by Linda Burlingame
The holiday season was exciting and memorable … but let’s face it, there were hectic and frustrating moments! By now you’re looking for a relaxing, “user-friendly” way to have fun and keep the good times rolling. A trip to Branson, Missouri, is just the ticket!
Branson is known for live music shows, spectacular attractions, and ideal lodging choices. There are delightful dining experiences, too — everything you want and expect when you travel. Add a generous helping of Ozarks hospitality, and you have the recipe for a successful travel experience. Branson operates at a more leisurely pace during winter months, but there’s no shortage of fun and exciting entertainment.
Titanic Museum Attraction Branson is open year ‘round. From the time you board Titanic at the iceberg, all through the ship, you’ll experience a range of experiences and emotions. The poignant stories of Titanic’s passengers are told remarkably well. There are more than 20 unique galleries. In the “Shipyard” there are the clanking sounds of construction and room-sized photos of Harland and Wolff’s Queen’s Island North Shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. There are recreations of a First Class cabin and a Third Class cabin. The Grand Staircase is also a full sized replica. There’s something new and fascinating around every corner.
In 2018 Titanic will honor the Amazing Women in 1912 on Titanic. Beginning in March, that tribute will include a dress collection from 1912’s most famous designer in the world. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon was traveling with her husband on Titanic. A pioneer on many levels of the industry, her life and career were fascinating. Her story and her designs will amaze you. You’ll be enthralled by something different each time you visit Titanic!
(Note: Titanic Branson is closed Jan. 16 thru 18, for “painting and deep cleaning,” reopens Jan. 19)
Grand Country Waterpark Resort has fun going on year ‘round — shows, food, lodging, and shopping … even indoor water fun in Splash Country. Grand Jubilee is the evening show and is a stage full of talented musicians. Good song variety with Top 40, country, and rock ‘n’ roll hits, and gospel. Emcee Mike Patrick and comedian Jamie Haage take you on a rollicking ride down the comedy trail. The band, The Rhinestone Mafia, rounds out the cast. Their 2018 season opens with a new show January 19. For even more merriment, check out the afternoon Comedy Jamboree. There are several other shows at Grand Country. Amazing Pets (“Kids of all ages” love this one!) has select dates in January and February, with a fuller schedule beginning in March. Grand Country’s live Friday night radio show, Branson Country USA, begins January 26. The Sunday shows, Ozarks Country and Ozarks Gospel resume February 11.
The Grand Country Inn has excellent room options, including Kids’ Clubhouse rooms with bunk beds if the kiddos are with you. More outdoor fun indoors: indoor go-karts, mini golf (three courses!), an arcade, laser tag, mini bowling, and bumper cars. The Grand Country Buffet and Papa Grand’s Pizza are just two of your restaurants choices while you’re there. There are several shopping opportunities … but ladies, please don’t miss Bitz of Glitz. (You’re welcome.)
The Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure, open all year, truly is an adventure. The aviary (the tropical butterflies’ rainforest area) has towering palms, a waterfall, orchids and other exotic plants, a botanical garden, and more than 1000 butterflies (50-60 species) flitting about! The Living Rainforest Science Center is an interactive area where you’ll meet about 40 critters like geckos, water dogs (who knew?!), fish, frogs, and salamanders. The Banyan Tree Adventure is a maze-like journey through a rainforest.
Butterflies have a 2-3 week life span, and so the Butterfly Palace imports hundreds of Chrysalis (pupa) stage each week, from farms in countries like Ecuador, Philippines, El Salvador, Kenya. These farms are a vital part of the rainforest, in some smaller countries their only way of life. This promotes sustainable rainforest economy as well as rainforest preservation. It’s a win-win for everyone.
February 23 Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction opens for the 2018 season. The White River Wranglers are in the Carriage Room for your pre-show fun, and in the main arena we’re happy to report the Canine Capers rescue dog relay is in the show again this year. Those precious pups are all rescues! There are 32 absolutely magnificent horses and a cast of top-notch riders. Add a Roman rider, a herd of bison, racing pigs, fast wagons, and much more — what fun! AND your four-course feast is delicious, served hot and fresh. Be sure to arrive early and enjoy meeting the “Stars” of the show along the Horse Walk.
The Haygoods open their 26th Branson season this year. Their show is fast-paced and high energy, with unbeatable family harmonies, innovative dancing, state-of-the-art lighting and staging. I always like the variety of their song list, too. They have shows February 10, 17, and 24. On March1 they begin their Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday schedule.
SIX opens February 1 at the Hughes Brothers Theatre. It’s hard to believe everything you hear is just the six brothers and their vocal chords. Singing, of course, but do you hear a snare drum? One of the brothers. Hear some brass? Brother. Strings? Yep, brother. Yes, everything is a cappella, without accompaniment.
March 1 marks the opening of the new Hughes Music Show at their theater. The Hughes family, billed as “the largest live on-stage performing family in the world,” presents a great variety of music, including Broadway, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, and country. Dancing, lighthearted humor, and family fun fill up the stage with more than 50 singers, dancers, and musicians.
March 14 is the opening date for Million Dollar Quartet at the Welk Resort Theatre. This is one of my very favorite shows. Outstanding musicians recreate a December night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins all happen to meet up at Sun Records in Memphis. It was a once-in-a-lifetime jam session. Besides the iconic songs, their conversation and observations are fascinating … sometimes poignant, often funny. You’ll laugh when Elvis declares, “I’ll never play Las Vegas again!”
The Welk Resort in Branson is a wonderful place to stay when you’re in Branson. The 10,000 sq. ft. Splash-a-Torium is open all year. Kids and adults alike love the 100 ft. slide and the splash zone. There are hot tubs and indoor and outdoor pools. Be sure to check out (er, “check in!?”) The Lodges at Timber Ridge by Welk Resorts in Branson, too.
I’m running out of space, but there’s so much more! Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety opens March 2. When you see the astonishing illusions presented by Dave and Denise Hamner you’ll know what I mean. Some of the magic (Some call it illusion … I call it magic!) features gorgeous cockatoos and macaws. Hamners’ awards include Siegfried & Roy’s Bronze Lion Head Award. The dancing, the extraordinary vocals of Tamra Tinoco, the impressions of Jeff Brandt … variety!
Acrobats of China featuring New Shanghai Circus opens at the RFD TV the Theatre March 3. It’s an extraordinary show, one that fascinates “kids of all ages!” It’s a fast-paced, beautifully presented show with astounding, elegant feats of balance and strength that are combined with ancient Chinese culture.
Sight & Sound Theatres has a new production for Branson this year. Samson opens March 3. The story of “the original superhero” comes to life on the giant stage, not only with a talented cast but also amazing special effects and live animals, for an unforgettable theater performance.
Presleys’ Country Jubilee celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, and March 9 they begin another year of entertaining fans with country and gospel music, along with hilarious comedy. “Herkimer,” “Cecil,” and “Little Herkimer” charm enthusiastic audiences. A classic Branson show, Presleys’ is a winner!
Raiding the Country Vault is back for select dates in 2018, starting March 10 at the Starlite Theatre. The biggest hits of country music are performed by entertainers who have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry.
Branson’s winter often has warm days when you might want to enjoy one of Branson’s several championship golf courses; the wonderful National Tiger Sanctuary; some of Branson’s 200 miles of hiking trails.
On March 9 Showboat Branson Belle opens with a new variety show. Enjoy a three-course meal and a look at the lake!
Silver Dollar City begins its 2018 season March 14. And who’s excited about SDC’s new Time Traveler coaster opening this year— the steepest and tallest complete-circuit spinning coaster in the world! Stay tuned!
If you choose to stay in one of the Hilton Hotels overlooking Branson Landing and Lake Taneycomo, you’re close to shopping and restaurants. The Hilton Hotels and Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa are both home to fine dining. Chateau sits high above Table Rock Lake, with a great view.
Little Hacienda Restaurant is quickly becoming a favorite with locals and visitors alike. Florentina’s, with a great Italian atmosphere, is a definite favorite, too. Branson’s Hwy. 76 “strip” is lined with cafés and hotels … you’ll find just what you want in Branson.
I think I’ve just about worn out the Thesaurus button on my MacBook, looking for new ways to say fun, exciting, talented, wonderful, great, amazing. If it seems I’m repeating myself, it’s because Branson is exciting, it is full of wonderful attractions and exciting shows full of talented people — people who love entertaining you and providing you with an extraordinary vacation. Come see us, we look forward to your visit!