to find and doesn’t look like any other museum you have ever seen. Just look for the “big ship” plowing through the water as it towers above the Branson Strip.

4. There were 133 children on board the RMS Titanic. Each had a boarding pass.

5. As you board the ship for your voyage you will receive a “Special Child’s Boarding Pass” with the name and information of one of the children who were on the Titanic on the front and a neat “Scratch Off Game” on the back that you can use to test your Titanic knowledge as you tour the ship. My Name was “Frankie Goldsmith” and I was nine years old.

6. As you enter the ship don’t forget to rub the “Iceberg” three time for luck. Wow, was it ever cold.

Another of the interactive fun activities aboard the Titanic.

Another of the interactive fun activities aboard the Titanic.

7. At the end of the tour you will find out whether you survived. As you go through the museum and look at the many things (artifacts) displayed, look for clues that tell you whether or not you survived. I didn’t find any clues, but was happy to find out that I survived when I checked my name on the wall in the “Memorial Room” near the end of the tour.

8. While on the tour you can go on a “Scavenger Hunt” at the same time by checking off the items on the Scavenger Hunt game you will get when you get your boarding pass. No prizes or anything, but it sure is fun. Ok, I’ll admit it, First Class Maid Jamie helped me a little.

9. Each of the crew members of the Titanic is dedicated to making sure that you have a great time while on board the ship. They will be found throughout the ship “role playing,” sharing information and telling stories about the Titanic and its passengers as they interact with you and the other passengers. I found that they absolutely love it when someone asks them a question and boy do they ever know what they are talking about. If you meet First Class Maid Jamie ask her if she will share the “Iceberg” poem with you.

10. Up until recently there was only one audio tour and it was for adults. Now there are two and you will have your own “Youth Audio Tour” taking you on your own special tour of the ship complete with mysteries, clues, sound effects and music. It added so much excitement to my tour and literally brought the ship and some of the things I was seeing to life. One of my favorites was when I got to actually feel the hull of the ship, its thickness and run my hand over the rivets as the “Hull” talked to me and told me what it was like after it was hit by the iceberg and how hard it tried not to break apart.

11. You will get to meet “Polar, the Titanic Bear,” first in association with one of the children on board, seven year old Douglas Spedden, and later in an up close and personal encounter that will be one of the many highlights of your voyage.

12. You will have the opportunity to send Morse Code, experience what the passengers experienced as the angle of the decks rose higher and higher as the ship sank and other interesting activities. How long do you think you can hold your hand under water that was the same temperature that the passengers aboard the Titanic experienced?

13. Imagine walking up and down an exact full sized replica of the top two floors of the Titanic’s beautiful Grand Staircase. It’s even more dramatic when you realize that you are walking up just the two top floors and that it extended another five floor down into the ship.

I could go on and on, but let me close this piece by sharing something that First Class Maid Jamie shared with me. She explained to me that one of the major purposes of the Titanic Museum Attraction

is to honor the memories of the those who were on the Titanic saying, “We really do believe that when someone passes on, the best way to honor them is to simply tell their story and we get the honor to do that every single day.” It is the way they tell those stores that both honors those who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and provides a dignified, unique and fun filled experience for todays “passengers” to remember what happened that night and realize that there is a person behind each of those stories.

A unique Branson entertainment experience of legendary proportions

 

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, with dancers having "A Beer In Mexico."

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, with dancers having “A Beer In Mexico.”

Is the Super Bowl just another football game or does it occupy a legendary place in the annals of football? In like fashion, Branson’s Legends in Concert occupies a legendary place in the annals of tribute artist shows not only in Branson, but worldwide. Where else, except Legends in Concert in Branson, can someone find recreations of Kenny Chesney, The Blues Brothers, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley ensconced in one spectacular entertainment production with talented dancers, great musicians, colorful costumes and great special effects and sets? The answer is, “Nowhere” and during the first week of July I had the chance to experience this wonderful production first hand.

It is obvious, that the “Legends” being recreated are the focal point of the show, but my enjoyment of the show, as a total entertainment experience, was greatly enhanced by the shows dancers, backup vocalists and the band. The shows dancers are Larry Miller, Jamie Curry, Stephanie Young, Cindy Dardas, Elisha Conner and Desta Pritchett with Conner and Pritchett also providing backup vocals. The band is composed of Kevin Allen, musical director and lead guitar; Eddie Howard, drums; Brian Zerbe, bass guitar and Lyman Clark, keyboards.

Katy Perry performing with Dancer in one of the many colorful costumes she wears during her set.

Katy Perry performing with the dancers in one of the many colorful costumes she wears during her set.

Each of the “Legends” being recreated has their own style and type of music. The talent, versatility, and energy of the dancers and band is beautiful to see and hear as they seamlessly adapt to the different styles and genres of music being performed by the individual super stars being recreated. Although there are many such occasions during the show, one that really stuck out in my mind came during the “Katy Perry” set when she was performing her “Part of Me /Dance Break/ET Medley.” The dancing, lighting and special effects were stunning and that’s just one number in one set.

Each of the performing “Legends” or “Superstars” does a set of four plus numbers including some of their biggest hits. Here’s a synopsis of each, in order of appearance, along with one of my favorite numbers from each set:

Kenney Chesney, recreated by Todd Bradshaw, a Branson favorite, starts the show off in grand style doing a number of Chesney’s top hits including “When the Sun Goes Down,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and others. Ok, I just have to say it, “I don’t know why ‘she thought his tractor was sexy,’ but I know why I think his tractor is sexy and so will you after seeing and hearing it performed Legends in Concert style. My favorite number from his set was “You Had Me From Hello.” Not only was it a great job on a very beautiful song, but he invited folks to come down to the front and dance to it which many did. It’s hard to describe, but it was a special moment.

Another thing that’s really neat, and goes on periodically throughout the show, is the large screens on either side of the theatre showing some of the original artists performing, minus sound, while the recreator performs. The similarities and mannerisms between the original performances and what I saw and heard going on live before my very eyes was uncanny.

Justin Timberlake recreated by Scott Jordon during his set.

Justin Timberlake recreated by Scott Jordon during his set.

The Blues Brothers, performed by Justin Clark as Elwood Blues and Bucky Heard as Jake Blues, are permanent Branson cast members, but no matter how many times I have seen them perform I am always amazed at their performance. “From their first number to the last they are nothing, but pure energy and entertainment and a joy to see and hear.” My favorite number from their set was “Shout” because it ties the talents of the two Blue Brothers together with the dancers, back up vocalists and band into another extremely energetic and entertaining production number.

Katy Perry, recreated by Stacey Whitton, gave a colorful high energy performance of some of Perry’s top hits including “California Gurls,” “Part of Me” and others with some of the quickest and “neatest” costume changes I have ever seen a vocalist make on a Branson stage. The use of the dancers, and the special effects during this set, particularly as noted above, coupled with her performance, and costuming really made for an exciting and colorful set.

My favorite number was her performance of “Firework” with her inspirational introduction and invitation for the “kids” in the audience to come up on stage and “help” her, which many did. I don’t know that I have ever seen the younger crowd in an audience as excited in a Legends show as I did during this set; they just loved her. Now I have to confess, I honestly did not know who “Katy Perry” was, but I do now.

Justin Timberlake, recreated by Scott Jordan, did a beautiful job performing a number of his top hits including “Suit and Tie, “Mirrors,” “My Love” and others. As the side videos played and I compared his sound, looks and mannerisms to those of Timberlake himself I was amazed. This guy is good. My favorite number was his performance of “SexyBack” with the shows dancers and backup vocalists.

Cynthia Minx as Whitney Houston singing "I Will Always Love You."

Cynthia Minx as Whitney Houston singing “I Will Always Love You.”

Whitney Houston, recreated by Cynthia Minx, started her set with a beautiful powerful rendition of “Every Woman” that set the tenor for the set. With Whitney Houston it was all about the voice and this lady has the voice. I just sat there and listened in joyful bliss as she sang “I Wanna Dance;” “Greatest Love,” which she dedicated to the children, and “I’ll Always Love You” which blew my socks off. What an extraordinary vocal performance!

Elvis was performed by Dean Z who won the national “2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest,” sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. As he performs a number of Elvis’ hits, from “Jail House Rock” to “If I can Dream,” it’s easy to see why. My favorite part was when he and the band had an informal jam session and took requests from the audience including, among others, “Steamroller Blues,” which Elvis added to his concerts in the 1970s. Although Dean Z lives in Branson and has been a permanent Branson cast member for a number of years he is traveling to other Legends in Concert venues at various times this year, but is currently performing in Branson.

Legends in Concert, with just the mini concerts of its “superstar” impersonators, would be great entertainment in itself. However, with the addition of colorful costuming, the band and dancers all seamlessly choreographed into the performances of the “superstars” the show becomes an entertainment production and experience of legendary proportions that truly has something for everyone. It truly is a unique Branson entertainment experience of legendary proportions.

For additional information or tickets for Legends in Concert or any of Branson’s other shows, attractions and activities or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

 

 

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